Saturday, October 11, 2014

Letter to Horsforth School

Dear Sarah

Thank you very much for inviting Friends of the Earth to give the assemblies this week.  Its been a very enjoyable and interesting experience for me and I hope the students have learned a lot.  They certainly seemed to be interested and concerned about the issues we touched on.  One boy in yr 9  thanked me afterwards and said he was very interested and asked if a 13 yr old could really write to the council or MP (I had emphasised that it’s all our responsibility to DO something to stop the rot).  Of course I said yes.  Another girl (poss yr 8) very sweetly came to say sorry she had had to leave the room for health reasons – and she didn’t want me to think it was for any other reason.  Another boy asked where the nearest FOE group is  (Leeds – but no reason why students shouldn’t start their own local one)

It would be great if more schools invited FOE speakers  since it was worrying to discover that the  students seemed unaware of this well established organisation and most of these crucial issues, and I guess this will be the case with most young people at the moment.  I spoke briefly with Ms W and offered to come back to discuss things in more depth with your school council or any other group.  I also suggested the school might want to set up a hustings before the election in early May so that students can see and hear at first hand what each political party has to say about these issues.  Possibly parents and  the public could be invited too.   I did emphasise to the 6th form that all these issues ARE political and they should get informed.  As you probably know, FOE is not aligned to any political party, but their policies are virtually identical to Green Party policy. You will see that I am a Green Party candidate for May’s election – but I didn’t mention this to the students since I was giving the talks on behalf of FOE.   I was, however,  in two minds about mentioning this, since I feel it’s important that young people  (particularly girls) know that politics is a route they might be interested to follow as a response to their concerns.

On a practical note – I wonder if the school might want to reimburse my travel expenses which amounted to about 30 pounds for the 5 days (train and bus).  I have tickets if that would help.

I left a poster with reception showing bee-friendly flowers and wonder if the school might consider making a wild flower meadow!   The Woodland Trust is offering free trees to schools at the moment.  Last but not least, regarding solar panels – please see FOE’s current project to encourage solar on school roofs: I know you have some – but maybe there is room for more?!

Please convey my thanks to Phil the techno wizard for his help and to everyone else who made my visits so pleasant.   Thank you again, Sarah,  for making the effort to invite us: having been a teacher myself, I know it’s a big effort to go beyond the excessive day to day workload to make external arrangements!

Very best wishes

Shan Oakes
For Friends of the Earth

Friday, October 10, 2014

Letting go and moving on ..

We moved 4 months ago – from our beloved old 3 Norwood, Beverley to a smaller newer house with a bigger garden in Knaresborough – to be nearer the children and their children and to eco-renovate a house and experiment with permaculture. Of course we miss our mates in Hull and East Riding but it feels really good to have made the move even though the prepping to move was very stressful. It's good to be in a smaller cosier 'container' as we were rattling around a bit in 3 Norwood. Yes – there comes a time when it just feels like the right thing to do – the kids love the space outside and its great to have a new place to discover…and lovely to link in with lots of new greens of all sorts!