What have I been up to?


Berkhamsted Castle – we could make more of this

It’s been a while since I have given a real update as to what I’m actually doing, which is remiss of me.  I’m going to change the balance of my posts so there are more about what I’m up to and fewer that sound more academic.

So, what have I been doing?  I’ve spent some of my time working on the strategy of Transition Town Berkhamsted (TTB), which is still a work in progress and needs the others involved to give their pennyworth before it is made official.  I’ve also been networking with organisations and individuals involved in the area, to discuss my ideas and help refine them.  I’m getting somewhere with that.  And of course I’ve been researching a little for the posts and responses to comments.

Berkhamsted is a commuter town, with a predominantly right-wing political outlook.  It is also quite large, with a population of 16000.  Unfortunately all of those things lead to it not having a great sense of community.  This makes it that much more difficult for the town to move forward in a meaningful way into the uncertain future.  We need to strike the balance between talking and engaging with local organisations, such as schools, and us taking the initiative, rolling our sleeves up and getting on with it.  There is some debate about that.  When the strategy is sorted I’ll put some more up about it on here.

The other difficultly in making a difference at a local level is the overall sense of apathy and denial on the issue of climate change, which is why I also want to work at a national level to help us overcome that temporary obstacle.  I say temporary because it is inevitable that nature will let us know in no uncertain terms that it doesn’t care whether we believe or not in climate change: it will just get on with dealing out the consequences.

My self-appointed job is to help us realise what we need to do before nature rubs it in our face, by which time it will be too late.  The idea is that we put together the toolkit required – credible information about the reality of climate change, plus information and support for people wanting to take action at home or in their towns or wider.  Then to launch it all with a big fanfare and bring the issue back square up front.  I certainly am not going to do that myself, and it is encouraging to find that a lot of organisations are already working closely together.

I’ll be posting more often from now on, so will explain more in a few days.

Please do let me know what you think.

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke


1 thought on “What have I been up to?

  1. hi john – just had to say I really don’t agree with you about the ‘no sense of community’ thing….we should talk about it sometime. Example – a good friend is very ill at the moment and at least 30 people have signed up to provide meals to her family every day for the foreseeable future and are looking after kids while partner deals with hospital visits etc…community doing something practical and supportive. I know its only one example but feels consistent with what I know of people here. We also have a high level of volunteering – people supporting the community in sports/scouts/arts/school activities/charities etc. Maybe the question is how that sense of community is harnessed more formally and extended to support those who are more isolated.
    Also, I think there is more of a liberal element in the town than the figures appear to show – don’t forget SW Herts constituency includes Chorleywood and area and villages which are fairly conservative (forgive huge generalisation) and contributes to the massive tory majority. In Berko, there is definitely a growing, younger demographic drawn from creative industries which tends to be a bit more liberal. Challenge is getting those people to engage with formal politics and vote for a more visionary approach to our local community.
    All this is rather anecdotal of course – no idea if the stats would support what i’m saying but thought I would share anyway!!

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