We have have had problems with our last two meetings, which means that the last ‘coherent’ meeting was in March this year. The May meeting was totally disrupted due to noise in the room at the Old Sergeant and the July meeting was abandoned due to lack of attendees. Also, for some time now, attendance at meetings has been minimal and with group members having other commitments, there is not much capacity within the group to get things done. In honesty WFOE has become a bit of a talking shop, with little action resulting from the group discussions at meetings. I believe that FoE is a campaigning organisation and I conclude that more focus is required in our group.
In January I tabled a proposal for focusing our efforts on a small cluster of National FoE campaigns on the basis that they are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Since then, realising that this didn’t seem to trigger any real inspiration/action within the group, I have come to believe that trying to be democratic within the group is too difficult and time consuming, so now I propose to offer a straight choice between two alternatives. We will not achieve anything really worthwhile with our current tiny ACTIVE group, so the main aim of anything we do should be aimed at raising of the profile of the group with some kind of street presence with a view to increasing our number, so that we have a bigger resource to draw on and at least a chance of campaigning in an effective way.
Something else that has become absolutely fundamental to me is the sheer weight of evidence of the way we are accelerating the trashing of our planet on pretty well all fronts. Forget just plastic junk and air quality for the moment–the problem goes way deeper and across a whole range of issues that are recognised by the informed, but which we, as individuals, cannot seem to get to grips with in an effective way and which our Government cannot help us with because of the powerful vested interests promoting ‘business as usual’ and resisting the kind of substantial changes in the way we live and the stuff we consume that are actually needed. HMG has backed off pretty well all the positive or substantial policies that are crucial to arresting climate change and protecting the natural environment. I can’t help but see this as holistic systemic problem that needs urgent attention.
I’ve ‘drafted’ a small A4 triple fold leaflet that aims to raise awareness of how deep the malaise is. It’s Global and it’s local, but unless we face up to what is happening and lobby Government to put in place the legislation needed to actually turn around the damage we are doing and face up to the corporate powers that have insidiously infiltrated all aspect of our culture to promote unending growth and profit at the expense of nature and the environment, we will not have the power as individuals to rehab from our addiction to the drug of consumerism. My proposal is to develop the leaflet into something more striking and to have it printed and used in a street presence campaign to raise public awareness and try to recruit them into our group. Obviously belief that is a first draft I will need to be much more striking. It can also be subject to editing and refinement.
The alternative I am suggesting, even though I feel in my heart the need for the kind of fundamental holistic approach I have tried to develop above, would be based on a more limited ambition by returning to the campaign suggestions we discussed earlier in the year. I’m sure some of you might argue that in focusing on something which is easier to grasp and communicate, even though more limited in its impact, will have more appeal to the general public.
I have included below some of the material presented earlier in the year, but I urge you to look at the source material for these campaigns on the National FoE website to get a full flavour. We might think that it is easier to concentrate on a more limited area to campaign on, because that would be an easier message to get across. We might choose just one of these campaigns to focus on in the first place. If we chose this route, in the same way as for the first possibility, I would be pressing for a street presence as soon as possible and certainly before the end of the year, which would have the dual objective of engendering public buy in to the specific cause in some way but also aiming to get new people interested in the Wandsworth FoE group.
I am looking to discuss these two alternative proposals at the forthcoming meeting with a view to moving forward with one or the other of them.
In January, I proposed a changed Focus for our group. Looking at the eight campaigns currently proposed by the National Friends of the Earth group, WFOE, being quite small, needs to focus on a smaller area and we have chosen to look at “Help Nature”, “Eat Better” and “Use Less Stuff”. The diagram tries to explain how we might focus on these subject areas, what activities we might embark on and what the goals of these activities might be. This is of course, all aspirational at this stage! Please study in particular the ‘ACTIONS/ACTIVITIES’ and the ‘GOALS’ columns as these develop a strategy for action, giving emphasis and focus with a ‘traffic-lights’ green and amber code.
We started out tentatively along the lines of “Help Nature” by setting out some possibilities for study areas in Wandsworth where we might visit streets and open spaces and see if positive activities can be suggested or embarked upon to improve the natural environment within the Borough. Looking at the map it is clear that Wandsworth is well endowed with a open spaces. What we need to find out is how well the spaces are being used, cared for and valued.
All nine campaigns currently being promoted by Friends of the Earth appear in the illustration below, though we only looked at eight–I think the “Plastic and the Environment“ campaign has been slipped in since we looked before! Like air quality, it’s very topical!
A bit more about our chosen options:
Campaign for Nature & Habitats. Why we need nature to thrive.
Nature brings us everything we need to survive: food, shelter, water, warmth.
Just as important, nature enriches our lives — from inspiring views of landscapes to spotting a busy bee at work.
We want to restore and preserve nature everywhere — not just in nature reserves but in cities, towns, the countryside, our rivers and seas.
High-quality nature should be as normal as having decent schools, housing, local shops and transport.
Nature needs the support of people like us. From saving bees to defending our nature laws, there are many ways you can get involved with our nature campaigning. Find out more below.
What to eat?
How does the food we eat affect our environment? . . .might add and our health!
From growing crops to processing, transporting, selling, storing and throwing away food – everything we eat has an impact on the environment and the climate.
In the UK, agriculture is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, 83% of ammonia air pollution, and 16% of water pollution. More intensive forms of farming are the leading cause of harm to UK farmland wildlife.
Use Less Stuff!
Over consumption & the environment: What is natural resource consumption?
Almost everything we do involves materials that have been extracted, processed, transformed, bought and sold, taxed and subsidised, and often shifted across vast distances.
Our economy is built around these raw materials – natural resources – like trees, gas, oil, metal ores, water and fertile land. Look at your smartphone . It likely contains cobalt from Africa, copper from Chile and aluminium from Australia.
Over the years, our appetite for raw materials has grown – from 1970 to 2010 our natural resource consumption more than tripled .