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

Be the Change

Decision time. Off we go. Over the top. I’m going to concentrate on showing what can be done and how that is an improvement over the status quo. I’m going to focus my time in Berkhamsted with the Transition Town. In that way we can get on with making the necessary changes without the need to butt up against climate change dogma (pro or anti).

Berkhamsted - small

I will publicise what we do to show to the wider world what is possible. Optimistically, this will give others who want to do the same an example to draw upon and the motivation to take steps forward themselves. Pessimistically, it will highlight how our systems are geared up to stall progress. Either way, it will be a move forward.

At the same time, I recognise that motivating around benefits only might not provide the pace of change needed. When Hitler was threatening to invade Britain, Churchill didn’t motivate us to build lots of spitfires by extolling the economic benefits to the aerospace industry (although it did have that side effect).

So I will do my own research into quantifying the effects of climate change and what the size of the response needed will look like. I will engage with individuals and organisations to see what can be done to provide an unbiased, objective, peer reviewed source of information that is known as the place to go for information on climate change.

To publicise widely I will use social media as per this blog and will expand the audience of the blog via my new contacts with other organisations. I’ve got some ideas for publicity stunts to draw attention – how about a mass walk to London, or a very public open bet on the reality of climate change?

I will also need to start earning some money to allow me to keep going with my personal change of lifestyle. To that end, I have established a small company in an unrelated industry (passenger demand forecasting for the UK rail industry) to put bread on the table.

All in all, the aim is to get on with the move to a low-carbon future, and to show just how attractive that future is. I’m looking forward to it, are you?

I’d love to hear what you think, good or bad.  Last chance to influence!

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke