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.

Be Tree-sponsible

25th February 2013 by

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A few week ends ago a group of Otesha cycle tour alumni and a group of equally lovely humans, plus Winston the dog, convened in a little scouts hut near Hebden Bridge, on the edge the Pennines, for a weekend of laughter, tree planting, beautiful countryside and tasty food.  The weekend was organised by the wonderful Treesponsibility- a climate action group who aim to tackle the impacts of climate change in a positive and practical way.

We were lucky to have beautiful sunshine all weekend, and fuelled with delicious local food and ale we planted 1650 trees over the two days – phew! Find out a little more about our weekend below…

The tree planting site for the weekend in the Calderdale valley.

The tree planting site for the weekend in the Calderdale valley.

One of the tree planting tasks is to create mulching packs to put around the new trees to stave off competing plants.  We used newspapers covered with hessian sacks and when these ran out, silage.

One of the tree planting tasks is to create mulching packs to put around the new trees to stave off competing plants. We used newspapers covered with hessian sacks and when these ran out, silage.

Sometimes we went a bit crazy from the screefing (clearing away the grass to make a little planting site).

Sometimes we went a bit crazy from the screefing (clearing away the grass to make a little planting site).

Tastetastic north's cycle tour cooking team the 'hitch witches' reunited and get involved feeding us hungry tree planters!

Tastetastic north’s cycle tour cooking team the ‘hitch witches’ reunited and get involved feeding us hungry tree planters!

So many trees!  We planted Hazel trees for a coppice on this site.

So many trees! We planted Hazel trees for a coppice on this site.

Some of the lovely treesponsibility folk- Keith, Christina and Bear.

Some of the lovely treesponsibility folk- Keith, Christina and Bear.

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Otesha alumni James, Alex and Charli enjoying a well-earned tea break.

Tree planting crew!

Tree planting crew!

The lovely Sonia, one of our cycle tour alumni, has been tree planting with Treesponsibility every year since living and studying in Manchester.  She made this film about the group and volunteering with them:

http://vimeo.com/28398105

Tree planting is a preventative measure to prevent soil erosion and minimise flash flooding experienced over the last few years in the Calderdale Valley, and across the UK.  As well as organising appropriately sited tree-planting schemes, Treesponsibility work with local schools and organise volunteer days to raise awareness of climate change with the view that  “it’s not too late to slow the rate of climate change, or to adopt good land management practice so we can withstand the chaotic weather patterns in a warming world.”

Treesponsibility have over 10,000 trees to plant by the end of March! They have volunteer weekends planned throughout the next month with a record attempt weekender planned for the Easter weekend, as well as weekly day sessions for more local volunteers.  For more information visit the Treesponsibility website.  It was a wonderful weekend, thank you Treesponsibility!


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