Capital B

It’s considered the spiritual home of the environmental movement but what exactly makes Bristol so green?

Is it down to a City Council to create a ‘low-carbon city with a high quality of life’? Bristol was nominated as the European Green Capital of the Year back in 2008 – the only one in the UK. And in the same year, it topped Forum for the Future’s Sustainability Index.

Is it the unusually high concentration of environmental organisations that have made their homes here? (Think Sustrans, the BBC Natural History Unit, Soil Association, Triodos Bank, to name but four).

Or is it the huge number of grassroots, community-led initiatives that have sprung up all over the city to fight supermarkets and airport expansions, transform derelict spaces into permaculture oases or social networking hubs, and build communities through street parties, car-free days and assisted veg growing?

Here at The Source, we think that it’s a combination of all three and that’s why we provide an independent platform for all the inspiring things that are going on to create a sustainable and positive future not only in Bristol, but in the rest of the South West.

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Better by Bike

There’s been lots of bikey stuff going on in Bristol and South Gloucestershire over the last few years, thanks to the Cycling City Grant awarded in 2008 – the first of its kind in the UK. More than 20 traffic-free routes are now complete, with others to come. Free tuition on cycling and bike maintenance is available, and abandoned bikes are being taken off the streets and refurbished by inmates at Bristol prison. Not only do the refurbishers get a qualification to help them get back into work, but cheap bicycles are also available for Bristol residents. “2010 is the time to get cycling,” says Ben Hillsden at Bristol City Council. “Once you’ve started, you will never look back.”

Celebrating everything bike related, the city’s first ever community-organised cycling festival is taking place 11th-26th September. With over 200 events run by enthusiasts from across the region, there will be rides, races, theatre performance, cycle-powered music stages and a free-wheeling fancy-dress carnival. “There’s a particular passion for cycling in Bristol,” says organiser Chris Johnson.

Contact: www.betterbybike.info
Photo: copyright Bristol City Council

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The Happy City

A grassroots alternative to the government’s Big Society, Bristol’s Happy City Initiative is set to mobilise the excellent organisations and inspiring individuals across the region, for positive change and increased happiness.
“It’s about helping the community work together,” explains Mike Zeidler, a team member behind the project. “The Big Society has been put forward by government to solve particular problems, but this is about supporting the phenomenal creativity, resourcefulness and solutions that are already working.”

In hand with various communication campaigns and an online community hub, events will be taking place such as workshops for employers hoping to bring more happiness to their staff.

Contact: www.happycity.org.uk

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It’s the Big Shift

Shift Bristol is an example of collective community genius. Aimed at equipping residents for the twin issues of oil shortage and climate change, the initiative runs a year-long training programme and one-off workshops on subjects such as herbal medicine, agro-forestry and local currency.
“The solutions needed to prepare for peak oil and avoid catastrophic climate change are actually pretty simple,” says permaculture teacher, Sarah Pugh. For a taste of what they might be, check out the one day event on 28th November.

Contact: www.shiftbristol.org.uk

Bristol Temple Quarter

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All Things Organic

The Soil Association’s annual Organic Food Festival is the biggest celebration of all things organic in Europe. It marks its 10th anniversary at Bristol Harbourside on 11th-12th September 2010.

In addition to the regular artisan food producers, celebrity chefs and purveyors of green products, it also boasts an Urban Sheep Show. “After a difficult year for the industry, there are signs that things may be looking up,” say organisers. “The Soil Association’s recent annual report highlights that the sector could return to growth this year.”

Contact: www.organicfoodfestival.co.uk

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Open Green Doors

Energy efficient homes are the passion of the people from Bristol Green Doors. An open-door weekend from 11th-12th September 2010, will showcase over 50 households in the city that have adopted measures to reduce domestic energy consumption and promote low-carbon living.
“Many of our homes are old and will be standing and lived in for a long time yet,” say the team. “So we want to showcase the brilliant and inspirational work that many people are doing to retrofit their homes, making them more comfortable, less wasteful and less expensive to live in.” Bristol’s very own cycle rickshaw company, Pedal Walla, will be on hand to transport people to the different homes.

Contact: www.bristolgreendoors.org
www.pedalwalla.com
Pedal Walla out and about in Bristol

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For all that’s good in Bristol keep an eye out for the Bristol Good Living Guide to be launched in the city this winter by
ecopublisher Alastair Sawday

Contact: www.thesourcesouthwest.co.uk

Rachel Fleming is editor of the Source

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