Forgotten spaces – let’s get creative

Our Healthy Spaces project creates a link between commercial landlords who have empty spaces like retail units , offices and warehouses and invites like minded charitable organisations to collaborate and occupy these spaces.  This means we can run our Books for Free centres in the spaces and also accommodate grass roots causes in office spaces giving them a presence within the community,  and helps to regenerate degrading high streets and utilise empty buildings. We believe we should all be more creative with our spaces.

This blog post by James Roche is about Hire Space, a company who utilise spaces by helping people find great local spaces and venues for events.

Space Man by James Roche

People ask me why I left sunny Australia for London and I always respond, straight faced: ‘so I would never have to mow a lawn again’. Having never shared my father’s passion for gardening, I can say without doubt that one of the best parts of living in the City of London is not having to fret over lawn maintenance or pesky weeds. At the same, I still have access to the many glorious parks and gardens that dot my community. On the downside, my living space has decreased substantially. At a time when the space around us seems to be dwindling, shouldn’t this be the biggest concern of all?

Richmond Park - Image by Steve Morgan

Richmond Park – Image by Steve Morgan

According to The Independent, one-bed flats in London have shrunk by 13% since 2o00. But how much space do we really need? This question is perhaps even more relevant when considering the issue of hiring space. I am sure many readers have been, or known someone who has been involved in hiring out a venue that has simply been too large for the event they had in mind. The issue of waste has plagued society for generations but do we ever truly consider the detrimental impact we have on our carbon footprint through the under use, misuse or neglect of our spaces? It is not a lack of space that is the real issue here, but the way we  use space.

Battersea Arts Centre Grand Hall - Image from Hire Space

Battersea Arts Centre Grand Hall – Image from Hire Space

Hire Space is one company looking to redress the issues of ”space” and ”wastage”. Its aim of connecting communities with their local spaces benefits urban areas in a number of ways:

– Many of its venues are ”multi-use” spaces, reducing excess consumption and saving space whilst still benefiting local businesses through the money generated from hiring out their venue.

– Schools and community halls are able to financially benefit from sharing their facilities with clients, providing extra funding for youth learning programs and extra-curricular activities.

– Through venue re-use, Hire Space is promoting more efficient and responsible use of space, reducing its carbon footprint.

It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? It is up to us to shift our consumption patterns to reduce the negative impact on our shared environment. Small changes can make a big difference. Why not use a pub for a lunchtime business meeting? A community hall for a conference? A church as a creche on weekdays? The possibilities are endless.

The Garden Room at Grace Bar - Image by Hire Space.

The Garden Room at Grace Bar – Image by Hire Space.

Companies such as Hire Space aren’t alone in their efforts. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has once again teamed up with the Mayor of London, the Royal Town Planning Institute, as well as Partners Ordnance Survey and developer Qarari Diar, to launch a new Forgotten Spaces ideas competition for 2013 (find out more and enter here).

According to Architecturethe competition seeks our redundant spaces across Greater London and invites innovative design proposals for re-use and regeneration… the competition asks: How would you bring the area under a flyover to life? How could a disused car park be made beautiful? What potential lies in neglected parks, spaces under railways or on our rooftops?”.  Therese are all vital questions and we should be relieved and inspired that an attempt is being made to answer them.

Shifting from a three bedrooms house is a suburban Sydney to a one-bed flat in central London has certainly posed its fair share of challenges and it seems I can no longer get away with simply hiding my rubbish under the rug (I don’t actually have a rug – or a TV for that matter. Who on earth is Joey Essex?!). What I have discovered is that when you occupy a smaller space, attention to detail is paramount. My partner and I utilise our space in the best way we can and do you know what? It works! If only we could all adopt such an attitude to the spaces around us. Do big cities have too little space? We shouldn’t even consider answering unless we have worked out how best to use the spaces we have already.

Written by James Roche @JamesRoche1985– freelance writer currently serving an internship at Hire Space @hirespace.

Find out more about Hire Space Check out the Hire Space blog – The London Review!

If you have extra space in your home you would like to rent out or need storage space check out @Storemates

Top 5 discussions at the Friends of the Earth 2012 Conference

Caroline Lucas

This weekend I attended the FoE 2012 Conference to learn more about the campaigns and actions FoE are undertaking, as well as to listen to some interesting discussions on environmental issues. Here at Healthy Planet we work hard to help grassroots conservation projects achieve their aims through the support of the Healthy Planet Conservation Community. It was interesting to see how a much larger and long running environmental Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) works out its priorities!

Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins

Businesses and Ecological Systems

1.)  @PollyHiggins, Campaigning Lawyer, discussed innovative approaches to social change. There is currently a push towards the evaluation of nature to encourage businesses to appreciate ecological systems. Referred to as ecosystem services, these are provided for free by nature including water, air purification, timber and nutrient cycling. Polly argued that if you evaluate nature then it creates an ownership and will only encourage the current problems. She believes we need a radical shift in our attitude towards ecosystems and wildlife and the only way to change the relationship between business and the environment is through a legal and moral responsibility.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

Unbalanced society and Government

2.) @CarolineLucas , the first Green party leader, gave a very passionate response to the question ‘Do government or people bring about change?’ Lucas made it clear that the current relationship between government and the citizens is unbalanced.  The governments frustrating and slow response to environmental policy is weak due to the lack of pressure from the citizens, while the citizens expect the government to take action on urgent environmental issues for them. A vicious circle indeed!

Group Cooperation

3.)  @Andy2Atkins , Exec. Director of FoE, joined in on the ‘Who brings about change?’ discussions. Atkins believed it is vital that all groups cooperate including large and small NGO’s, grassroot activists and local groups to focus their strategies allowing for less mixed messaging and more impact.

vivienne westwood

vivienne westwood

Environmental Ceiling

4.) @KateRaworth , Senior Researcher at Oxfam, gave a fantastically engaging talk on the partnerships that social and environmental organisations must make.  As she described there are planetary and social boundaries, living beneath the environmental ceiling where we no longer put excessive stresses on the environment but also providing a social foundation for every human on the planet. So how can this be done? It would take a lot of change but little resources, for example:

  • To meet the calorie needs of the 13% of the world’s population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply
  •  Bringing electricity to the 19% of people who currently lack it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions
  • Ending income poverty for the 21% of people who live on less than $1.25 a day would require just 0.2% of global income.

Geo-engineering

5.)    Professor Richard Owen, University of Exeter, discussed the much debated topic, geo-engineering. Described as ‘the deliberate intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming’. There was a lot of interest from the audience and as much support as concerns for the concept of climate engineering. Owen talked of the methods available including releasing sulphate particles 20km into the atmosphere to reflect the solar glare that increases the warming of the planet. As bizarre and alien sounded, this does happen naturally near volcanos, researchers have found after an eruption the atmospheric temperature lowers by half a degree. Owen hopes the public awareness and interest in geo-engineering grows and is developed to have positive results for the conservation of our planet.

To read more about Raworths ‘Why we need planetary and social boundaries’

Log on to: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2012/02/can-we-live-inside-the-doughnut-planetary-and-social-boundaries

Friends of the Earth conference webpage:  http://www.foe.co.uk/conference

Twitter hashtag: #foeconf

All photos from http://www.facebook.com/wwwfoecouk

Healthy Planet is launching the Conservation Community

We will be bringing together people who care about the planet in our new social network which will take over our former product “Adopt a plot” and  allow you to help conservation parks & activities across the planet in very practical and tangible ways. Launch date set for November 1st 2012! Download the PDF for details: Conservation community launch

To receive information about this and other news please sign up to our quarterly newsletter

Written by Olivia Couchman, Conservation Coordinator at Healthy Planet

New admin interns for an organized and Healthy Planet

Dear Healthy Planeteers,

We are pleased to announce the start of our two new long-term admin interns, Mohamed Salimin and Hibak Farah. This week, they began pooling together their skills in bringing more organization to Healthy Planet

Healthy Planet, on a low budget as a charity, has always run on the power or interns. We get semester long interns, summer interns, international interns…people from all over with all sorts of ideas that founder and big boss Shaylesh Patel helps to mold into realistic plans.

Talking about her first day, Hibak stated, “I knew yesterday would include intro information and initial assignments, and I was hoping it would include a boss as nice as the one that interviewed me. I was reassured to find out that in actually included a whole team of friendly and fun interns. I haven’t been working here long enough to make an official judgment, but I think I’m already leaning towards my decision!

We are always looking for people to share their skills and ideas to ensure a healthier, greener future. Just like every decision we make in our homes and businesses makes an impact on the environment, ever talent and passion makes an impact on Healthy Planet. CVs and cover letters are always welcome to hr@healthyplanet.org.

Joining hands with interns old and new,

Healthy Planet

Geographical Association maps out its annual conference

Founder Shaylesh Patel explaining Healthy Planet's Earth Day at the 2010 Geographical Association Conference

Dear Healthy Planeteers,

Where do hundreds of geography teachers, free lesson plans, and Healthy Planet cross paths? Other than in the classroom on Earth Day, at the Geographical Association conference this past weekend! The annual GA conference is a forum for delegates, teachers, students, academics, and now Healthy Planet. It’s the largest event of its kind and includes informational lectures and debates as well as field visits and hands on workshops.

Maybe that’s why Healthy Planet works so closely with the GA.

Our lesson plans include information for students in the form of discussions and YouTube videos while still being fun and interactive, for example, placing footprints on devices that create a carbon footprint and making brochures about how to stay safe in extreme weather conditions.

We set up a booth at the conference to promote our FREE Earth Day lesson plans, which carry the GA seal of approval. Our lesson plans target primary students to teach them age appropriate lessons about environmental issues. These lesson plans can be downloaded from the website as can more information about our Earth Day programme. Schools are getting involved in this mass lesson to inspire primary children, the future generation of the UK and the future guardians of the Earth.

Putting ourselves on the conservation map,

Healthy Planet

Head Gardener finds a new garden

Hello Healthy Planeteers,

Danielle Wright, our Head Gardener at Healthy Planet, just moved on to her dream job. Not that working at Healthy Planet wasn’t dreamy- Danielle states “Healthy Planet gave me a lot of the skills I needed to move on to another job, everything from admin and management to basic marketing and IT. Shaylesh was great to work with and I say work with and not work for because even though he’s the founder, he’s present at every level of the charity from helping us learn skills initially all the way to helping us get paid work later.”

Healthy Planet is all about interns. Our driving force is the variety of skills that our interns bring to the table. Whether for 6 weeks or 6 months, everyone has a patch in our HP garden where founder Shaylesh Patel gives each intern the freedom to grow their own skills. Shaylesh believes that the best form of payment to his mostly unpaid interns is the connections and the skill set for a job when they leave.

Overhearing his interview, Villanova undergraduate Katherine Papeika, an accounting finance concentration agreed, “Coming to the UK and getting to work at Healthy Planet in my first year of university has been amazing. Actually, that’s an understatement, I went from knowing nothing about UK accounting to doing rates for HP like it was second nature. Even though I’m going back to the US in a few weeks, I have a lot more experience for when I apply for American internships and jobs.”

Thanking our interns- past, present, and future,
Healthy Planet

Virtual charity gets real in the Estates Gazette

Hello Healthy Planeteers,

This week, Healthy Planet had a big feature in the Estates Gazette, the property sector’s main magazine, regarding our innovative work with landlords. So now everyone wins – rates relief for landlords and a donation to Healthy Planet.

So what happens to the share of the money we keep? Right now, Healthy Planet is counting down to Earth Day, April 22. As a part of our Earth Day initiative, we are asking primary schools to participate in a mass lesson, which we are providing for FREE. Schools that choose to get more involved by adopting a plot of land, for Earth Day or otherwise, receive the benefit of both using the plot as a teaching resource and a grant back to the school for a healthy cause. That means, the money we keep gets reinvested in the future generation of Healthy Planeteers.

Saving the Earth and landlords alike,

Healthy Planet

Go green for 2010: five ways to change for good

If you’re already struggling to meet your new year’s resolutions – whether you’re trying to quit smoking, loose 10 pounds, or trim your spending – we’ve come up with five top tips to keep you green in 2010.

If we do nothing, rising global temperatures will seriously affect our personal health and the health of our planet. So, we at Healthy Planet have a few things you can do right now to help combat climate change that might tick some of your other new year’s resolution boxes as well.

Healthy Planet’s top tips to help save the planet

1. Adopt land in one of the world’s protected parks
Making a difference to environmental change can be easier than you might think. Join Stephen Fry and Nigel Marven to become a land guardian – choose and personalise your plot in any of the world’s 70,000 protected parks in 2010 using Google technology. Adopt land now.

2. Get a unique code for your school Follow in the footsteps of Eastenders’ Charlie Brooks to make the most of your cash, help your school and help the planet at the same time. By using a school’s unique code for every plot you adopt, starting from £20, you will be funding Healthy Planet’s conservation work and £9 (45%) will be given back to your choosen school in a Healthy Learning grant. Help your school and help the planet.

3. Encourage local businesses to turn their empty commercial space green
Healthy Planet charity qualifies for an 80% rates concession, so if you’re paying business rates on empty commercial space then you could save 50% or more on your rates by handing over your empty office and retail space to us. We’ll brighten up your high street with images of beautiful parkland and encourage your community to think green too. Save on rates with us.


4. Get healthy and reap the rewards

Sign up to our “Healthy Choices” Rewards Programme and/or adopt land to earn more rewards for taking steps to a healthier planet. We believe that rewarding healthy choices encourages even more healthy choices. Start earning rewards.

5. Make some small changes to your lifestyle to make a big difference to the planet
Here are some great ideas from across the web to get you started today.

  • Leave the car at home; walk, cycle or use public transport when you can.
  • Save water; take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Change to low energy light bulbs.
  • Buy the most energy efficient and water saving appliances you can afford.
  • Take reusable bags with you when you go shopping.
  • Sign up with Green programs with your energy supplier.
  • Purchase products without unnecessary packaging.
  • Grow plants native to your area in your garden.
  • Remember the three R’s: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.

Check out Act on CO2 for more ideas.