North Lanarkshire’s Green Health Volunteering - Solar Punk

As part of Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire’s Green Health Volunteering, we would like to bring to your attention a positive and exciting concept which aims to help tackle climate change, bring our communities closer together, create volunteer opportunities and improve health and wellbeing.

What is Solar Punk?

Often it can seem like as an individual you can’t do enough to tackle climate change. Perhaps you’ve taken on a more plant-based diet, started a minimalistic lifestyle and begun the path of educating yourself on wider environmentalism but you want to do more.

You’d be right in thinking this, the greater change has to come from society as a whole and where better to start than your own local community. This is where I can introduce the art movement of “Solar Punk”.  Solar Punk is an art movement that envisions how the future might look if humanity succeeds in solving major contemporary challenges with an emphasis on sustainability problems such as climate change and pollution.

The beauty of this movement is that it can be achieved with simple, actionable steps which are accessible to all. One technique to achieve this is “permablitzing”, a permablitz involves a group of people meeting for the day, in order to develop a green area, household or rejuvenate delipidated land.

This can result in the creation of allotments, wildlife-friendly garden, forests, wild-flower plots, hedgerows or orchards. This often involves perennial and permaculture design but in other examples this has meant eco-friendly builds such as making compost toilets or retro-fitting houses to be more environmentally friendly.

This has been shown to increase community cohesion, increase house prices, reduced vandalism and provide many health benefits. Additionally, people’s interest in environmentalism cascades into further action and education, allowing for an environment where ideas blossom. This allows people to skill share and create mini-workshops while they work or potentially find a few careers.

 

NHS Case Studies – National Health Service case studies on social and health benefits can be found here.

If this is something you might be interested in pursuing, you should suggest this to community networks, local groups, friends, places of worship or businesses to improve your local environment. You’d be surprised by how many people just need someone to take the first step and Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire can help in coordinating efforts on your behalf. Alternatively, you can contact me at iain.johnstone@vanl.co.uk


Who can join?

EVERYONE! Don’t worry if you’ve never done any gardening because this is the perfect way to learn and teach others. A variety of jobs are available to suit everyone’s capability, whatever your knowledge or physical ability. All ages and backgrounds should be offered an invitation in your surrounding area to be inclusive.

Consider suggesting this as a project to your local council, groups or as part of your employer supported volunteering day.

 


So, what is the plan?

Traditionally you will be welcomed with a hot drink, introduced to each other, plans for the day will be detailed and then we get to work. The facilitator will show you what needs to be done e.g. moving soil, manure or woodchips for new vegetable beds; planting; installing water butts; irrigation systems; pruning; construction work or creating raised beds, bird houses, shelves, raised beds or bug hotels for example.

It is typical for the host to provide a good healthy homemade lunch (commonly plant based) and often attendees bring food to share. Permablitzes usually stop around 5pm and you can admire your collective work. These can often be incredible life changing transformations and you’ll be shocked what can be achieved within a day. Expect to leave the permablitz with your mind full of ideas, what you’ve learned and where you can implement them next. So, take that burning enthusiasm and produce further change in your local area! Be the change you want to see.

 

 

Skill-shares and Education

Depending on the group, skill-sharing can be formal or informal. This can be on topics such as seed planting; trees pruning; orchard skills; setting up a wormery or other compost system; how to saw, hammer or drill; create planters or raised beds; how to store rainwater; make bug hotels; create a mobile chicken coop and inoculate logs with mushroom spores.

 

Mini-workshops

Mini-workshops are a great way of learning permaculture design and how you can implemented. This can include the great benefits of raised beds, why to use a no-dig system, traditional local edible plants that grow naturally, how does composting work, what is the soil-food-web, why forest gardens and what to consider when mulching

 

 

So, lets do it!

VANL would like to set a community challenge across North Lanarkshire. Post to your social media the greatest changes you’ve made, share your stories, include what you’ve learned and help others to keep the movement growing.

Do your bit to help others, this could be in providing tools, drawing concept art, being a photographer, lending a hand or inspiring others to take the first step.

Get in touch

To discuss further, offer assistance, suggest land to develop or to organise a permablitz please contact at -

iain.johnstone@vanl.co.uk - +44 7874 886309

Additional Resources

What is Solar Punk

21 Reasons To Go Vegan - This can reduce your carbon footprint between 70 - 73%

A Quick Guide to Permablitzing  

Permablitz – A Volunteer Fuelled Backyard Working Bee            

The Psychology of Collapse         

An Open Letter To Gen Z     

Top 10 Eco-friendly Cities Around The World

Go Jauntly - Walking App