EARTH CENTRE BATH AND NORTH EAST SOMERSET

INTRODUCTION

On 1st May 2019, parliament declared an Environment and Climate Emergency. As acknowledged in the House of Commons during the preceding debate, this was in no small part due to the contributions of the youth strikers and the UK Student Climate Network, and the rebels and the Extinction Rebellion organism, as it calls itself.

Significant civil society effort contributed to Bath and North East Somerset Council declaring a Climate Emergency earlier in the spring, on 14th March 2019.

In the absence of necessary action, the youth strikes and direct action continue. There have now been six youth strikes since the beginning of the year, with calls for a General Strike in the autumn. Extinction Rebellion’s Summer Uprising has just finished, with a sequel to the International Rebellion scheduled in October.

Public authorities and major broadcast and print media institutions are continuing to fall short in communicating the emergency situation to the public. Whilst credible survey research (e.g. the Ipsos MORI Issues Index) indicates that awareness and concern about the environment are somewhat pronounced, it also shows a majority of the public is still not seized of the situation. One of the demands of the youth strikers in the UK is a suitable adjustment to the national curriculum.

In this document, a new sort of civil society institution dedicated to public understanding of these issues – an Earth Centre – serving people who live in, work in, or visit Bath and North East Somerset, is presented.

Following this introduction are very brief sections on the centre, a possible network, the present study, and the author.

Responses are invited by the end of August 2019.

Contact details are provided below.

THE CENTRE

The Centre would have two main objects :

  • to develop public understanding of the emergency situation, the Earth System, the Human System, and their interaction, at global, national, and local levels, and

  • to support suitable, local, civil society institutions in their efforts to do likewise.

The main activities of the Centre would include :

  • Ad hoc and Permanent Exhibitions on the global, national, and local situation with expositions on the Earth System and Human System as they are, as they could be, and on the efforts being made to achieve change;

  • A Reference Library stocked with the most significant publications and media;

  • An Information Desk, constantly staffed, and including a carousel or spinner stocked with leaflets of relevant public and civil society institutions;

  • A programme of Earth Centre Events including screenings, talks, and roundtables, and

  • A website and (e) newsletter.

In addition, the Centre would make its facilities available to local civil society institutions and individuals working on the emergency situation or related matters, subject to capacity and availability.

Four main groups are likely to use the Centre. School parties, of all ages, will be able to visit the Centre as part of their formal education, with priority given to schools in the local authority area. Residents and workers/visitors will be able to use the Centre during opening hours. Civil Society Institutions and individuals demonstrably working on related matters will be able to use the facilities for relevant work both during and potentially outside of opening hours.

The Earth Centre would be a social enterprise. It could be constituted in a number of ways – a cooperative, community interest company, or limited company, for example – depending on requirements. Elected members or board members would supervise the work of one full time, employed officer, whose duties would include on site duties during opening hours. Different models of funding may be viable, including a paying membership or subscriber base.

A suitable premises would have to be leased in a suitable location.

THE EARTH CENTRE NETWORK

In the event that more than one community/locality wishes to establish an Earth Centre, it might be worthwhile to begin to establish a national Earth Centre Network and an appropriate quality standard for those centres wishing to be accredited. Each Earth Centre would remain distinctive, local, social enterprises, quite autonomously constituted and operated, but could signal their quality through application for assessment and accreditation, ensuring the integrity of organisation, and quality of provision.

An Earth Centre Community Interest Company or suitably constituted entity could undertake the required quality assurance activity, and perhaps training and other support services, if called for. It could also provide online facilities enabling knowledge management and sharing of best practice etc.

This would need to independently constituted, staffed, and funded.

THE STUDY

The initial feasibility study will be completed at the beginning of the autumn, taking into account the feedback provided by interested parties over the remainder of the summer (in the meteorological calendar).

Local civil society institutions and individuals are invited to contribute their views, along with any questions, using any of the contact details provided in the next section.

Contributors need to indicate whether they will use the centre, what for, how often, and how much they would be willing to pay, per month, if the funding model included a membership or subscription base. They also need to indicate whether they are happy for their names to be released in relation to their submissions. Unless otherwise specified, it will be assumed that contributors are happy to be identified.

A report will be circulated amongst those contributing in the autumn, indicating whether the project is viable or not.

THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Oates is the Director of Earth Centre. He is a Bath based writer, researcher and teacher. He is the presenter and producer of the Regional Rides podcast series, and is currently working on an accompanying eBook, as part of a current project, Decency and Survival.

He has been active in electoral politics with the Bath and North East Somerset Green Party and in support of the youth strikers and Extinction Rebellion, both locally, and nationally. He was until relatively recently a Part Time Teaching Fellow at the University of Bath, his alma mater; he holds an MSc in International Public Policy Analysis.

His experience includes directing a number of social enterprises, including Democratic Accountability Bath, Forum Bath (winner of a grant from UnLtd), Test Tube at the Cheltenham Festival of Science, and the Bath Community Culture Company Experiment which produced an audio programme, ‘Universe’, with an introduction by Sir Patrick Moore, and StarWalk for the Bath Fringe Festival (Pick of the Fringe, 2004).

CONTACT DETAILS

Post :

Earth Centre Proposal

Jonathan Oates

Flat 12, Coromandel Heights

Camden Row

Bath BA1 5LB

Email :

Subject : Earth Centre Proposal

Email : jonathanoates74@gmail.com

Phone :

Mobile : 07828 618 809

Web :

Web : www.jonathanoates.net (Navigate to Earth Centre Network tab)