Surefoot - our past projects
This project looked at how the connections between people, place and community can create resilience in order to find approaches or tools that can be used to create a common methodology for resilience.
Our partners in this project were: Etairia koinonikispsixiatrikis kai psixikis ygeias (the Society of Social Psychiatry and Mental Health) (Greece), Mobilizing Expertise (Sweden) and Volontariato Torino (Italy).
After leading activities for a student-focused energy-saving campaign at the University of Edinburgh, Pamela Candea and Euri Bartolome-Vidal from Surefoot and three other colleagues prepared a 5- week energy-saving project based on the method "face-to-face engagement" for one high-energy consuming building on campus.
The volunteers, with support from our team, managed to offset the costs of the pilot in just 8 weeks, saving £1,480 of the £1,250 worth of investment and 9.2 tons of carbon dioxide (TCO2) for the same period. This would translate into annual saving of £8,880 and 55.2 TCO2.
The success of the pilot led to a roll-out of the project to 20 more buildings for one year, saving a total of £80,000. It eventually led to the set-up of the Sustainability and Social Responsibility Department of the University of Edinburgh, currently managing a budget of £3M.
The two main aspects that made this project successful were:
We gave them the opportunity to come up with ideas by asking them to help us. We also offered to help staff speak with the different stakeholders or communicate the changes widely within the department to reach out to more people.
Staff wanted to take part in the projects because they wanted to help - so asking for help was essential. They also led activities because they found it interesting - it was a way for them to learn by doing research. It was also a way for them to improve their working environment.
This is work that can take place in different work environments, government buildings, companies, both large and small and any venues where there is a potential to save energy and its associated savings on bills and carbon emissions.
Carbon Conversations at an enterprise
The eight participants came from three different sites of DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. Pam Candea and Tony Herrmann from Surefoot conducted two days of facilitator training preceded by a one day session where the group were participants in an abridged version of the 6 Carbon Conversations sessions at DuPont’s office in Copenhagen.
One year after the final training, Surefoot interviewed those available from the group of trained facilitators to determine the impact Carbon Conversations has had on the organisation. It was pointed out by the facilitators that it was valuable and rewarding to engage colleagues in Carbon Conversations as well as it required dedicated, persistent efforts to run the first set of workshops.
This full report focuses on the practical set-up of Carbon Conversations and the outcome for DuPont based on
The set-up within the company
The facilitators recruited colleagues, prepared for each session, conducted and evaluated the completed series of workshops with input from the participants. At Brabrand (one of the three sites) three facilitators worked together to deliver the Carbon Conversations workshop sessions for eight participants. The sessions were conducted during work hours at the company. In between the sessions, the facilitators met to organise the work-sharing and gather additional material for DuPont and Danish contexts.
The group at another site, Grindsted, went through the planned six sessions, with 4 - 8 people at each session with two facilitators present.
In February 2020, the facilitators at Brabrand started a second group with 10 new participants.
Outcomes at DuPont
Carbon Conversations is viewed as one element of several environmentally friendly activities, and has sped up processes in certain areas. The setup of Carbon Conversations workshops, and for the company this unusual way of running meetings and handling topics, has brought in new ways of viewing climate challenges. The sessions have illuminated the complexity of climate change challenges, and that there is not always one answer, one action, to solve the challenges.
In answer to what was the best part of being a facilitator, some of the answers were:
“To use my personal passion with others”
“It gives me more energy, even it has been hard work”
“It’s incredible rewarding to bring new thoughts to people”
“The response has so far been solely positive”
“I feel we are creating a movement.”
After running the planned six sessions, the facilitators at one site created a seventh session to make an idea catalogue of possible solutions derived from the participants’ ideas. A sustainability group has been formed since starting the Carbon Conversations. This group works with initiatives like solar panels on the site, use of ceramic cups instead of disposable cups, and letting the grass grow in certain areas to enhance the biodiversity.
Using Carbon Conversation as tool in harmony with the company’s set of values and the actions it takes can be a driving force and positive experience for members of staff:
“I am glad that the company is now taking it into the whole organisation. It is based on the support of the three sponsors, three leading units in the company. In the big ‘helicopter view’ many companies have a noble set of values. To me, it is important that the set of values is being converted in reality. I am proud of being a part of DuPont which is taking action.”
Indirectly, Carbon Conversations are also affecting employees who have not been participating at any of the sessions:
Suggestions on environmentally friendly activities from people in DuPont who haven’t even been participating in the workshop.”
Employees have heard about the workshops via colleagues, intranet, and morning meetings where the facilitators have been presented.
Please visit the project’s platform where you can look up environmentally friendly initiatives around the world.
The Erasmus+ evaluators praised the project for having the ability to address the objectives and priorities set out in the Erasmus + programme guide “to design and implement effective provision for enhancing basic skills and key competencies and inclusive education, training and youth”, as well as for targeting educators to develop “new pedagogical approaches to train people in climate change and energy use.”
The first part of the project was the creation of an interactive online platform where participants can learn about different topics related to a deterioration of the global environments. Welcome to the free e-learning platform here and scroll down for access.
The second part aimed at illustrating the main themes covered in the platform with the aid of graphic novel. You’ll find the graphic novel The story of Eli.
The projects are co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
The findings helped to inform the development of climate change measures in Scotland. One of the findings indicated there is a general acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, but that understanding of its impacts and remedies are limited.
Reports about Climate Conversations in these projects are available here:
Other Surefoot projects with the Government and Parliament include:
It's Good to Talk! Carbon Conversations
The Scottish Parliament Government Body
The Scottish Government - a Case Study
In the ALP, We worked with 2 members from 8 communities on environmental issues. The aim was to develop and pilot an approach to putting Common Cause into practice that can be replicated more widely.
You can read the full report here.
Future Conversations with a community group
Pam Candea’s experience as facilitator at Belville Community Garden Trust during spring and summer 2019, gives insight into the guided Future Conversations sessions and what this workshop can bring to people and organisations.
The group at Belville ranged in age from people in their early 20’s through to people in their 60’s. It was mainly women but the group, which was comprised of 6-10 people each session, usually had 2-3 men as well. The group met 8 times over 3 months.
A Wednesday afternoon in March was the first session, where Pam met with Geri Sinclair, Volunteer Coordinator at Belville, and volunteer Trisha Orr who took part in the facilitating, before the other participations arrived. The take off for the session was the dining area of Belville’s large catering kitchen where the project’s chef creates tasty and nutritious meals using food from Fareshare.
The group did spend time outdoors in almost every subsequent session,
taking advantage of the space at Belville:
In the wide-ranging gardens the group discussed and set up a planter for this group to experiment with their big idea arising from the Future Conversations sessions: growing vegetables especially for making soup and providing a soup kit to people to make their own soup at home from fresh locally grown ingredients.
The group hope to further develop this idea to provide veg boxes in the next year and to hold gardening training sessions with intergenerational groups. The group loved the idea of the Joanna Macy Work That Reconnects (WTR) spiral, and spent some time reminiscing about dandelion memories in response to the blown dandelion image connected with WTR and embraced the steps in the process. In the honouring our pain section of the spiral, people said they felt able to express their fears for the future whilst at the same time being supported and buoyed up by the others in their group of three.
There was an amazing synergistic feedback session after Joanna Macy’s “over the hedge” exercise where participants envision the future and report back. The reporting back yielded overlapping visions, with people starting their feedback with “My story builds on yours by ….” The participants created a collage of ideas about what community means, and what Belville could look like in the near future.
Actions discussed during the sessions ranged across various spheres, for example:
• a community growing and cooking project which welcomes everyone, no matter their capabilities, and finds a role suit to each
• a project to help young people understand why destroying things, especially in parks and wild spaces, is harmful
• the group committing to helping one member with a personal difficulty
The group have expressed a desire to keep going and are looking at continuing to meet Wednesday afternoons to keep their soup veg plot going and to explore new concepts and to take on new actions.
Geri and Trisha hope to run some permaculture sessions and to bring other practices to the group as well.
One thing added to each session was poem reading from Looby McNamara, a permaculture teacher who writes about cultural emergence.
Here is an excerpt from her poem Gratitude as an Attitude:
…We arrive in the presence of now,
The gift of the present.
When we choose to view with an appreciative gaze
Our mind chatter stills
We are here and now and we are timeless.
We are uniquely ourselves
And undeniably connected.
General overview of organisation
The Southern Co-operative (TSC) is a regional Co-operative Society based in southern England. The cooperative operates over 180 community stores and cover the following counties: Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex, Devon, Bristol Wiltshire and Kent.
The Carbon Conversations
The Carbon Conversations were run as three half day sessions, plus one follow up session, based at TSC Head Office in Lakeside, Portsmouth. Two people from the Brighton Peace and Environment Centre facilitated the group. The group included seven people from Head Office, End of Life Services, Food Retail and a Post Office.
Each session covered both home and workplace considerations and the final session focussed on action planning and recommendations for the work place.
Impetus for including CCs in the organisation’s work
The Carbon Conversations group was designed to be collaborative and participant led, focusing on the openness of experience and encouraging people to explore emotion as well as rational responses to environmental challenges, personally and at work.
TSC utilised Carbon Conversations in order to allow participants to reflect on their thoughts and beliefs using a new style of learning.
High level overview of group participants
The group included seven people from Head Office, End of Life Services, Food Retail and a Post Office.
Synopsis of meetings
The Carbon Conversations meetings were found to be extremely successful where participants rated this course an average of 4.8 out of 5, where 1 is ‘Not valuable at all’ and 5 is ‘Very valuable’. All members found sessions and topics useful and indicated that they definitely intend to take action to reduce their carbon footprint both in the workplace and at home as a result of Carbon Conversations.
The final session allowed participants to voice their opinions and make recommendations on how to reduce carbon emissions in the workplace. They suggested the following:
The importance of educating customers about the need to reduce their carbon footprints was also mentioned. They suggested putting such information on the customer notice board as well as on customers till receipts.
The organisation also highlighted other key learning points and developments arising from participation in Carbon Conversations:
“Inspirational and informative conversations that have encouraged me to make positive changes personally and in the workplace. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in wanting a low carbon future”
“Feel I can make a change”
“The course was very interesting, filled with good surprises. It is the kind of course that gives you a boost and makes you want to go out there and do something about it”
“Has expanded my thought boundaries. I now think broader on the topic”
“An interesting course with lots of new information. It has inspired me to make changed at home and work. I also talk with people a lot more about the subject. This kind of thinking should be facilitated in schools”