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September 14, 2018

A Year in the Life of Footsteps

On 12th September, Birmingham Council of Faiths (Footsteps’ parent organisation) held their annual general meeting.  Our chair Ruth Tetlow reported to them on Footsteps’ activities over the past 12 months.

BCF AGM September 2018:

Report from Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future

Footsteps’ work becomes ever more urgent as signs of the effects of climate change are reported from around the world, ranging from summer heatwaves and their associated wildfires, to intense tropical storms and the melting of permafrost in Siberia and Alaska. At the same time public awareness and concern is also growing, particularly about the widespread harmful effects of plastic, a fossil fuel product which is a major source of pollution in the oceans.

Footsteps held its major annual event, ’Tread Lightly’ at the Birmingham Progressive Synagogue in November 2017. There were a number of speakers including John Christophers on the ‘Zero Carbon House, and a video from Kamran Shezad on the workshop for Muslim Imams.  The Small Footsteps video made earlier in the summer was also shown for first time.  Table discussions took place to enable the sharing of ideas and thinking about the issues and further campaigning activities. We were most grateful to the synagogue and Rabbi Margaret Jacobi for hosting the event.

Tread Lightly at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue

In February we took part in the ’Faith for the Climate’ conference in London, by leading a workshop, and in March we ran a workshop for children at the annual Birmingham Council of Faiths / Scout Association ‘Faiths for Fun’ event in Hamstead Academy. This focussed on the role of trees in the environment.  We also spoke at a Religion and the Environment event at Aston University’s Go Green Week and made an interfaith contribution to an A Rocha ecumenical Eco Church conference,  ‘A Future for All … Implementing the Christian imperative to care for our World’, in July.

Throughout the year Footsteps members took part in the workshops arranged by Climate Action Network West Midlands (CANWM) held in John Lewis Community room, contributing a faith perspective on a number of topics, producing some eye catching posters and, at the education workshop, showing the Small Footsteps video.  Work has also started on creating a web-based version of Small Footsteps resources so that our experience can be used by others.

In June, at the end of the month of Ramadhan, we took part in two green iftars (fast-breaking events). One was at the Al Mahdi Institute where Ruth Tetlow spoke about the Footsteps vision and the other was at the plastic free iftar at the Sultan Bahu Trust. Here Kamran informed participants about the issue of plastic waste and how to avoid it e.g. by not using plastic plates, cutlery or bottles. Also in June we enjoyed our summer walk, starting from the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust’s Centre of the Earth in Winson Green. The Walk was introduced and led by Jake Williams of the Trust, who took us around the Icknield Port Loop of the canal on a beautiful sunny afternoon. People of different faiths spoke about their own insights and teachings, over tea and cake.

Canal walk around Soho loop

We keep in touch with climate campaigning in the wider world, for example through establishing a link with Green Faith by means of an occasional video conference with Fletcher Harper in the USA. Kamran Shezad represents us in the Faith for the Climate Network, which has just produced a significant report, and also on ‘Uprising – an environmental leadership programme for young people’.

We have been pleased to recruit several new members to our planning group during the year and have established a separate bank account, CAF Giving and Gift Aid arrangements for Footsteps to simplify administrative arrangements.  Footsteps finances were in a sound position at the end of the year, with £1,787 of restricted funds for developing and disseminating Small Footsteps learning resources and £403 for general activities.

We plan to hold our next Tread Lightly event in National Interfaith Week in November at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick.

Ruth Tetlow      September 2018

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