Talking about climate change is fun. No, really, that’s what people told us.

Involved with a voluntary or community group? Perhaps a sports club, residents association, hobby group, professional network, walking group etc? Or a re-enactment society?

Strange as it may seem, around 200 people with no particular interest in climate change, have told us they really enjoyed talking about climate change in the ‘Climate Conversations’ discussion format I helped develop.

We’re now looking for non-environmentally focused groups across Scotland to host a Climate Conversation for their members before mid February.

Just one and half hours with around 10 people. We’ll come to your group, and cover the costs of refreshments and the meeting room.

If your group might be interested, get in touch and I’ll tell you more!

Conference al fresco

Untitled2A highlight of the day was the very popular decision to hold an al fresco conference summary in the ECCI courtyard. With everyone spread out along the steps soaking up the sun, we split into smaller groups to discuss how we can best ensure that ecosystem service research has real impact into the future. With his human flipchart in the form of Prof Mark Reed, our conference facilitator Osbert Lancaster did a wonderful job of facilitating and summarising the final thoughts for the day, and the relaxed and friendly atmosphere allowed everyone to have their ideas heard.

EScom16 Conference

Hard decisions don’t have to create winners and losers

Image by Jonathunder, used under Creative Commons licence
Convergent facilitation helped Minnesota pass landmark legislation, breaking longstanding deadlock.

The Scottish independence and Brexit referendums are just two recent high profile decisions which ended up with just over half the population ‘winning’ and the rest losing. Having followed some community ‘consultations’ about cycle paths recently, where vitriol and bile seemed to be the main basis of ‘debate’, we obviously have the same problems at a local level in Scotland. There must be a better way…

Continue reading “Hard decisions don’t have to create winners and losers”

Community Climate Action Project Development Starter Pack

The 4 Questions at the heart of Shifting Normal

Thinking about developing an application for future climate action funding but not sure how to turn an interesting idea into a great project? Delivered a CCF project before and thinking of how you might build on that?

We can help you make the best use of your time and energy to develop your initial idea into a plan for a project that:

  • Has support from your community;
  • Is worthwhile and achievable;
  • You can communicate clearly to funders and others.

A Development Grant may be available from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund to cover the cost of our support and other expenses such hiring a hall for community meetings etc.

Our standard Starter Pack includes:

  • Three planning sessions in your community led by Pamela Candea or Osbert Lancaster exclusively for your group and tailored to your particular situation. The sessions will cover:
    • Turning ideas into outcomes that funders want to support;
    • Engaging the community and meeting local needs;
    • Developing a project that will result in real change.
  • Advice on planning and carrying out a consultation in your community.
  • One to one consultancy support as you develop your project ideas into an application to potential funders.

At the end of this process you will be able to make an informed decision about whether to seek funding and, if you decide to do so, to prepare a high quality application.

Our approach is based on Shifting Normal – the methodology that we prepared on behalf of the Scottish Government to help communities to design and deliver a successful project to tackle climate change by taking account of what influences people to change their behaviour.

The Starter Pack can be tailored to your needs. It typically costs £1,200 plus facilitator travel and subsistence where necessary. Based in Edinburgh and Stirling we are happy to offer the Starter Pack across Scotland. Eligible groups can apply for the full cost plus additional expenses such as venue hire, to the CCF Development Grant via a straightforward application process.

Contact us to see if a Starter Pack is right for you and your group.

What will your group use a development grant for?

Development Grants of £1,500 are now available from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund to help community-led organisations develop applications for more significant funding to tackle climate change. The development grant can help groups at every step along the journey from an initial idea, through community consultation to planning a project and preparing an application for project funding.

New and established community groups working on climate change have a wealth of expertise and experience, but sometimes it can be helpful to have an outside perspective and specialist advise and support – and the development grant can make that possible.

A workshop with student volunteers and activists developing zero waste projects

Osbert Lancaster and Pamela Candea have worked with many community groups as advisers, mentors, consultants and trainers. We have run training workshops through the Climate Challenge Fund’s Community Action Support Programme on: Planning for the Future; Identifying a Project; Designing a Project; and skills and techniques for Positive Change. We can help you design and carry out community consultations.

We know that getting people together for meetings and trainings can be difficult, so we adapt our support to fit each group’s needs. One approach we find works very well is a few short sessions spread over several weeks to introduce key skills and knowledge – and in between the sessions the community group have time to do work on consultations, draft plans etc, and then to build on these at the next session. We can provide feedback and advice by phone or Skype between sessions too.

 Four Questions
The Four Questions – part of the Shifting Normal Approach

On behalf of the Scottish Government we developed the guide Shifting Normal: How to design projects that change things for the better. Use of the Shifting Normal approach is encouraged by the CCF, and we incorporate it into most of our training.

If you think we might be able to help your group turn initial ideas into a great project – or you’re just interested in help with some specific aspect – please do contact us:

By the way, people say we’re really good at what we do:

“I thought this was a great workshop and exactly the type of strategic thinking we all need to integrate into our work if we want to bring about real change.”

“The course took us on a journey. By introducing us to the theory and models, which attempt to explain change, we were then able to apply these and devise coping strategies for our own work/practice/life. In doing so we are able to look at the world through different eyes, from a different lens, and ultimately effect change within ourselves and others around us.”

“Osbert’s support and advice were absolutely invaluable. By helping me to understand my aspirations and working with me to develop practical methods to achieve them, Osbert enabled me to take some major steps to put this approach into practice in our organisation. I would not have progressed anywhere near as far as I have without his insight and gentle guidance.”

“Thanks for an excellent session. I know we all very much enjoyed it and it has helped build strong foundations for our strategic planning and team building. You pitched the format and tone of the sessions just right, and as always brought a lovely encouraging style.”

Find out more about Development Grants here…

A Review of A Wholehearted Approach to Change –

For five weeks I spent two inspiring hours every Wednesday evening with staff and volunteers of the RADIAL Project at the Glasgow School of Art. Project coordinator Eilidh Sinclair has written a review of the programme.

The course took us on a journey. By introducing us to the theory and models, which attempt to explain change, we were then able to apply these and devise coping strategies for our own work/practice/life. In doing so we are able to look at the world through different eyes, from a different lens, and ultimately effect change within ourselves and others around us.

“I thought this was a great workshop and exactly the type of strategic thinking we all need to integrate into our work if we want to bring about real change.”

Source: A Wholehearted Approach to Change – The Review | R A D I A L

Sound good? I’d love to do something similar with other groups and organisations.

Climate Change Public Conversations Series

Talking Climate Change


A research project, managed by ClimateXchange for the Scottish Government, to develop and pilot a framework for a Climate Change Public Conversations Series.

The framework will include materials and a guide for community groups and others to run conversations about climate change with the public.

The Conversations Series will explore public knowledge of, attitudes towards and engagement with:

  • climate change;
  • policies to address climate change; and
  • the future transition to a sustainable low carbon society.

I’m working on this project as an associate of Surefoot. Very interesting!

More: ClimateXChange :: Climate Change Public Conversations Series

Some field notes on Natural Change Hungary

Natural Change Hungary at Kisújbánya – September 2105.
Natural Change Hungary at Kisújbánya – September 2105.

It was an honour and a joy to co-facilitate a week-long Natural Change course in Hungary in September. Dave has already written about this:

A few weeks ago, Richard, Osbert, Rob and I spent a week leading a Natural Change course in the forests of southern Hungary. The course was part of a project organised by the Pandora Association in Hungary, with partners from Romania, Italy, Spain, Liechtenstein, Germany and the Czech Republic. It was funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. There were 22 participants from the partner nations and the course took place at Kisújbánya, in a vast area of woodland about three hours drive due south of Budapest.


The role of values in transformational change

Cover ImageIn June 2015 I helped organise a roundtable with Tom Crompton, founder of the Common Cause Foundation. With around 30 participants we had to drop our original plan for a literal round-a-table-discussion, and designed a more structured approach which created a powerful mix of strategic input, stimulating discussion and deep personal reflection.

Participants decided that:

The Role of Values in Transformational Change is…

  • Fundamental and complex
  • Important to understand
  • Relevant to meaning and narratives
  • Provides a framework for reflection
  • Provides a framework for engagement

And said they would therefore like to…

  • Understand more about values and how they work
  • Open up meaningful conversations
  • Explore and use narratives
  • Work with organisational values
  • Bring values into what they do

You can download a note of the event: The-Role-of-Values-in-Transformational-Change-Final