Are local issues easier to sell?

This year I have been on two days of action and although both of them could be considered a success, the difference in the reactions of people when talking about them was very noticeable. The first of these was in Harborne, where we were asking people to sign postcards regarding the government’s plans to change planning regulations, which remove local people’s rights to have a say in the process. The second was a Valentine’s day action about climate change, asking Gordon Brown to include aviation and shipping in the targets for reductions in carbon emissions and to raise them to 80%.

In Harborne, people were quite engaged with the idea, on the whole, and there were even some people who knew as much or more about it than I did. It was a busy local High Street with a large number of people who cared about their local community and were showing the signs of eco-awareness, such as shopping locally and carrying their own reusable bags rather than plastic carrier bags.

In the city centre, the atmosphere was obviously very different, as this was not a small place with a community feel, but also there was a lot more negative feedback on the issue of doing something about climate change. Unfortunately, it seems that many people have still not got the message and are either ignoring the facts or are unwilling to accept that anything needs to be done. Even people who proclaim to care about wildlife (there were also people there from the RSPB amongst others, who attracted bird lovers) wanted to boast about the fact that they have fast cars and want to continue driving them whatever. The consequences of their actions still seem either a mystery or something very distant and not related to how they live.

We did get a lot of cards signed (and I would like to say a big thank you to all the people from the other organisations who were there with us) and there was a lot of positive feedback on the day, but it did also make me realise how much more there still is to do to convince people about the urgency of the situation. There is no doubt that progress has been made in raising people’s awareness about the big issue of our time – the future of the planet, but sometimes a reality check on the streets can show just how far there still is to go. Think global, act local, as the saying goes.

Joe Peacock