The week started off with our opening gathering at the Community Orchard. Our Bike Ride around Bridport featured the Mayor, Dave Bolwell and the Town Cryer in full regalia. Stall holders included: Energy Local Bridport, BeeFriendly, Bridport Tree Planting, St. Mary’s Eco Church, Allington Hillbillies, Town Council (energy stall), Sustainable Bridport and the Co-op. A gentle rain, the first we had seen in many weeks, wet those still clearing up their stalls.
On Saturday evening Bridport Sustainable Fashion and Textiles network launched their first network meeting. The invited speaker, Ria Burns runs a sustainable knitting business in Bristol, where she sources all the wool locally to her and has learned how to grow the plants she needs to create a vast range of colours. It was a full event and the audience were keen on developing the network.
On Monday Kevan Manwaring gave a talk on how we can collectively and creatively imagine a future. Near the close he gave the participants a questionnaire that would normally have taken an hour (or days) and instructed us to fill it out in 10 minutes. In other words, stop being so careful, examining the pitfalls and revising mentally before speaking. Just let the ideas flow. It was fascinating and surprising what the unrestricted mind has to say.
One of the talks focussed on the relationship between farming, nature and climate. On Tuesday Alasdair Moffett explained the Upper Axe Landscape Partnership which incorporates 23 farms in an almost completely contiguous land area. The Brit catchment may well attempt this feat in the upcoming few years; this is part of the government’s Environmental Land Management scheme.
On Wednesday afternoon 12 walkers met with Joe, Julie Leah and John Calder for a taster session to learn how to assess hedgerow conditions. The surveys of hedgerow health are an essential part of Dorset CAN’s Great Big Dorset Hedgerow project which aims to restore and expand the network of hedgerows across Dorset. Different examples of a laid hedge and some new planting were looked at – the rich growth and extensive brambles and bracken did make this quite difficult at times! The walk finished at Felicity’s (Morecombelake) for tea and cold drinks.
In the evening Ian Rees and West Dorset Friends of the Earth described to a large audience the different ways that the public can volunteer to help monitor the health of the Brit catchment. Ian stole the show with his invertebrate friends, see 2nd picture. Many people signed up and the hope is to fill most of the potential sites with monitors over the next year.
On Thursday Nick Gray led a walk to Happy Isle, searching for Himilayan balsam and also checking the health of the river. As one participant describes “we had a look at the areas where Himalayan Balsam is growing, identifying the plant and pulling some of it out. Dorset Wildlife Trust run volunteer work parties that are removing it further upstream first, otherwise the seeds will come down river and continue to populate the banks downstream. We also had the opportunity of enjoying seeing damsel and May flies hatching and glimpsed fish rising in the river. “
Thursday eve: Sustainable Bridport had been successful in obtaining a grant from Transition Together, to collaborate with Bridport Art’s Centre and organise a series of film workshops for young people to make a short film to start a conversation about what they feel about climate change. A local young film maker, George Earwicker, led the workshops where the participants worked on concept, story, character development, script, and filming. The film crew was on hand to answer questions afterward.
Their short film was accompanied by ‘Kiss The Ground’ which showed how farming in a regenerative way and protecting the soil can be a big part of the solution for climate change.
Friday afternoon at St Mary’s School Fayre, as soon as the bell for the end of the school day rang the field was thronged with children and their parents sampling the food and drink on offer plus looking at and taking part in several interactive displays and experiments. The homemade blackcurrant cordial and a range of pestos were all delicious. The children manning the various displays were very keen and knowledgable. It was great to see the very young taking such an interest in growing food, climate and ecological issues. They are great ambassadors for the Edible Garden and the school.
On Friday the warm weather was good enough to draw a good crew of swimmers at West Bay. They are looking at ways to channel their anger and concern over the continued storm overflows of sewage into the sea, searching for ways to cajole the government and Wessex Water into action. First a beach clean, then some chat with Kelvin Clayton, a group swim and more chat over tea and cake.
On the Saturday, Bridport turned out for the annual Food Festival. WD FoE and Sustainable Bridport shared a stall that focused on wind turbines. FoE had a straw poll asking whether onshore wind turbines were viewed positively by the attendees. (out of 91 votes, 70 responses said yes, that West Dorset should use its wind to create energy).
More information about the continuing campaigns behind these events can be found here.
The Great Big Green Week was supported by the Co-op.
“At Co-op we acknowledge that we are in the grips of a climate crisis and we all have a part to play in changing the way we live, therefore during the GBGW Co-op organised sustainability live events all over the country.”
As well as donating to the refreshments, the Co-op had a stall which invited local community groups who are supporting biodiversity: the Millennium Green Trust , Plot 17, The Cow Shed, Jurassic Social Prescribers and Harmony’s allotment.