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Big Green Narratives – Talks now available on You Tube


Contribution from Sophie Beyer Twitter: @sophbeyercomms

As a media relations professional and a writer I’ve been watching the green debate with interest, and from 2008 we’ve all seen the gradual shift from sustainability to austerity as the overarching media discussion has drifted away from climate concerns and economic problems have dominated headlines. As a result, different green messages have come to the fore, embracing thrift, grow your own, make do and mend, as the media look for a sustainable angle on the austerity years.

Bristol has a great opportunity coming up in 2015 – to tell a story about itself to the world, about climate change and sustainable city living in the 21st century. So, when I learnt about the Big Green Narrative event, I jumped at the chance to explore the issue. Bristol has got so many great stories to tell. Potential messages around green issues should reflect the diversity of the people in Bristol, so I thought trying to pin it all under one narrative may be rather tricky.

Luckily, it proved not to be the case. A broad spectrum of people – architects, food producers, branding experts, data analysts and business representatives, most already members of Bristol Green Partnership – came to hear and be heard. It was all kicked off by Darren Hall from Big Green Week, who introduced Dan Rafferty, one of the founders of Shambala who told us about all the fun that people event, and the innovative methods they’ve used to reduce the carbon footprint of the event. He’ll be bringing his expertise to the Big Green Week in 2015, and I’m sure it will be a week to remember.

All the speakers contributed to the debate, and then we discussed issues such as how to brand sustainability. We all seemed committed to a sustainable future, so perhaps it was a case of preaching to the converted – but what about all those people who think sustainability has little or no relevance for them? We looked at messages that have been used in the past, including hard choices, lecturing, thrift, moralistic messages or perhaps even scary doom-laden scenarios. These obviously had not worked so far in either convincing the majority of people of the need for change, or giving them viable options of what to do to live sustainably.

Negative messages could potentially turn people off, and perhaps the past spotlight on climate change conferences and scientific targets just mean that the problem seems too big and individuals just don’t know where to start. Tim Duffy, chair of advertising agency M&C Saatchi was quoted in PR Week as saying “the problem will not be resolved through logic, but through feelings and emotions.”

So, the feeling was this is just the start of something much bigger. I feel the stories that we will all tell reflect the multiplicity of life in Bristol. Perhaps the narratives we shape as a city could be around fun, living well for all, festivals, celebration and partnership. Maybe we could do things that globally, others can aspire to and want to be part of. There’s a great future for Bristol, and this is just the beginning of the story.

All videos can be found here.

If you would like to share your experiences and thoughts on green events in the city, or future Partnership events, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with

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