Making our Futures: Bristol Green Capital


  • Picture of Kate Monkhouse
    Fellowship Areas and Engagement Manager for the South West and Wales
  • Environment
  • Fellowship

A while ago I blogged about the announcement of Bristol Green Capital 2015, and said I “hoped the local Fellowship can get together to work on projects and initiatives during the next few years”. Well my wish has come true and recently we held an event to get things going.

The evening was organised by the Making our Futures team (who have previously organised events around health and shaping Bristol). A group of Fellows and interested others met in Hamilton House, which fittingly aims to create a better world for its community and the environment. The aims of the evening were to find out what projects Fellows were already involved in, wanted to create, and how the RSA and its Fellowship could provide added value to Bristol Green Capital.

IMG_1392We started with an update about the Bristol Green Capital project from its Programme Director, Kris Donaldson. We also heard from John Pontin FRSA who set up The Converging World, a project that  uses ‘the surplus funds from wind turbines to support social and environmental projects in both our Indian and UK communities’, that had its genesis in the Coffeehouse Challenge, a scheme organised to mark the RSA’s 250th anniversary in 2004.

We then heard from a series of Fellows pitching projects, which have been summarised below. There were questions and answers after each pitch – with comments, suggestions, offers of volunteering and funding opportunities given. If you are interested in any of the projects then please contact the individuals involved.

Learning Ships – Hugh Thomas

Learning Ships - The project aims to give local school children a chance to experience their heritage and their future by getting on-board ‘Learning Ships’.

Project plans to –

  • Recruit / train a) young people as journalists /broadcasters and b) ’Expert’ volunteers with conflicting opinions on the issues facing the tidal regions.

  • Take all of them out into the River Avon/Severn Estuary

  • Enable young people to create films/broadcasts and a touring event that generates debate and gathers opinions of 1500 young people about proposals for their city’s future.

Looking for – Volunteers from RSA, business, academia and environment protection groups will interact with young people and provide technology and skills for running debates in schools.

Contact Hugh  Learning Ships website / @MF_MC

City Ideas Lab at the Architecture Centre- Christine Davis

We plan to transform part of the Architecture Centre’s gallery into a year-round City Ideas Lab – a dynamic and interactive hub of green innovation. Combining art, design and sustainability to test and explore solutions for a sustainable future, Ideas Lab will be an interactive platform for reimagining the city. The Architecture Centre will collaborate with green ‘thinkers and doers’ from Bristol and beyond – including RSA Fellows -  to co-curate the space and invite participation from diverse audiences. With an over-arching theme of ‘future city’, the programme will focus on how we can create cities that support the well-being of people and planet. The Ideas Lab will host a rolling programme of discussions, workshops, and creative encounters.

Contact Christine / @ArchCentre

ndtNew Dawn Traders – Lucy Gilliam and Jamie Pike

New Dawn Traders in collaboration with Fairtransport shipping propose to build a clipper ship 'Pride of Bristol' for Bristol as a legacy of the European Green Capital of Year 2015 activities. Fairtransport shipping operate the worlds only trans-Atlantic sail cargo vessel, have a wealth of ship building experience and are preparing to build a 48m Clipper Ship capable of carrying 500 tonnes. Both New Dawn Traders and Fairtransport see Bristol as an ideal place to create the first of a new generation of sail cargo ships based on Bristol's rich cultural heritage and the opportunity that Green Capital brings.

Contact Lucy for more information

Cities of Health Conference – Marcus Grant

Urban Environments and Healthy Communities International Conference, Bristol, 13-17 October 2015. Bristol will be hosting an international conference on health and the built city-region environment. This will be the first international conference of its kind and is aimed at the professionals, politicians, academics and community organisations who are leading the way in linking all aspects of city spatial development and population well-being.

Register your interest -

'Cleanweb in the City' Bristol Green Capital Showcase Competition – Sonny Masero

The proposal is that the RSA together with the ​Bristol 2015 company ​offer a prize (or a medal) for a Cleanweb technology that can deliver a significant​ environmental benefit in Bristol during 2015. The prize would be a combination of money and showcase ​promotion to Bristol citizens and businesses who could become user and/or customers of technology. A Cleanweb business uses information technology to connect people and things in a way that addresses a global environmental challenge.

RSA Fellows could get involved in the following ways:

  • ​Provide feedback on the proposal & its objectives

  • Help with organising the competition if they have relevant skills

  • Offer or suggest funding sources

  • Promote the proposal within Bristol 2015 and the RSA

My email is [email protected] and @EarthShuttle on Twitter.  


iaThe Ideas Arcade – Francesca Wakefield

The Ideas Arcade is a new online magazine set up by Francesca Wakefield FRSA about creativity, social innovation and sustainability. Launched in March, The Ideas Arcade offers inspiration to think different, work smarter, play more and live better . It features ideas and projects that make our lives and the word around us better, and has already featured some RSA backed projects, such as The Sunday Assembly and IF: This University is Free - a project Francesca has been supporting through SkillsBank with communications advice for its recent successful RSA Kickstarter campaign.

Get involved:

  • Visit the website and help spread the word

  • Contact her with projects, companies or ideas they think should feature on The Ideas Arcade

  • She'd also love to hear from any Fellows with design, web or illustration skills who would like to get involved.


All ideas and questions to [email protected]

Make Forum – David Owen

An interactive and participatory festival celebrating and exploring the concept of re:making in relation to sustainable lifestyles, business practices and mindsets.  The forum combines three major elements (i)Listening and Bridge Building- (ii) World leading ideas and inspirational arts - (iii) RE: Make incubation. A series of community led projects, workshops and events facilitated across the city and supported by the energy of the festival.  The forum will be held together online with the production of website and related content which captures the ideas, networks and energy of the forum.

David is currently planting the idea, and looking to develop it with financial support, and other resources - contact him via [email protected] for further information on how you can help.

An Award to Take-Away – Ted Fowler

 The proposal is that Green Capital and RSA run an innovation competition potentially with incubator partners (science park, universities, etc.,) to provide product and investor development support, to meet the important local challenge of re-designing take away wrappings/containers.  Partners could include material science, schools, colleges, manufacturing societies, town/local centre managers. Federation of Small Businesses, food, environmental services and planning interests.

Interested in being involved, contact Ted Fowler

iagree – Ed Dowding

iagree is an app that has received funding from the RSA Catalyst scheme – the idea behind the app is quizzing our values to create new, fun, engaging models of participatory democracy. We believe that most people - just like you - would like things to be better. Fairer, smarter, healthier, happier. But sometimes it can feel like the opposite. iagree asks you questions about things that matter - to you, your family, your community, your country and your world, and then it collects, maps and shares your answers. We want to scale iagree as Bristol's gift not just to Big Green Capitals of the future, but to a Big Green Planet.

Find out more about this fellowship project and spread the word.


Bristol Traffic – Tony Blake

Bristol is becoming famous for its food, style and quality of living, but it is also becoming famous for its appalling traffic congestion and difficulty of getting around. This problem of mobility has not really been reduced by more cycling , better buses and restrictive parking. Even the impending addition of Metrobus or opening up the suburban railways are not being seen as more than marginal improvements.

The RSA has members with a variety of skills and we sit outside the planners and the main pressure groups. My proposition is that the local RSA should form a special group that could lead a fresh look at Bristol’s traffic problems.

Interested in being involved, contact Tony

Green Capital Thematic Action Groups – Waste/Resource – Jane Stephenson

This action group is focusing on three main areas, looking at a) engaging all Bristol’s communities in Green Capital b) looking at decreasing waste, re-using, recycling c) getting businesses to re-use/recycle.

Contact Jane Stephenson if you are interested in being involved, offering help/assistance.


We hope that Fellows can work together to develop these projects and encourage all of them to look at RSA offers of help around projects, through RSA Catalyst, crowdfunding or skills matching through SkillsBank.

Locally we will be following up by getting involved in the world café series that is hoping to be set up at Bordeaux Quay, starting off as a once a week event, with Fellows having the opportunity to book a table, pose a question and host a group discussion to hopefully lead to furthering project ideas discussed.

Lou Matter is the Programme Manager for West and South West. You can follow her @loumatter

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