Green Column: Manx environmentalists visit Basecamp

Aerial picture of the team setting up Basecamp - photo credit Denis Walker

Aerial picture of the team setting up Basecamp - photo credit Denis Walker

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Cat Turner explains why Isle of Man Friends of the Earth was just one of many groups attending Basecamp in the Peak District over the weekend

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By the time you read this, a small contingent of Manxies will have returned from ‘Basecamp.’

The latter is a gathering of environmental and community campaigners and activists, which is run by Friends of the Earth and takes place in the glorious Peak District.

It’s quite an event – some 500 people converge on Losehill Hall Youth Hostel for the weekend.

Around half of them are FoE members from the UK, IoM, Ireland and further afield.

Other groups are attached to such as MARINET, The Real Junk Food Project, a variety of anti-fracking campaigns and many, many more.

The weekend really does have something for everyone.

For people who want to learn new campaigning skills, there’s the FoE Campaign Organisers’ Course – plus workshops on communications, organising events, lobbying politicians and looking after yourself and others when engaged in what can sometimes feel like uphill work.

For people wanting technical information, there are sessions on fossil fuels, divestment campaigns, GMOs, the state of the world’s oceans, and legal issues.

There are inspiring speakers - this year’s keynote will be given by Shami Chakrabarti CBE, who led British civil liberties advocacy group Liberty for 12 years.

Others include Juliet Davenport OBE, who founded Good Energy, one of the UK’s first 100 per cent renewable electricity suppliers and generators.

It’s obviously ‘good’ in more ways than one, coming top in three of the past four years of the Which? annual energy consumer satisfaction survey.

And what about those who just want to relax and mingle with like-minded people?

There’s lots of good stuff for them too from music, film sessions, learning to make seedbombs or grow mushrooms, or simply taking in the landscape that surrounds the venue.

Children are well catered for too, as a team of woodcrafters, artists and storytellers make sure the youngsters are entertained.

For the competitively-minded, there are also the Earthmovers Awards – recognition of those people and groups who’ve worked especially hard to benefit the environment and its inhabitants.

Last year, readers might remember, Isle of Man Friends of the Earth was tickled pink to win Best UK Campaigning Group, narrowly beating the Bristol group with their amazing bee-friendly strategy.

We’ve no idea who’ll win this year, but we’re looking forward to hearing of new campaigns, making new friends and learning new skills to use to help protect the Isle of Man’s precious environment.

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