On Saturday 1 October over 45 people from across West Cornwall came together to discuss how we as ordinary citizens might respond to the challenges of Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and their impact upon humanity. The event was hosted by St Mary’s Catholic Church in Falmouth with Falmouth & Penryn Churches Together, and was sponsored by Caritas Plymouth.
The proceedings were opened by local broadcaster Donna Birrell, who reminded the participants of the key role that the church can, and must, play in helping people to meet these challenges.
Environmental journalist Ellen Teague was the keynote speaker and gave a clear message about the current state of the world and how we bear a huge responsibility for the problems we now face. However, she also brought a message of hope, that we can all do something about it, at a personal and a local level, as well as by confronting our political and business leaders to ensure action happens nationally and internationally to address these issues.
Participants went into breakout groups and grappled with a number of questions relating to the crises we face. Questions included “What are we doing already to care for our planet?”, “How are we already limiting our consumption?”, and so on; then these questions were followed by the more challenging question “What could we do better?” A pasty lunch then provided the opportunity for people to refuel!
The afternoon session commenced with a Citizen’s Panel, chaired by Falmouth’s Deputy Mayor, Kirstie Edwards, where representatives from the breakout groups fed back their findings to the whole meeting. Kirstie was also able to mention ways in which the Town Council was doing its bit with such initiatives as “Refill”, where local cafes offer free water-bottle refiling facilities as a way of discouraging disposable plastic water bottles.
Inspired by the events of the day, an open letter to our local MPs was composed. It read: “We, the undersigned, express our concern at any proposal to reduce environmental protections, to promote further fossil fuel developments and to fil to encourage more sustainable sources of energy production.”
The day was rounded off with a lively sketch which showed how people working together could bring about change. In the dramatic presentation, “Big Oil” was overcome by people power and the closing scene showed a grave stone on which was inscribed: “RIP Big Oil 2030 (and oil & gas)”. If only it were that simple!
photo credits: Euan McPhee