Govanhill-based South Seeds is hosting workshops to educate and inform the local community about the reality of climate change and how we can all do our bit, writes Ann Wallace.

A GLASGOW energy awareness and food growing project is bringing climate change to the high street.
South Seeds, based in Govanhill on the south side of the city, has been working with its community to help improve the look and feel of the area for many years, through a range of ‘green’ initiatives.

Its community garden, for example, created on the disused tennis court at Queen’s Park recreation ground, helps local people learn more about growing food and reducing waste; and its tool library, which allows residents to borrow DIY and gardening equipment, saves them money and avoids unnecessary use of the natural resources that go in to manufacturing.

This year, South Seeds has added climate change workshops which help people answer the question increasingly on everyone’s lips.
“Many people come to the workshops knowing a great deal already, but the overriding question is always – what can I do that will really make a difference?” explains manager Lucy Gillie.
“This last year has been a phenomenal one for climate change – there has been much movement on policy and governments across the world have set carbon reduction targets but what does it actually mean for people here in Glasgow and across Scotland?
“Carbon footprint is such an abstract term, so the workshops are about putting it into some kind of context.”

HeraldScotland: South Seeds launched a community garden to help residents learn how to grow their own produce and reduce wasteSouth Seeds launched a community garden to help residents learn how to grow their own produce and reduce waste

Ms Gillie adds: “Much of the target setting in the UK has been prompted by direct action on the streets and extreme weather events. People are watching the bush fires in Australia, seeing the high temperatures and the changes to the weather – they are starting to experience it first-hand.”
South Seeds has led the way in making climate change ‘accessible’ to local communities since 2011, when it secured funding from The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) set up by the Scottish Government and administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

That initial one-year project created the area’s first community garden at Agnew Lane and supported residents to access useful energy advice, borrow energy monitors and tackle problems with their energy provider.
From engaging directly with residents, working with community groups and agencies across the area, South Seeds realised more information was needed about how to save energy in draughty Victorian tenements.

The charity developed its own home energy audit, a home composting programme and energy-saving handyman service and ran a one-year Climate Challenge-funded project which included working with migrants and local businesses.
The new workshops tackle a range of issues, taking participants step by step through the nature of greenhouse gases and how they impact upon the planet and measures to combat climate change. These are open to all ages.

“Science transcends age, I think, and this is applicable to everyone,” says Ms Gillie. “And the science is very simple. If people are given the opportunity and time to learn about the facts behind climate change, it very quickly falls into place.
“Each workshop ends with participants making personal pledges – introducing a meat-free day each week, for example; changing all of their lightbulbs to LED ones; or cycling to work.”

Ms Gillie says she has seen evidence of a growing sense of urgency from individuals and groups following the Scottish Government’s declaration of a climate emergency earlier this year.
“People don’t even talk about climate change any more – it is a climate emergency,” she says. “We try to make the workshops as current as possible – so, for example, we discuss the low emission zone which will be fully implemented by 2022 in Glasgow, and the city’s new bus gates – both of these are billed as health initiatives, but they are also climate initiatives which will, over time, really change the way we travel into town.”

South Seeds lost funding earlier in the year, resulting in redundancies and cuts to some of its projects, but Ms Gillie is hopeful more applications will prove fruitful in 2020. In the meantime, the small team is determined to continue as many aspects of its work in the south side community as possible.

“It was a huge blow, but we keep going,” she says. “I think the demand for these workshops will increase. In May, the UK Committee on Climate Change published a report which outlined the UK’s contribution to stopping global warming.

“The decarbonisation of heat and transport are the big issues which need to be tackled in the immediate future, to enable net-zero carbon emissions. This means not only using less but eventually zero fossil fuels to heat our homes and travel. Larger scale action to reduce carbon will need changes to infrastructure, such as the availability of electric street cars, cycle lanes and possible district heating schemes.
“Individually, we can achieve some of this ourselves by making small energy efficiencies at home or exploring different methods of travel.”

Ms Gillie adds: “Many are concerned that the transition to net-zero will have a negative impact on some people. The Scottish Government set up the Just Transition Commission to look into this and they will publish their first report in 2020 – the same year the world will travel to Glasgow for the UN Climate Summit at the SECC in December.
“This issue isn’t going away.”

For more information on costs and timings of the South Seeds climate change workshops, email info@southseeds.org