Footpaths is a way for people to meet and support each other to reduce their personal carbon footprints. It offers you a structured, supportive and fun environment in which you can work out what you want to change in your life to reduce your carbon footprint - and a community of like minded people to do it with. We do this by providing a structured course of eight meetings, and bringing together people who want to do it. Beyond the Footpaths course we also offer support to help you continue improving your personal carbon footprint, through one off events, workshops and get-togethers.
Footpaths is based on the understanding that making changes alone can be challenging. Making changes with other people who are doing the same is easier and more fun - and sometimes simply knowing others are going through the same process helps us to keep going. Some changes can be made much more easily by a group which supports each other - for example you can share ideas, sympathy and excitement, tools and skills, recipes, experiences and researching information. Having a community - or being part of many communities - makes us happier than when we live isolated separate lives. It also makes us stronger and more able to cope and adapt in times of change. With climate change and peak oil occurring, we need this resilience and joy in life.
Footpaths main aim is to help people create resilient communities in the face of climate change. Building communities and getting better at living and working with other people will help us to reduce our carbon footprints, and that becoming less oil dependent will push us towards lower footprints and more interactive living. To achieve that, we designed the course and activities to:
· help people reduce their carbon footprints because of climate change
· raise awareness and provide skills to people so they can deal better with group interactions
· help people to build themselves communities
A Footpaths group consists of 6-10 people meeting once every 2 or 3 weeks for a series of eight meetings covering the topics of climate change, home energy, waste and water, consumerism, food and transport. We provide a handbook which contains relevant information about what actions and choices you make that produce greenhouse gases and references for where to get more information on this. The meetings and handbook create the opportunity for you to think about what your needs are and how to meet them in a low carbon way. Each group includes at least two facilitators who have had training and have a support network.
What we provide
- Handbooks including information, worksheets and tips for carbon reduction.
Meeting designs including exercises, games and discussions and the chance to think about what makes carbon reduction hard for you and what you can gain from it.
Facilitation training and support for groups.
Help in calculating a more accurate carbon footprint and opportunities to come up with plans and targets for reducing your carbon footprint.
A community of like-minded people to work and have fun with.
What we’d like you to commit yourself to:
Try to reduce your carbon footprint.
Come to all eight meetings.
Do the 1-2 hours of homework between each meeting.
Be willing to listen to other people’s experiences and be sympathetic to their feelings.
To provide a £10 deposit on the handbook which you work from. This can be returned if you return the book after the meetings.
For at least 2 people in each group to do the facilitation training and take the role of facilitators during the meetings.
In these meetings Footpaths has tried to create an environment which will help us to make changes.
A stimulating environment where we can share ideas creatively.
The chance to talk about things we love which may be lost through climate change.
A place where we can explore feelings in relative safety.
The chance to choose for ourselves what changes we want to make.
Information about climate change and carbon reduction.
The chance to work out what will make the most difference to our carbon footprints.
The support of other people and opportunities to support others.
To really make this environment successful though, everyone in the group needs to take responsibility for these things. By noticing and caring about the underlying assumptions and interactions which go on in a group environment, we believe people become able to tackle issues and problems as they arise. This is useful for us as individuals, for the long term health and happiness of the group and for our society as we tackle climate change.
If you want to reduce your personal carbon footprint in the company of like minded people, and think you'd like to take part in a Footpaths group to do this, then we'd love to hear from you. We try to organise groups close to where particpants live, and do this by maintaining a list of interested people and their contact details. Once we seem to have enough people in an area to start a group, we contact everyone on the list to see if they are still interested and what times would work for them and then go from there.
At the moment (2016) groups are coming together in Clarendon Park and the West End in Leicester, Loughborough and Barrow upon Soar in Leicestershire and Wrexham and Bangor in Wales. There are other interested people scattered all over Leicestershire too, so don't assume a group can't happen in your area just because it isn't mentioned here.
As an organisation which is run entirely by volunteers we are completely dependent on people being excited about what we do and getting involved in the organisational side of it as well as taking part in groups. So if you have time to offer and are interested, please have a look at this form and see how you could volunteer.
We use facilitation to mean helping a group to work together effectively both in terms of doing the exercises and discussions in the meetings, and more importantly in supporting each other to engage emotionally as well as intellectually with the material and each other.
In order to run each Footpaths group requires at least two participants to do our two day facilitation training. Although they are then the official facilitators for the group, Footpaths was designed in the hope that the whole group would share the responsibilities of making it work well, and for this reason the facilitation points are included in the handbook which everyone receives.
The training allows the facilitators time to develop their facilitation skills; think about their strengths and weaknesses as facilitators; practise facilitating with feedback; look at the Footpaths materials which will be used in the meetings and get a sense of the Footpaths ethos of giving participants the space and support to make their own decisions and lifestyle changes – not pushing them to do what we think needs doing. It also allows them to get to know each other and think about power and status within groups and the impacts it can have.