Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Green Hampshire - Open Meeting on Earth Day

We had a great meeting last week and it was wonderful to meet some of the people we are in contact with in person.  The meeting took place in the very smart offices of our kind hosts, Kaplan Financial in Southampton.

Adam Manning started proceedings by explaining that Green Hampshire is an online project to help volunteers take part in environmental and conservation events all over our beautiful county of Hampshire.

It all started some four years ago in the spring of 2011 when a group of friends tweeted about using the online world to help people get involved.  The original conception was a blog with a rolling list of upcoming events so if you were interested in taking part in an environmental event you could have a look at the list and see which ones might be of interest to you.

A friend called Nicky Hirst kindly put us in touch with a very energetic and charismatic chap called Max Thompson to see if he might be interested. Max really seemed to get behind the concept and he came up with a name for it : Green Hampshire.  He and his colleagues created some great branding and design for Green Hampshire and soon the website was ready to roll!

Max Thompson outside the offices of our wonderful hosts Kaplan Financial

After a bit of prompting from Max, the website started filling up with details for events.  Very soon it became clear to us that Twitter was the ideal tool to spread the word and the twitter account has grown steadily ever since. We’re now at over 7,000 followers – one of the larger accounts focusing on Hampshire. 

The central idea is to get details of events like conservation projects, litter picks, talks and walks and so forth out there to as many people as possible in the hope that this will increase the amount of people participating.  The more the details of these events are disseminated, the more likely people are to get involved as someone somewhere will have that magic combination of it being at the right time, in the right place and doing the right activity to get them motivated enough to go and do it.  That is the underlying philosophy behind the concept – increasing the probability that someone somewhere will find what you are doing interesting and convenient enough to motivate them to take part.

And we know it works.  For a while we’ve been going along to events and we've been told that other people are there after finding out about it through Green Hampshire.  It’s been really exciting learning that the concept has had practical results.

Recently we learned of something new that suggests that Green Hampshire is already growing beyond the original conception of helping volunteers to go along to events.  A friend from Gosport called Graham Smith is organizing a great project consisting of a number of litter picks and clear ups round the Portsmouth/Gosport area. Graham tells me that someone has very kindly come forward to organize a litter pick as part of this project after hearing about it through Green Hampshire.

Adam with Matt Rawlins 

So – as well as helping volunteers to get involved in environmental events, Green Hampshire has been helping create the events themselves! It's exciting that Green Hampshire is now growing beyond the original concept.  We're thrilled about where we've come from and are looking to the future with new ideas to take the concept further.

Next, Lewis March gave a presentation about his survey that he has conducted on how volunteers are interested in participating in environmental and conservation events and the results of his survey are here : https://infogr.am/green_hampshire____a_2015_vision.  In particular Lewis had noted that training was of interest to volunteers particularly in the area of leadeership. Lewis' survey is a great help to us in considering how we go forward.

Max then spoke to us about the future for Green Hampshire.  We're looking into developing Green Hampshire so it can help volunteers and organizations even more. This may include profiles and pages for both volunteers and organizations, rewards and awards for volunteers participating in events and encouraging and assisting companies with their corporate social responsibility policies.

Pages for voluntary groups, particularly smaller ones without the resources of the larger ones, will help highlight the great events and projects they are involved in. The role of schools and helping them get involved was discussed as well and we noted that we already have some good links with organizations that work with children and schools with this aspect of education.

So we're hoping to move it on from it being a list of events to being a more fully developed platform that encourages participation in environmental and conservation events in lots of ways. As part of this plan, we're always on the look out for people who would like to contribute an article to our blog at http://greenhampshireblog.blogspot.co.uk. We are also looking into rolling the concept out to other counties.

It had been a useful meeting and we are excited about moving on with further steps in expanding our range of activities.  Thanks to Southampton Voluntary Services and Southampton University Students Union Environment and Ethics Committee for joining us and in particular to Matt Rawlins and Kaplan Financial Southampton for being our kind hosts.

If you would like to get in touch to join us on this exciting journey please contact us at events@greenhampshire.co.uk.

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