Welcome to Net Impact Bristol

*****This initiative is no longer active as of November 2016. This website can be used to read blog posts and content from the Net Impact Bristol network on themes around driving sustainable change in your organisation.  Please note this site will no longer monitored. If you have any quetions about Net Impact please contact Emmelie Brownlie on Emmeliebrownlee@googlemail.com*****

IMG_5612We are a group of professionals in Bristol UK working in the sustainability sector (feel free to get in touch). We have set up Net Impact Bristol to empower you to drive sustainable change in your workplace and through your career. Your network will also be a place for you to meet other like-minded individuals who share your beliefs in the importance of sustainability and responsible business practice.

Anyone is welcome to join Net Impact Bristol events and we are making sure that they take place outside of work hours, creating an open, inclusive space for chatting and meeting people across all sectors – and having fun! Head over to our events page to see what we have coming up.

Take a look around our site to see news of past events, upcoming events and find out more about us and ways you can get involved. Sign up to our mailing list to hear first about our next event!

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Skills for Sustainability: Workshop 3 – Personal Resilience

In early March Net Impact Bristol held another fantastic workshop in it’s Skills of Sustainability series.

Annabelle Foot gave an insightful, informative workshop on personal resilience, what it means, how to know if you’ve got it and how to build it to help you as an individual to be more sustainable. It was clear that everyone went away empowered to improve their own resilience.


See Annabelle’s Slideshare notes for all the details.

After nibbles and drinks the workshop at Hamilton House got started by watching a short clip that highlighted the different approaches individuals take to dealing with a confrontational situation.

These are some top tips on addressing personal resilience that the Net Impact Bristol team picked up from the workshop:

  1. It’s about NOT getting to the point of being out of control
  2. It’s about choosing how you behave
  3. It’s about emotional intelligence and the mood you create around you
  4. Focus on the ‘F’ word – FEELING– how are you feeling? And no you can’t use the trusted British response of ‘I’m fine’ if you really want to develop your personal resilience! ‘Fine’ is not a feeling (take a look at the feeling wheel below for ideas)
  5. No-one can make you feel something
  6. Identify your feeling (s), assess them (why am I feeling this way?) and then control them (to protect yourself or change the situation)
  7. Busy-ness has become normalised but it is not sustainable as it constantly calls on our flight and fight responses which deplete our internal resources
  8. Appreciating your successes is important to cultivate the ‘green mindset’ (see Annabelle’s slides on Slideshare for more details on red and green mindsets)
  9. Let go of mistakes, don’t seek perfection and give but expect nothing in return if you want to have a greener mindset
  10. Know your strengths and what you are good at and bring this to everything you do
  11. Disconnect from repetitive thoughts, shut them down, walk away and move on
  12. Be prepared to say ‘no’ and understand that others are doing what is best for them if they say no to you!
  13. Being able to move easily between the ‘performance zone’ and ‘renewal zone’ of the Energy Zones (see slides) is key to sustainable effectiveness.


The Mindset Toolkit

Climate – your attitude towards yourself and others influences every interaction (can your own behaviour be calming in challenging situations?).

Openess – be open with:

a. Yourself  – about how you really feel, awareness of your wants, feelings, concerns, physical reactions (such as going red, tensing shoulders, rumbling tummy) can help you identify how you are really feeling in a situation.

b. Others – this increases trust through sharing thoughts, feelings and perceptions of a situation (i.e. your version of the truth and what is going on for you) but appreciate that people interpret things in different ways and watch for your intention of sharing your views, is it to understand or make others feel guilty?

Choice – you are in control of how you feel and you have options and choices in the ways that you react.

At the end of the workshop Annabelle left us with a lovely quote to ponder, attributed to Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”




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Skills for Sustainability: Workshop 2 – Inspiring change through the power of speech

                                                                                                                            Featured image

On Thursday 24th September, 2015, the Net Impact Bristol team hosted its second workshop in the series of ‘Skills for Sustainability’. These workshops are designed to provide professional development for sustainable change and to build on personal qualities enabling more effective collaboration, innovation, inspiration and communication

   Our second workshop was located in Roll for the Soul, Featured imagewho provided some delicious snacks for our wonderful audience.

Entitled ‘Inspiring change through the power of speech’, James Cullen of Oratemate, took us on a journey of discovery which went beyond the comfort zone of Powerpoint and demonstrated how it is  possible, through the power of speech, ‘To move your audience to Action’.

Words predispose our actions, so choosing your words carefully will matter to the impact you want to make on your audience. Public speaking is powerful – we are all aware of famous historical speeches that moved people and nations. With regard to this, James talked about Kairos – a Greek word, which involves saying the right thing at the right time and this is when we can make our voices truly heard. But how do we do this?

To help illustrate the tools required, James used a TED Talk by Graham Hill: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian. As well as being short, clear and worded simply, there were a few other examples as to why this speech was effective:

  • Hill started with a question, but directed it to himself. He immediately created a ‘safe’ environment where the audience could listen freely to make its own mind up about the topic being presented and not feel threatened or judged by having a question directed at them.
  • There are enough facts which help the audience relate to the subject matter and to the dilemmas Hill himself faced. But not so many that the audience feels overwhelmed or bored.
  • There is some humour, an essential element for connection and engagement.
  • There is a proposed solution which has accompanying benefits. This generates a feeling in the listener of ‘Oh, I could do that. It doesn’t seem that hard.’

Potentially, through the power of speech, Hill has moved his audience to action.

James went on to explain the importance of the use of rhetoric in speech. Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing effectively where language is used to communicate persuasion. Rhetoric traditionally, is made up of 5 Canons and within this are included 3 Appeals.

The 3 Appeals of Rhetoric are:

  • Ethos – What entitles you to speak on the subject? Experience? Relevance?
  • Logos – The use of logic/truth/statistics to make an impact without fear
  • Pathos – The appeal to emotion

The 5 Canons of Rhetoric are:

  • Invention – Finding ways to persuade
  • Arrangement – using the 3 Appeals of Rhetoric
  • Style – The use of questions/metaphors/lists/humour etc
  • Memory – A speech should always, where possible, be memorized
  • Delivery – Relevance and Preparation means everything else will fall into place.

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James invited the audience, of Net Impact, to apply Rhetoric to a 60 second speech we were to make to each other! Despite the initial shock and trembling at the thought of the task, after 20 minutes of preparation, each of us took our turn to execute our individual speech. It was an incredible experience. There was passion, emotion and captivation. There were 15, 60 second speeches and each one was powerful, because of the relevance attached to its speaker. Using Rhetoric really works and as I write this, 2 days after the event, I find myself remembering still the content of many of the speeches…

…I will give blood at the next opportunity…I will always wear a helmet when I cycle…I’ll try and forgive David Cameron’s mistakes….I will connect with nature during the winter….I will treasure the life of my children…I will say hello and smile to people in the street….

These speeches and others were successful at ‘Moving me to Action’.

Thank you James Cullen for your fun and expert guidance in this workshop.

Written by Natalie Martyn, member of Net Impact Bristol.

MSc Student in Sustainable Development in Practice

View Natalie’s LinkedIn profile

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Skills for Sustainability – Truly terrible meetings and how to avoid them

IMG_20150721_192535 (2)On Tuesday 21st July, the Net Impact Bristol team launched the first of a new series of workshops entitled ‘Skills for Sustainability’. These workshops are designed to provide professional development for sustainable change and build your personal effectiveness enabling you to collaborate, innovate, inspire and communicate more effectively.

We kicked things off with a great crowd at the River Cottage Canteen with a workshop on ‘Truly terrible meetings and how to avoid them’ – led by expert facilitator Mark Letcher.  We’ve all spent many hours in unproductive, tedious meetings and far less time in meetings with a clear purpose and useful outcomes and so this workshop aimed to explore why we call meetings, when we should have meetings and how to run a good meeting.

Good and Bad Meetings

After some tasty treats and a bit of chatting – the session started with an ice-breaker name game so that we could all get to know each other. We then worked in small groups to brainstorm examples of those really terrible meetings! We had quite a long list of characteristics of a bad meeting including:

  • Dominating Characters
  • Overlong
  • Veering off course

We then worked together to think about examples of good meetings – this was a bit more difficult! However some people were able to give a few examples and the ideas and tips started flowing as to what makes a good meeting, including;

  • Biscuits & refreshments– too make people feel valued
  • Energy & Enthusiasm
  • The environment – Walking and standing meetings
  • A clear agenda

Why do we hold meetings?

We then got thinking about all the types of meetings that we go to in our lives; from one-2-ones with line managers to community group meetings, and the more philosophical question of why we hold meetings in the first place?

This led to some interesting discussions on whether meetings reinforce a sense of hierarchy or status within an organisation or whether they bring an element of democracy into decision making.

Practical Steps

We then got on to discussing the informal and formal roles that we take on in meetings as well as how to deal with different characters. We worked in small groups to come up with a few ideas. Our list became quite long with all the different characters you meet at meetings but to name a few this included the;

  • Challenger
  • Bridge Builder
  • Questioner

Next, we explored tactics to facilitate a good meeting and prevent the meeting going off the rails. Some really simple yet valuable ideas included;

  • Asking how everybody is feeling – This helps to gauge where everybody is at and is a great start to the meeting.
  • Getting any concerns out straight away – If people are concerned about a particular thing they may hold on to this for the meeting. Writing down any concerns straight away helps to show that the concerns have been taken on board and allows people to take part fully in the meeting.
  • Calling people up on jargon – It is easy to feel intimidated by all the acronyms, buzzwords and corporate jargon, or to simply accept this language and continue. Calling people up on jargon allows everyone to understand better what it is they are talking about and what you are trying to achieve.

The Sustainability Agenda and Meetings

Finally, we ended the session with an interesting exploration of the concept of meetings and the sustainability agenda. Mark asked the question is it harder or easier to have a good meeting on sustainability. Often these topics are more emotive and it can be difficult to be challenged on your own behaviour as is often the case. It can also be difficult to have a clear agenda where there are so many ideas and roads to take to a more sustainable society. And yet, the sustainability agenda also allows for meetings where hierarchies are broken down, individuals are empowered and creative ideas are supported.

The event finished with a round of applause for the excellent and engaging Mark Letcher, and a chance to meet and talk with everyone there.

I now feel equipped with some invaluable skills and tips to take in to my next meeting to make it a real success and I am looking forward to the next workshop to develop my skills for sustainability!

By Imogen Dow, member of the Net Impact Team

MSc student in Sustainable Development: In Practice, explorer in creative ways of communicating sustainability, singer-songwriter and lover of nature and getting in the sea at any opportunity!

You can find her on Twitter.

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Net Impact Bristol event #5 – Zero Waste Christmas Party

This write-up has been taken from the Sustainable Sidekicks blog. Sustainable Sidekicks is sustainable events consultancy that helped us with developing the event. 


Last week we assisted Net Impact Bristol, a network of sustainable professionals, host a ‘zero waste’ party. We thought we’d share some of the great elements that made this a really memorable evening, where new friendships were struck and great advice exchanged.

These ideas can be used for parties, work events and meetings alike!

Choose a sustainable venue with good ethical credentials

We chose Co-exist at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft Bristol. Hamilton House was a disused office space that has transformed into a community space that ‘empowers members of the community on Stokes Croft to lead its development and has incubated new creative projects and social businesses from conception to sustainability’. Co-exist’s ethos fits perfectly with Net Impact as it’s a social enterprise, founded as a community interest company based on a philosophy of open hearted and active engagement.

Upcycle household items

A limited budget and the zero waste theme gave us the licence to get creative!  The team came up with lots of ingenious ideas to create a festive theme, without purchasing anything new and with no tinsel in sight!

  • Table lights – Jars and cans make great candle holders
  • Drinking vessels – Jars and bottles can be used for this too
  • The bar – The Co-exist bar is actually made from old pallets
  • The tree – A branch placed in a whisky bottle garnished with dried oranges created an original festive feel. 

Find refillable drink options

We were able to run our own bar so had planned to buy a large reusable barrel of cider. However, it was more practical for mulled cider to get it in reusable containers. So we went to the local cider shop and bought cider by the litre in reusable containers.20141217_191219

Other reusable options:

  • If we had wanted beer we could have also got swing bottles filled at a local micro-brewery.
  • Reusable barrels of cider can be returned to shops or breweries.  

Minimise washing up & single-use waste

For drinks, we asked guests to bring a vessel for their mulled cider. This minimised our washing up and need for disposable items.

For food, we ordered finger food that was served on platters in the middle of the tables. There were no plates or cutlery, just napkins. Sharing platters around the table added to the networking, sharing and party atmosphere (even though people only knew one or two people in the room).

Seek out local food suppliers

Our 80 % vegetarian buffet was supplied by the Surplus Supper Club, part of Fareshare SouthWest that diverts surplus food from being wasted by the food industry. 20141217_123430

This was completely on theme and gave us a chance to briefly highlight and discuss the food waste debate. However, it did mean we had items that came in lots of packaging (though better in our bellies than in the bin in packaging).

People took leftover food home with them so there was minimal food waste at the end.

Other zero-waste catering ideas:

  • Ask all guests to bring a homemade item
  • Buy all olives, cheese and meat from local suppliers taking your own reusable containers along
  • Prepare seasonal salads and vegetable based dishes from vegetables from a local grocer, farm shop or veg box
  • Make your own popcorn from popping corn
  • Only order 80% of food required. Caterers generally over cater for buffets!
  • Minimise your carbon footprint by going vegetarian or mostly meat-free
  • Tell guests to bring a sandwich box for leftovers.

Presence NOT presents

Since consumerism is on over-drive at Christmas time, we were keen to create a safe haven that valued the gift of sharing knowledge and advice rather than a silly secret Santa.

So we asked guests to share one piece of advice they had received this year. The quotes were placed on our advice tree.20141217_190229

Some of the quotes included:

  • People won’t remember what you said, they won’t remember what you did; they will remember how you made them FEEL.
  • To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.
  • The WHY is bigger than the HOW. Know WHY, and it will happen.
  • When giving a talk to (for example) 40 people for 1 hour, remember you are responsible for 40 human hours. Use them wisely!
  • Find something you love, then do all that you can to do this as your job.

Reduce and reuse paper waste

This was a ticketed event but we turned off all the print notifications on Eventbrite and specifically reminded guests not to print tickets. Instead, we used an ipad to sign people in when they arrived.

We re-used scrap paper for drink vouchers and tags for the advice tree.

Rather than printing out any new materials for the advice tree we cut out quotes from magazines and reused a collection of postcards.

Inspire your guests

People really bought into the zero waste theme with 2/3rds of guests bringing their own vessels. What’s more people actually cheered about the lack of cutlery!

Our pre-dinner speaker was a thought-provoking change maker, Melinda Watson from Raw Foundation, who highlighted her journey from packaging designer to anti- plastic campaigner, as well as the perils of plastic for the environment and health.

Be the change you want to see – practical actions will serve to inspire your guests to think about their waste footprint.

Take action

So if you have a party coming up why don’t you take steps to go zero-waste. Look for ethical, sustainable venues and collaborators; choose refillable, reusable options; get creative and upcycle and finally inspire your guests to get involved.

Follow @netimpactbris to stay up-to-date with our latest news and events.

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Net Impact Bristol event #4 – At-Bristol Sustainability Tour

DSC_2563Winner of numerous sustainability awards, At-Bristol science centre boasts one of the most advanced low-energy systems in the UK. Green roofs, CO2 ventilation sensors and a robotic bird of prey, so the team behind Net Impact Bristol was keen to know more. So, on Thursday 23rd October 2014 they took a tour of the building’s energy system to find out how it’s run.

DSC_2516 At-Bristol Sustainability Manager, Chris Dunford started off by pointing out how little heating technology has changed over the years. We’re basically still doing the same thing that Iron Age settlers did 2,000 years ago – ‘just burning stuff’. He took us to the top floor of the At-Bristol building to show us how they are different. Four air source heat pumps work as a heating and cooling system for the whole building. They convert the heat from the air outside to heat the building in winter and draw hot air from the building to cool it in summer. The system is run on surplus electricity from the grid, so it’s cost effective and economical for the environment. At-Bristol is home to the only phase change storage tank in the country. This cutting-edge piece of kit consists of a huge tubular tower containing around 65,000 calcium chloride filled balls. The chemical inside these balls takes in heat when the building is warm and releases it when it’s cold, maintaining equilibrium throughout the whole science centre; a bit like an in-built temperature regulator.


Deep in thought as Chris explains the phase change tank

A synthesis of old and new, the At-Bristol building was once an old railway goods shed; pioneering in its own time (1903) for being one of the first UK steel reinforced buildings. Rather than knocking down the building and starting afresh, it was recycled and converted – to avoid the carbon-heavy process of demolishing and rebuilding from scratch. The building therefore transformed from a revolutionary architectural landmark into the sustainable and innovative At-Bristol building you see today – embodying two different pioneering technologies, through one century and into the next. So far, so impressive. But Brian, the robotic peregrine falcon really stole the show. His job is up on the roof, guarding the solar photovoltaic panels against damage from nesting seagulls and pigeons. The solar panels generate 6% of the annual energy that the building needs; impressive when you consider all of the power-heavy equipment it runs. Brian is usually kept busy making sure everything is in order, but he does take the odd break to tweet some of his thoughts – you can visit his Twitter page here.

Chris introduces Brian, the robotic peregrine falcon that protects At-Bristol's solar panels from nesting seagulls

Chris introduces Brian, the robotic peregrine falcon that protects At-Bristol’s solar panels from nesting seagulls

The event provided Net Impact Bristol with the chance to bring environmentally conscious professionals together and give them a valuable insight into the science behind renewable energy and sustainable technologies. Net Impact Bristol is run by volunteers, and aims to provide career development and networking opportunities to professionals in Bristol’s green sector. It is part of a global network of over 300 chapters worldwide – find out more at netimpact.org At-Bristol is a wonderful example of how innovation, scientific technology and creativity can fuse to generate real positive, sustainable change. The building is an innovative response to the environmental needs we face today and sets a benchmark for other Bristol businesses to hopefully live up to. Here’s to the future!

– Blog by Ruth Lawrence

Want to get involved with Net Impact Bristol or come to our next event? Head to our events page to find out what’s coming up!

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Net Impact Event #2 – Green Roots to Green Shoots: How did Bristol develop its sustainability movement?

BGW14_From green roots to green shoots Emmelie Brownlee - Andras Sztaniszlav

On Tuesday 17th June 2014, over twenty-five of Bristol’s sustainability professionals gathered at the Birdcage to learn about Bristol’s Green Roots over breakfast. The event was part of the Big Green Week programme and was the second to be organised by the newly formed Net Impact Bristol – a sustainability network, which aims to bring like-minded professionals together to inspire and empower development and collaboration within the green sector and the City.

Emmelie Brownlee, author of Bristol’s Green Roots, guided us through the City’s fascinating history of social and environmental action since the 1970s. Early activism included campaigning against the Outer Circuit Road during post-war redevelopment in 1966, the founding of BristolFriends of the Earth in 1971 and nuclear energy protests on Castle Park. More recently Bristol City Council took major steps in 1992 by signing Local Agenda 21. The book also details the history of some of Bristol’s most well-known sustainable organisations, including Sustrans (formerly Cyclebag) and Centre for Sustainable Energy, as well as the Youth Opportunities Programme. On a more quirky note, we discovered that in 1980s a local postie nicknamed Colston Street ‘Save The World Street’ due to the concentration of social and environmental enterprises. These grassroots enterprises were all established by groups of people who saw something missing in Bristol and had the determination to make it happen, something we can all learn from and that Net Impact aims to do.

Emmelie’s talk motivated excitement within the group, who moved on to discuss personal experiences of sector growth, the strength of Net Impact members as grassroots change makers and future development of a sustainable culture in Bristol as the incoming European Green Capital 2015.

We even had a VIP attendee in the audience, Marie-Hélène Vareille, from the European Commission who is leading on the Green Capital project in Brussels expressed high-hopes over the potential Bristol Green Capital 2015 holds, believing that Bristol will set a new standard, above and beyond previous European Green Capital cities. She said the judges had been impressed by Bristol’s grassroots action and hearing about it firsthand at this event was great testament to this.

More information about Bristol’s Green Roots and where to purchase the book can be found on the Schumacher Institute website.

[Net Impact has over 300 chapters in cities around the world, with a global community of more than 20,000 professional leaders creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world.]
To find out more about Net Impact and get involved, sign up to the mailing list and follow @NetImpactBris on twitter.

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