Facilitating Footpaths to a Greener Life

Footpaths to a Greener Life is a community carbon reduction course initiated by Transition Leicester.

The objective of the training was to support ten people to become confident facilitators, enabling them to go back to their local communities to run Footpaths sessions with local groups of around ten people.

We therefore hoped to bring the Footpaths programme to around one hundred people over the course of the project.

A person writing on flipchart paper
Exploring challenges on the course. Image: Hannah Herbert

The training weekend allowed people to come together to consider, in a supportive environment, the opportunities and barriers associated with taking action to reduce carbon emissions in their own homes and communities.

Around half of the group of twelve were Quakers from the length and breadth of Britain.

The training was expertly facilitated by Matthew Herbert and Zina Zelter of Transition Leicester.

Overcoming challenges

The personal characteristics of the project leaders' experience, skills, and enthusiasm have been challenged by Ruth's Asperger's Syndrome and my dyslexia, making us both more inclined to practical activities.

We also faced challenges in getting people signed up to the course. We promoted the project in the first place among Friends, and found that while people were supportive and interested, we were competing with many other pressures and projects. This meant that our efforts to recruit people locally had to be supplemented with support from Friends House (the Quaker central offices in London) to recruit nationally.

In recognition of the complex human dimensions at play when exploring responses to climate change, we wanted the first stage of the training to focus on improving the facilitators' skills in managing emotive issues and complex social and economic conflicts. To do this effectively, we needed at least ten participants. This proved difficult, but further help from Friends House allowed us to widen our recruitment across the country.

The second stage of the project was to support the participants to gather a group of ten people in their local area and run seven two-hour Footpaths sessions. This stage is still a work in progress, partly due to difficulty in finding enough participants for the groups.

Reflections on the project

Transforming ourselves by undertaking the Footpaths to a Greener Life course means making choices from within ourselves. To tackle the human dimensions contributing to climate change from within our rich, high-carbon culture, we find ourselves reluctant to adapt in practice and so progress on this topic is universally slow and complex.

We have through participation in, and promotion of, this project, made a contribution to turning the tide by transforming ourselves and our communities for the common good.

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