Monday, 29 March 2010

Co-operating on carbon in Moss Side

A few years ago we (Creative Concern and chums) launched Manchester is My Planet to generally positive noises nationally and regionally; the key to the whole endeavour was the very simple idea that a big, hairy, global problem like climate change possibly could be solved if you made it local, relevant and fused to a greater sense of civic pride. Later on this was an approach which we also adopted when helping to get Foundation launched.

It's a straighforward bit of thinking: climate change and melting planet - very scary - can result in paralysis through fear and dispair - not good! Local action, down your street, by people you recognise is not scary but really 'do-able'. People not scared. People empowered. Planet saved.

That's the theory, and I reckon it's sound.

Anyway the latest outing for this thinking is the fabulous new Carbon Co-op in South Manchester (more specifically Moss Side). The idea is a new, low carbon social enterprise that helps neighbourhoods co-operate to save energy and money. The Co-op launched on Saturday and will kick off across two Moss Side streets with residents working together on bulk-buying low carbon technologies, insulation, energy monitors and other such green gizmos.

The Carbon Co-op is being supported by NESTA's Big Green Challenge Fund and Manchester City Council's Carbon Innovation Fund and it includes a very good 'manual for living' that I'd recommend to anyone. Having tried on many an occasion to make climate change palatable, understandable and compelling on the printed page, I love to see it done well, and right. The project has a bunch of other people I respect involved, including one of the team behind 'Wythenshawe Forever' (Jonathan Atkinson) and the brilliant Charlie Baker from Urbed.

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