On Saturday 21 May we celebrated 10 years of partnership between the Low Carbon Hub and our 40 community group members in the atmospheric surroundings of the Story Museum, Oxford.
The event was designed to be creative and celebratory and the Woodshed Theatre at the Story Museum was decorated to feel welcoming and festive. It set the scene for a positive discussion to take place on how we could work together to imagine and achieve a sustainable future.
An emotional day of both laughter and tears
We began by forming a human timeline representing our personal involvement in climate action from 1980 to 2022. People were invited to recount stories of what first led them to care deeply about the environment in their community. The activity provoked responses from laughter to tears as everything came to the surface, from humorous incidents to profoundly emotional experiences. It was both touching and moving to see the depth of feeling that the threat of climate change continues to evoke.
Our community group members shared key moments in their history and described projects and events that were milestones in their stories. Many brought images of their events which were hung on washing lines, festooned around the theatre.
Barbara Hammond, CEO of Low Carbon Hub, told the story of Low Carbon Hub’s pioneering community spirit, starting from a small organisation, overcoming challenges and growing to a thriving social enterprise. Low Carbon Hub key projects, ranging from Sandford Hydro to recent Community Grant awards, were displayed as posters and formed a visual journey, depicting significant moments spanning the last 10 years of community energy.
A lively discussion followed, led by Barbara and Low Carbon Hub Communities Director, Al Kitchen, on the challenges we face in the present and how we might create sustainable, resilient and socially just communities.
Everyone gathered into smaller groups to discuss the questions:
- How do we feel about climate change and the energy crisis now?
- What’s in place in our communities to lower carbon emissions?
- What changes do we need to make now to reach net zero by 2030 – 2040?
- What are the barriers to change?
- What is there to be positive about?
Thoughts and ideas were captured on post it notes and paper sheets, then read out to each other, stimulating debate. Groups were invited to write down on thought bubbles, one change they would like to see happen in their community by 2030 and what step they would take to make it happen. Ideas included:
- Nobody to be left behind
- Everyone with enough food and able to heat their homes
- Share skills, work together
- Whole community looking after each other
- Community carbon budget
- All roofs to have solar panels installed
- Homes to be as energy efficient as possible
- Zero carbon schools
- Young people to be empowered to tackle climate change
- Town-wide cycling and walking networks
- No cars and no traffic days
- More climate emergency centres
Imagining the future
Together we imagined how a sustainable future in our communities could be if we took the action outlined on the thought bubbles. We time-travelled with Al in our imaginary EV time machine, who kindly and enthusiastically dressed as Doc Brown (Back to the Future) in our imaginary EV time machine, to 2030 to discover how our collective vision unfolded.
We closed our eyes for a few moments, to transport to a future 2030 and beyond and opened them to imagine how life has changed. We thought about what was different about what we could see, feel and smell, how our homes are powered, how food is grown and how people are travelling. We wrote our thoughts on postcards from 2030 back to the present community, describing which aspects of the environment had changed and posted them in Low Carbon Hub’s Post Box of the Future. The postcards included a pledge to take a first step to action and they were (literally) posted back to our community groups to serve as an inspirational reminder of their vision.
It was a wonderful day, rounded off by delicious food and drinks from Damascus Rose Kitchen. A huge thanks to all our community group members who took part, to Barbara and Al for their wisdom and for being such good sports, and to Low Carbon Hub staff for their help and support. Here’s to the next 10 years together!