Posts Tagged ‘debate’

New year, new projects – and what really happens at a HUB meeting

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Our first meeting of the year went all too quickly – so much to discuss and so many projects to organise. We kicked off with brief updates on our bids for funds. We moved on to current activities – volunteer project leaders explained the plans and what help would be needed and then set up their “stalls” to talk to small groups. We then moved round the room, finding out more about each project and working out how which ones fitted best with our own skills and interests. There are still some gaps to fill so please do sign up to do one small thing to join in and/or help.

The really high turnout meant we had plenty of participants for three discussion groups. Led by volunteers, we looked at the implications for SLACCtt of:
the nuclear approach put forward by George Monbiot (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/05/sellafield-nuclear-energy-solution for the article that sparked the debate); ….
The sustainable Brampton Household survey (see www.sustainablebrampton.org); and
how can we manage, analyse and make use of all the information that we are bombarded with from all directions?

Energy levels still high, we moved around and chose a different debate topic, adding to the comments/feedback of the earlier participants.

A few minutes for members to update us on other plans and invitations and the hall’s closing time was upon us. Discussions were still going on outside as we cleared up the room and made our exit.

Our conclusions?
The nuclear debate was fascinating. John summed it up as follows: “ Not many years ago, there would not have been a single pro-nuclear voice in a green movement. Last night I judged it was almost an even split – on the one hand, fears about nuclear accidents and the nuclear waste legacy; on the other hand, fears about irreversible climate change. Choosing which is the lesser evil between two planet-threatening options is not easy… It was also good to hear (SLACCtt member) Fiona talk with obvious authority about the pitfalls in George Monbiot’s approach. People wanted to hear the two of them debate the subject, so they could balance the arguments themselves. Fascinating stuff. We need to surface more of the experts lurking in the SLACCtt membership.”

Who knows – could we tempt George M to Cumbria for a public debate?

The Brampton debate focused on how useful it would be to follow this approach in South Lakes.
- Worth it for the baseline data but then needs to be on-going to be really useful
- Option of smaller surveys e.g. of traffic to measure specific impacts
- Quite a lot of work – option of recruiting a University student to complete this
- Government statistics are available for e.g South Lakeland that might be relevant
On the other hand:
- Issue of a small number of `anomalies` massively influencing the overall results
- Issue of how much of real costs, carbon component, etc can be captured in this way.

We also asked ourselves:
- Is this sort of data the best way to promote real change?
- Would our time, energy, money be better spent on interviewing people to discover what they see would make them change (rather than what we think would…!)
- And we concluded we should find out more – particularly the value of focus groups amongst peers/community groups discussing what changes have benefited them and why (viz CRAGS ) and then share outcomes publicly.

And finally, the information management debate – we’ve 3 pages of suggestions on information management and we’re focussing in on how we can use our website as a resource share knowledge e.g. with reviews of articles/books – maybe with a “members only” section of the site. The idea of a “green book club” gained support as did revitalising “green drinks”. And we’d love to know more about our members’ knowledge and skills so that we can help each other.

Thanks to all for your contributions and in particular to Chris, Karen and John for leading discussions and to Fiona for her invaluable input to the “nuclear” debate. (Thanks to Jo for facilitating, and writing this post.)