A report from Myf Parker

On Sunday 28th February 2021, 17 of our committed Lighter Footprints members met together at the Canterbury Guide Hall to plan for the upcoming year. Our meeting was wonderfully facilitated by Joan Staples, who is the current chair of Market Forces. She reminded us of the very significant impact that Lighter Footprints has in spreading the message of climate change and influencing politicians.

The day began with a discussion of what we did well and what we could have done better last year.

What we did well 

On the positive side, our letter writers did very well with record numbers of published pieces. We transitioned to Zoom very effectively in the face of the pandemic. Our forum in the lead-up to the council elections contributed to a more progressive local Council and there has been effective follow-up with the elected councilors. We have encouraged the establishment of trust and welcoming of new people and we have managed to transition from one convenor, our fearless leader Carolyn, to two co-convenors, our new fearless leaders Lynn Frankes and Michael Nolan.

We felt we could do better

Holding new people who come to Zoom meetings to increase our member base. We need to reach out and motivate our current contact base of 2500 people and also improve our fundraising. To do these things we need to scale up digitally and consider options such as DoGooder and co-hosting of events.

How change happens

We discussed how change happens and how it relates to Lighter Footprints.  Change involves deliberate decisions of individuals and small groups with knowledge and passion and the courage to speak out (risk being unpopular), questioning assumptions and the status quo. It eventually reaches a critical mass (tipping point) and takes on a momentum of its own leading to change which is crystallized into policy by the decision-makers.
Lighter Footprints is a local group that works locally to establish trust and influence members of the public through education and inspiration (monthly meetings and letter writing to newspapers) and move decision-makers through public forums, talking to Federal, State, and Local Government members and those they listen to.
During the day we investigated three main issues, our political opportunities, our community opportunities, and the structure of Lighter Footprints.

Political opportunities

We have political opportunities at three levels, Council, State, and Federal. We have the opportunity to build on and maintain momentum for climate action with our new more progressive Council. They will set their priorities in the next few months, so we need to keep up the pressure to influence their climate action plan through the climate plan workshops, a climate emergency declaration and commitment, a community energy project (solar and batteries), and action on bike path development.
We are considering a late 2021 forum to keep the momentum up ahead of state and federal elections in 2022. Hawthorn, Kew, Box Hill, and Burwood are all thought to be marginal state seats and we want the most climate proactive people in them. Important issues are: transport emissions; EVs; coal and gas phase-out, forests, and biodiversity.
We need to keep conversations going with Federal MPs. We need to build alliances with other groups like KCCA and ECAM to increase influence in the Kooyong, Chisholm, and Higgins electorates. The government is under pressure with Biden, G7, and COP26. They are doing nothing on oil or gas and are vulnerable on energy security.
We will focus on our strengths, talents, and resources in achieving political influence.

Our community opportunities

Might include: fun events to build community engagement; a ramp-up of our social media input including Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook (This will reduce the need for street stalls); better understanding of our membership, its nature, and gaps; submissions; website development; input to Eastsider News to increase our reach; an event with Councillors; collaboration with Climate for Change (3-4 of our people could train as hosts).

Regarding our solidarity with Indigenous peoples, we do this through the way we walk and talk, and make ourselves more knowledgeable. Joan’s counsel is we never talk on indigenous people’s behalf, and we stand beside them, not in front of them. Carolyn & Annie volunteered to work on how we can fit in with the CANA Indigenous development and we are considering financial support.

Lighter Footprints CommitteeCo-Convenors Mick & Lynn (left), and the LF Committee (right)

Our structure

We discussed the functionality of the current Committee and working groups (WG).
The Committee is considering how to better communicate with active Lighter Footprints members.
There is a committee member on each of the existing WGs. These are: Letter Writers; Local Government; Energy Transition; Social Media and Comms; Climate Emergency Declaration/KCCA liaison; Speakers. These groups will continue and we thank their faithful leaders.
Proposed new groups are: Climate for Change; Young People; Fundraising; website development; submissions (keep them short and focused, not big value for effort); Community Energy Project.
We will continue our Monthly meetings, and possibly have a big forum towards the end of the year.

Thanks again to everyone for all your energy and goodwill. We have people with big hearts and as Joan feeds-back, we should be proud of what we achieve. Lighter Footprints is very much recognized locally and nationally, which helps us and our community drive our representatives towards stronger, faster climate action.