For reasons which will become clear soon, I’ve been rooting around in old blog posts. Came across this, from back when I believed that even though the people in charge might be a bit slow and a bit defensive, they would still basically recognise a good idea, and give a shit about improving this city’s response to climate change. How naive I was
Open letter to Steering Group 2.0
The Steering Group
An Open Letter from the editors of Manchester Climate Monthly
Dear members of the Steering Group old and new,
We wish you good luck in your new endeavour. Manchester desperately needs your energy and unique position in the “eco-system” of organisations, businesses and the like.
We know how little time you have. We know how little money there is. We have some suggestions, for which money is not needed. Here they are;
1) Ask tenants and residents associations, mosques, churches, trades unions etc if you can come and talk with (not “to”, not “at”) them about the Action Plan, the Conference, and hear their ideas and questions. Do Chorlton last. Keep a public log of these meetings, including the questions people raise. Reflect on how to make the meetings more inspiring and “sticky”. Avoid “sage on the stage” and “death by powerpoint.” They are not sticky, they do not inspire.
2) Undertake training, as members of Steering Group, in how to be part of interactive forums (ok “fora”) and discussions, rather than the traditional “death-by-powerpoint followed by Q and A” that are mis-sold as “workshops.”
3) Hold quarterly meetings (in public!) with the Environmental Advisory Panel (on which some of you sit), the Environmental Strategy Programme Board and other “key stakeholders” where members of the public are able to ask questions. Record these. Tweet them. Et cetera.
4) Hold. Elections. It’s not difficult, and it will do your credibility no end of a favour.
5) Call your arty friends at the Cornerhouse and organise a film festival. What films? See our suggestions here. It’d be a good excuse to have a couple of public discussion events too.
6) Call your arty friends at the Royal Exchange, or the Library Theatre, or the Contact or the Lowry, and get them to stage a run of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.” It’s all about a beloved doctor loses his beloved status when he accurately reports that the economically essential asset everyone loves is actually really unhealthy. Who knows, maybe Manchester Airport Group will sponsor it. Organise a couple of post-performance discussions
7) Call your friends at the Manchester Evening News and get a monthly (or even weekly?!) column about climate change, its local impacts, local actions being proposed/taken, difficulties encountered etc. The journos at the MEN already seem to be not entirely opposed to printing good news from Castle Grayskull and her outposts, so it shouldn’t be a big ask.
8) Create a quarterly “question time” style event, with panelists such as the Exec Member for the Environment, the Council Leader, MAG, MEN, members of the Manchester Board (other than your good selves) and maybe a token business person or activist-type. Some sort of gender and race balance would be good. The Town Hall would probably give you a good discount on a room.
9) Make loads of youtubes and other multimedia explaining what the plan is, what progress is being made. (Probably want to avoid talking about how many Implementation Plans have been written though, at least in the short-term…)
10) Set up a short story contest, or film contest (or both) for people who live, work or study in Manchester, about how the city could and should look in the year 2020, or 2030, or whenever.
Once you’ve done all these, feel free come back to us – we’ve got loads more suggestions, many of them which appeared in an April 2009 document a few of you may recall. To real action!
Arwa Aburawa and Marc Hudson
co-editors of Manchester Climate Monthly