Moseley, with a population of 9,000 is an inner city ward of Birmingham.
Prompted by the Birmingham tornado, local people, suffering massive damage to their properties, became suddenly aware that climate change had, and would have impacts internally as well as abroad. In July 2007, SusMo was formed by around a dozen people with the dual aims of cutting carbon emissions within Mosley, and increasing residents’ awareness that their lifestyles will have global repercussions. The group approached the Moseley Forum, the ‘voice of the community’ and established as a sub committee negating the need for a separate constitution, and allowing them to focus on fund applications.
What are they doing
The first, and very positive activity of the group, was to get their local MP involved, not only did this MP endorse their project and its aims, thus increasing its credibility locally, but she also helped cover the cost of publicity activities.
The second activity in which the group engaged was producing a Moseley calendar, delivered to all households, publicising all groups in Mosley, which it knew of, working on environmental issues and climate change. This was a big breakthrough as nine further active groups, who had been previously unaware of SusMo’s existence, signed up to unite in some kind of core presence. The group, under the banner of Mosley Forum went on to contact local schools, the local Business Association, the local Housing Association (which has become very committed – becoming one of the nine active groups) and also the local parish church. This last has been motivated to invest in photovoltaic panels on its south facing roof, and thus go carbon neutral. Another activity has been to collect waste cooking oil from local restaurants and start to use it as source of energy. The group has also initiated a car sharing club with a local business and will certainly have a big presence at the annual Moseley Festival. The biggest change has been seeing that active groups are no longer fractured – there is a real sense that they are working together and self-supporting. The chance of funding from Nesta’s Big Green Challenge has increased the city council’s notice and support of the local climate change groups.
Overall, there has been quite a lot of activity, but volunteers whilst willing, are unable to commit to the brunt of the work, so it has been extremely time consuming and hard work for a minority. The group has been surprised by the motivation of some agency bodies, and lack of it from others. Their initial success was very much kick started by external engaged and influential people, as opposed to widespread buy-in to the core values created by the activists.
SusMo Top Tip
Whilst maintaining an a-political stance, get your MP involved, followed by the then local councillors. Latch into their PR and budgets. Try to remain mainstream so that you are seen as a credible political force.
Web address: www.moseleyforum.org.uk