Whatever stage your project is at, holding a local green awareness event can be a good way of getting more publicity, attracting new members, reaching wider sections of the community and raising general eco consciousness. The key to running a successful session lies in careful planning – and not underestimating the time it will take to organise.
One of the first things to do is to decide what sort of an event you want to run, and where you intend to run it. Some groups have a very clear vision of the kind of session to hold, but for others, one of the best ways to get some ideas is to hold a meeting when everyone can make their suggestions.
Write them down on a whiteboard or a flip chart and after half-an-hour or so you’ve a good starting point for group discussion which will hopefully lead to a final decision that leaves everyone happy.
Settling on a venue as early as you can is also a good plan, not least because you may need to spend a surprising amount of time gathering all of the necessary permissions required. Apart from getting the agreement of the owner, you may also need to meet legal or licensing requirements depending on the type of event you’re going to hold.
Your local authority can usually give you advice on these sorts of issues, so the sooner you get in contact with them and find out, the better. In addition, although many community halls and similar places have suitable public liability insurance, it is important to check that it does cover what you’re planning – and make separate arrangements if it will not.
Once you’ve settled on your event and its venue, it’s time to decide what sorts of activities are going to be involved, the sorts of resources you’ll need, whether there are any companies or organisations who could help and where you could get materials or funding for the event.
With a community-based project it is obviously a good idea to try to make sure that the participants and activities are relevant to local needs and, clearly, the more local involvement you can get the better. By this point, a lengthy “to-do” list will be developing, so it’s a good idea to start allocating particular jobs to individuals to make sure everything gets done – and on time.
If event planning is new to the members of your project group, it can often be invaluable to find someone in the local community who has had experience of organising something similar to help out. This isn’t as unlikely as it might seem.
Many groups, such as the scouts, guides, WI, church and local school regularly organise their own events; while they may not be specifically “green” ones, the process is much the same, so their assistance could end up saving you a lot of time and trouble.
It’s no good having a party if nobody comes – so don’t overlook the importance of publicising your event. Flyers and posters in local shops and community buildings, perhaps coupled with a door-to-door leaflet campaign will get the message across to most people in the community – and don’t forget the local press.
You often won’t have to pay for an advert – most local newspapers are only too ready to help publicise events, especially if they’re topical or a bit different. It can even be worth trying the local radio station or the TV, if you think your event would appeal to a wider audience and don’t forget the internet – especially if your area has its own community webpage.
A local green awareness session is enormously valuable for the long-term success of your project, but the idea of organising one can often seem daunting – especially for small or inexperienced groups. However, if you take the time to plan it properly – and ask for help when you need it – even the smallest event can be valuable, so it’s well worth making the effort.