Bulletins from the frontline: Buckden – What on Earth can Buckden Do?

Last Saturday, the 11th January, Buckden Parish Council held an event called ‘What on Earth Can Buckden Do?’ It was organised to highlight the need for the Parish to take action to try to address issues in  relation to climate change. The event put together in one place Chairs/CEOs of major environmental agencies, like Alan James Chairman CPRE, Brian Eversham CEO Wildlife Trust, Emily Bolton  Energy Projects Officer Cambridgeshire County Council , Tim Lancaster Former Director of the Carbon Trust, and Jonathan Djanogly Member of Parliament. 

Representations were also made from Peterborough City Environmental Trust, Huntingdon District Council, along with experts in the field of the environment and climate change, like eco-YouTuber Dave Borlace “Just Have a Think”, environmental retailers like OrangeHouse Renewables with their extensive knowledge on heat pumps and other environmentally friendly solutions and  of course local residents and the public, all in one place, and all talking and listening to one another. 

More than 350 people packed Buckden village hall. The hall was host to 18 exhibitors displaying an interesting and diverse range of services, information and entertainment, ranging from Cambridgeshire County Council policies to face painting and even a Virtual Reality trip in to space and orbiting the World. 

It was a very lively event and there was a fantastic response from both the public and exhibitors alike. Here is what they said:

“I just wanted to say thank you to Allan and to the rest of the Buckden team who organised yesterday’s very successful event.  Our CPRE team found it fascinating, a great way of communicating the many aspects of climate change concerns and necessary mitigating and preventive actions.  The sharing of ideas about such a complex and potentially divisive subject in such a positive atmosphere was heart-warming. What a great idea it turned out to be.  I think you should all be very proud of what you achieved.
Well done and thank you.” – Alan James, Chairman, CPRE Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

“What a day. There was such a buzz in the hall, even later in the day. I was thrilled that the village responded by supporting it. Thank you to everybody for organising it.” – Rosey Studd, Women’s Institute

“We were encouraged to reduce waste, re-cycle, use resources wisely and support nature, support international efforts to improve our environment.
I took away inspiration that similarly minded residents live where I do, I am confident that the schools locally could carry out several of the initiatives that Buckden School should be commended for. If more events like this are organised, every community could make a difference.” – Eamonn Dorling, Independent Councillor, Whittlesey

“I really enjoyed the whole day. The range of exhibitors and speakers was very broad and informative. The Cool Food challenge was very thought-provoking and a great tool for people to use. I was particularly interested in the OrangeHouse ground source heat pumps stand and how that could work in my community. I am hope that this is something I can take forward as a community action project and now I least know where to start!” – Linda Pointon, East Chesterton, Cambridge

“The Open Afternoon hosted by Buckden PC was ambitious and inspiring. I wasn’t expecting speakers, such a bonus, but not time to hear all of them so left feeling I was missing out! The stands were varied and attractive. I enjoyed chatting to the local owners of electric cars – am already looking round my village to see who has a charging point! There was a buzz about the event. And the WI provided great refreshments!” – Lesli Tunbridge, Glemsford, Suffolk

And here are some comments from our speakers:

“Yesterday I had the privilege of attending and speaking at a community event organised by one of our Patreon supporters, Allan Jones. The event was a great success and I just wanted to give a big shout out to Allan and say how impressed I was by the number of different environmental organisations and speakers Allan was able to get along to the event using nothing more than his own powers of communication and persuasion. All the contributors gave their time and energy for free and in my view this was a perfect example of how grass roots collective action can begin to build momentum and result in macro level change. 
206 out of 465 councils in the United Kingdom have already declared a climate emergency. Allan was able to get the Head of Climate Change policy at Cambridgeshire County Council to come along a speak about the numerous initiatives that are already being put in place in that part of the world. I will be researching how these 206 councils are sharing best practice (if they are at all!) and I will also be finding out why the remaining 259 councils are yet to declare a climate emergency.” – Dave Borlace, Just Have a Think”

“Thank you very much for organising such a high quality and well-attended event. An enormous amount of time and effort had obviously gone in so I hope the Parishioners appreciate how good their Council are!” – Alex Driver,  OrangeHouse Renewables

“Buckden’s event was a brilliant example of what’s needed to take climate action beyond the “usual suspects” and to inform and mobilise a community to come together and form their own solutions. Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency is proud to have supported Buckden with training in community organising, and they’re already having an impact beyond their village by inspiring other members of our network of climate leaders around the county. It was an honour to speak at such a well-organised and well-attended event.” – Chris Pointon, Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency

And a final note from Allan Jones.  Climate Change Mitigation Advisory Group. Buckden Parish Council:

“We would encourage councils and other organisations, who also want to do something to raise awareness, to create their own event along the same lines, here is 10 things that could help.

  1. Answer the questions that the general public have about climate change, with charts, posters, information boards TV screens and well informed personnel. 
  2. Get all the exhibitors / speakers you invite talking to one another and the audience.
  3. Give out some ideas to show people how to exert some influence on government, big business, banks, etc. 
  4. We all know that climate change is a big subject so you need to gather together exhibitors and or speakers, across the wide range of expertise. 
  5. Create a spread of categories, ie environmental organisations, local government, eco retailers, climate change groups, local schools and children’s groups, sustainable transport, sustainable food, recycling, etc etc. 
  6. Encourage exhibitors to use visual displays with equipment on display, and actual demonstrations of products and services.   
  7. Then throw in some fun things it could be face painting, VR video experience, or some kind of fair ground game. Make it interesting.  
  8. Encourage residents to do an on line carbon footprint of their lifestyle. 
  9. Sell tea coffee and cake to the visitors, to recover some of the overheads
  10. Advertise your event as much as possible, my experience is leafleting the local area is the most effective way, get volunteers to deliver to keep your costs down. 

We hope that with every extra event, the message will spread throughout the county, the region, the UK, the world, to infinity and beyond! There are those who will say that anything you try to do, is just a drop in the ocean… to them I say, the ocean is made of drops.”

A full list of contributors to the day is below:

  • Amey PLC
  • Anglia Water
  • Buckden Allotment Holders
  • Buckden C.E. Primary School
  • Buckden EV owners stand
  • Buckden Parish Council
  • Cambridge Carbon Footprint
  • Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
  • HDC Waste Minimisation
  • ‘Just Have a Think’ YouTuber 
  • OrangeHouse Renewables
  • Peterborough Environmental City Trust (PECT)
  • Population Matters
  • Refill Shop
  • Wildlife Trust
  • Woodland Trust