TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DERBY
At Britain Yearly Meeting at Canterbury in 2011, Quakers considered the issue of Climate Change. It was clear that Quakers had a special concern for the unity of creation, one which was not new but was deeply rooted in Quaker faith and one of the five testimonies. The minute that came from Canterbury committed Friends to take action both as individuals and as a community, in their own homes and lives, and in their meeting houses and other Quaker buildings.
Derby Quakers began by ensuring that as far as possible all Friends had the opportunity to experience the Swarthmore Lecture which began the concern. Subsequently, we asked Laurie Michales from the Living Witness foundation to come and work with us in a learning workshop aimed at the whole meeting. It was from this session that we decided that we would hold a workshop after Meeting for Worship on the third Sunday In each month, which had just become available, with a view to learning and thinking more about what was demanded of us by the Canterbury Commitment.
We called the response ‘Towards Sustainable Derby’, and we said, often, that, as the need to move towards sustainability was never going to be completed, we must anticipate that we would continue to hold these workshops for ever.
We began in January 2013, and you can find below summaries of the sessions we held. They did not go on for ever, because in 2019 we took to Meeting for Business a growing sense that we didn’t really represent the whole of Derby Meeting, that we were just a small group of Friends ‘crying in the wilderness’. We felt too that we were increasingly just filling a slot.
So we stopped, and below are summaries of all the sessions we ran, till we held our last in March 2019.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2013
20 January 2013 – Sharing what we’ve done: Ideas for the Future
Lucy and Ian Care led us in an interesting tour round our own attempts to understand sustainability and begin to move towards sustainability in our own lives. They encouraged Friends to share their own experiences. Among other things, we learnt that moving towards sustainability in one area may clash with sustainability in another.
17 February 2013 – Greener Gardening
Robert Fairbrother, who is researching this area both theoretically and practically, led us in some unexpected directions to understand his thinking. The following is a flavour.
A garden is something that you make, and a gardener is what the garden makes you….The garden greens itself, the task is to green the gardener, through slowness, stillness, silence, peace, and especially, listening – listening to the landscape of the soul….By this gate we enter into the interconnectedness of the world in which we find ourselves….A world in which nothing is lost, and even death is integral.
17 March – Use Your LOAF – Choosing what to buy – or not
Following Fairtrade Fortnight (25 Feb – 10th March), Sarah Wall encouraged Friends to buy LOAF (Local, Organic, Animal-friendly, Fair trade) and explored in more detail some of the current challenges in ethical purchasing. She spoke of research done on major international campaigns to assess their effectiveness. There was also a chocolate shop before the session.
21 April – What’s in a river?
Tim Pickering took us for a virtual tour of the Markeaton Brook and helped us to consider how rivers can help us towards sustainable thinking.
19 May – The clothes we stand up in
Millie Holder discussed some of the issues facing us – and the world – around sourcing, making, buying and disposing of the clothes we wear. She gave – and displayed – lots of examples of her own work, and encouraged us to think how we could give our own fabrics a new lease of life.
16 June – ‘Someone should do something’
Lucy Care got us thinking about the actions we want to take and the things that are getting in the way of us doing them. She made us realise that we don’t have to solve the problems around us, just make a contribution to the solution. She wanted us to see that joining others in the struggle is likely to make more of a difference.
21 July – Food
Ruth Strange from Soundbites started with a discussion of some terms – familiar and unfamiliar – from sustainability. We then considered a definition of sustainability, and went on to answer some key questions to be answered in order to work towards Derby and ourselves becoming sustainable.
18 August—The Transition Network – Transition Belper’s experience
Ian Jackson explained how Belper Transition Town started, with a few volunteers, using Bob Hopkins’ book’The Power of Just Doing Stuff’, and have evolved into an inspiring local community that has a real impact on self-sufficiency in Belper. Local foodstuffs, independent shops, and the creation of hydropower for energy, have all involved the community in positive projects. Ian’s talk and Powerpoint presentation showed us how ordinary people can affect their own lives and surroundings in creative ways if the will is there. Transition Towns is a worldwide movement from ground level up.
22 September – Seed and plant swop
Kathryn Hey led a plant and seed swop, from which everybody gained – and learned as well.
20 October – Ethical Investment
Having outlined the different types of ethical investment, Tamsin Caine explored its history and the present situation, which has risen from £1.5 billion at the beginning of the century to £11.3 billion now. She considered the advantages and disadvantages of negative screening, positive screening and dialogue and engagement, and encouraged the group to discuss them. She warned us of the pitfalls in attempting to invest ethically, and concluded by informing us of other sources of information.
17 November – Green Christmas
Kathryn Hey led us in exploring practical ways in which we can plan to have a more sustainable Christmas this year.
15 December – Chasing Ice
Steve Adams introduced James Balog’s fascinating and worrying film, and he and Ian Care led some discussion of the current state of global warming.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2014
19 Jan – Green resolutions
Lucy and Ian Care led us, as a Meeting and individually, to assess how we did in 2013, and then look at hopes and plans for the New Year. We started by considering the issues we had considered during 2013 and the impact they had had on us. We then discussed what we were most concerned to know more about in 2014. These were listed and will inform the planning group.
16 Feb – Keeping us and the house warm
Jeremy Fisk from C-Changes asked us to think about where we use energy in our homes and what opportunities there are to make savings. He explained about the developments in insulation, room and house heating, and we thought about what progress we had made. There was wide ranging discussion and lots of sharing of experiences, ideas and suggestions.
16 March – Community Gardening
Marina Kennedy and Ann Hope told us how they claimed a community space in Nottingham and created a garden for all in that local area. It was fascinating to hear of the beginnings, the contacts they made, the set-backs they met, and the challenges they faced, before finally succeeding in making a garden that it used and appreciated in the community.
20 April – Changing Our World Together – Practical projects from Canterbury Conference
Jacqueline Chambers attended the Climate Change Conference based on the Canterbury Committment and led the workshop around this theme.Jacqueline summarised the key areas and sessions she attended at the conference.The key message is in considering our response to the Canterbury Commitment and climate change we need to start by transforming ourselves.
18 May – A visit to the Derwent hydro-electric plant
Leader, Gethyn Davies from Derby City Council, showed a group of more than a dozen round the hydro-electric facility which provides most of the electricity for the newly-opened Council House. He answered all our questions with great good humour – and all on a Sunday lunchtime too!
15 June – Co-operatives – what are they and why?
Ruth Strange helped us look at some statistics and examples; some failures and challenges; new initiatives and experiments; parallels to Quaker values; and try some co-operative games! She introduced us to four new networks that have sprung up recently in the UK, and Ruth is now involved in Whole Food Action which is launched its own website in September.
20 July – Waste reduction and Recycling
Richard Winter spoke about his experience in the public and private sectors finding ways to recycle as much waste as possible.
17 August – Using Water Well
Edwina Woodland from Severn Trent talked about water supply in the UK and the treatment of waste water. She gave examples of how Severn Trent is generating renewable electricity and re-think how they dispose of their waste.
21 September – Stealing our grandchildren’s future? – the moral challenges of an ageing population
Chris Ring led us to think of the differences in lifestyle and expectations between post -50 year olds today, and pre 1945. We then considered government attitudes to ‘frail old people’ and their costs. compared with the many ways in which the post-50s assisted our families and our communities, voluntarily, thus saving the government considerable amounts. We talked about ‘well-being’ and how the energies of the post-50s could be used to create this quality in our communities.
19 October – Peace and Climate Change – DVD
Ian Care used the DVD to facilitate discussion, considering the relationship between climate change and peace. Does climate change make conflict more likely? What other solutions are there rather than military ones? Are there any signs of hope in the world now? What can we do to make war less likely?
16 November – Effective Communication
Lucy Care and Gillian McPherson led a lively active session in which we considered how others think and how we may build a society that works through understanding each other better.
21 December – How do we use our homes
Shaun Bennett from Derby Homes spoke about how Derby social housing had been progressively improved for less expensive day to day use for the occupier and the local authority, and for sustainability. Early work was to lower heat loss from the buildings, and then to employ more economical and more effective heating, always seek to use the most up to date systems available. In some cases, Derby Homes were testing the most recent research products.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2015
18 January – ‘The Power of Community’
Ian Care showed a powerful film about the way that Cuba responded when the Soviet Union collapsed. Cuba had to get used to not having petrol and other imports which was very similar to the impact that oil running out will have on us. There was initially severe hardship in all sorts of ways but in the longer term the message was quite optimistic because they have learnt to develop a way of living which doesn’t rely on oil and which is far more sustainable, respectful of the planets resources, and more of a genuine community.
15 February – Paying Attention
Improving communication between us. Following on from the November session, Galib Drakovac, with the help of Olivia Summerbridge, focused on how to improve communication with friends and family, but also more widely across the community. We looked at how miscommunication occurs with individuals, groups and society as a whole, it how it can be avoided by focusing on the present, and being open, honest and attentive. Practical examples helped us to understand the differences.
Leaders: Galib Drakovac (with Olivia Summerbridge)
15 March – Place Making: turning spaces into places
Place-making challenges the vehicle-dominated culture of our streets. Dan Robertson (Project Officer, Pocket Places for People) facilitated a lively discussion on place making work that Sustrans and others are doing in Derby and about how we can take it up in our own neighbourhoods. Tigers on the roads and pavements, and pianos in the street, are memorable examples of the way Dan encourages looking afresh at and behaving differently towards the environment.
19 April – Peak Oil – Where are we now?
Lucy and Ian Care provided up-to-date information about the situation regarding fossil fuels, and facilitated discussion about the dependency of our society on them, and how we can reduce it.
17 May – Local Exchange Trading Schemes
Mark Simnet told us about LETS which enables members of a community to trade skills, goods and services, using their own ‘community currency.’ It also performs a useful function in helping to bring people in communities together.
21 June – Bees: the role they play in sustaining the human race
Ian Care introduced the session, explaining about pollinators, especially the varieties of bumble bees found in the UK. Chris Ring shared his experience of bee-keeping and his knowledge of bee-keeping elsewhere in Europe.
19 July – Film: Cowspiracy
Owing to small numbers, we postponed the update on climate change to September and watched the film Cowspiracy, which reveals that the largest driver of CO2 damage to the atmosphere is the production of live animals for food. We were stunned and began to consider how this might change our eating behaviour.
16 August – Review Meeting
The facilitator will help the group to look at what we’ve covered and consider what issues we should focus on in our fourth year.
Leader: Gillian MacPherson
20 September – Extreme Weather and Climate Change
Ed Sears showed through maps and graphs just how the temperature and rainfall has altered in accordance with the predictions of global warming, and talked about some of the ways he is trying to combat it himself.
18 October – Bats – What they do for us and what we can do for them
Alan Wragg from Derbyshire Bat Group spoke about bats, why they are important, what we can do to protect them, and where we can find them. He showed lots of photographs of the different kinds of bats, and told us which we could find in Derbyshire.
15 November – Reconnecting with the soil
In this ‘Year of the soil’, Katy Doncaster demonstrated practical examples, based on the Scandinavian-inspired Forest schools method, of local primary school children enjoying the freedom of creating pots, bread, safe fires, etc, supervised in a local wood, as well as in creating gardens around the school. The benefits were clear in the growing confidence and self awareness of the children in relating to the natural world. Seven year old Alexander demonstrated this to us in his ability to use a bow saw safely to cut discs from a small branch to make a pendant. Often children with ‘special needs’ who did not achieve in a classroom environment found they could blossom in this situation.
20 December – Spiritual approaches to Sustainability
Gillian Macpherson introduced a miscellany of the writings, poems, and songs, places, journeys and activities, that that have moved those present. The session was varied in subject and medium, and may well be repeated in the future.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2016
17 January – Derwent Valley Cycleway
Ian Dent spoke about the project in which he is engaged to create a multi-use track along the banks of the river Derwent from Matlock to Derby. He illustrated his talk with photographs and maps, and raised issues for general discussion with those who attended.
21 February – Refugees
A century of human migration has started. Why are there refugees? How can we help? What’s likely to happen in the future? We had talks and discussions on this whole challenging subject, including inputs from Gillian Macpherson, Lucy Care, Ian Care, Sarah Wall and Steve Adams.
12 March (Sat am, before Area Meeting) – Living Witness to deliver session: Where have we got to? Where are we going?
18-20 March – National Quaker Conference at Swanwick – Gillian Macpherson and Steve Adams attended. See report from Gillian and Random ? Thoughts from Steve.
20 March – Film: Dirt, with discussion.
Led by Ian Care and Lucy Care.
17 April – A Review of Living Witness workshop and Swanwick Sustainability conference
Reports from Gillian and Steve, and discussion.
15 May – Vegan dieting
Gillian Macpherson introduces the subject. We had eaten vegan for the Welcome Lunch last week, and there were more examples today. Sally Bramson described her journey to full time veganism. There were lots of questions and discussion.
19 June – 30 Days Wild
Ian Care and Lucy Care introduced an activities session, based on the national wild life month, when Derbyshire Wild Life encouraged everyone to get out into the country. We looked at plants and trees indoors, and went in the garden to examine our immediate environment more closely.
There was no meeting in July or August
18 September – Birds and other creatures
Jacqui & Richard Weir from RSPB gave us a fascinating survey of the plants and creatures, and especially birds, that we may find outside in our part of the country, and in our gardens.
16 October – Quakers: a Sustainable Community?
Our two trustees, Alison Gray and Valerie Farrow, first acknowledged their debt to David Holmes, who died in June. They also advised us to treasure our own treasurer, Sue Ashburner. New technology has been introduced to analyse and rationalise the Area finances. Alison illustrated from a colour-coded cartoon our Area Meeting houses, and explained our AM Endowment Fund, Investments and Bank interest. These were related to Hardship, Education and FMH grants, and also to the General fund and FMH Funds. We learned what contributions were needed as well as what we might access for various needs. Altogether it was a most enlightening and interesting session for which we thank them both.
20 November – Domestic grid-connected energy storage
John Beardmore, Managing Director of T4 Sustainability Ltd, discussed the range of options for extending electricity generation into electricity storage. Businesses are now promoting battery-based systems, but John queried whether this is a good idea, as grid-scale storage is generally a better use of resources.
18 December – Earth Pilgrim: Sharing Sustainable Specialities
Organised by Alan Barker
As Satish Kumar says, “We go to Dartmoor as pilgrims, not as tourists, not to escape the stress of modern life but to renew the spirit.” In this film, made for BBC Worldwide, Kumar describes his spiritual response to the Dartmoor landscape through the seasons. A former Jain monk, he is a pacifist, and is the co-founder and former editor of Resurgence magazine and Director of Programmes at Schumacher College. He encourages us to shed fear and anxiety, and to commit to life here and now.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2017
15 January – Health: Sustainability and Transformation Plans
Lucy Care highlighted the four main preventable pressures that are adding to the demand for NHS services, smoking, alcohol, obesity and inactivity. The group then discussed how people could be encouraged by the NHS, councils and the community to change their lifestyles. Lucy explained that this is what the STP is seeking to achieve in Derbyshire, but that there is no up-front funding and the public has not been involved.
19 February – Yoga/Pilates
Louise Collinson led one of an occasional series of sessions helping us to keep healthier into old age. This was aimed at keeping supple and was a gentle taster session in Pilates, for every day and every age.
19 March – The Housing Bill
Lucy Care led a discussion of the forthcoming Housing Bill. What are the issues? Does the white paper address them? What course of action should we be considering?
16 April (Easter Sunday) – Beyond my Death: What do I leave behind?
Leader: Hilary Marson, Registering Officer for Notts/Derbys Area Meeting (Quakers).
Hilary Marson led a lively session of the issues surrounding death and what follows it both in our society and our Society What is the role of Quaker burial grounds (including our own) and should we be using them? What are the options for my body? What are most sustainable?
21 May- Positive Money
Leader: Graham Hodgson
Positive money is a movement for a fair, democratic, sustainable money system. Graham explained how money is created by commercial banks to make loans, to make them profit. He showed the effect that this process has on making our society less fair and equal, and what can be done to reverse this process.
18 June – Walking for Health
Leader: Gwen Schaffer
The weather and low attendance interfered with this session.
NB – No sessions in July/August
17 September – Population issues
Leader: TED talk – Hans Rosin
Kathryn introduced this talk on screen, which shows just how little we understand population growth and the factors that effect it. We are all much more knowledgeable after watching the talk.
15 October – Making Bread
Leaders: Gillian Macpherson & Helena Brzezinska
Gillian and Helena showed us how to make nourishing and sustaining bread, using the sponge method, and we had the opportunity to taste some bread too.
19 November – Our City, Our River
Leader: Dave Powner
Changing climate means that extreme weather is more likely and Derby is at extreme risk of flooding. The Our City,Our River project is working to provide more space for water in some areas, and and build barriers against flood water to protect property where needed. It is a long-term project with further action and funding to be agreed.
17 December – Stop Funding Hate
Leader: Ruth Strange
Stop Funding Hate launched in August 2016 to mount an offensive against the big consumer businesses who are directly sponsoring hateful and divisive journalism. By conducting a two-week long scope of the three newspapers in question, Ethical Consumer were able to highlight the most prolific advertisers and estimate the value of their adverts.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2018
21 January – Science, Agriculture and Politics
Phil Bennion explained how he was inspired to get involved in politics because of concerns over the lack of sustainability of food production. He went on to challenge conventional thinking on agriculture.
13 February – GREEN DAY Planning
Joint meeting held with Outreach Group and Roger Clarke from Bakewell Green Day. Event put on hold till 2020.
18 February – Sustainable Architecture
Pippa Mansell and George Jones talked about the beginnings of their career as architects and how from the start they were involved in sustainable architecture. They explained with pictures and diagrams the key elements in making homes use less energy.
18 March – Quaker Divestment
Leader: Simon Bond POSTPONED TO 15 JULY DUE TO SNOW
15 April – Green Gardening, etc
Valerie Farrow led this enjoyable and interactive session by introducing five key principles of organic gardening: Soil Health, Composting, Pests and Predators, the Right plant in the Right place, and Companion Planting. Discussion also included minimal digging (leave the worms and other organisms in there to ‘do their bit’), the value of green manure, knowing your soil type by testing the Ph level, and the best compostable plants.
20 May – Anaerobic Digestion
Adrian Miller gave an account of an anaerobic digester that he knows well, on a farm at Oakerthorpe. He answered most of our questions, and explained how it works with diagrams. Discussion was lively, about the future of anaerobic digestion, its advantages and disadvantages.
17 June – Housing and Food
Alan Shaw, the new Chair of the Padley Group, shared the history of the charity and its current opportunities. Finance is currently tight and they know they need to review their services, but they want to continue to prioritise care for homeless people and develop what is available.
15 July – Quaker Divestment
Simon Bond, from Reading Quaker Meeting, has a background in accountancy, and is a member Britain Yearly Meeting Investment Group. He led an interesting and thought-provoking session on the financial approaches at both corporate and individual level which need to be made to meet our Canterbury Commitment of living as a low carbon community. Some progress has already been made by Friends working with other faith groups to achieve energy reduction. Individual Friends can also make a difference by altering their own personal investment criteria.
August – no session
16 September – Derwent Valley Cycleway
Ian Dent, current Chair of group planning the DVC, explained the concept and some of the difficulties and opportunities that the scheme is presenting. He took us through the projected route and answered questions.
21 October – Heartfullness
Karen Devlin shared some of the benefits of Heartfullness which she’s been practising for over 20 years. After explaining what Heartfullness is all about, she led us in a period of meditation, after which we discussed what we had experienced.
18 November – Brexit and Sustainability
Simon Ferrigno spoke with expertise and passion about the impact that he anticipates that Brexit will have on the efforts that are being made to reduce the human impact of the environment. He answered questions and discussion followed.
16 December – Air Quality and the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan
Ian & Lucy Care introduced us to the issues in Derby about Air Quality, and talked about approaches to improve it. Lucy helped us to think of ways that cycling and walking could be improved in Derby.
SUMMARIES OF SESSIONS – 2019
20 January – Seed Swap and Garden Planning
Gillian Macpherson led participants in a practical session.
17 February – How can we progress the Canterbury Commitment?
Lucy Care and Steve Adams led a session to determine how Derby Friends may pursue the Canterbury Commitment from this point.
17 March – The Bamford Quaker Community
Zee-Zee Heine and Cindy Metcalfe talked about how the Bamford Community began, what the drivers were that led people to seek a community life, how it works, and what the challenges and rewards have been for those involved.