Positive Actions in Hackney

28th May 2015 by

Guest post from Rob Greenfield of Get Into Green Jobs 2015

On Friday 1st May as part of Otesha’s Get Into Green Jobs programme, Joe, Chris, Faithful and I completed our first action project with a local youth group run by gab.

Armed with an inflatable die, numerous wild flower seeds, and bucket loads of enthusiasm, we embarked on the short journey from Workshop 44 to Borougham Rd Community Hall.

Upon entering we were greeted by the lovely Darcy who helps run the weekly session along with Sian and Cecilia. Once all the kids had arrived the first order of service was to establish names via the infamous name circle. We then handed it over to Joe to explain why it was that these four young adults had randomly shown up to their play session.

The Activities:

We began with our first activity, the imaginatively named animal game. As everyone walked in between space, the Green Jobs team took it in turns to read out a story that involved travelling through an unknown habitat where you would suddenly stumble upon an animal. When the animal was revealed everyone had to make its shape and then a winner was chosen. The room soon resembled some sort of Hackney City Zoo as monkeys, starfish and sharks were all discovered.

The next activity involved taking the kids outside to the garden. Screaming, exploring and seesaw-throwing ensued, but seeing how they reacted to going outdoors brought home how important it is for kids to have access to that environment to play in, especially those who grow up in big cities. After we managed to gather them back into a group, we explained how we were going to play the Green Man game. Once again Joe did a great job outlining how the activity was going to unfold.

In the middle there was a river with a bridge going over it, on it stood the Green Man who would only let you pass if your behaviour was environmentally sound. For example, reusing plastic carrier bags, switching the lights off when you leave the house, or turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. If you failed to do these things, you would have to try and pass the Green Man after everyone else, without being caught. If he did catch you, you would then become part of his Green Gang. By nominating himself to be the Green Man, Joe had the impossible task of trying to stop the first wave of environmental wrongdoers from crossing his cherished river. Underestimating Joe’s hawk-like prowess proved costly as I was first to be caught. As the game progressed our Green Gang got bigger and bigger until it became impossible for anyone to cross without being grabbed. Congrats to Faithful on making it to the end, although there’s rumours’ flying at Otesha saying that she may have lied on some of her answers.

The two games had taken us nicely onto the kids’ free time – the part of the session they’re encouraged to go outdoors and play. At this point we set up two optional activities. Joe and Chris hosted a seed bomb making session whilst Faithful and I played a giant eco-snakes and ladders game. To make seed bombs we had to acquire wild flower seeds, compost, flour to bind it all together, and some newspaper to take it home in. The idea is that the kids make the bombs themselves, take them home and throw it in their garden or nearest green space, spreading the wild flowers. Although I wasn’t part of the seed bomb making process, I witnessed the gleaming smiles of the kids as they ran into the hall covered in flour and soil.

Wildflower Seed Bombs

Wildflower Seed Bombs

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Equally as happy were the children who had chosen to play eco-snakes and ladders. The kids took it in turns to roll the giant inflatable dice onto the mat, using their feet as counters. They would go up a ladder if they landed on a square with an environmental good deed, such as having a shower instead of a bath. The snakes represented actions that harm the planet, such as using a washing machine to only clean one t-shirt. As always the kids were determined to win and this competitiveness meant they were engaged for the duration of the game.

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Enviromental Snakes and Ladders in action!

The session ended with another shape game although this time the kids were in groups and had to form not-so-sustainable transport like cars and planes. But by then our mission of making sure the kids have fun, whilst learning a bit about how they can have a positive impact on the planet, had already been achieved!

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A human skateboard -awesome!

It was a really enjoyable experience and hopefully marks the start of a new relationship between gab and Otesha.

THANK YOUs

Thanks to Joe, Faithful and Chris for helping organise it all and smashing it on the day.

Big shout out to Otesha for all the advice and tools they provided via the Green Jobs programme, and especially to Annie for helping us get the project off the ground and turn all our ideas into actions.

Also thanks to the kids that attended for being so energetic, engaged, and switched on with environmental issues. It made our job a lot easier.

Finally, a massive thanks to the gab team for letting us run the session. Without their guidance and supervision the activities could’ve resulted in the destruction of the local environment, the exact opposite of what we wanted to achieve.

 

Beeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

19th August 2014 by

A blog from a member of a recent Change Projects team – read on to find out what they got up to…

Did you know each and everyday thousands of bees are dying? Did you know European Union study shows Northern Europe and England has the most bee deaths? The use of neonicotinoids in pesticide is one of the major factor which is leading to collapse of bee colonies? Each day the quantity of food available for bees are reducing?  

Together what can we do to improve the survival of bees?

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Well, here are what our change project team are doing. They are raising awareness amongst the local community because from doing a primary research in the community, we found out that not many people know about the issues around bees. It is so important that we all spread the news around, and find solutions how we can stop the bees from dying.

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The change project team went out in the local community with flyers and packets of bee friendly flower seeds. The team approached various members of the public, spoke to them and gave them the bee friendly seed packet where they can be planted anywhere, you don’t need garden to plant bee friendly foods.  Now it is your turn to make a difference it only takes few minutes to plant some seeds.

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How to Change Things – Free Training

15th May 2014 by

We’re running a free training on ….How to Change Things. Read on for how to get involved!

This training does pretty much what it says on the tin, exploring all the necessary steps needed to set up and run an effective community project – making real, positive change to environmental and social issues. We look at how to get a group together, do some people research, work out the aims and objectives of  your project, dabble with a tiny bit of behaviour change theory, and much more!

1In the past we’ve only offered this training to our programme alumni, but this year we’re running a free, open training on Saturday 14th June for young people in and around Hackney who have a project idea! After the training we will arrange regular mentoring sessions to support with the latter stages of project development. We have space for up to 15 participants so if you’re interested please get in touch with Iona or Edd on 020 3609 6763 or info@otesha.org.uk.

Your idea doesn’t need to be well developed – it might just be ‘I really want to do something to do with bikes’, or you might have a much more specific plan already! We will be giving out places on a first come first served basis, but we do want participants to demonstrate a commitment to making their project a reality, so we’d love to have a quick chat through your ideas if you’re interested in coming along.

One summer, 120 campaigns

14th October 2013 by

This summer we have been cycling back and forth across London, working with thousands of young people in Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Enfield, Waltham Forest, Newham and Redbridge (I think that was all!). The young people have all been participating in The Challenge – three weeks of summer fun, ranging from exciting outdoor activities, to learning practical skills, and best of all designing and running their own campaigns.

We gave them an intensive workshop on setting up a project or campaign – how to make it relevant, effective, and how to ensure it has a positive impact on people and planet. We worked with 120 teams of young people, and a couple of them also came to visit our offices and do a bit of volunteering for us. While they were here they fixed loads of inner tubes for us to use at our free Dr Bike sessions for the local community of Regents Estate, Hackney (they’re most Tuesdays 5-6pm if you need a helping hand getting your bike in shape).

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Designed and created some beautiful Otesha handbook covers so we can send them out to schools visited on cycle tours. And… the activity they seemed to enjoy the most: stickering flyers for our Branch Out programme with up to date info about our next training programme!

A big thanks to them all for their hard work. They ran their campaigns a couple of weekends ago, and we received some lovely pre-campaign updates from a couple of groups ready and raring to change the world!

 

Alumni Power!

27th February 2013 by

Back on that snowy weekend in January, we had a bit of a special O-gathering. Right afterwards I wrote a blog, to share some of that joy and learning with the rest of you, but unfortunately a few technical hitches meant that very blog has disappeared into some hidden and inaccessible world inside my computer. It was once, but is no longer saved. So this little blog is a nice memory test for me! I’ll cast my mind back to that briefly pristine snow, the little slip and slide I had off my bike (perhaps I should get something like this if we’re in for more regular snow?)

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It’s always great to get a bunch of people together who between them have more ideas, passion, and desire to create change together than can possibly be expressed in a short weekend. Nigh on 20 Otesha alumni and friends met in Workshop 44 (our great new office space, do pop in!) to get trained up to facilitate Otesha workshops. The training ranged from trying out our workshops, to discussing and acting out ways to manage challenging behaviour. We explored innovative facilitation techniques and also ate plenty of dal, soup and some vegan chilli brownies. There were of course a few games thrown into the mix!

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Why did we do all this? Well, after every cycle tour, our avid cycling environmental-social justice campaigner friends become part of a strong network of alumni and loads of them want to stay involved, doing a bit of what they loved so much during their tours.  In London there are lots of opportunities for our alumni to stay involved through our Change Projects programme.  But, our alumni aren’t just in London, so we needed to do something about this. Our cycle tours visit towns and villages all over the country too, and sometimes these schools want a bit more Otesha joy, and just cannae wait until the next tour! So – alumni everywhere, schools everywhere, what’s the answer? That’s right, I think you got it – we train people up to outreach and deliver workshops wherever they are.

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By involving a few people who haven’t (yet) been on an Otesha cycle tour, we were able to increase our capacity. We now have friends in Edinburgh and Shropshire raring to go. So if you are an educator in and around these parts, get in touch (iona@otesha.org.uk) and you could be the lucky recipient of some inspiring, hand-on, creative workshops to help young people tackle the environmental and social issues through their everyday lives.

Calling all Educators!

15th November 2012 by

Do you care about social justice? The environment? Young people having a voice and taking positive action for a fairer world? 

You can bring something new to your school, youth club or Prince’s Trust group by inviting the Otesha team to work with your students. Otesha has worked with groups in London for over three years facilitating young people to set up their own active citizenship projects.

Active citizenship projects, what does that mean?

Otesha’s active citizenship project model helps young people to set up their own projects to create change in their communities and the wider world.  The key thing is that the groups we work with decide what matters to them, and design a project that they’re passionate about.  We’ve found that when young people get to choose their project for themselves, they are more committed to it, and their project is more successful.

What sort of things do young people do?

Young people’s projects have ranged from going for Fairtrade status for their school to planting trees and vegetables in community spaces to doing energy audits to see where energy could be saved, and so reducing the school’s carbon footprint! If there’s already a group who want to work on something specific, we can facilitate the group to design a great project. Alternatively we can start from scratch, introducing the group to a range of themes to help them explore what they really care about.

What skills do the young people gain?

Young people will develop their skills in: teamwork, listening and communication, facilitating discussion, public speaking, project design and implementation,  setting achievable goals, entrepreneurship, research skills and consulting, and possibly mentoring younger students too. They also gain practical leadership experience and everything they learn is fantastic preparation both for the world of work and further education. (Loads!)

How many people can you work with?

Groups of around 12-15 work brilliantly.

What are the people like?

Each project will be co-facilitated by one of our permanent staff members, alongside a highly trained lead facilitator. All our lead facilitators have participated in our Cycle Tour programme – an intensive training week and up to 8 weeks on the road, living as a sustainable community and facilitating workshops in schools and youth clubs across the country. This experience, alongside our in-house training creates unique, fantastic facilitators who are excellent role models to the young people we work with.  All facilitators will have an enhanced CRB check.

What do I need to commit?

All we need is you, a group of young people, and a time we can all meet regularly – this could be during curriculum time, at lunch, or after-school.  We like to work with a group for at least six hours, e.g. once a week for a half-term – but we’re pretty flexible so we can work intensively over a week, or several days, and the longer the project, the more the young people can take ownership and achieve results!

“You guys have been a great addition to the programme and we really appreciated your input…you have really managed to open some eyes and hopefully touched some of the young people to think more sustainably about their actions and their impact on the world.” – Sandra Jarzeskba, London Youth

I want a taster, how would that work?

Well, funny you should ask. We have a range of workshops designed to introduce young people to a variety of environmental and social issues.  They’re great as stand-alone workshops, or can be the beginning of something bigger.

Sounds interesting, I want more info!

If you’ve got any questions, you can give Iona or Edd a call on 020 7377 2109 or drop us an email to either iona@otesha.org.uk or edd@otesha.org.uk.

You can also read more about how it all works, and past projects by clicking here. 

 

Otesha’s HUGE summer Change Projects

30th August 2012 by

Three days, 150 young people, 13 Change Projects.  Working in partnership with London Youth we helped all these young people plan fantastic projects and campaigns addressing issues they feel passionately about in their local area.  One of the most exciting things about youth-led projects is that every group will come up with something exciting and unique, and, as a facilitator, you don’t know what you’ll be working on until you meet the group and they start to explore what they all care about.

Each group of up to 12 young people had just one day to design their project.  With our co-facilitators at London Youth we took them through a process which helped them come up with a comprehensive plan. First up we helped them identify what mattered to them, both individually and collectively.  At Otesha environmental and social justice are top of the agenda, so we explored sustainability – and how they can make sure their project considers environmental and social issues regardless of the topic they chose to tackle.  Once they had a broad focus for their project, we thought about all the places we could get more information for the campaign – for projects in the local community, the local community is an invaluable resource.  The young people wrote a series of questions to help them find out more, and after a quick practice session, they went out into the world to speak to real people!  Often their answers confirmed what they’d already been thinking, sometimes they helped to tweak the project a wee bit here or there – and they could then move on to planning the nitty gritty.  They planned budgets, logistics, aims and objectives, energisers to keep their motivation high and more.

Now, they’re counting down to their campaign day in September – they’ll all meet again to put their plans into action which range from tackling youth unemployment to building community to educating people on fathers’ rights and everything in between  – wish them luck!

 


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