It’s that time of year – eggnog, AGMs and enforced jollity. Tuesday night saw 25 or so people attend the Manchester Friends of the Earth do at the Angel pub near the new whizz-bang “green” Co-op building (insert dubious spatial metaphor here).
Before the slightly expensive meal, the formal business was conducted. (I had a 10.6% beer on an empty stomach, so I can’t totally vouch for the points below)
- They’ve raised their membership from 67 (they had a spring clean at end of 2011) to 127.
- Ali Abbas, membership secretary, confessed a love of donut graphs, and was heckled “get a life.” The heckler was forcibly ejected.*
- FoE is raising its membership rates (the first time since 2006). $6 unwaged, £12 low waged, £24 waged and £36 for a household. They may look at doing some fund-raisers instead of asking the faithful to dig deeper, but that depends on who comes forward to do stuff.
- Treasurer’s report – things mostly static since last year. Bank account healthier than the Arctic eco-system, but then again, that’s not saying so much.
- Cat Thomson had to step down after three years as a co-ordinator, and there were no nominations to replace her, so co-ordinators are now Pete Abel and Colette Humphrey.
- Lindsey Fall joins the committee as the Media Officer.
- They’re looking for a new Treasurer asap.
In the coming year they will be
- doing a “Feeding the 5000” event
- Taking part in an Oxford Road consultation
- Doing an Energy Bill public meeting
- Having a visit from their top bod, Andy Atkins
- Bee Campaigning
- Lobbying the Tory Party conference (it’s here in sunny Manc).
Meanwhile, the following night saw “Action for Sustainable Living” meet for a knees up at Platt Fields Chapel, attended by 45ish people. AfSL’s Chairman Chris Wright was in somewhat pensive mood, pointing to a future where grants will be ever harder to come by (for example, schools no longer commissioning work). This, the eighth year of AfSL’s growth, may be the last, he said. Meanwhile, the “Energy Academy” was growing, and morale among staff and volunteers remains high.
The evening then continued with mingling, workshops (though these couldn’t compete with the yummy vegetarian/vegan buffet) and short presentations about Little Green Feats, Stitched Up and the work former AfSl local project manager Joe Hulme is doing with the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Common features (and these are not criticisms; just observations. And MCFly doesn’t do any better when it hosts events.)
Both rooms were overwhelmingly white.
Pretty much everyone in both rooms had a university education (I am guessing, it’s true!!)
The average age range was 20s to 30s, with a smattering of young uns and super-annuated codgers, still abel to get around.
What is to be done?
Something has to be! We really really cannot go on like this. Or rather, we can, because that’s the nature of the smugosphere. But we shouldn’t.
MCFly will extend a challenge – that we sort of started at the AfSL event – to various significant beasts in the ecosystem of Manchester ‘campaigning’/’activism’/’activity’. And the challenge is this: Imagine it is 2020, and your organisation has not only survived, but has grown in size and influence. What happened? What did you do in the years 2013 and 2014 to make the difference, that was different from the previous years of going through the motions? Did it hurt? What had been stopping you from doing it sooner?
And yes, MCFly will be trying to rise to that challenge too.
* Actual facts may vary. Always read the label grovelling mea culpa and retraction