It is hard not to feel helpless in the face of environmental crisis. A global challenge can seem huge and distant, disconnected from our real lives. Breaking free of that helplessness is not something any of us can do alone. The only way to meet the challenge is together. The only place to do it is here. I will be part of that. I am asking you to join me.
During my time studying landscape architecture, I saw how attention to seemingly small details transforms the way we experience and appreciate our outdoor spaces. It is also fundamental to how we protect them.
To create change at the scale we need, it is vital that we share the work. That means sharing the benefits too. We must make sure that all residents can access nature and that protecting the wildlife we love is at the heart of design. We need plentiful opportunities for every resident to appreciate, understand and share our wildlife and natural spaces so that the value of protecting these is relevant and meaningful to all.
Designing for all
Portishead is surrounded by and filled with nature. But the structures and priorities of governance and funding have, far too often in recent decades, led to the neglect of planting, public resting spaces, seating, drinking fountains and proper shade. These types of resources let us come together in our natural spaces, to build and sustain our community.
We must overcome the procedural obstacles, create more natural spaces in Portishead itself, and make those we already have inclusive and accessible to all. We must make sure that those who are disabled, less mobile, elderly, and caring for children are not prevented from enjoying what we have, and that their voices are listened to as we create more access to nature for everyone. As well as building truly accessible paths into our larger natural spaces, we must promote more community orchards, and provide creatively designed community spaces we can all use together. If we design with everyone in mind, we will build a town we all value and a town that values us all.
Honest, inclusive and open communication
We have experienced public outcry about communication problems too often in recent years. A clear communications process is needed. I will ensure that there is, for the first time, a public calendar for wildlife and environmental management in Portishead, properly maintained and accessible to all. Supported by an easily accessible, well-publicised schedule of works, this will enable and sustain productive ongoing dialogue that anyone can take part in without facing barriers to entry.
Volunteer groups like Turn the Tide, Portishead in Bloom, Wild Portishead and others represent the knowledge and experience in our community. If I am elected, I will ensure communication and cooperation with local nature and environment groups. There will be dialogue involving everyone with something to say, offering a platform for residents’ environmental concerns, and an opportunity for real understanding and realistic answers. A ground-up approach to projects and planning gives residents real ownership and control of environmental projects, providing them with a strong foundation that won’t be washed away with the next faddish change in national policy.
Ending poisoning in the name of maintenance
In Portishead, steps are already agreed to stop the use of harmful weedkiller in routine maintenance within the town. As a North Somerset Councillor, I would take this further. We must demand that council contractors stop routinely using harmful chemicals, such as glyphosate, and ultimately seek a district-wide ban.