Our Green Capital dream
It would accelerate the shift towards a greener lifestyle, bring in an estimated 1,000 new green industry jobs and would put Bristol on the map for environmentalists across the globe.
Bristol is about to launch its bid for European Green Capital in 2014 – a title that would put it in the company of places like Hamburg and Stockholm, both previous green capitals.
But while other European cities may have better integrated transport systems or recycling figures, here in Bristol we have a grassroots passion for greener living.
DAVID CLENSY talks to people in the city already living the green dream
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AS general manager of one the country's most established solar panel installation companies, Backwell-based Solarsense, few people are quite as aware of Bristol's green credentials as Kerry Burns.
In his seven years in the job, he has seen plenty of ups and downs in the emerging field of sustainable energy, but he believes the city has a solar-centric future.
"Excuse the pun," he laughs. "But the future really is bright for solar energy, especially here in Bristol, where we have some great solar radiation, and where people have always ahead of the game with all things green.
"I would love to see the city win the green capital title. We may not have the recycling performance of Copenhagen or the transport system that Hamburg can boast, but what we do have here in Bristol is a genuine grassroots passion for sustainable living."
Founded by Bristol businessman Stephen Barrett in 1994, Solarsense has evolved into a multi-million pound business, with 6,000 solar panel installations clocked-up across the South West.
"The recession has not affected us too badly," Kerry says. "If anything, it has almost helped – people are willing to make an investment in order to guard against future energy bill increases.
"The media has hyped-up the issue of the Government subsidies being cut, but actually the equipment now costs a fragment of what it did a few years ago, so solar is a more affordable option than ever."
Velocity Cycle Logistics
FOR Mick Mack being green isn't just an option for big business in the city. His start-up company, Velocity Cycle Logistics, is only a couple of years old, and his only employee is himself, but he is living proof of the green movement happening in the city.
The Bedminster man is one of a number of cycle couriers now flourishing in the city.
"It just makes sense on every level," he says. "Why drive vans around the city making deliveries when you can have a cargo bike that can carry up to 80kg?
"I deliver for florists, printers, delicatessens, even just private individuals who want to get something from one side of the city to the other quickly.
"Doing it this way you're cutting back congestion, fossil fuel usage and fumes, and you're getting away from soaring fuel prices, road tax and insurance – in fact, once you're set up, you virtually have no overheads.
"It's not a new idea. It's actually going back to the way things were done 60 or 70 years ago, when everything from chemists' prescriptions to ice cream were delivered around the city on bicycles. I honestly believe that within the next 10 or 20 years, it will return as being the most common way to deliver goods around the city.
"I was lucky enough to receive a grant from the Bristol-based cycling charity Sustrans, to cover the £2,500 cost of a Danish-built cargo bike, and since getting the vehicle a couple of years ago, the whole thing has taken off better than I could ever have imagined.
"If the city gets the green capital status, the whole green movement in the city will accelerate – everyone from businesses to the local authority will hopefully start looking at the green options with all kinds of different things in the daily life of the city."
Let’s Get Growing project
FOR the Somali community in the city, the chance to live in an environmentally-sound way is considered to be an important part of their lifestyle.
Abdullahi Farah, manager of the Somali Community Centre, says their Let's Get Growing project is a prime example of a true grassroots green movement outside the world of business.
"We have a large section of an allotment site in St George, where dozens of members of the local Somali community regularly get together to grow fruit and vegetables, which is then shared-out among the wider community.
"It's particularly important for Somalis in the city to have the chance to spend time working on the land, because in most cases they live in high-rise blocks, and without the allotment they would have no opportunity to grow their own produce.
"If Bristol gets green capital status, it would certainly make an enormous difference to our community, because it would demonstrate that the work we have put in to living in a more sustainable way within our community is playing a role in the broader daily life of the city."
Sims Hill Shared Harvest project
JAMES Adamson is one of two paid growers working for a co-operative vegetable growing scheme in Frenchay.
The Sims Hill Shared Harvest project is based on five acres of land, with two full time agriculturalists paid by a membership to provide locally-grown fruit and vegetables.
"It's about growing the food locally, so you're removing all the distribution pollution, and growing food ethically, so you're thinking local and tailoring towards the needs of the community," James says.
"The idea is for the group to run self-sufficiently outside of the big business world – this really is green living.
"It would be great to see Bristol named as European green capital. I think it would raise the profile of the city internationally, but would also raise the profile of the issue of local food growing among local politicians – which can only be of great benefit to us."
Festival of Ideas - a series of talks as part of Bristol’s Big Green Week
To kick start the bid, as part of Bristol's Big Green Week, the Festival of Ideas is presenting a series of talks with speakers ranging from Vivienne Westwood, who will be speaking on climate change, to Dan Pearson, who will be talking about the nature deficit disorder.
Robin Chase: The E-Transport Revolution
Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, June 10, 5pm-6pm
Transport innovator Robin Chase, founder and CEO of Buzzcar, a peer-to-peer car sharing service, talks about the future of transport in cities.
Robert Llewellyn: News from Gardenia
Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, June 10, 6.30pm-7.30pm
Robert Llewellyn, presenter, actor, screen-writer, stand-up comic and author, talks about his work, including his forthcoming book, News from Gardenia: an anti-dystopian vision.
Prue Leith: Healthy Food
Colston Hall, June 11, 12.30pm-1.30pm
Prue Leith, one of the country's best-loved food writers and broadcasters, talks about "slow food", sustainability, food as pleasure and the importance of teaching children to cook.
Sara Parkin: Positive Deviance
Colston Hall, June 12, 12.30pm-1.30pm
Sara Parkin, founder director of Forum for the Future, offers positive ideas to help people "deviate around the barriers and do the right thing despite the perversities of the world around us".
Eugenie Harvey: The Greenest Olympics?
Colston Hall, June 13, 12.30pm-1.30pm
Eugenie Harvey reflects on her involvement with the Olympics as a sustainability ambassador, and considers how and if an event like this can engage people in sustainability.
Vivienne Westwood: Climate Change
Colston Hall, June 14, 12.30pm-1.30pm
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood talks about her long-standing interest and involvement in environmental campaigns and stresses that public opinion is the only thing that will save us.
Dan Pearson and Fiona Reynolds: Nature Deficit Disorder
Colston Hall, June 15, 12.30pm-1.30pm
Dan Pearson has developed The Millennium Forest, an ecological park in Hokkaido, Japan, which is designed to re-engage the public with nature and landscape. He discusses this and the nature deficit disorder with Fiona Reynolds, the outgoing director of the National Trust.