On 23 September 2021, we organised a film screening plus discussion as part of Climate Fringe Week as well as for the European Day of Sustainable Communities (EDSC21). The event took place 6.30pm–9.00pm and was kindly hosted by Bruntsfield Evangelical Church (with generous assistance in person from LT resident Fraser McLaren), which provided first-rate facilities for seating, screening, food and group facilitation. We received a small grant to help cover costs from EDSC21, via their local representatives, the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN).
The film we screened was Not Without Us (12+, 72mins), a documentary following seven grassroots climate action campaigners from across the world, before and during COP21, Paris 2015. The film was made available to us at minimal cost through What the COP?, an initiative organised by Take One Action. After the film, we held open discussions in four small groups to air ideas on what aiming for Net Zero might mean to us as a community and what actions we could take locally.
A total of 50 people attended the event and most of them stayed through to the end (when there was a draw for some honeycomb and honey generously donated by Jeanna Brady from her family’s back-garden hives). Here’s a breakdown:
- 39 people registered via Eventbrite, of whom 27 turned up.
- Of the total attendees, 29 were previously unknown to us.
- 25 were from the Bruntsfield area; others came from nearby parts of the city, plus some from Leith, Granton and Dunbar.
- External representation at the event came from Dig In and from the Hiya Car car-sharing scheme.
Mick Patrick from the LTA group welcomed everyone and introduced the idea of the event, of BANZAI and the planned structure of the evening.
The film was interesting. Despite being made only six years ago, the world portrayed — pre COVID, pre Greta Thunberg, pre-Extinction Rebellion etc – seemed so different from now. And yet, so much that needs to change remains the same. The film focused on individuals working at a high level to help encourage systems change, rather than local change. However, it stressed that change at all levels is required, and clearly showed how working together helps people stay positive and create change.
After the film there was a chance to grab some more refreshments before dividing into four smaller groups, roughly based on home neighbourhood. Each group was facilitated by one of the organising team in discussions and idea-sharing for about 30 minutes. In each group session there was an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves and to consider the kinds of net zero supporting actions that might be suited to small community groups and that they’d like to see. Topics that came up included:
- reducing home energy consumption (e.g., insulation, heat pumps);
- moving away from car use and car ownership;
- resource sharing (e.g., tools, cars, cargo bikes);
- increasing local biodiversity;
- coordinated campaigning for measures such as street-level EV charging;
- and many more.
The facilitators made notes of the group sessions and the organising team will consider everything that came up, and work out how to proceed.
We will encourage the many attendees and BANZAI followers from neighbourhoods other than the Leamington Terrace to consider setting up their own street-level community groups to act on Net Zero. We will use the information gathered at the event to put any near-neighbours from such areas in touch with each other to make that a bit easier. We hope that BANZAI will work as an umbrella organisation to help the various groups share ideas, resources, experience, campaigns etc. It should be noted that BANZAI is not yet formally organised, constituted or funded in any way.
We also have the notes from the discussions on the kinds of actions that people consider might be attractive and successful at that level, which are being used to seed our planning.
In the meantime, BANZAI’s online presence provides opportunities to continue to spread the word, garner interest and facilitate further discussion and sharing of ideas. A website is also being created which may be useful in future.
Further work will be done to make the Leamington Terrace Area group for Net Zero action more organised and distinct from the broader BANZAI concept. The LTA group will then consider what ideas to proceed with in our community. Some members will also work on the development of BANZAI, at least in its early days, until responsibilities can be shared among members of a wider collection of street-level groups.