Stoke Environment Group

   
Introduction
In 2020 the Parish Council convened the Forward Strategy Group (FSG) to advise on the steps necessary to inspire our community to create a greener future. Some scoping work was undertaken, and it was clear that there was support for this initiative. In the April 2021 Parish Council meeting, it was agreed that a new, independent, group would be created to take the project forward.

Having gained independence, members and supporters of the group decided to review its community role, objectives, scope of activities and means of effectively engaging with the community to utilise the broad range of existing interests and skills.

Scope
The FSG (Climate Action) was tasked with the responsibility of researching and co-ordinating ideas which would make a positive contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions in the village. This was to be supported with the use of a ‘Carbon Footprint Tool’. Opportunities were to be identified and forwarded to the Parish Council for consideration. Networking with other local parishes facing similar challenges was to be an important way of gathering ideas, collaborating on common projects and identifying best practise.

With independence from the Parish Council came the opportunity to consider the merits of broadening the remit so that a wider range of environment-based activities could be undertaken. It was thought that this would provide further opportunities for real community engagement – particularly with our younger members who have most to gain from this work.
It is thought that a revised objective would provide opportunities to improve both individual and communal wellbeing whilst responsibly managing and reducing damage to our environment.

How can this objective be achieved?
The key to achieving this objective is to enable true community involvement and engagement. But what does this mean in reality?

Everything we do, from the mundane to the extraordinary, affects our fellow citizens and the natural world around us. It is becoming increasingly important that we are prepared to think about our impact and how we can contribute to the creation of an environment where we can lead a safe and healthy life and look after the natural world at the same time. This may mean we adapt the way we do things and to think harder about how we can make positive change in both the short and long term. We need to embrace our creative skills!

Other important tools we can use are good communication and access to reputable information. The group will be focussed on good communication using all the tools available and respond quickly and accurately to the community’s ideas and concerns. Actively listening to the younger members of our community is especially important so that we can better understand their interests and concerns.

Having an easily accessible source of reliable information on environmental matters will be the basis of our actions. Where available, any information provided to the community will be supported by advice from reputable expert bodies.

Engagement and so-called ‘ownership’ of any projects we undertake will rely on the input of as many people as possible. Most of this input will be in support of a range of practical activities – particularly with our younger people. Simple, practical ways that educate and engage will help our community understand how our actions can make positive improvements to our wellbeing and environment.

Coordination
Following the decision by the PC to make the group independent, a small group of enthusiastic people have been considering how best to coordinate the activities that will contribute to the objective.

n July 2021 supporters of the initiative agreed to form the Stoke Environment Group (SEG) as a means of coordinating and managing environmental projects within the Parish. At that same meeting a Vision statement, Mission, Objectives and governance process was also agreed. This was a significant moment for our community as it demonstrated its commitment to play a role in challenging the consequences of unbridled climate change. Members of the group have identified many wide-ranging projects that not only will make a positive impact on our environment, but will also contribute to the wellbeing of each individual member of our community. The role of the governance team is to ensure maximum benefit is realised by coordinating the work.

The Vision of SEG is to support …
… a rural community that is friendly, inclusive and resilient where people share skills, ideas, knowledge, experience and time. A connected and healthy community, where everyone can get around with minimal carbon emissions. A green community that is rich in wildlife, that encourages biodiversity and cares for all species. An empowered community, where every individual can make a positive difference for the benefit of all. A socially responsible and sustainable community where we actively care for our environment and the wellbeing of current and future generations.

Five working groups have been established to coordinate the many projects.

Further information on the SEG and the work it is supporting, alongside all the other groups in the village, can be found on its website envirostoke.org and its Facebook page [hyperlink] Stoke Environment Group. The group’s email address is envirostoke@yahoo.com.