23 May We begin our climate action community engagement
After what feels like years of preparation, we launched our climate action engagement work with our first workshop and meetings in Campbeltown, Scotland. This was closely covered by the local newspaper, the Campbeltown Courier.
The Novara team worked with local community groups to arrange a series of meetings to discuss climate change adaptation in Campbeltown. Our main events were a short talk at the Campbeltown Sailing Club and an event organised by Scotland Climate Action Network (SCAN) and hosted by South Kintyre Development Trust (SKDT).
Thanks to the Jamie Mclean, Commodore of the Campbeltown sailing club, the Novara crew attended the club’s fund-raising quiz night. After Team Novara was allowed to win, I was invited to talk about climate change, the expected impact on coastal communities like Campbeltown and the work of Novara One Planet. It’s clear the community is very aware of climate change challenges facing Campbeltown – sea level rise, changing fish stocks, intensity of storms. And many seem united in what needs to be done: bring economic development in sustainable energy and climate friendly sectors to Campbeltown. The town faces significant employment issues, so any attempt to deal with climate change will have to be wrapped up in a ‘just transition’ approach.
We had a dedicated turn out for climate adaptation workshop including a community counsellor, Bob Shepton our Patron and a recorded presentation from Prof Bruce Glavovic, one of our Advisors. The conversation ranged over Novara’s mission, climate adaptation and Novara’s previous adventures in the Antarctic. Eric Spence also presented the Community Action Plan. The Plan includes a range of actions from employment to community development – although it would be fair to say that climate adaptation activities don’t receive significant attention. The hope is that this will emerge following further consultation in the community. Thanks to Marie Stonehouse from SCAN, a recording of the event can be found here.
Marie’s efforts also meant I had the opportunity to meet the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) staff to talk about the work they are doing to manage the ex-military base at Machrihanish for the benefit of the community. A huge undertaking and lots of potential.
We also opened Novara for locals to come on board and learn about the boat. We had passers-by, participants from the workshop, local organic shop owners. All giving us an opportunity to continue the climate action conversation.
What are the lessons from our first engagement activities? First, it’s hard to reconcile the need to be flexible, while sailing a boat that is dependent on the weather, and the time constraints of busy people on land. Second, there’s good awareness of the physical climate challenges facing the community. On the other hand, understanding of the broader climate transition risks is limited. Room for Novara to help there I think. Finally, Novara herself attracts attention, as does our arrival in a coastal community by sea. Arriving by boat gives us a greater connection than if we had just flown in. Something about us having braved the elements to get there – people from the sea working with communities by the sea. Something poetic about that.
Many thanks to Marie, Jamie, Eric, Sharyn, Ellen, Campbell and all the others in Campbeltown who made us feel so welcome.