First of all, I would like to wish you all peace and hope in this New Year. The urge to see the back of 2020 and to hope that 2021 will be better is understandable but we know perfectly well that it is the consumptive, wasteful and destructive way that we have been living that caused the problems that we are still facing - and so the problems can only get worse until and unless we embrace a sustainable, collaborative future. But 2020 wasn’t all bad - it pointed the way to how we can start to live in the future and made that future seem more possible.
And so whilst I remain hopeful and with complete faith in our ability to solve the environmental and climate crisis that deepens daily; how do we actually get there? Clearly Salisbury alone cannot solve problems which need national action and international accord; however we can help the residents of Salisbury in two ways - firstly; by coming together to change the way we live, and secondly; by becoming more resilient and adaptable to whatever life throws at us - two qualities that we have seen growing in our communities this last year and which we celebrated at STC's People in the Park event in September 2020. In order not to result in discord, this will only be possible when we find a way to include all our city’s residents in the discussion, so that all understand the need to act and can discuss how to go about putting the required actions into place. I think that there are a number of important components to this that need to start this year, as we are certainly only making things harder on ourselves the longer we delay.
Sarah’s Wish-list for 2021
1. Salisbury 2030 - our hope in the future
Yes, so this is indeed my reason for writing and I must start with an apology. Many of you (and me too) were expecting this to be full steam ahead after STC launched the initiative back in September 2020. Well the difficult times meant that it just didn’t seem the right time for Salisbury, and it wasn’t the right time for me personally too, as I had a complete energy failure. That is also the reason that Eva stepped forward as co-chair as I was AWOL. She is doing such a good job, that I think she should stay there personally.
Hopefully the time is now right for us all and so I am requesting any and all interested people to join me in dreaming about Salisbury 2030; rebutting the commonly heard view that avoiding climate and ecological catastrophe is all about taking us back to the dark ages. It isn’t! But as long as all we have to give are doom and gloom scenarios of NOT acting in time, then we will just put off all those who are already struggling too much to countenance more hardship, however pressing the issues. Instead I think we need to develop the counterargument. The amazing dream of what life COULD be like if we positively embrace change. It can affect everything about the way we live, work, socialise; and all for the better (take a look at the CAT Zero Carbon Britain plans for inspiration on the national scale and attend the Transition City series of training's for inspiration at the local scale). I am also totally inspired by the plans for a CIC to turn Grosvenor House back into a community asset - STC thought hard about this venue last year (for an ecohub) but on the news that it had an agreed sale we backed off (and frankly were a little daunted by the scale of the task!). So the Rise Resound Rebuild team show us we should dream big: Its incredible what we can achieve when we reach for the ‘impossible’.
Salisbury 2030 will be primarily about community action: groups of people coming together to plan for the future with their colleagues or neighbours, at work or in communities. This could include initiating schemes such as incredible edible, community land trusts, social housing schemes, community allotments and sharing schemes, community energy schemes, community or company waste elimination schemes, recreation, wildlife and much more (as long as the ideas are sustainable and work towards ecosystem balance and societal equity, visions are limited only by the imaginations of the communities involved).
So - please do sign up if you would like to attend the first 'Dream Session' for Salisbury 2030 at 4pm on Saturday the 30th January and it will be open forum for all your ideas and input. No pre-registration needed; please use this link
Sarah Prinsloo is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Salisbury 2030 Zoom Meeting
Time: Jan 30, 2021 04:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 783 1806 3363
It will help enormously if schemes have a conducive culture at city, county and national level. So other actions that we can all take to keep up the pressure include:
2. Council elections
Local elections are coming up in May. I have no intention of being ‘party-political’, but I can’t stress enough how much I believe that this may be our last decent chance to use our voices for action. In fact we have seen that a number of councillors on all sides of the political spectrum have a good understanding of the need to act urgently and have supported measures to control carbon and promote biodiversity in our city in the last year, and so I would only request that you engage with your local candidates and ask them what their intentions are with regard to a sustainable future for our city, persuading them of the need to do more - and then vote according to their answers (and their record)! One particular ask are citizens assemblies or other balanced democratic means to make collective decisions towards a greener Salisbury, with all residents appropriately represented and then to find ways to inform, educate and seek consensus across the city.
3. Get involved in local decisions
Be a ‘concerned citizen’ and get involved in the many local consultations by Wilts and Salisbury Councils - People Friendly Streets, Neighbourhood Plans, Central Area Framework, and of course the Wilts Local Plan review, which is happening at the moment - as well as various local developments for roads and housing. I know it takes a lot of energy but these are an important chance to have your say on insisting that local development addresses the need for achieving biodiversity protection and net zero development (taking construction into account). Write to the council, or your councillor, take part in council meetings (easier now they are on zoom), comment on public consultations, etc. As I was told in 2019 - what the council do depends on the opinions (volume and topic) received from the public. If they don’t hear from us, they can’t act! The tug of war over ‘People Friendly Streets’ is a case in point.
Get involved in volunteering opportunities that focus on sustainable development and social support (more of us might need such support in the future after all and sustainability starts with the presumption that we are all supported and treated equally). There is a plethora of opportunities out there, its a great chance to get to know others in your community as well as an understanding of local issues and initiatives. And if your favourite voluntary organisation isn’t sustainable, then ask them to change!
5. Buy local!
Whenever possible buy seasonal local produce or locally made goods. There is a lot out there, its mostly good value and great quality and our local businesses have been brilliant all through the pandemic. I have thoroughly enjoyed making friends with the market stall holders and have thankfully used their local delivery services. Maybe we need a comprehensive leaflet about sustainable local business and produce in collaboration with BID and the market traders?
6. Act locally - but think globally
All our local efforts, replicated around the country, have the ability to inspire others and achieve amazing things. But there is still a need to act nationally and globally and the UK is in the spotlight this year with the G7 meeting in Cornwall in June and COP26 in Glasgow in November. One way to get involved if direct action or protest is not your cup of tea is to voice your support for the CEE Bill by writing to your MP and to let Westminster know how important we think this is. You can also write to any charities you are involved with and ask them to join the growing movement.
Take care and keep dreaming up brilliant ideas for Salisbury