Event report: #Reclaim the hour #Manchester #ReclaimMCR

NB This post is nothing to do with/about the excellent “Reclaim” project

On the plus side, this time there were chairs to sit on and decent speakers. On the downside, this time there was no wine to wash down the general incompetence and the same delusional self-congratulatory irrelevant wankery by the so-called “Manchester Climate Change Agency.” (It is not actually an ‘agency’ in the sense of a statutory body which can be forced to release basic information about itself’; instead it is a community interest company with delusions of competence, entirely funded by Manchester City Council).

The event called “Resource, Reuse, Reclaim” and was held in a noisy and hard-to-find building on Manchester Metropolitan University campus. The forty or so (overwhelmingly white, and young but for a few old farts like me) people were treated to a rambling introduction that pointed out that we are toast (sort of – it was mostly about the increase in resource use since the 1950s, what Anthropocene scholars call (though this wasn’t mentioned tonight) ‘the Great Acceleration‘.

There was of course nothing on the Great Deceleration in Manchester since 2010 – the endless broken promises and missed targets of the Council and the ‘Steering Group’ that created this so-called ‘Agency’; the broken promises on carbon literacy training, the abolition of the stakeholder conference (it was supposed to be annual, and a day long. After one in 2010, they couldn’t get their shit together to do one in 2011, held two half-day wastes-of-time in 2012 and 2013 and then abolished it), the failure to EVER hold the promised elections to the Steering Group, the failure to hold meetings in public, the failure to put up minutes, the failure to achieve anything etc etc etc. No, mustn’t talk about how far off track we are. Because you know, blaming the Tories only works for so long…

Instead we had four excellent (and props – all female) speakers. There were people from

  • Stitched Up – sustainable fashion, teach you how to sow look good on a (carbon) budget
  • Unicycle – stopping landfills filling up with students’ detritus, making people feel good
  • Freecup – trying to decrease paper cup stupidity (272,000 a day in Greater Manc?!)
  • Emerge – lots of stuff.  Need vollies to stop food ending up in landfill.

Then there was just too much time for some closing “observations”. The person opened (and this is verbatim) “I’m going to do a terrible job…”

Yes. Yes, indeed.

And then it was over. People headed for the door, I was one of them.

So why go? Because it aggravates a few people? For the giggles and shits, as the young folk say? Or because I want to confirm that they still don’t know anything, and are still incapable of learning? Or d) all of the above. But hell, apparently I am supposed to be “constructively dissenting” , or whatever that means. So here goes, not that they are willing or indeed able to listen.

  • Name badges to lower the difficulty of mingling (lots of people do struggle and either sit on their own or clump with someone they know, making it even harder for newbies to meet. That I am having to type this in the general direction of people who claim to want to create networks is embarrassing for everyone.
  • Have a high-energy start. Thank people for coming, get people to talk to the person next to them/behind them.
  • If you’re not going to talk loudly enough either a) shut up or b) use a microphone, especially if the acoustics are shit.
  • Actually mention the existence of the Climate Change Action Plan, and the so-called “Strategy”. Mention the decarbonisation goal and the ‘creation of a low carbon culture; goal. Explain that the only things that have happened towards the former have been from the national level – the decarbonisation of the electricity grid and improvements in appliance efficiency- the Manchester “climate “policy” gains have been non-existent. Explain that the latter is dead in the water but desperately needs reviving.
  • Mention the hashtag at the beginning of the event, not the end.  Social media #epicfail as the young people tweet…
  • FILM the goddam event and put the videos up on youtube.
  • If you have speakers who are supposed to keep to time, keep them to time. One way to do this is pecha kucha – 20 slides, each of 20 seconds, equally 6 mins 40.
    A bunch of slides for what the project is, what it does, then four at the end for

a) what could Manchester City Council do to help our organisation/idea spread/replicate/grow in the next six months, but won’t because they don’t actually give a shit and are totally incompetent anyway

b) what could the Manchester Climate Change “Agency” do to help our… anyway.

c) what do we need from you, the punters here tonight

d) what could you, the punters, get from being involved in our project

  • have a general Q and A. Oh, and actually answer the questions this time.
  • Have a feedback sheet that isn’t about the single shitty event, but actually finds out what questions people have (and then research those questions and put the answers up on the website) and finds out what skills people have that might be useful.

None of this will happen. The “agency” will stagger on, staging these feel-good events that achieve little beyond warm-inner-glowism until the Council pulls the financial plug and the staff are de-seconded. Cannot happen soon enough.


About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Event reports, Steering Group, Unsolicited advice. Bookmark the permalink.

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