Global Footsteps member and trustee Alison Crane was voted Midcounties Co-op ‘Green Member of the Year’. The Co-op have sent the six winners to Tanzania to assist with a school decorating project. After completing a week in Tanzania, Alison will travel on to Kisumu, Kenya this weekend and visit Global Footsteps partner projects there
Alison is blogging as she goes. Read all about her travels on the Global Footsteps blog.
We had a really lovely ‘Open House’ event last night at FootSteps. It was great to show people around and learn more about what they do and their interests. We told them a little bit about what we do and heard their thoughts and ideas on what we could do with the building and as a charity!
Here are some of the ideas, suggestions and comments we had and I’ve tried to feedback a little:
Clarify the focus of your charity and its aims and mission; prepare an elevator pitch
This is so important and something we recognise we need to address. How about: ‘We connect people at a grass roots level… We do this through a variety of events, clubs and activities that all aim to bring people together in ways that are enjoyable and positive for the environment and society.
Offer the space to existing local charities to use for their meetings and so on
We are very keen to do this and hope local like-minded organisations come along and use our space for meetings and events. Word of mouth is very powerful as is networking through events like this. We are trying to network as best we can through things like Transition Cheltenham and we hope our events create a buzz around the charity… please spread the word!
Charge users a nominal fee [to use the space at FootSteps]
We do intend to charge a small fee to hire out our space once it is in a nice usable state. We also have an option for organisations to be members of Global Footsteps, which would give them discounts on hiring spaces etc, as well as in the shop/cafe.
Screen environmental and educational films
We are very keen to do this and are working out a way to do this without breaking license laws, if anyone has any suggestions please get in touch!
Could you benefit from using Community Service people for labouring?
I’m sure we could, we are desperately in need of someone to help co-ordinate the manual work that we need to do, someone with DIY skills who wants to get their teeth into a worthwhile project, do you know anyone?
Contact the Eco-housing set up in Stroud, about their ecological building experience
Thanks for this suggestion, I looked them up and the co-housing project sounds brilliant, perhaps we’ll invite them up to FootSteps to give a talk and some advice. Follow this weblink for more: http://www.cohousing.org.uk/springhill-cohousing
Focus on Poverty in Cheltenham + Gloucester(shire)
We recognise the huge social and economic inequalities that exist here and would love to do something practical to address this as well as spread awareness of this problem.
Run day trips / weekend trips for people on modest income
This feeds in to the above and is a great idea, who wants to come help us to make this happen? Where shall we go?!
Use the space for various craft-making classes
Yes please! If you want to start something up please get in touch!
More language classes
We have a history of providing language classes and want to resurrect it, we already have people who can teach French, Russian, Tamil and Bengali in our membership. If there is a demand for lessons then I’m sure we can get them going.
Bike repair clinics, maybe located at Friends Meeting House
Another great idea, we have a few people who I think could offer this, I know that I could do with learning a bit more myself! One of our members has even written books on Cycle craft!
Simple but really great idea, thanks for this, whoever wrote it down are you up for helping to organise and run a Frock Swap event?!
Have a low cost meal night – meal and a drink for a fiver
Great idea this, the shop floor is a nice cosy spot to have a meal and we have the facilities downstairs for people to join together to cook it. Any budding chefs fancy it?!
Thanks again to everyone who came last night and contributed your ideas, you’ve seen the resources we have, but the most important resource we have is YOU! Please get in touch if you want to help us to bring people together by the grass roots! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved!
As part of a holiday in Poland, Morgan (Woodland) and I met up with Glenn “Our man in Torun” and over a 3 day period (9-11 May) met up with representatives from 4 different organisations with a view to them participating in the Cadca conference, and identified a possible 5th organisation. A productive time.
Our first call was to the forest school in the Barbarka Forest near Torun, an organisation previously identified and visited by Howard (www.szkola-lesna.torun.pl/wbrindex.php?id=102).
At an extremely productive meeting we met Monika Krause, who works there, and Zbignew from the environmental NGO Tilia, who help to fund the project (www.tilia.org.pl/).
They were extremely interested in attending the conference, and have subsequently booked, without requesting any subsidy. They run an environmental centre deep in the Barbarka forest (12km north of Torun). They educate school children about nature and have a really good set up (funded by EU support from Iceland, Norway, etc). During the week they educate school children and then at weekends members of the public and tourists swarm to the place for pleasure (there are many trails, a lake, mini golf, tree assault course, etc). So although there is tourism, with its impact on the environment they are primarily an educational and environmental organisation, and share our ethos on sustainability.
They have a hostel and hotel which would actually be a perfect location for a future Global Footsteps conference with a large room catering up to 150 people. They are looking for similar minded NGOs to link up with…and so they would be very beneficial to join the GF network.
As we returned to Torun, we came across a poster advertising a picnic and barbeque the previous day in aid of Fair Trade day. Some detective work on the computer on our return to the hostel revealed a website which seemed to have information about various environmental activities throughout Torun (www.ekologiczny.torun.pl).
It also included a map and addresses of other environmental NGOs, so we got emailing, and managed to set up two more meetings at short notice.
Rowerowy Torun is a cycling campaigning and capacity building group (www.rowerowytorun.com.pl/).
We met Joanna (nickname Asia) and Pawel in their run-down offices, and gave them the presentation and explained about Global Footsteps. Joanna explained that they are quite a new organisation, about 4 years old. They are working on the council to improve the cycling infrastructure in Torun, and they want to improve the image of cycling as a means of transport, once the infrastructure is improved. She said In Poland it is only quite recently that cars have become affordable for many people – and everybody wants one. Although they are quite well known in the city – they have a regular critical mass cycle ride – she feels that people don’t understand why there is a need for an organisation for assisting cycling. They are a very grassroots organisation – I think they only have volunteers, although they had some funding for a specific project to advise the council on cycle lanes etc. They have just got a rickshaw bike which they use to generate electricity for their sound system on the critical mass. We told them about Dennis’s adventure cycling from Torun to Cheltenham on a similar machine. Like Barbarka, they understand the sustainability agenda. They are circulating details about the conference to their members, and are keen to be represented, but would certainly need some funding if they were to come. I would certainly recommend that they would be good candidates. Joanna said how hard work it was, and that working so locally on such a specific issue, it was hard to see how they fitted in with the big picture, but of course she agreed with think global, act local etc. So encouragement through links with what else is going on in the world would be great.
The following morning we had a very interesting meeting in a lovely cafe (sampling the cheesecake and apple cake) with Basia Witek from Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju, a sustainable development organisation based in Torun (www.pzr.org.pl). Again they are quite a new NGO – about 4 years. Basia is a fairly new volunteer, in her 20s, who got involved in helping to apply for funding and do community consultations. Krzysztof Slebioda the director, wanted to join us, but his wife is pregnant and they had a medical appointment. So the people involved seem to be young. The main event they organise is laying turf on the main town square, for a day in June – with stalls selling eco-goods, local food, etc etc. encouraging a family day out with an important message. They are very much into the Global Footsteps message about making connections and community building, as well as sustainability.
As she is a fairly new volunteer, Basia couldn’t commit the organisation to anything, but they have weekly meetings on a Monday, and she will report about our meeting, and possibly arrange for Glenn to visit at a later date, or come back to us with more questions.
Our meeting with Bartosz from AIESEC was also very promising (www.torun.aiesec.pl). He is interested in sending a representative to the conference, and I think they will be useful, as they are good networkers, like us. For example he told us that they arrange for international students to run workshops in local schools about the country that they come from. Also they take part in summer camps for local school children, and they have organised skills workshops for local unemployed people. They are interested in the international links we have made, and also in the local links in Torun – they don’t seem to know about PZR at the moment. I think it would be useful for them to attend as networkers, but also as an organisation who can give a presentation on what they do. I encouraged them to send a representative, and he said he would report back to their committee and be in touch. He indicated that they would need financial help.
Finally, Monika from Barbarka put us in touch with Zbigniew Szalbot, who organised the Fair Trade picnic. We didn’t have time to meet him, but he responded to my email with interest, saying they will “soon be creating an organization (a co-op) that will have as its goal taking on board unemployed people and offering them work.” He said they could not afford the fee, but I encouraged him to arrange a meeting with Glenn to take discussions further.
It has been great to get a brief sense of what is going on environmentally at a grass roots level in another country. I was inspired to meet these people, and hope we develop lasting links with their organisations.
Sophie Franklin took time out from her Easter break with her family in France to visit Cheltenham’s twin town of Annecy for us. Here is her report:
In view of the difficulty in getting to correspond with our Annecy counterpart at the Borough offices, Morgan asked me to go and see what I could find out on the ground, which I did.
I had found out that there is an officer solely working on the environment for the town of Annecy, so I knocked on the door of the municipal Offices and asked to speak to him.
Unfortunately, he was away on a course, but the receptionist was very friendly and helpful and I promised I would contact him by email on my return.
In the morning, I also tried to speak to someone at FRAPNA, they are a Federation of local associations which deal with all sorts of local environmental problems, but really nothing that matches up with Cheltenham.
So I then went to Prioriterre, with whom I had established contact before going and who were really hospitable and helpful. Prioriterre is an Annecy organisation trying to empower people to protect the environment in whichever way they want, green buildings principally and renewable energy, through consultations, talks to schools and colleges, etc.
Prioriterre’s new building is carbon neutral, even better, it produces more energy than it needs. Even the armchair in the reception area are made of cardboard… Very comfortable too, but the staff don’t think they will last very long, not the perfect sitting room armchair as it might age rather quickly!
I explained what we did and that we wanted to establish links with like-minded organisations, especially in order to organise exchanges between young people. They said they would certainly find youngsters interested in going abroad to one of our partner organisations, like Kisumu, and also possibly to go to our next Youth conference in Slovakia.
I met Anne Hughet, who does not speak much English but some of her colleagues do, so future contacts should be easy.
Their web address is: http://www.prioriterre.org with a couple of pages in English. Anne also gave me the address of another organisation “La Terre en Heritage”, specialising in sustainable consumption. I really look forward to finding out more at a later date.
Fourth day, 17th March 2010
Irina and I went to see another project, which had been implemented in the community a short time ago. With the help of the Göttingen waste management, a system of waste separation had been installed and a new waste land was being built. As the other projects we saw, this too is EU-funded.
Back in Irina’s office, we did not stay for a long time but left for La Journée de la Francophonie, the French days in Valcea. Schools were presenting short plays by Molière and Romanian playwrights in the library and this was a nice opportunity to join some local cultural events without struggling with the language barrier – at least almost, as the Romanian plays were in Romanian. We had lots of fun watching and couldn’t take our eyes off the smallest children running around in their traditional costumes.
Later, we went to the market place again to get some food for my journey from Valcea to Sibiu, which was due the next morning. In the evening, I went out alone and strolled through Valcea’s city centre, taking pictures and being happy with the experience!
While on our Global Venture to Kenya we visited Karianduri School in the Rift Valley. It was a special place to be and is one of the enduring memories of the venture. I have just received a very nice email from Karianduri headteacher, Anam Echakari, which I thought I’d share with you:
Thanks a lot for finding time to be with us. It was such a great pleasure and privilege to have you in our school. And for the brief moment you interacted with us you lit our hearts with hope and confidence.
When we look at the world around, our hearts writhe and groan in pain. The devastating effects of global warming and the impacts of climate change have wrecked and altered the course of lives for scores.
Food security, water security, vanishing habitats, rapid spread of diseases, escalating carbon emissions and shrinking water levels is an is an eminent sign that our planet is under siege.
From a tiny remote village remote in Africa to the modern and sophisticated city in Europe, we are all under threat of extinction! And unless, there is a concerted effort by all and sundry to reverse this phenomena, we and those who will come after, may not have a place to inhabit.
Thanks a lot for what global footsteps is tenaciously doing to alleviate these global challenges by sharing knowledge and information and offering practical solutions to some of these endemic problems, I am confident that communities will essentially be transformed, the ruined lives and livelihoods restored. This may involve huge sums of money, but what will finally be achieved is priceless.
We are joining your caravan as we go round the world campaigning by playing an active in tree planting initiatives, carrying out environmental education communities respond with tenacity.
We have already started a tree nursery that we expect to generate 10,000 seedlings annually. We are also in the process of recycling waste paper as a mitigation measure against waste.
Thanks a lot for your kind donation of Kshs. 2,000. This will go towards purchasing tree seedlings . This of course will be a footstep that you will be able to trace even after a very long time.
I wish you all the best in your endeavours! Thanks a lot.
Donating £20 to a school to help them plant some trees does feel a little bit like, as Sean Locke puts it, turning up to an earthquake with a dustpan and brush, but it all helps and if we all give it a bit it adds up! If you want to get some money to Aman’s school please contact email@example.com and we will ensure it gets there.
Yesterday afternoon, Alice, Aby and I met up with some people from the Rotary Club in Kisumu…
Tuesday 7th July
It was another busy day today, we met in town before heading over to see an old friend of our very own Dennis Mitchell, Sat Jobanputra at his beautiful home in Kisumu town centre. He moved into this house when it was built in 1937. He told me how the city had changed dramatically in the proceeding years. Kisumu sprang into existence in 1901 when the British completed the Mombassa – Nairobi – Kisumu railway, built to link the Indian Ocean to Africa’s biggest water body, Lake Victoria. The Lake is the origin of the great River Nile and Kisumu is on its coast. Mr. Jobanputra was born here and told me that during his lifetime the population has risen tenfold from 50,000 to 500,000. He has watched it spread outwards as more and more people arrive here from the surrounding rural areas in search of work. What they find is a difficult life, over 50% of the people live in slums or shanty towns, some of the poorest in Africa. Although the city centre, at the moment, is coping with the volume of vehicles here, it is surely only a matter of time before it becomes as gridlocked as Nairobi (or London!).
Mr. Jobanputra, now retired, used to be an active member of the Rotary Club in Kisumu. We wanted to know what the Rotary Club had done here in response to the Post Election Violence in late 2007. He took us to meet an American couple Dan and Patty Schmelzer at their home in Kisumu town centre. Dan and Patty are heavily involved with the Rotary Club here and were instrumental in the Rotary relief project that was launched in the wake of the post election violence. The relief project is ongoing and utilises the US $20,000 fund they accumulated from around 20 different organisations, of which Global Footsteps was one. Dan reported to us what they have achieved. They spent the money in three key areas. 1. Emergency food relief, 2. Provision of medical services, 3. A peace initiative.
Four local volunteers went into the slum areas to uncover individuals and families who were badly effected and were on the brink of starvation. They helped around 1,200 people to stave off hunger.
Two medical camps were set up in the rural areas to help people needing basic treatment for illnesses and injuries. On top of this they funded life saving operations for people who were very badly injured during the violence.
A headline grabbing and very effective initiative was set up by Rotary to promote peace in the city. They wanted to spread a message of peace and settled on an innovative way of doing it. Rather than spending money on billboards they decided to approach the local ‘boda boda’ bike taxis. A boda boda is a push bike with a seat on the back for a passenger who pays around 30 pence to travel a distance of around 2-3 kms in the city centre. Rotary decided that they would make t-shirts with the slogan ‘Peace begins with me’ and they distributed them gradually to 1000 boda boda cyclists who wore them as they travelled around town carrying passengers. This made the cyclists themselves committed to the peace movement and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the other residents of the city. Rotary gave the cyclists small financial incentives to keep wearing the t-shirts which facilitated the good will between them.
As an extension to the boda boda peace initiative Rotary helped the wives of the cyclists to set up businesses. They did this through a micro-finance initiative as a Small Micro Enterprise Programme (SMEP). This has been very successful and continues to grow as women take out and pay back loans of increasing size to grow their businesses from side of the road shacks to down town shops.
Rotary has spent $10,000 of the $20,000 originally donated, the focus has now shifted to sustainable long term development. Through the SMEP they are helping environmentally and socially sound businesses to start up and grow.
Dan has promised to send us an interim report, when he does I will ask permission from him to publish it on our main website.
Dan and Patty also run Capstone Ministries Child and Family Restoration Outreach in Kisumu, please visit their website: http://www.capstoneministries.org/