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The Earth Action Challenge

"My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon out. We learned so much, had so much fun, and learnt so much we can do to make a difference. Amazing!!"

Azra Ahmed, Attendee.

The Earth Action Challenge was designed in collaboration with solar punk collective, Commando Jugendstil for Reading Climate festival.

We were approached by Reading Climate Action Network to join them in a bid for funding from The Climate Coalition to create an event as part of a nationwide celebration of action on climate change, The Great Big Green Week.

The first Great Big Green Week took place between 18 – 26 September 2021, and was the largest event for climate and nature ever seen in the UK.

Over 5000 events celebrated how communities are taking action to tackle climate change and protect green spaces, and encouraged others to get involved too.

The aim of Reading Climate Festival was to put on events with particular focus on young people and those from under-represented groups, to inspire and encourage action on climate change.

Reading is the home constituency of the President of COP26, Alok Sharma MP.  Reading Climate Change Partnership was keen to drum up awareness and support for the conference in the lead up to it. Indeed the film that we made of our event was subsequently taken by Reading representatives to COP26.

We found the perfect location. Lavender Place Community Gardens, an incredible exemplar of local climate action.

Lavender Place Community is situated on the site of the former Civic Offices, behind the Hexagon Theatre. It will eventually be re-developed, but for now is being used as a garden, thanks to Reading Borough Council's lease of it to Thames Valley Police for a ‘poppycorn’ rent of one flower a year.

Volunteers there have built raised beds, planted vegetables, an edible forest garden and installed a water harvesting system. The garden was designed by RISC's Food4Families project to showcase sustainable food growing, and local schools and community groups grow the organic fruit and vegetables. Over 40 family plots are cultivated by women from The Forgotten British Gurkha. Lavender Place very kindly agreed to host our pop up event.

"To care for nature, you need to love it. To love it, you need to feel a part of it. To feel a part of it, you need to spend time in it."

We believe that learning about our role in combating climate change, the best place to start is within nature itself. In this context we can grasp ecological concepts and our interconnectedness with the natural world. A key bit of evidence that underpins our work shows that immersion in the natural environment itself leads to pro-environmental behaviour (see footnote 1.).

We are also very aware of eco-anxiety. Although we are conscious of and we register how serious the situation is, we think it’s really important, particularly with younger children, to nurture a sense of meaningful action that we can take. For us it is important to present this to children in a way that isn’t full of doom and gloom. 

We designed a civic engagement approach from a child's view, creating home, DIY zone, school and world zones. 

For each zone, we designed a range of activities, exploring the actions families can take to mitigate against climate change and biodiversity loss.

"Learned so much about the earth, thank you :)" Asmara Shezad, Attendee.

Using nature connection activities and the creative arts, we made learning about and taking action on these issues fun and engaging.

 

"The event was really well organised with lots of fun activities that were also educational - perfect for children and adults. The 'food miles' exercise was a great visualisation for the kids especially the comparison between an apple from New Zealand and the UK. Picking plastic from the ocean also very eye opening for the kids (and fun!)"

"I liked the oceans best as you got to learn how much plastic goes in the sea each year" Isla Brett, age 9, Attendee.

Thanks to Reading Library we included a well resourced library zone.

In the DIY zone, families were invited to add a pledge to the pledge tree and write to their local MP. 

The wonderful stone zone with sculptor McAlistair Hood, attracted serious concentration and interest.

Nature Nurture are keen to roll out Earth Action Day. We have designed a package we can deliver to schools comprising an assembly, workshop for your class and follow up ideas.

If you are a teacher are interested in finding out more about the eco action challenge day we can bring to your school, do get in touch.

footnote 1.

Individuals who feel connected to the natural world are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviour, such as travel choices, energy use and waste. Kathleen Klaniecki, Julia Leventon, David J. Abson 2018 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325129667_Human-nature_connectedness_as_a_'treatment'_for_pro-environmental_behavior_making_the_case_for_spatial_considerations