Last Friday about a thousand people went to The Colston Hall to attend the closing ceremony of Bristol 2015. Having received the baton from Copenhagen and now passing it to Ljubljana in Slovenia, it provided a good opportunity to reflect on how well Bristol had run our leg of what is obviously more than a local, national or even European challenge and see whether we are running in a relay or a marathon.
Bristol’s successful (though second) bid to become Europe’s Green Capital, came out of the work of the Bristol Green Capital group a partnership of organisations founded way back in 2007. The award, a cashless prize, and its implementation, hasn’t always been plain sailing, so befitting the choppy waters and monumental challenge humanity faces to reduce and mitigate the impact of climate change. Indeed, the £8million budget represents what the council spends in one morning on services.
I can clearly remember the meeting in 2010 when Bristol Green Doors was accepted as a Green Capital group member and it was great to see, not only so many people from that afternoon at the event but maybe a hundred other people there who have either opened their doors for us or supported us in a whole range of ways over the years. This collaboration has been fundamental to our success and is a requisite for the sort of progress and adaptation required. For Bristol2015, we received a £30,000 strategic grant to engage the public on the “Route to Retrofit” via events and a stronger digital offer and crucially to support the development of our own sustainability. One could say the grant, like this closing ceremony and an impact reviews of the Olympics, is about legacy and making sure “it doesn’t stop here”.
The doors opened at 2.00 and after about 45 minutes of mingling around the foyer, balcony and bars, the ceremony started in the main hall. To the backdrop of super widescreen graphics and images it was introduced and presented very competently by MCs Miranda Krestovnikoff (BBC’s Coast) and Julz Davis (Ujima FM). Over two sessions (sensibly split by a coffee and cake break) a number of key players spoke about Bristol2015 and all expressing their positive feelings for the city. They included:
- Andrew Garrad, chair of Bristol 2015, the affable headmaster-like, elder statesmen who founded wind and renewable energy company Garrad Hassan in Bristol
- Mayor George Ferguson who to his credit has clearly seen and fully engaged himself internationally in the potential this award has presented the city
- Representatives from some strategically funded projects including the Easton Energy Group and the strikingly simple Refill Bristol project
- A number of children (born and bred in Bristol unlike lots of us) notably though from primary and not secondary schools which feels something has been missed
- Members of the Green Capital Partnership, explaining how it will take a leading role to ensure that the activities of the year ‘do not stop here’
Despite Bristol Green Doors being a funded project, as a lot has passed me by, I was glad to hear more about what had been done in Bristol2015. However at the same time I suspect that, for such a converted and committed audience knowing some grittier detail of say, the impact it has had in Europe that George Ferguson mentioned or the revised targets the council have drafted, would have been welcomed. After all, if Bristol is feeling this positive and we need to see the “pipedream become mainstream”, to be “in it for good” (which we at Bristol Green Doors definitely are), knowing more about the outcomes of the projects and the evolving context we are all working in, will make sure we continue to play our part effectively.