Climate Emergency – making small steps locally is our way to help avert it
Gorgeous Gorse Hill is five! For those of us who set up this resident-led community group it’s fairly unbelievable. What started as a conversation about how we can help make our area better, make everyday spaces less drab, reduce the grey that surrounded us has led us to this point. The underlying purpose of Gorgeous Gorse Hill was always about “making the mundane marvellous” (yes, I know I’m really over fond of alliteration); an attempt to make our everyday journeys brighter and cheerier. But beneath that was also an attempt to bring more nature to the area, to enable planting, flowers, fruit and vegetables to thrive where previously there was nothing. In our small way we’ve brought a little bit more biodiversity to Gorse Hill but fundamentally we’ve brightened things up.
Brightening things up, that was what it was about making journeys better. Journeys by foot – to school, to work, to the shop, to the match, to the pub, even just to the bus stop. These types of journeys are more important than ever and how we make them is the most pressing. We have to get out of our cars, we have to start walking. It’s hard to believe that 60% of all car journeys we make each day are between one and two miles; that is a staggering number and one we can easily affect. Can you imagine how different our journeys to school and shops would be if we were all walking there? How many more people we’d see and get to know. How many more hellos we’d be able to hear. How many flowers we’d get to see, you might even find that elusive final piece of GGH art. These are the journeys we need to focus on.
There is something that stops us making these journeys, whether that be the roads don’t feel safe, it takes too long to walk, the weather, the route is boring. Some of these we can’t do anything about (it’s Manchester folks, it’s always going to rain) but there are some we can and as such a new group has been set up to try and get more of us out making everyday journeys by foot.
Living Streets Stretford has been set up by some local residents to try and make our journeys better and to get more of us making them.
Stretford presents some challenges to the everyday walker, the first is the A56 it’s massive, full of cars and means walking along that route is not particularly nice. The work of Gorgeous Gorse Hill and Stretford in Bloom is trying to do something about this by adding more plants, trees, shrubs you name it to brighten up our journeys and at the same time make a small dent in air pollution. But Living Streets Stretford feels there’s something else that they can do (with all of our support) and that’s make those journeys easier. At the moment there are some (likely not enough) crossings on all the main roads through Stretford, the problem is pedestrians are an after thought at these crossing. At some we can’t even cross the whole road in one go, at others we stand there for ages waiting for the lights to change, at others there aren’t even pedestrian elements (green man etc) to help you get across. Living Streets Stretford thinks this needs to change, if we’re going to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and walk then we need to make walking easier and driving more inconvenient.
Living Streets (is a national charity), they aren’t the enemy of the car driver, all of us involved are drivers, what they (and we locally are saying) is we need to walk more. Simple as that. It’s better for us (both physically and mentally), it’s good for our local area, it’s good for our neighbours and it’s good for the environment.
In this current climate emergency we can all feel a little helpless at the enormity of the challenge, but this is a literal small step we can make to help change things for good for us, for our neighbours and our children for years to come. If we can all do this, Gorgeous Gorse Hill will continue trying to make those journeys less mundane.