EVALUATION REPORT “Habitat is helping create a healthier world for a new
ENVIRONS A YOUNG PERSONS E NV I RON M E N T I N I T IAT I V E JUNE 2011 MCLEAN INITIATIVE © Tel: 0121 449 6623 Mobile: 07403 675 466 “Habitat.. Is a good idea and good ideas are rare.” Dame Elisabeth Hoodless Former Executive Director Community Service Volunteers “Its great to join forces this project is a hotbed of creativity, where the arts and sciences come together to solve a major climate change challenge in Birmingham from New York.” Chelsea Loving Editor Fluid NYC magazine “Is a mature project for young minds, with potential to become an international network, training, and environmental resource.” Arsha Cazazian Architect / Director DIA | WRKS “It is vital that we support the importance of the artistic experimentation shown in Habitats leadership We look towards artists to break boundaries, to demonstrate courage in new thought, design and reflection. If we neglect supporting the most creative in our communities, we risk limiting our cultural development.” Sherry Dobbin Operations Director Watermill Centre
Executive Summary A pilot project for Habitat ENVIRONS was developed in partnership with Stony Brook University, New York, involving a group of students choosing a specific resource (“technology”) to investigate the history and current environmental status of Birmingham, UK and help provide an outline manifesto for the evolution of that technology in twenty first century Birmingham. The overall aim of the pilot was to connect two international cities through engagement on a common theme. The issue selected would invigorate young people’s engagement on environmental issues. The participants were directed to engage in a period of research, and discussions with local agencies on a set of challenges faced by a real city (Birmingham, UK)”. Project Objectives · ·
Work with New York young people, using Birmingham as a test site Explore the concept that young people can seriously contribute to solving big issues of the day
Methodology Students on the Environmental Humanities, Sustainability Degree Program at Stony Brook University, New York were invited to take part in the project by Senior Lecturers. The ENVIRONS project was led by Steven Mclean of MI Society and Marc Fasanella, Senior Lecturer at Stony Brook University. They tasked the students and supported them in their research and findings, as part of a master planning exercise for Birmingham, focusing on the city’s current and intended use of power and intended use over the next 50 years. 2
Discussions were online using Skype and via emails. The students from New York interacted with environmental, arts and heritage, academic and economic specialists in Birmingham. Conclusions 1. The pilot project has shown successfully that New York young people
were able to work remotely using Birmingham as test site 2. The pilot showed young people were able to understand the complexities of environmental challenges facing us, and produce an astonishing range of ideas 3. Subject to a successful execution of the pilot Stony Brook will write the program into its BA and MA curricula
Recommendations A great deal has been achieved by these young people in the development of ideas concerning climate change adaptation. Cross nation collaboration can be made to work. The pilot has shown that much can be achieved with a limited budget. 1. A similar group is now chosen from Birmingham to study and
recommend regarding New York environmental issues:.This will enable a balanced view to emerge on the perspectives from young people in each city.
2. Approach local leaders and encourage them to incorporate young
peoples ideas in their plans. This will help lead to an international city master plan where young people have the potential to contribute to the environmental changes needed in their cities. 3. The concept could be developed in the following ways (see detailed
recommendation Page 7)
3.1 Work with a wider range of young people. 3.2 Widen the project into engagement with the arts sector. 3
3.3 Over the long term, to work collaboratively with young people, architects, artists, and environmentalists, to make Birmingham a cultural hub for creativity around climate change issues 3.4 Knowledge share and dissemination of findings 3.5 Approach local leaders and encourage them to incorporate young peoples ideas in their plans. 3.6 International corporate and public sponsorship and support mentoring for young people
Introduction Habitat is helping create a healthier world for a new generation It is part of MI Society, consultants and makers of socially responsible ar t, events, film, and educational programs for government, corporate, and ar ts organizations. A pilot project was developed in partnership with Stony Brook University, New York, supported by United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI) and Be Birmingham, involving students from Stony Brook University. The context was Birmingham does not have a climate change adaptation program. It also lacks opportunities for young people to be a part of climate change adaption strategies. Each participant chose a specific energy / technology (food, water, gas) source to investigate the industrial history and current status of Birmingham, UK as part of a master plan exercise for the evolution of that technology in twenty first century Birmingham. It is within the context of the global warming faced by Birmingham, and how the city can adapt to the changes that will bring. Program rationale and development MI Society developed the project between June and October 2010. The overall aim of ENVIRONS was to “invigorate young people’s engagement on environmental issues.
A participant centred approach was chosen to make it accessible and engaging to young people. This gave the participants the confidence and knowledge to be able to explore the task. They were offered support from the MI Society team led by Steven Mclean, Marc Fasanella of Stoney Brook University, New York, with environmental, arts and heritage, academic and economic specialists including Be Birmingham, Environment Agency, NPower, Severn Trent Water, Scottish and Southern Energy plc, Centro, and Birmingham City Council.
Description of the initiative The Birmingham climate change action plan of 2010 stated is: ‘Supporting our community, to respond to the impacts of climate change and take individual and collective action, will have cross cutting benefits in delivering our carbon savings’. MI Society investigated the climate change adaptation programmes within the city and discovered many young people were not engaged with the problems of climate change. They have a limited understanding of how their behaviour contributes, and what changes they can make. The Birmingham climate change action plan of 2010 requires: · · · · · · ·
A trajectory towards its new role as a “Low Carbon Transition” City Improving the energy efficiency of the city’s “Homes and Buildings” Reducing the city’s reliance on unsustainable energy through “Low Carbon Energy Generation” Reducing the city’s impact on the nonrenewable resource use through “Resource Management” Reducing the environmental impact of the city’s mobility needs through “Low Carbon Transport” Making sure the city is prepared for climate change through “Climate Change Adaptation” Making sure that this action plan “Engages with Birmingham Citizens and Businesses”1
1 Birmingham City Council (2010) Climate Change Action Plan 2010+ http:/ /www.bebirmingham.org.uk/uploads/Birmingham%20Climate%20Change%20Action%20Plan.pdf [Accessed 16 June 2011]
The Climate Change Adaptation Officer of Be Birmingham, Richards Rees has said: 'It would certainly take the project to another level if the students can think about how the city might be different in terms of its climate in the future and in light of the commitment to cut carbon emissions. Plans that consider a low carbon economy and relevant adaptation measures would really hit the buttons if you are trying to get this project noticed outside of the academic sphere.' Specific Project Objectives: · ·
Eighteen New York young people, to work with Birmingham NGO’s and government agencies To establish the feasibility of one city overviewing and recommending actions for another (New York: Birmingham)
Method of Working MI Society following discussions with the participants agreed that mitigation and adaptation as opposed to specific issues such as conservation were central. Key sustainability themes were Climate Change Mitigation • Low carbon transport – (low carbon vehicles, transport network, cycling strategy) • Cutting CO2 • Low carbon energy generation • Resource management • Homes and buildings Climate Change Adaptation • Climate projections – UKCP09 • Heat risk mapping – BUCCANEER project (Birmingham urban climate change and neighbourhood estimates of environmental risk) • Flood risk mapping • Green infrastructure (improved air quality, urban heat island reduction, improved perceptions of place, improved biodiversity, rainwater storage, sustainable urban drainages etc) Over five months, the students at Stony Brook University produced a series of manifesto’s to be part of an over master plan for Birmingham. They focused on the city’s current use of power and intended use for the city over the next 6
50 years. They were required to formulate a deep understanding of the communities, municipalities, cities and sector needs. Marc Fasanella stressed the importance of the teams working together as a group, and with a body of accessible experts to assist them thinking about climate change adaptation. The young people were given information regarding Birmingham’s: · · · · ·
Waterways, roadways, light rail, freight rail, bus routes, structures Zoning guidelines (industrial, commercial, residential, mixed use) Demographic enclaves (wealth and/or ethnicity) Historic landmarks Underdeveloped areas
Participants used Skype for obtaining obtaining information, discussing concepts, and summarising their findings. They were able to interact with professionals across the environment, arts and heritage, academic and economic development sectors. Findings The concept resonated well with partners and constituents from the early stages. The interest from public bodies enabled easy access to information sources. Containing the pilot within New York and Birmingham enabled the programme to run smoothly. Sponsorship from United Kingdom Trade and Investment proved significant in establishing the relationship with Stony Brook University. A sponsored trip for MI Society to Stony Brook University, January 2011 guaranteed a project start date for April 2011, and completion by May 2011. The use of accessible language and engaging stories (the history and stories linked to places around the city) were contributing factors to the success of the project. Recommendations A great deal has been achieved by these young people in the development of ideas concerning climate change adaptation. Cross nation collaboration can be made to work. The pilot has shown that much can be achieved with a limited budget. ENVIRONS has shown itself to be a fluid, adaptable concept with the potential to move in multiple directions. It could act as a catalyst for 7
knowledge sharing between a range of partners (universities, think tanks, energy companies, environment agencies). The concept could be developed in the following ways 1. Work with a wider range of young people. The pilot worked with a
50/50 split of male and female participants. However they are primarily white, middle class undergraduates. The work should be with a wider demographic population. A similar group should now be chosen from Birmingham to study and recommend regarding New York environmental issues.This will enable a balanced view to emerge on the perspectives from young people in each city 2. Widen the project into engagement with the arts sector. For example
Sampad (South Asian Arts organisation, Birmingham) and Watermill Centre (contemporary arts organisation, New York) have shown interest in the programme. The Watermill Centre director, Sherry Dobbin, has offered spaces at their international summer school for artists linked to the programme. Sampad have included ENVIRONS in its current business plan for the next three years, and are particularly keen to work with young people from India who could inform Birmingham’s programme on innovation in recycling. 3. Over the long term, to work collaboratively with young people,
architects, artists, and environmentalists, to make Birmingham a cultural hub for creativity around climate change issues
4. Knowledge share and dissemination of findings: through articles,
conferences and seminars.
5. Approach local leaders and encourage them to incorporate young
peoples ideas in their plans. This will help lead to a city to city master plan where young people have the potential to contribute to the environmental changes needed in their cities. 6. International corporate and public sponsorship and support mentoring
for young people.
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An environmental pilot project developed in partnership with Mclean Initiative (MI Society) Stony Brook University, UK Trade and Investment,...