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Monday, July 16, 2007

Human Ecology: Northern England CHE Group - Sedbergh 30 June

As mentioned previously the 2nd Northern England Centre for Human Ecology group meeting was held in Sedbergh last month Saturday 30th 11-3pm.

In addition to hosting the meeting the local organiser(s) also arranges the content for the session - with outside support if necessary. This time Deyna and Criggy took up the baton.

To begin, Criggy shared her work working in rural communities. Referring to my notes many topics were discussed including: community halls as a focus of the community. Raising the profile of sustainable communities, transport in a rural vs urban context and climate change.

Although we were not a legion the diverse experience represented that afternoon showed in knowledge of organisations, e.g. the work of the Commission for Rural Communities and publications - 'What are sustainable rural communities? - 5 Thinkpieces'.

We discussed the car and private transport, the state of public transport, housing, community engagement, belongingness and parish plans. Also in our minds were the extremes of community in terms of age groups, those commuting and second home owners, 'active' and 'passive' community members.

Next: AGENDA 21 and the need to empower civil society locally and globally.

Criggy highlighted and explained the CRC's work on Rural Disadvantage, especially the overlap of:

  • Access poverty
  • Network poverty
  • Financial pverty
The Rural Community Carbon Network and the number of communities that are driving forward with the sustainable agenda not just with words but deeds towards carbon neutrality.

Personalities in this field also featured notably Rob Hopkins. Finally, at least by my notes "Sustainable Communities Plans" were discussed.

Next, Deyna presented her work (I've copied her notes below) on Green Sedbergh covering:


Book town and the regeneration after foot-and-mouth
Green Marquee - raising awareness of environmental issues
Green Tourism initiatives - cycle map/local access leaflet / outdoor festival
Peoples Hall - green refurbishment / rebuild
Plastic bag reduction / replacement
Community cinema - social events
Local sustainability - range of shops /local produce
Farmers market
Sedburgh School - local employment
Hydro-electric scheme?
Re-opening of reservior?


Low wages / High cost of housing / 2nd home syndrome
Rural location / Public transport
2 car families / middle class values
YDNPA national park
Apathy / smugness / commitment

Deyna then sought the groups ASSISTANCE regarding:

Green Parish plan - How? What? Timescale? Cost?
Alternatives to plastic bags?
Implementation incentives - socio-economic?
Balance of individual / community / business needs
Other sustainable / green possibilities

The time really whizzed by, to the extent that my tea went cold (a crime in these circles!) and we only had a break for lunch around 2pm.

The next meeting will be end of Sept-Oct time and may be near Horwich, Bolton. I'll post more details as soon as they are available. Sedbergh is a lovely book town (I bought two second hand) and I really enjoyed meeting CHE students and alumni old and new and as an outsider learning more about human ecology.

Andy also reminded me about the CHE ecopsychology course.

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