A couple of weeks ago (bit of a late blog post I realise, I’ve been busy!) I went on a little trip to London. Specifically I went down to the main national Friends of the Earth office in Underwood Street. I’ve been to Underwood Street before, back when I was volunteering for national Friends of the Earth in the Warehouse and organising things such as regional gatherings.
However, on this occasion I was going as Birmingham Friends of the Earth, and was going to have a day of networking with people and seeing what opportunities there were for BFoE beyond the big national public facing campaigns we’re already working on.
So I boarded the 08:33 London Midland train from Birmingham New Street to London Euston, and settled down in my seat. A pleasant journey followed, if in rather less pleasant grey cloudy weather. On arrival at London I got the tube to Old Street and then walked the short distance to the Underwood Street offices.
As I didn’t have any meetings scheduled until after lunch, I went up to the fourth floor to see if I could find Nick Rau who is Friends of the Earth‘s Paraguay campaigner. Although I had arrived early enough for Nick still to be in, according to his calendar, he wasn’t . So I settled down at his computer and did a bit of admin and emails.
I was about to go to lunch when who should turn up, but the aforementioned Nick Rau! We managed to have a chat about his work and visit a colleague of his from Friends of the Earth in Paraguay, who is coming over for Friends of the Earth‘s conference in July. Friends of the Earth‘s work with its partners in Paraguay is really inspiring stuff, working with communities affected by land grabs and dispossession.
Next I walked the entire flight of stairs to the basement for a shared lunch. I’d managed to grab some crisps and the old reliable veggie sharing staple hummus and bread before boarding the train at New Street, and so didn’t come empty handed, not that there was a lack of food mind. I had a nice lunch chatting to staff from various teams, a couple I’d met before but most of whom were new to me.
After a lovely lunch, I had a chat with Rachel Kennerley whose work is split between economics and resource use. The latter includes working on Friends of the Earth‘s Make it Better campaign, which aims to make the products we buy more sustainable, starting by highlighting the environmental impact of the tin in Smart Phones.
Next up was Stuart Croft who works in national Friends of the Earth‘s supporter information team. Their work includes a lot of fielding enquiries and sending out e-newsletters. It was interesting to see how national field some of the enquiries that they get. Including the random, weird and wonderful calls you sometimes get, or those people who think we are some sort of environmental Ghostbusters just waiting for the call to go out and fight any environmental problem at a moment’s notice!
I then had a chat with Clare Coatman, who, like Rachel Kennerley, is a Campaigns Assistant, but who works on food, land and water security issues. She outlined the work she is doing at the moment, including researching what food projects there already are in the UK. I have sent her what I know is going on Birmingham, including the Big Dig project, but if anybody has any food projects they know about please email email@example.com
After this it was back up to the top floor to have a chat with Charlotte Chan about what she does in the Fair Transition team, which includes planning issues. Then it was back down two floors to have a chat to the press team and get some tips from them about getting things into the papers. I then went down some more floors for a chat with Rita Marcangelo from new media team. Being somebody who was new to twitter when I started my role with Birmingham Friends of the Earth, it was useful to chat about how to increase your following and get more out of it.
I then went back up to the fourth floor (phew lots of exercise today!) for a chat to Julia Baraclough about Friends of the Earth‘s comedy gig, Laugh or the Polar Bear Gets it, and see if there’s anything we could learn for our comedy gigs in the future. With this done I descended the stairs one final time, and with Tim Atkinson headed to Euston station for a quick pint before our trains home!