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Eco 2021: Hold the front page, it’s time to imagine what we want from this decade

How environmental groups imagined how our newspaper could look in 2030

11 January, 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Groups came together to make the ‘Camden Future Journal’

THE front of the Camden New Journal looks a bit different this week, and that’s because it has been partly taken over by you – our readers.

A number of groups in Camden came up with the idea of imagining what the paper would look like in 2030, if the best approaches to tackling climate change are adopted.

This week those involved said they hoped it would inspire people to think about what can be the reality if action is taken.

Transition Kentish Town, Friends of the Earth, Camden Climate Emergency, Power Up North London and Think and Do were all involved and after inviting “articles” from the community, they received more than 330 entries from a range of schools, community bodies and individuals to show how we can collectively build a better Camden.

How the wraparound looks

As well as today’s special wraparound, their project includes a new website and organisers are planning a borough-wide tour of public spaces such as tenants and residents associations’ halls, community centres and shopping areas – once Covid restrictions allow – to keep the discussions going.

Next week, an online meeting via Zoom videocall technology is set to be held to share more ideas.

Drawing on the submissions, co-organiser Debbie Bourne said: “We need to imagine a better world. We wanted people to feel inspired – ask themselves what could Camden be like in 2030?” The idea formed as activists looked at how the pandemic came as the world was in the midst of a climate emergency – and what long-term effect the crisis of 2020 would have.

She said: “We were discussing how bad things were, and asked each other what we thought Camden would look like in 10 years’ time.”

Debbi Bourne

Co-organiser Dee Searle told the New Journal: “We wanted to crowd source a collected vision. Naturally, within our groups, we talk to each other a lot. We felt if we threw this open to more people, perhaps those who are not always involved in green issues, it will bring a much broader range of perspectives. “It was quite a challenge to put people 10 years into the future and ask them: What would London look like, what would you like to see? Some of the ideas that came back were completely amazing.”

The range of ideas – stretching from transport to food, energy to public spaces, social justice and work – will create a platform to build a collective vision of how we want to shape our neighbourhoods, she added.

Dee Searle

Ms Searle said: “We want to be provocative to those who hold the levers of power. “This is about how people with power could act differ­ently, to enable communities and individuals to do so too. We want to inspire people not to be nervous about carrying on with climate action – it is even more important in the circumstances.”

Ms Bourne added that submissions included art work and poetry from young people.

She said: “The poetry was hard hitting social commentary – really quite challenging and upsetting, but also very courageous.

The knowledge and maturity young people have shown about worldwide issues was inspiring – a lot wrote about how social justice is linked to climate change.”

Habiba Nabutu

Co-organiser Habiba Nabutu highlighted how many of the entries looked at how climate change could not be separated as a specific single issue as it has so often been in the past, but was bound up in how we run society today.

She said: “Climate change is a symptom of what is wrong in our society. We consume so much, our world in based on consumption. Inequality is so huge, and when you are trying to survive, trying to feed your children, it makes it hard to think about the climate and the future – you are thinking about the right now.

“It meant contribu­tions touched on difficult subjects, including looking at the role of the banking industry, how the Department for Work and Pensions treat people, and the punitive elements of the welfare state, locking up asylum seekers. It seemed hard at first to directly link this to environ­ment issues but it is about how energy and resources are used and about how people can respond to climate change when they face personal hardships.”

She added that she hoped the project would help politicians see they should not “be scared of residents,” but instead “show how important it is to speak honestly about the scale of the problems and then collectively work out what should be done.”

l CNJ readers are invited to a Zoom videocall meeting of Visioning Camden 2030 at 5.30pm on Wednesday. The meeting ID will be: 811 8133 3491, with the passcode: 267992


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