Organized by Tayo Adebowale, who is part of the St Chrysostom’s community and a member of CIWEM, (Chartered Institute for Water and Environment Management) St C’s hosted an evening on Community, Faith and the Environment.
Mycah writes: We heard from two speakers representing the Environmental Agency and Faiths4Change. Colin Liptrot of the Environment Agency (EA) spoke on his experience of trying to involve the local communities surrounding flood watch areas in keeping waterways clear. He and his emergency team begin by sourcing what the problem is, usually a blockage, and respond to the emergency.
The best way to deal with these emergencies is for them to not happen in the first place. So how do Colin and his team approach this problem of rubbish (and sometimes objects as large as couches) being tossed into local waterways? By reaching out to the local community, which can be difficult at times.
In cases such as these, the EA works with outside groups such as Faiths4Change, a Liverpool based organization dedicated to connecting social justice, local economy and the health and wellbeing of people and planet. Faiths4change will help to get a community profile set up, contact major community leaders (usually in faith groups), and translate official notices in areas where English is not the primary language. This partnership allows for the EA to communicate and connect with people in unique ways, and as Colin put it, Help me do my job, which sometimes is helping people understand why we don’t throw couches in the river.
Representing Faiths4Change Mohammad Ali Amla spoke on interfaith work and the environment. Faiths4Change fosters those relationships between faith groups and authorities such as the EA that will help create change. The key word that we focused on was relationship.
Relationships can inspire engagement in social action, Amla said. He told us of the work he has done with primary school children by organizing a litter picking event. This had three major outcomes; one was to get children to invest in their environment by being involved in community clean up; two, to inspire older members of the community to be more conscientious of their littering by witnessing the young people’s actions; and three, to use social media from the event to create discussion, awareness, and encourage participation in the future. All three of these outcomes involved a form of relationship either with the environment or with fellow community members.
Looking around our area of Manchester, some of the stories that were shared that night echoed what we can see along our streets. There is litter lining the pavement despite the interspersed rubbish bins, and flecks of bright colors in the fields at Birchfields Park that are not flowers.
Where do you see litter around this neighbourhood, and what can the St Chrysostoms church community do to stop the problem happening?