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Aug 15th, 2011

Organising a forest get-together

By Mari Tunby

Recently, we handed in more than 30,000 submissions from 38 Degrees members to the forest panel, who are going to tell the government how to protect England’s forests for the future. Because so many of us got involved with sending in our answers to the panel’s questions, we’ve been asked to meet with the panel in a few weeks.

So now, we need to get together all over England, to decide what we want to say to the panel and collect together the pictures, stories and videos to make our message powerful. Dozens of 38 Degrees members will be getting together in forests, woods and parks all over the country to share their ideas. It could be an hour’s gentle ramble and chat, or a full-blown teddy bears’ picnic – but the aim is the same: making sure the forest panel understands that there are tens of thousands of us who love our forests, and want to see them protected for the future.

Before you organise your own event, have a look here and type in your postcode to see if a get-together has already been organised in your area. If not, it’s pretty easy to organise a forest get-together.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide explaining how to do it:

1. Decide where and when to hold your get-together

You could hold your event on a weeknight or a weekend, between 21st August and 11th September. More people might be able to come along on a Saturday, Sunday or the bank holiday. Decide a time and a place to meet, for example, 1pm on Saturday 27th August at a particular car park near the woods or forest you want to visit. Try to make it somewhere easy to find with a clear landmark, or a sign.

38 Degrees is a non-party political organisation, so if you represent a political party (for example, if you’re a local councillor, or hold a position within a local party group), please don’t sign up to organise an event.

2. Decide what you want to do

It depends on how you like spending time in the woods.

It could be:

  • a gentle ramble for an hour or two to give a chance for lots of conversation and taking a few photographs
  • if you’ve got kids, maybe a teddy bear’s picnic would be ideal, or a chance to draw and paint pictures
  • a mountain biking session, with a break in the middle to talk about ideas
  • something else?

The important thing is to make sure there will be a chance to:

    • Take photographs of the event that will show the forest panel how much people enjoy spending time in woods and why they’re important to us. You could even take video clips on a video camera or mobile phone, of people explaining what they think is important about forests and what the government should do to protect them for the future.
    • Talk together about what you think are the most important things to protect forests for the future.  Later you can share your ideas on the 38 Degrees website. You could also have a look at the ideas people have already shared.

The questions the government’s panel asked people to answer were:

  • What do forests and woods mean to you?
  • What is your vision for the future of England’s forests and woods?
  • What do you feel to be the benefits of forests and woods? This could be to you personally, to society as a whole, to the natural environment, to the economy?
  • We would like to hear about your suggestions of practical solutions and good practice which can be replicated more widely.
  • What do you see as the priorities and challenges for policy about England’s forests and woods?

3. Tell other 38 Degrees members as soon as you’ve decided the details

Now you need to tell other 38 Degrees members about your event so you have plenty of people who also care about the woods to join you. It’s quick and easy to do that. Just:

Go to http://www.38degrees.org.uk/add-event and enter in the details of when and where you’re planning to meet. If you do this the Monday at least 4 days before your event, the 38 Degrees office will be able to email other 38 Degrees members near you and invite them to come too. But you can also let your own friends and neighbours know about it, by sending them to your pages on the 38 Degrees website.

Once you’ve added your event, we’ll be in touch with some extra advice and some materials you might find useful.

24 hours before the event the 38 Degrees office will automatically email a reminder to everyone who has said they’ll come to your event, so they don’t forget to show up!

4. On the day

Remember to bring weather-proof clothing, a camera to record pictures of what you love about the woods and if you have access to one, a video camera to record people saying what they think is important for the future of the forests. Have a read here of hints and tips to make the most out of your forest get-together.

Meet up with the other 38 Degrees members at your agreed meeting spot.

Have fun and remember to take the chance to talk about what people think is most important for the government to do to protect forest, so you can share the main ideas later on the 38 Degrees website.

5. After the event

Share your photos, videos and ideas for the future of our forests on the 38 Degrees website, on our Facebook page or by email to emailtheteam@38degrees.org.uk.



Photograph by Ernst Vikne

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