Can community learning inspire us all to live sustainability?

Alastair-Informal - Nonformal - formal

Well these (more or less), were the questions that 25 people came together to discuss at the Derbyshire Eco Centre last Saturday.

It was a ‘buzzy’ bunch of people who brought their own specialisms in community activism, academia, engineering and adult teaching.

The first exercise unpicked ideas of what a sustainable society would look like. The collages created by each group showed that there were differences of emphasis but common themes. In addition to all the practical measures such as local sourcing, reduction of carbon footprint, there was a recognition that sustainable societies are ‘fair’ societies where everyone has a voice and opportunities are not blocked to some members.


Professor Bill McGuire gave us a stark reminder of the climate change context in which this whole discussion sits and the Sally Hodgson explained how she applies Education for Sustainable Development within her own practice as a farmer and Dry Stone Walling teacher.

Andrew Reeves is both academic and activist from Leicester and he provoked some useful pre-lunch questions.

The rain did not put us off exploring the practical outdoor learning space at the centre and gave a chance to reflect on the morning before the final session.

Walk in

Of course learning happens in lots of ways. In particular, there are many key players in the informal and non formal end of the learning spectrum. Our final exercise looked at these players and partners and we looked at the ways that partnership can be most effective.

The network of connections was shown by threads of wool and frankly we were all boggled by the potential complexity of the partnerships! It is important to choose the right partners for the job in hand and get on with it! Next stage may need a different mix of players.

Two messages for me personally as I left



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