We hold Sustainable Frome meetings on the first Thursday of every month and they are a great way to meet others and learn more about what’s happening with sustainable projects, groups and campaigns in Frome.
If you want to get your own project going, the best way to kick things off is to come to a meeting and tell people about your idea. You can ask for volunteers or support or help in how to get things going – you can be sure people will listen and offer suggestions.
Our next meeting is on the 1st March. It will start at 6.30 p.m. with shared vegetarian food. Kids are welcome to join us for food but will need to leave before the session starts at 7.30 pm if possible.
February: 1st February – Sustainable Yarn & Fibre
At our meeting on the 1st February we explored the world of sustainable yarn & fibre. We quizzed and debated “What would you want your clothes to be made out of? “ Imagine being given a list of 15 different fabrics to rank – from wool to tencel to cotton… Once you have considered animal welfare, water use, processing… so many dimensions – reinforcing that sustainability is never that straightforward. Overall organic natural fibres won out in our debates but maybe your choices would have been different.
Sian has recently set up Real Good Yarns to inspire knitters, crocheters and weavers to use yarn from suppliers who take extra steps to look after the environment and the animals & people involved in producing their yarns.
January: 18th January, Film showing – Carnage
In January, as part of the lead up to Sustainable Frome’s vegan fair, we screened ‘Carnage’, a short, humorous ‘mockumentary’. Set in the year 2067, when veganism is the norm, the film looks back on meat-eating today, see review here.
December: 7th December, Fun, Food & Folklore, Frome Cricket Club
At December’s meeting Mahesh shared the traditional ‘kichidi’ rice and lentil dish (and other delicious food) and explored his journey through food and sustainability. Many thanks to Mahesh and everyone who came.
November: 2nd November 2017, Creative Upcycling & Pre-Loved Goodies Swap, Frome Cricket Club
Many thanks to Sarah and Alex for organising such an interesting and informative meeting on recycling and upcycling. It was a lively gathering with exhibits, talks and re-makery and re-use activities.
Jolyyon from Protomax Frome gave an interesting talk on the ‘Storm board’ – a replacement for plywood, chipboard and MDF…which doesn’t turn to porridge when wet…made from plastic waste. Protomax are world leaders when it comes to producing large format boards from mixed plastic waste are based in Frome! http://protomax.net
Scrapstore Frome collects and sells waste that would otherwise go to landfill for reusing via creative activities for children and the local community. See FB for more details. https://www.facebook.com/ScrapstoreFrome/
Other initiatives represented were Remakery Frome – a place for fixes, doers, makers and breakers.. https://www.facebook.com/remakeryfrome/ and SHARE Frome – a library of things with over 1000 items you can borrow https://sharefrome.org.
October: 7th October 2017, Sustainable Group Mapping & the Year Ahead, Frome Cricket Club, The Showfield, Rodden Road, Frome BA11 2AH
In October, it was great to see kids (and everyone else!) enjoying apple pressing at our meeting – thanks to Helen for organising. The meeting mapped the different projects, groups and organisations doing sustainable things in Frome. Anna is going to type this up and potentially develop a One Planet guide to Frome. We also had some volunteers who offered to host a meeting over the next 6 months too – we will be developing a leaflet in the next couple of weeks – do get in touch if you’d like to get involved or want to organise a workshop or speaker.
September: 7th September 2017, Universal Basic Income
We were lucky to have Save The World’s Resources give an interesting talk and debate around this important subject.
The idea of a basic income for all has been around for many years, and is gaining growing support. It has been trialled recently in Finland and trials in Scotland are planned. However, STWR believe that Universal Basic Income will not succeed unless it is implemented globally and in the context of tackling global inequalities. If it is only implemented in relatively wealthy, developed countries, it is
(A) failing to address fundamental injustices and profound human suffering and
(B) likely to be short-lived, since it would be hostage to the next wave of financial crises to hit developed nations.
STWR believe that an essential first step is to recognise Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and have it enshrined in international and national legislation. This would enable a fundamentally different and compassionate approach to social relations – looking at humanity as one inter-related whole, rather than disparate, fragmented, competing individuals, groups and nations.
Article 25 could act as a rallying point for disparate organisations and campaigns. Enormous numbers of people are now coming together to call for profound social and economic change – witness the Occupy movement, support for more radical progressive politics (Corbyn/Labour; Bernie Sanders in the US etc. See film ‘We Are Many’).
STWR have produced a book about the proposal: ‘Heralding Article 25: A People’s Strategy for World Transformation’. The presentation was followed by a lively discussion… One suggestion that we look at the work of the Citizens Income Trust.
July: 6th July 2017, Land Use & Wildlife
July’s ‘One Planet Frome’ session was on land use. What is the condition of the land on which we all depend, and what are the implications of climate change for the way it should be managed in the future?
Nikki Jones, a writer and researcher, gave a talk on land use and climate change. In a wide-ranging and extremely informative talk, Nikki explained how much of the soil has been seriously depleted as a result of modern agricultural practices, the destruction of forests and peat-lands, global warming and increasing meat consumption. Healthy soil is essential not only to feed a growing population but also as a ‘sink’ to retain and capture carbon. Far from tackling climate change, many current practices release huge amounts of intensive greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and methane. While the UK government has said that all soils will be managed sustainably by 2030, there are as yet few coherent policies to help us towards this goal.
Nevertheless, there are some reasons to be hopeful, both internationally and in this country. The session ended with a discussion about initiatives we can take and support – such as small-scale, local farming, the restoration of marginal land, cutting the use of pesticides and fertilisers, protecting and planting trees, and plant-based diets – please see the Soil Association Manifesto for more ideas.
June: 1st June 2017, Sustainable Transport
At our June meeting, we explored ways that our use of transport, to get ourselves around and to access the goods and services we think we need, has changed dramatically in our life-times. John Boxall treated us to a fascinating insight into the different modes of transport used in Britain, their relative greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on air pollution, and the opportunities and challenges of transitioning to a more sustainable approach.
May: 4th May 2017: 10 Year Celebration of Sustainable Frome
In May we celebrated 10 years of Sustainable Frome. It was a chance for members old and new to celebrate achievements and peer into the future.
Our trip down memory lane included:
- the first gathering of 40 like-minded people, harnessed by Peter MacFadyen, in October 2006
- support for Vallis Veg as they found some land (the trees they planted then are now being thinned…)
- numerous film shows, with audiences ranging from 2 to 100+
- events such as the Frome Green Fair and a fantastic Fashion Show at the Cheese & Grain
- the many initiatives, projects and campaigns that Sustainable Frome has helped bring into the world – such as Independents for Frome, SHARE, community fridge, community car club, Dig with Des, Incredible Edible, and many more.
Many pointed out that SF is a place where ideas and dreams are generated, and that people often move on and engage in spin-off or related activities. But SF is always here to enable networking, dreaming, mutual support and – very importantly – shared food and fun!
April: 6th April 2017: Sustainable Water
At our One Planet Frome meeting this month on Sustainable Water, we were treated to a fascinating presentation by Mike Blackmore, the conservation officer for the Wild Trout Trust.
Even those of us who were not particularly wild about trout before the evening had the scales lifted from our eyes. Trout have lived in our rivers since the end of the last Ice Age. Their presence is an indication of the general health of a river – where trout thrive, so will other wildlife. Mike explained many of the factors that help or harm rivers, illustrating what can be done to manage and improve river habitats for the benefit of wildlife and the community. The session ended with a lively discussion about the River Frome, and what we can do to help care for it and enjoy it.
For more information about practical ways of getting involved, please contact Friends of the River Frome.
March: 2nd March 2017: Zero Carbon
March’s One Planet Frome session was on the theme of Zero Carbon. We explored our own experiences – how have we learnt about climate change? For many of us, there is a tension between the evidence that scientists are giving us and the desire to avert our gaze from such momentous information. We shared stories about our own journeys struggling to get to grips with the reality, and the actions we have taken as a result.
We then went on to discuss ways that we can help other people learn about it – particularly those who currently reject or don’t think about climate change. One approach is to stress the negatives and dangers, particularly those that are immediate and tangible – local flooding, air pollution, rising food prices and energy costs. Another is to highlight the attractions of a transition – a cleaner environment, healthier lifestyles, reduced working time, stronger community, happier (less consumerist) lives… And another is to try and rekindle a sense of responsibility towards future generations. The session ended with a discussion about the kind of culture change that will be needed in Frome if we are to realise the goal of making the town fossil fuel-free within 30 years.
Along the way we were treated to a wonderful poem on this theme: Rebuttal, by Richard Foreman http://richeff.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/rebuttal.html
A major European survey has recently made some important recommendations about ways of engaging more of the public in climate change issues.
February: 2nd February 2017: Local & Sustainable Food
Our discussions explored, existing systems for producing, distributing, selling and consuming food have become totally dysfunctional, profoundly inequitable and unsustainable. With an expected population growth of 2 to 3 billion by 2050, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture, an appalling situation will only get worse unless we transform humanity’s relationship with food. ‘Agribusiness as usual’ is not an option. The session explored what some people here in Frome are already doing to (re-) create a healthy and sustainable food system, and how we all might build on it.
Sue Everett is an ecologist and adviser in land management and food policy. She explained how numerous organisations, previously dispersed, are now coming together and coalescing around a shared purpose – to challenge the “industrial agribusiness treadmill” and develop a People’s Food Policy. Examples are the Oxford Real Farming Conference and the Land Workers’ Alliance. Sue recommended the reports coming out of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.
Cordelia Rowlett runs a small farm on the edge of Frome – Vallis Veg – selling fruit, vegetables and other farm produce to local customers. They also run courses and other events, host visits, and act as a Permaculture Learning Centre. Cordelia explained some of the challenges of operating as a business, such as delivering produce while being mindful of their carbon footprint, and choosing not to formally register as organic.
Sheila Gore and Mandy talked about the challenges of running a wholefood shop in Frome that aims to provide healthy, sustainable food, sourced as locally as possible. Mandy has been a vegan for 19 years, principally because she cannot accept the extreme suffering meted out to other species in order to provide humans with meat and fish. However, she pointed out that there are other compelling reasons why it makes sense to consider a vegan diet. There is now a great deal of evidence that a wholefood, plant-based diet is extremely good for our health and well-being. And looking at food production globally, far better use could be made of finite land if it was used to grow vegetables, fruit and cereals as food for humans rather than to feed and raise farm animals for the meat industry.
Roger White runs Somerset Local Food Direct. Their service, operating from a base in Glastonbury, delivers local, organic and other produce directly to customers, who can order weekly on-line. Roger argued that this way of distributing food has many advantages over supermarket shopping, including enabling people to find out more about where their food comes from. One of the biggest challenges is to persuade people to plan in advance what they will eat in the coming week – it requires a more thoughtful relationship with food.
Clare Millar, a nutritional therapist, feels that the good food education provided in the past by schools, older generations, and even government (the Ministry of Food…), has been replaced and undermined by supermarkets and a fast-food, high-sugar and -fat diet. She argued that it is important to revive some of the skills and habits of the past, such as fermenting, bottling, preserving and foraging.
January: 5th January 2017: Health & Happiness
January’s meeting focused on Living Well and Dying Well and was inspired by the One Planet Living theme of Health and Happiness. Mike Grenville (Funeral Celebrant, Dying Doula and Home Funerals, editor of the Transition Network Newsletter) and Celia Libera (Soul Midwife and Bereavement Support) attracted a good turnout for this thought-provoking session. Celia and Mike spoke about some of the inhibitions around talking about death and dying in their own families and wondered if the commonly held phobia around death is reflected in our response to climate change. We shared poetry about species at risk of extinction and a ‘World Cafe’ process provided a welcome opportunity to examine the ways that our death phobia affects the way we live our lives.
Mike and Celia appreciated the interest and participation of so many of us in discussion of dying and were encouraged to provide more opportunities for similar conversations. They’ve arranged to host a ‘Dying to Talk’ session at The Three Swans on Feb 8th.
Click here to read the outputs of the World Cafe.
December: 1st December 2016: Culture & Heritage
December’s meeting was inspired by the One Planet Living theme of Culture and Heritage. We explored the role the arts can play in relation to the concerns of Sustainable Frome. How can arts and culture be used to convey a message or to make important connections between people? And we also seized the opportunity to share in the inspirational creations of two local artists participating in the session.
Some of the key ideas to emerge from the session were:
Music and dance:
- The roots of communication are in singing, dancing and drumming – these can (re-)create connection between people and between people and the earth
- Dance can help connect us to tradition or heritage, as in circle dance
- Songs can raise awareness at the same time as creating a powerful emotional response, for example in anti-fracking action and protest movements
- Photographic images can have an enormous impact, raising concern about key issues and triggering an emotional response
- Many graphics have become iconic and long-lived, such as the CND symbol
- Communities can produce an image which expresses collective messages and aspirations, for example through murals or local exhibitions
Writing and drama
- Writing can be used to express connection with nature – see, for example, http://www.newnetworksfornature.org.uk/
- In the community, activities such as cycle cinema, street theatre and storytelling can have a powerful impact
- Inspiring films noted were Before the Flood; Seed – the Untold Story; This Changes Everything; The Age of Stupid; Soylent Green.
- And beloved writers and books: Peter Marren Rainbow Dust; Michael McCarthy The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy; John Evelyn; Jay Griffiths Wild – An Elemental Journey; Robert McFarland; Keats; David Abrams Becoming Animal.
3D art forms
- Sculpture and street furniture can change perceptions and help develop a unique sense of place – for example, The Big Tree Dreaming by Barry Cooper; Andy Goldsworthy; Antony Gormley
- Community arts projects – such as quilts made by prisoners in London , knitting and crochet to draw attention to issues such as the threat to the Barrier Reef
- The use of local materials to create ‘natural’ buildings or creating art forms using waste materials
- And see the Society of Wildlife Artists – http://swla.co.uk/
During the session we also appreciated Stina Harris’ sketches and illustrated books, and a short story from Jane Flood. You had to have been there! Inspirational and a privilege…
Ideas about what more we might do in Frome included mural projects and street theatre – perhaps during festival week.
November: 3rd November 2016: Equity & Local Economy
October: 6th October 2016: Zero Waste
We watched the film Bag It which outlines the massive impact that plastic is having on our environment and health. For anyone that missed it Sustainable Frome can lend you the DVD. Some shocking facts include:
Plastic fragments in the sea are found to outnumber plankton 60-to-1, and contributes to around 100,000 marine animal deaths, including birds, every year
Plastics contain chemicals such as phthalates that can carry adverse effects to newborn babies, including decreased anogenital distance. There are also potential links with the rising rates of male infertility and other such as diabetes, obesity and attention deficit disorder
It also highlighted that although plastic recycling seems like a good thing, given the lack of local processing facilities and low price of oil much of it currently ends up in factories in Asia which often have poor working conditions. In the longer term Protomax may provide a potential solution for Frome – more to follow on this… The main message was to avoid plastic where you can, re-use where you can’t and to campaign for supermarkets and others to reduce their plastic use…
September: 1st September 2016: Sustainable Materials
The theme for September’s One Planet Frome meeting was Sustainable Materials – using sustainable, healthy products with low embedded energy, sourced locally, and made from renewable or waste resources. The focus was on sustainable materials that can be used for buildings, both construction and retro-fitting.
Terry Pinto, whose practice PAAD is based in Frome, talked about the challenges of sustainable architecture. Clients who would be keen on using materials such as natural wood, straw-bale, wood fibre insulation, green roofs and so on, are often put off by the extra costs – sadly sustainable building comes with a price. It’s important to be flexible and creative; for example, sometimes it makes sense to use less desirable materials if they’ll be more thermally efficient in the long run. For Terry, a key goal is to ensure good insulation with every building. Small, simple details can make a big difference, allowing buildings to breathe and stay dry. For people interested, a good source of information is ‘Green Building’ magazine (now Ezine) – http://greenbuilding.co.uk/.
Mark Lloyd, from Protomax Plastics Ltd., talked about the ground-breaking work that they are doing. Protomax have developed a technology for recycling mixed waste plastics and turning them into a board they’ve called ‘Stormboard’. At present most plastics can only be recycled with other plastics of a similar type – and because this is difficult to achieve, 80% of all plastics in the UK currently end up in landfill. Protomax’s new technology enables all the energy that went into the production of plastic from oil to be 100% recycled as a board that is lightweight, strong and weatherproof. As a building material, it is more ‘sustainable’ than wood; after all, the UK consumes 3% of the world’s wood but has only 1% of the world’s population. Protomax’s recycled plastic board can be used for a wide range of purposes – e.g. kitchen worktops, hoardings, wall cladding, decking, garden rooms and offices, retails counters, animal enclosures in farms, signage, compost bins, emergency shelters… (watch this space!). Protomax – http://protomax.net/ – are about to establish a fully functioning factory in Frome.
July: 7th July 2016 Nature Rights – a new way to protect nature in Frome?
In this time of uncertainty, it feels that now more than ever we need to get together and ensure that nature and wildlife are protected. At this meeting we considered a ground-breaking initiative that could offer new protection to the River Frome and set a precedent in the UK.
The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss the local natural environment: what we love and what we’re concerned about. Are we surrounded by beautiful countryside? Or do you see impoverished soils, fragile rivers and loss of biodiversity all around us? We found out about the state of nature and soil health, compared notes on what’s happening in Frome’s local area, both bad and good, and explored the possibility of an exciting new by-law for Frome…
June: 2nd June 2016, Sustainable Transport,
We looked at how electric cars are developing with Kevin Sharpe and the promise they have for radically changing our transport over the next few years, as prices come down, technology improves and charging becomes easier. Marjory Hatvany brought us up to date with developments on Frome’s Missing Links campaign for local, traffic-free cycling connections. We looked at some of the issues facing our move to more sustainable transport and how we might tackle them.
May: 5th May 2016, Our annual review,
New directors were elected (Sian Modine, Roger Saunders), one director stood down (Helen Johnstone) and three were re-elected (Rachel Bodle, Sarah Linnell and Anna Francis). We celebrated some of our achievements over the last year, and shared ideas for how things might develop in the next year.
April 7th 2016 Sustainable Water, The Elliot Building, Park Road
Frome-based ecologist Sue Everett explored how water reached the River Frome, the effects of local farming practices and household behaviour on the cleanliness of the water, and some of the changes that were helping to improve the health of our local river.
March 2016: Zero Carbon, Oakfield School
Anna Francis outlined the case for going fossil-free and experienced energy volunteer Mick Dunk talked about his experience of volunteering as part of the Warm and Improved Somerset Homes Programme. We then spent some time looking at actions that we can take at individual, community and organisational level to help cut emissions in Frome – notes from this to follow. The Fossil Free Frome document will also be circulated soon to get input and comments.
February 2016, Local and Sustainable Food, Frome Cricket Club, Rodden Road, BA11 2AH.
There were talks by Anna Francis on the global impact of agriculture and how a vegetarian / vegan diet can reduce our impact on the environment, by Nicholas Bell, from the European Network of Agricultural Collectives on their seed-saving project From Seed to Seed and by Clare Millar of Eat for Victory on the lessons from a 1940s diet. The trailer for new film Conspiracy was also shown.