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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