Sustainability Shorts at The Packhorse

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Braving the Autumn cold, over 60 people came together in the South Stoke village hall on Monday 16th October for Sustainability Shorts: a varied programme of eco-talks.

Inspired by The Packhorse pub’s earlier event ‘Five Pints of Science’, the seven speakers each had ten minutes to explore their topics and five minutes to answer audience questions. The event was so popular that the talk was moved from the original venue – The Packhorse pub – into the neighbouring village hall. Attendees savoured delicious noodles from Ninjō’s Noodle Bar parked outside, carried their pints over from The Packhorse, and settled in for an engaging evening of discussion.

First up was James Levelle, filmmaker and adventurer, who gave an energetic account of his experience making his film ‘Race for the Future’. ‘Race for the Future’ is a climate crisis documentary that follows James’ attempt to travel 9000 miles from the UK to Chile fossil-fuel free whilst giving a platform to the stories of young people James met along the way.  

Next, Debby Skellern, acting CEO of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, introduced the possible utility of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source. In an informative presentation, she described how hydrogen is especially useful as a medium to store excess energy generated by wind and solar power.

Before the break, food specialist Dr Lyn Barham and expert gardener John Ingham joined forces to discuss how soil is vital to life on Earth. Audience members passed around a teaspoon of soil, home to 100 million bacteria, and learned about the importance of mulch in regenerative gardening.

After more noodles and drinks, ecological psychologist Dr Rosie Jones spoke about the importance of community when experiencing grief in the face of the environmental crisis. Drawing on the work of environmental activist and author Joanna Macy, Rosie noted the power of ‘seeing anew with ancient eyes.’

Retired academic and Transition Bath trustee Nick Abercrombie was up next, thinking about the need for a social mandate when it comes to behavioural change. The devil is in the detail, he argued, as people generally agree with action against climate change, but are more opposed to specific policies.

Rounding off the evening, recent Sustainability master’s graduate Alexander Coles talked about systems thinking and environmental educator Donella Meadows. According to systems thinking, small actions can leverage large effects.

With lively discussion from the audience, it is safe to say that Sustainability Shorts provided everyone with some food for thought. If you have an idea for a future Sustainability Shorts talk, we would love to hear from you.

From left: Katie Janota (Transition Bath), Debbie Skellern, James Levelle, Lyn Barham, John Ingham, Dr Rosie Jones, Alexander Coles and Nick Abercrombie