The Importance of Green Community Action Groups
If you read my last post about recycling apathy then you’ll know that one of the things that I think holds individuals, communities and even countries back from genuine and massive action on climate change is an attitudinal problem. It is by slowly changing these attitudes that we can reach a point where things such as recycling and energy efficiency become a normal part of everyday life and concern for the environment goes further than a passing glance at the environmental stories in the newspapers.
While I believe that the biggest and quickest changes come from the top where governments can enact countrywide or even worldwide transformations through policy and legal power, there is also a massive role to play by local community action groups. With government spending being squeezed and focus firmly on the economy and civil unrest, these community groups are more important than ever.
Changing Attitudes One Person At A Time
Let’s get some perspective on things here; if you take away government intervention then we have to accept that any changes we, as green living campaigners, can make are going to be relatively small. It might even come down to changing the attitudes of individuals one at a time and slowly building a following in our local communities who can help spread the word.
Local green community groups are fighting the good fight on a regular basis and I believe that they are doing a fantastic job at making people realise the importance of reducing the impact we all have on the environment. Whether it is recycling, home energy efficiency or preserving local green spaces, there are events and workshops on all manner of green topics and almost all are free to the local community.
This sort of action can not only help change attitudes towards the environment, it can bring residents together who probably wouldn’t have otherwise met, making communities stronger. This is another important aspect of the green movement in my opinion as it makes it easier for larger and larger actions to be taken by whole communities at once.
Reaching The Tipping Point
As you get more and more individuals acting in a sustainable and responsible manner, you approach what has been coined the “tipping point” where trends, or in this case behaviours, start to spread at an almost exponential speed.
This tipping point can be reached at different levels: local, regional, national and even international but the premise is the same – if you get your message out to enough people and convince them to act on it then you will eventually get to the point where massive change can happen.
Just look at the communities across the country that are pooling their time and money together to organise and install renewable energy projects which run as co-operatives with members benefiting from financial returns along with the obvious environmental ones. These often start off with individuals or community groups who have a vision and do everything in their power to turn it into reality. This regularly means giving up huge amounts of their own time to deal with the bureaucracy and red tape that stands in their way.
Reaching this tipping point does not always happen; sometimes action remains small and progress is slow but even then there are benefits to the environment that can collectively, across the whole of the UK, make a noticeable difference.
Collaboration Creates Change
The reason community groups work so well is because, as individuals, we rely so much on others for help and advice even if we don’t realise it. An individual trying to live a sustainable, low carbon life will find greater success from being part of a group of people all aiming for the same goal.
And then collaboration between different community groups can generate even more motivation along with the benefits that come from knowledge transfer and additional press coverage. The bigger an event is, the greater the interest from public and press so working together only helps to spread the message of green living far and wide.
Finding Your Local Group
I’ve come across countless community groups dedicated to the environment and low carbon living but there doesn’t seem to be a single resource that lists only these groups across all regions of the UK.
There are regional lists of groups but these are not limited to the green movement so I am currently thinking of a way to integrate such a directory into the GreenSteve site where any environmental community group can post a free listing with all their relevant information so that potential members can easily find and join them.
This won’t be ready overnight but I’ll try and get something up as soon as I can and I’ll then start contacting community groups who I think might be interested.
The more people we can get involved in this sort of local action then the sooner we can make massive collective change and reduce the carbon footprint of the nation.
Do you want to get involved? Leave a comment with your thoughts or if you are struggling to find a group in your local area then let me know and I’ll scour the web to try and find one for you.
Remember, be seen to be green!
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