All posts by manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.

Half way there! 2000 signatures reached in #Climate Emergency petition #Manchester

A massive thank you to all those people out there who have been collecting signatures on sheets.  Between the 447 online and the ones on paper (1564 and counting) we are now … over halfway to the 4000 threshold.

 

As well as being able to take your sheets to the Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor St, you now can also take them to Patagonia, 51 King St (on the corner with Cross Street).  In both cases, please put the sheets in a sealed envelope labelled “Climate Emergency Petition” and give them to a member of staff.

We have updated the petition sheet to reflect that, and you can download the new version here.

When you are collecting signatures, please get people to give their FULL address.  A postcode is not enough.  What we are saying is “imagine your auntie was sending you a 50 pound note – what address would you want her to put?”

If you want to go out collecting but are daunted at the prospect, please get in touch – we can offer advice but we might also be able to pair you up with some other people so you can do it with them.  Here are two accounts of collecting signatures – in Levenshulme and in the City Centre.

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DATE FOR YOUR DIARY: Weds 10th July, #Manchester City Council debates #Climate Emergency

On the morning of Wednesday 10th July, the full council meeting of Manchester City Council will debate a motion calling for the declaration of a climate emergency.

evefrancis climate emergency declarationThe motion is being put forward by two backbench councillors, Eve Francis and Annette Wright. The final text of the motion will be released at the latest by Wednesday 3rd July (hopefully sooner).

Climate Emergency Manchester is extremely keen that all councillors, across the 32 wards of Manchester City Council are lobbied politely, firmly and repeatedly by people who live in those wards. The motion needs to pass, and it needs to be as strong as possible.

PLEASE contact us, on either climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com or @climateemergmcr if you live in Manchester (any ward!) and want to be involved in this lobbying..

 

Regardless of how strong this motion is, and whether it passes, we will be continuing to collect signatures on our petition.

Interview about community-building, with Shelly Quinton-Hulme #Manchester #Stretford #Trafford

Environmental activists talk about movement-building and community-building a lot. We actually do it… less frequently. Climate Emergency Manchester has been able to interview one of the doers (thanks to Rose Arnold for putting us in touch). She’s Shelly Quinton-Hulme, and she kindly answered our questions. [If you know other people we should interview, get in touch!]

1. Who are you, what’s your background that has helped you become good at helping communities form, helping people knit together?

shelly quintonhulme
Shelly Quinton-Hulme

My name is Shelly Quinton-Hulme and I am 46 years old and am married with one son who is 12 years old. I have lived in Stretford since I was 6 years old and love it here. I grew up playing on Victoria Park along with my 2 brothers and neighbours. I work full-time for Network Rail as a Programme Controls professional. We set up the Friends of Victoria Park in 2002 in response to the park becoming so run down and neglected. My best friends dad ‘Norman Law’ organised a community meeting to see who would be interested in joining in to form a group to bring about improvements to the park and the group was born. Norman was the chair for the first few years and then I took over when his health started to become an issue and I have been the chair ever since. I am also the chairperson and founder member of Stretford Children’s Theatre [SCT] which also includes Stretford Youth Choir [SYC], a group that we re-formed in 2015. I was on the board of The Friends of Stretford Public Hall at the time and was instrumental in the team that won the hall back to public use from Trafford Council and one of the things I wanted to achieve was to restart SCT at the hall. One of the things about starting this group was that I needed to leave the hall board as my time was too stretched but they were in good hands and I’m still abreast of their plans etc as they are our venue for classes and performances and we work closely together. I am also Vice-Chair and Development Governor at Victoria Park Infant School – a role I really love as my family have a long history with this school and it is a fantastic school for our community. Until last year I was also involved in the scout group based in Victoria Park for 5 years and I looked after their fundraising and the building as well as practical help in the sessions through Beavers and Cubs with my son.

I think some of my innate abilities have helped me fulfil my roles in all these groups – none of which I knew I possessed at the time – but all have been developed over the years and now I can self-reflect I can see how it all happened and the good, the bad and the ugly of my personality!

  • I am tenacious – I will not let it lie. If I say I will do something I will and I expect the same from others – I will make sure that this expectation is met and I am an expert nagger!!
  • I am supremely organised – I can switch hats quite quickly and compartmentalise things well. Filing and good systems are important to ensure this is managed well.
  • I love processes / rules / procedures and even paperwork – I make sure this works to my advantage at all times. The way my brain works it needs to know what happens next and I like being in control and as such this all works in my favour. I do like a controlled process which I can navigate easily and I do not find filling in forms a problem and as such tasks that require this and can bog down other people tend to fall to me to do.
  • I will stick up for what I believe in – and I really believe in community and Stretford as a great place to live
  • I think I am easy to talk to and I will talk to anybody and everybody about things I am passionate about.
  • I am strong willed and am sometimes seen as ‘scary’ – again I use this to my advantage as and when is necessary!
  • I am opinionated – you will rarely see me sitting on the fence – but this has not always worked in my favour – as it has lost me friends over the years, but I think it has also gained me and my groups a reputation for being ‘straight up’.
  • I love watching our community grow and linking up people with similar interests, signposting to groups, and watching our children grow up in a place better than it was with more opportunities.
  • I enjoy the challenge of taking a group that is not running successfully and turning it around, and or setting up a new group to fulfil a need – and now that I have experience in it , it is much easier and quicker to complete this process.

2. Can you give us some examples of things that have gone well, and why you think they went well?
The Friends of Victoria Park is my first love as a community group and the park will always be my baby! This group taught me how groups work and function and how people relate to others and I have learned so much from it. I have been able to transfer knowledge from this group to other groups and I keep learning all the time.

Some things I have learned that work well are:

  • Have realistic expectations about what volunteers will give time wise – people will not all be as committed to the group as perhaps you are, but will give varying degrees of time, energy and effort and each bit is as necessary to create the goal and should be rewarded.
  • Have realistic expectations about what you can achieve in the timescales – be able to adapt your plans or expectations as necessary
  • Find out what your volunteers are interested in and then ensure that they are involved in that aspect if possible – they are far more likely to engage and deliver if they are having fun
  • Remember that volunteers are volunteers and as such must enjoy it or else they will stop volunteering – THIS IS NOT WORK – SO MAKE IT FUN!
  • Always remember why you are doing something and that everyone knows why you are doing it so that there is a shared purpose – people are much more likely to engage
  • Ask for help and advice when you need it – is there a group doing a similar thing that can help you so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel
  • Ask people for specific help / targeting areas as people are more likely to help on the basis of doing a specific task rather than a nebulous call for help.
  • Lots of things can be achieved with a small amount of cash if you have a good level of volunteer support

3. Relatedly, what advice would you offer to people keen to get communities ‘mobilised’ and active around issues (whether it was local traffic calming, litter, noise, anything)
If you want something to change then you have to be a part of that change. If you are passionate about the issue then turn that passion into people power and start to mobilise your friends who feel the same way – this is how movements start – it’s just a group of people who feel the same way! Don’t think that someone else will do it or is more capable or less busy than you are – you will probably surprise yourself and it is a great way to find out your talents and strengths. My advice – just do it and start knocking that red tape out of the way to make the change you want.

4. Without mentioning any names, what things do you see people who want to get communities mobilised doing that are counter-productive, that make you wince?
I think the behaviour that I see that is most counter-productive is one of suggesting ‘entitlement’ – we deserve this. I think this strategy puts people’s back up and stops them wanting to get involved and sometimes can even lead them into not helping, even if it is fundamentally a good idea! I think the best strategy is demonstrating the positives that will be achieved by the change and highlighting what is wrong now in clear simple ways and trusting people to make an informed decision about the project.

5. Anything else you want to say.
Having done a personality profile on our governing body we all had a lot of similarities and I think there are certain types of people who have a predilection to volunteering – and I am definitely one of them. Perhaps it fills a need in me that I don’t get from my work / family life – but I know that I love doing it and I can’t imagine what I’d do without it. Everyone asks me how I manage to fit it all in, and my answer is I make time. This involves juggling my time and making sure I prioritise effectively. Everyone who knows me knows I love my sleep and I really need a good 8 hours minimum each night to function well and this means that I have to use my day and evenings wisely to fit everything in. I am also very lucky that my husband and son allow me the time to do my ‘hobbies’.

Collecting #climateemergency signatures for the first time: scary, but ultimately okay!

Marion Smith, a new Climate Emergency Manchester supporter, writes.

I hate to admit it, but I am not the kind of person who enjoys being stopped on the street – I’m shy, more than a little socially anxious, and have been known to pre-emptively walk in the other direction if I notice a charity volunteer clocking eye contact with me. It wasn’t until last Friday (14 June), when I went out collecting signatures with Climate Emergency Manchester for the first time, that I had given any thought to how it feels to be on the other side of the equation.

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Fridays for Future, 14th June 2019

I’d been so enthusiastic to begin working with CEM that I hadn’t really given any thought about what collecting signatures would actually entail- I just knew that it was a vitally important cause and that I wanted to be involved in some way. This meant that until I was standing outside the Central Library at Fridays for Future Manchester, complete with my clipboard, pen and flyers, it hadn’t occurred to me that I would find the process of approaching strangers on the street difficult.

And it was difficult, particularly at first- I’d find myself looking surprised when someone would actually stop and allow me to talk to them, and I’d only just manage to mumble out what the petition was and why people should be signing it- I’m pretty sure the first few signees only did so out of a sense of pity for me! However, the more signatures I collected, the more I realised and accepted that not everyone is going to stop regardless of how charismatic you appear. It’s a lottery of who’s going to stop and listen to your cause, and although some people will ignore you or respond a little abruptly, there are also people who genuinely listen and actively respond.

I spoke to a number of the (lovely) people at Fridays For Future, and one man who was leafletting said to me that he’d been coming for months and watching on the sidelines, and had only just felt comfortable handing out leaflets recently- he assured me that as far as he was concerned, I was really throwing myself in the deep end with signature collection, but that I was doing a good job. Ultimately, I filled up my signature sheet, and although it doesn’t feel to me like I did particularly well, I’m just going to take his word for it, and believe that I’ll get better at collecting signatures the more I do it. Approaching strangers on the street may not be something I find easy, but none of the causes we campaign for relating to climate breakdown are ever going to be comfortable, and I’m just grateful that there were so many reassuring, encouraging people around me for my introduction to signature collecting.

Marion Smith
I’m a 21-year-old Music Postgrad at the University of Manchester, and have recently joined CEM. Although climate change is a word I have been aware of for most of my life, it has only been in the past year that I’ve felt able to comprehend the true effects and consequences of climate breakdown- this realisation has led to me seeking out groups like Climate Emergency Manchester, as although I have made changes to my own lifestyle, I firmly believe that change will come through the scrutinisation and holding of organisations and corporations to account over issues of climate change.

Learn to scrutinise #Manchester Council, in practice… Weds 19th June, 1pm

Manchester City Council has 96 councillors. There is a ten member Executive which is responsible for policy.  There are six scrutiny committees that are there to keep tabs on them. Those six scrutiny committees meet, in public, ten times a year.

Members of the public can attend those committee meetings and see how the councillors ask questions of the Executive Members and the officers.

Why does this matter?  How does help us get a climate emergency declared, and how does it help us make sure the declaration isn’t just more hot air?

Well, simply this: if we don’t know who is making policy, how, and how well it is being implemented, and how to scrutinise all of this, then we are wasting our time.  These skills are going to be crucial for dealing with “the January 4th 2023 problem”.

On Wednesday June 19th, at 1pm Climate Emergency Manchester folks will meet at the Waterhouse Pub (the Wetherspoons next to the War Memorial outside the Town Hall).

We’ll mingle and plot, before attending the 2pm meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, held in the Town Hall Extension. Here’s a spotters card we’ve made for the membership of that Scrutiny Committee. 

spotterscard nesc 2019

The scrutiny committee meeting will be live-streamed, by the way.

There is one item of particular notice on the agenda -a report on “Eco Schools”.  The report is mostly made up of case studies, and doesn’t talk at all about climate education for young people in Manchester.  It may be that members of Climate Emergency Manchester ask the chair of the committee for permission to ask questions about that.

 

If you can’t come to the meeting, but want to get involved in scrutinising the council’s policies, please get in touch – climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com

 

And a date for your diary – Weds 17th July, same time, same place, for the following meeting of the Neigbhourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee.  On the agenda that month – climate change!!

 

 

Climate Emergency Manchester – get involved, get skilled up… Sat 15th, Weds 19th, Sun 23rd…

There are three opportunities for you to get involved with Climate Emergency Manchester over the coming week.

june 15 meetingOn Saturday  June 15th, from 11.30am there’s a meeting in Northenden on the topic “What can we do about the climate emergency here n Manchester?” It’s free and there’s no need to book. The format will involve a very short introduction, then getting into groups to figure out questions, find out what knowledge and skills are already in the room, and also make practical suggestions (short and medium term) about what could be done locally (in Northenden, South Manchester and across Manchester) to create a low carbon culture, and to create the kinds of cultural, political and economic pressures for rapid and socially just change. It will be more fun than it sounds, and you will DEFINITELY meet lots of like-minded people.

Secondly, on Wednesday June 19th, at 1pm Climate Emergency Manchester folks are meeting at the Waterhouse Pub (the Wetherspoons next to the War Memorial outside the Town Hall). We’ll mingle and plot, before attending the 2pm meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, held in the Town Hall Extension. Why are we doing this? To start to develop the skills, knowledge and relationships which will be KEY to Climate Emergency Manchester’s goals, which are to get the City Council to adopt strong policies and then get them to implement those policies. Read the previous post, “the January 4th 2023 problem” for more perspective on this.  If we aren’t there on that date, providing scrutiny, suggestions and constructively critical perspective, then we are worse than useless

Finally, we are going to be out in force collecting signatures at the Manchester Day Parade on Sunday June 23rd (it’s on the theme of sustainability, after all). Please come help us get the rest of the signatures! We will supply clipboards, pens, and basic training! Get in touch via climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com if you can make it.

The January 4th 2023 problem

January 4th 2023 is a Wednesday. There’s probably going to be a scrutiny committee meeting or two of Manchester City Council on that day. Back-bench councillors will gather to hear presentations from officers and Executive Members, and pick over reports. (In a perfect world Manchester City Council will have by then been convinced and forced to create a dedicated Environment Scrutiny Committee, but that is by-the-by).

At that meeting there will be policies that relate to climate change which need to be stronger, or policies that are strong enough but need to be properly implemented.

But it’s an early day in January.  When the papers for that scrutiny committee meeting are released, a week before, the students will be away. Everyone will be in that between-Christmas-and-New-Years’ torpor.

So, who will be there to read the documents, to understand – in-depth – what they are saying, what they are not saying, what is being hidden and spun by the Executive Member and officers, keen to avoid embarrassment for work not done?

Who will be there to lobby the members of the scrutiny committee, explain to them what is being done. Who will have the background, the experience and the credibility to be heard? Who will be able to point to better policies, better implementation in other cities?

Who will reach out to other citizens and groups (religious groups, trade unions, community groups, tenants and residents associations you name it), and explain how a fast one is being attempted, and why they should care, and what they should do? Who will make the videos, write the blogs, to an ever-growing audience that cares and knows how to turn that concern into political pressure?

Who will brief journalists, via press releases and relationships already established?

Who will attend the meeting, and ask the questions too hot for any councillor to ask?  Who will attend the meeting and make sure that the truth is told about where Manchester is up to, and what needs to be done?

Who will write up what happened? Who will explain afterwards to our allies and supporters what happened, why, and what they can do to be involved in the ongoing scrutinising and ‘chivvying’ of the Council? Who will strategise about how to increase the pressure?

 

Will it be you?

How can you possibly make that commitment? It’s almost five years away! You may not be in Manchester at all. Life could have thrown any number of obstacles between now and then. People’s circumstances (their biographical availability” change – that’s a fact of life.)

Anyhow, nobody can sustain that level of involvement, with the best will in the world.

We need to think not of individual heroic commitments. People burn out, people get co-opted. Instead we need to think of sustainable groups that refuse to be sucked in or excluded, that refresh themselves, keep the focus, keep the energy.  That’s an unprecedented effort, but these are unprecedented times.

We need people who know how to skill up, but also when and how to step back, how to hand on their knowledge and skills to others.  This isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon, but a special kind of relay-marathon. Batons have to be passed, and people allowed to step out of the race, and come back to pick up the baton if and when they are able.

Climate Emergency Manchester intends to work with individuals and groups to develop the capacity to do the all those things, so that by Wednesday 4th January 2023, we are doing that as a matter of routine.

If this vision inspires you, or even if it doesn’t but you understand that it’s what is necessary, then please, get in touch.