Educational events

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Educational events can help to develop skills and understanding within your community to further the aims of your project. Opportunities to see exemplary action, to learn about tried and tested approaches and to receive training on a particular topic can all help to inform, inspire and motivate your community to take a greater interest in your cause and to take action in their own day-to-day lives.

Click on the ideas below for practical suggestions and detailed case studies.

Site visits and open days

Open days and site visits can be a fun and useful experience for your project group and for the wider community. You may want to consider such events if you have a project in the pipeline and wish to visit other projects or groups to get ideas, or if you have a project up and running and would like to welcome public visitors to have a look around your site.


The following case studies provide ideas and examples for different types of open days and site visits:

Case Studies
Country: UK

Stroud Slad Farm Community has held open days at their community supported farm involving practical tasks, talks and workshops, as well as face painting, storytelling, horse riding and wild food walks in the woods - there's something for everyone! They offer guests locally produced food and drink, and have organised a ceilidh and a bonfire. They also held a winter play in which several of their core group were cast, which raised £700 for the project. 

Source: The Story of Community Supported Agriculture in Stroud

Country: UK

Transition Town Totnes has welcomed group visits from university students, exchange students, sustainability course attendees and other Transition initiatives, in addition to anyone who wishes to attend their regular Transition Walks. Transition Walks are held on a Friday and involve a four hour guided tour of the town starting at the Transition Town Totnes office. For these events, they tend to request discretionary donations or in some cases require specific financial contributions for the work and time involved. Potential visitors are also encouraged to plan self-guided tours using information provided on their website. 

Country: UK

Carbon Co-op ran a Big Red Bus Tour of Green Houses as part of Community Energy Fortnight. The tour involved visits to three households around Greater Manchester which had made radical reductions in energy bills and carbon emissions. Attendees were encouraged to talk to and get to know other people on the tour, and were introduced to Carbon Co-op’s energy efficiency projects.

 

Country: UK

Resilient Energy Great Dunkiln (REGD) is a joint venture between The Resilience Centre, a landowner and the community of St Briavels. Together they raised £1.4 million in five months to install a 500kW wind turbine in 2012 in the parish of St Briavels.

REGD run multiple open days every year providing tours of inside the wind turbine for all ages, especially taking the time to engage with and inspire younger people. Other local groups with an energy focus take up stalls at the Annual Community Energy event in September where lots of handouts and small eco based gifts aim to engage young people. Gifts include badges, pens, literature for younger people and model wind turbines. REGD found a positive relationship with younger people to be very important as it was discovered that engaged young people pass on the enthusiasm to their families when returning home after events. 

REGD also have a strong working relationship with the Head of Geography at WyeDean Secondary School who has included the community energy project as part of the GCSE/A Level curriculum on Sustainability. Every July GCSE students come out to the site to undertake an assignment looking at an Environmental Impact Assessment of energy comparing renewables with fossil fuels. More than 200 children visit the site every year over 2 days and the REGD team is on hand to answer questions as they complete their assignment. Teachers have found their students to be more engaged when they are required to think about the pros and cons of fossil fuel vs. renewables when in the immediate presence of a large wind turbine. 

Training and workshops

Training and workshops run by your group for the wider community can be a great way for people to learn about a topic in an involving way. This can be a powerful means of engagement, helping people to take control of their own actions and behaviours, and giving them the capacity and inspiration to spur future involvement in your project.


Ideas for types of training and workshops include:


Home and lifestyle. Training or workshops can encourage and enable people to live more sustainably. Potential topics could cover themes such as energy, food, transport and waste, providing tips on anything from energy efficient products and reducing your carbon footprint, to permaculture and composting.


Setting up and running community projects. Once your group have some experience under their belt, you may want to consider running a training session or workshop to inspire and help other people to set up their own community projects. You could provide tips on anything from how to professionalise, develop business plans, apply for grant funding, navigate the planning system or scale up projects. Alternatively, the focus could be more on generating and initiating ideas for local community projects and unlocking the community activist within!


Professional and work-related. Professional and work-related training or workshops could aim to help with upskilling and assisting people back into work, or to educate local businesses about sustainability and reducing environmental impacts. If you have an established project requiring day-to-day practical input from paid staff and/or volunteers, you could provide opportunities for those not in employment, education or training (NEETs) to gain work experience and skills that will help them into a job in the future (although this shouldn’t be taken on lightly – make sure you are in a position to do so and have the necessary resources and information to ensure a mutually beneficial and workable arrangement). You could even consider becoming an accredited training provider.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Abingdon Carbon Cutters hold ‘how to’ workshops on a range of topics from making a good compost heap, growing a lot of food in small spaces and reducing food waste, to cutting fuel bills, bike maintenance and installing solar panels. The workshops are designed to be participative, providing the opportunity for people to bring their own knowledge and experience to the table. Incorporating a coffee break with homemade cakes made using local ingredients provides an extra incentive for people to attend and also offers a useful networking opportunity, facilitating the building of community connections. The sessions usually start with inviting everyone to turn to the person sitting next to them to discuss why they have come and what they hope to get out of the workshop, and finish with talking in pairs about what they have learned. The workshops have proved very popular, sometimes attracting as many as 45 people, and they have found that a core group of people now regularly attend these events.

Country: Ireland

A number of members of Ard Easmuinn Residents Association in Dundalk came together to find out how they could get involved in the Dundalk 2020 project, a sustainable energy zone within the town funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) with the aim of achieving significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Ard Easmuinn approached the Dundalk 2020 Project Team to find out how they could help residents in their street save energy and money. A first public meeting was held and a target of 20% energy reductions by 2008 was set. Further stakeholders involved in the project included Power of One and ESB Customer Supply. Consultant Aodhan MacPaidin was hired by SEAI to train 8 families individually on how simple changes in behaviour can have a large impact on energy savings. Recognising that not all changes can take place at the same time, the consultant used a phased approach to train the families over 15 weeks. The training covered  five target areas:

  • Space heating (5 weeks)
  • Domestic hot water (4 weeks)
  • Small power (3 weeks)
  • Lighting (2 weeks)
  • Cooking (1 week)

 

Progress of these families was recorded and filmed and was to act as a case study for other families. A series of energy saving tip videos was created to help families become more energy efficient and communicate the message to the wider public. The families achieved energy savings of between 15-27%.