Unanswered questions about Chorlton Green Festival

We’d like to be able to tell you some basic good things about the Chorlton Green Festival being held on Saturday March 31st.Things about how volunteers are learning new skills, the “success metrics” of the Festival, and the “lessons learnt” from previous years. (Similar to puff pieces we’ve run about the Land Army, Eco-Daya etc).  Sadly, we can’t.

We’ve been advertising its organising meetings in our calendar, and in previous years we’ve attended (and indeed were invited to be a speaker at a “Fringe Event”).  The last issue of Manchester Climate Fortnightly in November 2010  contained a puff piece (page 7) about plans to renovate a building on the site of the venue, a church in Chorlton.

Sadly, the person in charge of organising the Festival has refused point blank to answer our  questions. Initially the reason given was that they were to be too busy. We offered a phone call – this was declined, and when we suggested he delegate the answering of the questions we received a robust and forthright email with more fundamental reasons. We can’t tell you what those are, because he has refused permission to quote the email. [Can he do that, legally? We don't know, and don't care. We're respecting his wishes on this.])  It is unclear whether he is acting unilaterally at this point, or has discussed his stance with the broader group of people organising the Festival.

What are these inflammatory questions?  Pretty straightforward, we think;

1. What’s your budget?
2. What are you doing to make sure it has as low an impact as possible?
3. What would count as a success?
4. What training or mentoring is available for volunteers who want to get involved with making the festival happen?
5. What specific lessons are you acting on that you learnt from previous years? (we’re big on the learning these days!)
6. What does the festival do in between the yearly events to keep people interested etc?
7. How can people sign up for a stall and how long is the average wait until they find out they have been successful?

Perhaps some of the current or past volunteers would like to pitch in here?  Because we really simply want to be able to run a positive news story.  Part of our “inspire” remit, after all.

Disclaimer: Question 7 is of specific interest to us because we have applied for a stall and… well, it’s a long story.

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Monthly Magazine/newsletter about all things climate and resilience in Greater Manchester.
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6 Responses to Unanswered questions about Chorlton Green Festival

  1. Jonathan says:

    It seems to me like a personal issue is spilling over onto the internet – what a shame.

    As one of the people who is helping organise this year’s festival I take issue with your piece above, and don’t understand your use of the phrase “person in charge of organising the Festival” – there isn’t one, we’re a group. As I understand it you’ve been contacted by one of the group who’s organising some interactive debates, asking if you’re interested in being involved.

    I don’t know if Marc, Arwa or one of the reporting team wrote the piece above, but I’m disappointed that you’ve taken this approach. Having met Marc once I had a better impression of your group and was hoping to see you interacting with attendees at the festival. I would be happy to answer your questions verbally – email me a phone number, or I can meet in town tonight or next Monday.
    I hope you understand that a voluntary group doesn’t always have the time to answer searching questions, however valid they may be.

    • Dear Jonathan

      I am delighted that you will answer the questions.

      To clarify what has happened – Arwa asked these questions to Nigel Rose via email a week ago. Three days ago (and we are very used to waiting longer than that for responses from organisations, that’s not an issue at all) Nigel said he did not have time to answer them. Arwa suggested a phone conversation. He declined. I then suggested he delegate the task to someone else who did have time. He then made it very very clear that he was not going to answer any of the questions, and that he was not going to delegate the task to anyone else. He is free to publish the email that he sent to us. I am not.

      We then published the article we did. We made our position very clear in that article, which I drafted, but which Arwa reviewed and published.

      Our position is this. We want to run a positive story about Chorlton Green Festival. We WILL do so, when we get the answers to questions that we do not consider unreasonable.

      I hope that makes our position clear.

      Marc Hudson

  2. Josh Steiner says:

    Hi Marc,

    The CBGF organisers all work very hard and largely on a voluntary basis through their personal commitments to inspire eco-awareness in others. I think we should give them all the support we can.

    I understand the place for your probing investigative journalism but I’m not clear on how you’re choosing your battles. I wonder whether the disharmony you often create mightn’t be the reason people are starting to steer clear of responding to your general info requests.

    I really support your work and enjoy reading your commentary whenever I can. I’m not sure that it’s as productive as it could be when you target individuals in this way.

    Josh

    • Josh,

      until we received the information that not only was Nigel NOT going to answer our questions, he wasn’t going to give the questions to someone else to answer, we here at MCFly were not aware that we were in a “battle.”

      We don’t want to reprint press releases, or construct articles from clippings on websites. That’s how mainstream journalism works, and it’s why so few people bother with mainstream journalism these days. We wanted to publish a story that had some real facts in it. A positive story.

      So far, we have been unable to do so. That’s not our fault.

      Marc Hudson

      Oh, and we too are volunteers trying to inspire eco-awareness. So are we above criticism? Do we deserve uncritical support? No, we don’t, and if we tried to use that as logic, I hope you would be appalled.

  3. Nigel Rose says:

    I’m the unpaid voluntary Chair of the organising committee for Chorlton Big Green Festival and the person who refused to answer the questions posed by Marc Hudson. The festival is organised by a large number of volunteers who work very hard to make it happen every year and frankly we can do without this kind of unwarranted criticism just because I didn’t answer his questions. The questions seemed rather negative and unhelpful and would have required a lot of time to answer (there is not a single question about what will be at this year’s festival). My experience of Manchester Climate Monthly is that they tend to use information often to criticise rather than to help or promote. I’d rather hoped that my refusal would be the end of the matter but instead we get this unpleasant and bullying article.

    The last point that Marc makes about his request for a stall and it being a long story suggests in a offensive way that there is something fishy about how the festival allocates stalls. There isn’t, we consider each request on its merits and have several requests under consideration at the moment, but it is up to us who we allocate stalls to and Manchester Climate Monthly have no more right to a stall than other groups who approach us. We can take some time to do this as we are a voluntary group and the decisions are made collectively.

    • Nigel

      a) the questions were asked to you by my co-editor Arwa Aburawa. I got involved late in the game, when I suggested the questions could be delegated to someone else. You refused to countenance this.

      b) if you want to give people facts about the allocation of stalls, then answering question 7 would be a good start.

      c) if the questions had been delegated to someone – or given out to a group of individuals over the space of two or three weeks – then we would not be wasting each others’ time on this comments thread.

      We did NOT need or demand the answers in any particular time-frame. If we had been told “look, those are a lot of questions, can you give us three weeks” we would have said, “sure, fine, no problem.” [On very specific occasions (I can think of one) we have given one specific organisation a week's deadline.]

      Chorlton Green Festival is a great thing. Unlike some other organisations in Manchester it keeps its promises about what it will do. And it has had undoubted successes in bringing people together, teaching them things, keeping volunteers energised.

      That’s why we asked the questions – so that “how to” information could be shared with a broader readership.

      Instead, here we are.

      Marc Hudson

      We will continue to advertise the organising meetings for the festival. If you put on any pre-Festival events, we will organise them.

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