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CEL home > Links + Internat > Oct 2005


Churches Together in Cumbria

Social Responsibility Forum

Going for Green:

Sustainable Communities Conference - St Thomas Church Kendal - 8 Oct 2005


"Cheap air-fares are the serpent in the Garden of Eden" says Bishop John Oliver at Churches Together in Cumbria conference at Kendal attended by over 130 people on 8 Oct.

Sir Martin Holdgate, former Head of the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature points out that extinction rates are 1000 to 10,000 the natural rate, that we are the only living thing in the universe capable of regulating its behaviour for the future of others, and asks - "Are we to be stewards or destroyers?"

Download Conference programme For more information and to request conference papers by the speakers. contact Helen Boothroyd, Social Responsibility Administrator of Churches Together in Cumbria Tel: 016977 46567 email: 


These are just two of the points that Judith Allinson, CEL's Web Editor, a visitor at the conference, picked up at the conference in Cumbria. She continues describing more events of the day:

The progress of each of The four pilot communities of the Cumbria Sustainable Communities, since starting about 10 months ago was inspiring. It was very exciting to hear about the progress of these projects which had only just started - but which have definitely started - a bit like seeing a ten month old child crawling and exploring, with great potential.

Dr John John Biggs of the Churches Together in Cumbria described how the project had started and how they had looked for well-defined groups in small communities to get it started but how it had become a partnership between various organisations, how they had got grants and how it had grown. So now they had a paid officer, Richard Suddaby to help. Richard then introduced speakers form each of the groups.

Arthur Street (with 65 houses) in Penrith;
Brampton a town of 2500,
Grasmere (with an exciting Japanese Knotweed eradication project - yes Wordsworth's traditional area is being overrun by this weed!!- and the valiant efforts being made by the locals to raise money for contractors to spray this - £10,000 over three years- needed for over 400 different sites)
Kirkby Lonsdale

Esthwaite Green Link Hawkshead, a fifth group had seen what was going on and started too.

Though nothing to do with the above five projects people talked about the Gamblesby Heat Source Pump used to heat the village hall by floor heating. (What is a ground source heat pump?)

Cumbria County Library Service has made a special book collection "Understanding the Environment Crisis" and had a display of these books at the conference - Use them!

I attended two workshops from a section from the list given in the programme: Biodiversity and Campaigning for Environment Issues.

The first, Biodiversity was led by David Muir who worked on "Wealth of Wildlife" and is employed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

He pointed out that half of Britain's natterjack toads live on the West Coast of Cumbria. He explained that the word "Biodiversity" had become important after the Biodiversity Convention had been signed in Rio, and that he has been involved with Cumbria Biodiversity Action Plan. It gave me an opportunity to mention Sean McDonagh's book on species extinctions (and the church) I would like to have mentioned the "Yorkshire - Craven outside the National Park" Biodiversity action plan - an adjacent area which is currently being written.

Phil Davis's workshop on Campaigning about the environment was excellent. He said we need to counter the subtle "Campaigning" we are subject to everyday in advertising and media. I made notes on his talk - but to give them here would be giving away his secrets.. so if you live in Cumbria get him to come and run a workshop for you. He works for Eden LA21.

One thing he reminded us - that people when looking at displays spend 6- 10 seconds on average looking at a display. He talked of ways of engaging people.

I was pleased that two people looked at the CEL display stand I had made and which I have mentioned before in the CEL bulletin, and delighted that both had thought about/tried making one. It involves reusing two cardboard boxes and enables a good number of leaflets to be displyed in a small area. I have now put the instructions on the website

Ecological footprints - During the coffee breaks we had a very simple questionnaire to fill in and were invited to use posters displayed in several parts of the building to calculate our ecological footprint. Although somewhat over simple, the results were revealing - My score indicated we should need two and a half worlds if everyone lived at my lifestyle - and I think other people were shocked by their personal scores too.

Two overheard comments:

"I did not realise that flying used up so much energy"

"How can we take this conference back to the churches? We here are mostly the 'converted' (to eco things)

Perhaps just by telling others some of the things Bishop Oliver told us- so I will finish with a few of the points in John Oliver's talk:

He said we should be active at all levels:


-So readers - are you been active at all these levels? - If not why not write a letter to your MEP/local Newspaper on some topic? - e.g. encourage the European Community to have an airline Fuel tax? (He pointed out good things that the European Community has done - the EU Birds directive of 1979, The Habitats Directive of 1992, so all countries are sorting out Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), though no country has made a complete list yet.

On a national level he said that we do not have a realistic energy policy -- by 2030 Britain will be 80% dependent on imported gas. We need distributive generation - local schemes. and a policy on Biofuels.

On a Regional level he praised the work of the Marches Energy Agency, sponsored by Shropshire County Council.

On a local level he recommended Myer Hilman's book "How to save the planet"

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