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Our forests’ future: find out more

August 22nd, 2011 by

Forest with Flowers

Photograph by the bubu (Flickr)

The forest campaign is still going strong after the tremendous victory in February where the Government decided to scrap the plans to privatize English woodlands and forests.

The forest panel was then set up to advise the government on how our forests are best protected. The panel is now going through the thousands of messages sent from 38 Degrees members and the greater public on what the forests mean to all of us and how their future should be protected. Lots of 38 Degrees members have been getting together to talk about our forests future, and to prepare messages are the panel. You can see if there’s a get-together happening near you here, or you could set one up yourself – read more about organising a forest get-together here.

Read more about the 38 Degrees forest campaign and the Independent Panel on Forestry or get more ideas for why forests are important by looking at some of the links below:

  • An expert opinion on protecting forests for their economic, social and environmental benefits

If you’ve got more ideas of articles we ought to include that might help people who are getting ready for events, then please share them in the comments section below.

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FAQs: organising forest get-togethers

August 18th, 2011 by

Lots of members have already been in touch asking questions about how to organise a forest get-together. We’ve gathered together some of the most frequently asked ones and answered them here. If  you’re wondering about something that’s not covered here, leave your question in the comments section below and we’ll update the FAQ.

How much time will it take to organise a get-together?

To organise a get-together should not take more than a couple of hours to organise. Sharing your photos, stories and videos with other 38 Degrees members on the website might take another hour. But if you feel like putting a bit more time in, then that’s brilliant.

Will I need to invite people?

If you add your event to the 38 Degrees events tool at least four days before the event, we’ll send an invite automatically to other 38 Degrees members in your area. But it’s also good idea to ask people you know to come via Facebook, email or Twitter as well, especially as it can be a good way to get new people involved in saving our forests.

How will I know how many people are coming?

Once you have entered the event into the 38 Degrees events system, you’ll be able to check to see how many people have said they’re going to come along.

What will be expected from me at the event?

Although you’ll be the organiser, it’s up to each person who comes to the event to join in in the way that works for them. We’re going to create a factsheet with some ideas for ways to help people get involved and to start a discussion. You might want to prepare a couple of starter questions, or perhaps think up a couple of ideas for photos before you get there, to help get the ball rolling.

Are these events party-political?

It’s important that 38 Degrees remains entirely non-partisan, and that people from all political backgrounds are welcome to take part in our events. Anyone who is concerned about the future of our forests should be able to attend. If you are a member of a political party, it’s OK to get involved, but it would be best to leave your party banners and leaflets at home for the day!

Am I expected to know loads of detailed stuff about the forest campaign?

No. The most important thing is that you care about the issue and are able to convey that to the rest of the group. We”ll also prepare some resources that we’ll share here on the blog, as soon as they’re ready!

How do I find a postcode for somewhere that doesn’t have any buildings, like a car park or woodland?

A few members have found this a bit tricky, but the best solution seems to be to find the nearest business or house, and use their postcode. Then describe the actual meeting place and directions in a bit more detail in the space on the form for describing the event.

How can I get extra advice?

If these frequently asked questions haven’t covered something you feel you need to know, you can ask your question in the comments below, and we will do our best to update the FAQ!  There’s also our step-by-step guide or organising an event or you could have a look at our “hints and tips“, which we’re keeping up to date with good ideas we’ve heard 38 Degrees members organising events.

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Forest get-togethers: hints and tips

August 18th, 2011 by

38 Degrees members are getting together in parks, woods and forests all over the country to collect ideas, photographs, drawings and stories about how we want our forests protected for the future.

We’ll collect the ideas, photographs, drawings and stories about how we want our forests protected for the future using the 38 Degrees website and take them to our meeting with the forest panel, as powerful proof that there are hundreds of thousands of us who love our forests, and want to see them protected for the future.

What kind of photos?

We’re getting together to share ideas about what’s precious about our forests, as well as how we think they can be protected for the future. So, all photos that help to get the message across will be really important. Ideas from other 38 Degrees members include photographs of the surrounding forest and woodland areas we want to protect, photographs of people enjoying their hobbies in the forest, or just spending quiet time there relaxing. There might also be particular wildlife or plants in your nearby forest or wood that is rare, or perhaps a community project that’s helped make the woods a place that lots of people want to visit.

If you aren’t visiting a forest, you could have photos of people holding up signs with the words they think best sum up what’s precious about our forests. It will be easiest to share the photos if you take them on a digital camera, but if you prefer to use a film and then get the pictures developed, you can post them to the 38 Degrees offices using this address: 40 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0NE.

What kind of videos?

Really, the ideas for videos are mostly pretty similar to the ideas for photos. But you might also find that people are happy to answer questions about the future of our forests on camera. Questions like “What do forests mean to you?” and “What should happen to our forests in the future?” might be good questions to start with.

What other activities are there for people who don’t have a camera, or who can’t take photos?

We’re writing a factsheet with a few other ideas for how people might like to work together to come up with ideas on how to protect our forests in the future. We’re going to share it here as soon as it’s finished! But you could also get people to tell their stories about why forests matter and write them down, or some people might prefer to draw a picture. Others might like to make a tape recording.All of those would be a brilliant way to help the forests panel understand why we love our forests so much, and what we want doing about protecting them in the future.

To share your photos, videos, stories, drawings and anything else that will show the Forest Panel how much parks, woods and forests mean to you, click here.

Are there other tips you’d find useful about organising a forest get-together? Post suggestions here, and we’ll do our best to post some useful info. Sharing your questions on the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/peoplepowerchange) is also a good way to find out what other 38 Degrees members think.

You can also read more about organising a forests get-together here or see whether there is an event already happening in your area here. There’s a FAQ page which may be helpful too.


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Organising a forest get-together

August 15th, 2011 by

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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Thousands submit forestry panel ideas

July 28th, 2011 by

Volunteers and Staff handing in your messages and ideas for the Forest Panel

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Earlier this year 38 Degrees members scored a huge win when we helped force the government to scrap plans to sell of British forests. Now the Independent Panel on Forestry is deciding how they should be managed in future.

Thousands of us have sent in messages and suggestions for the forestry panel, a whopping 33,845 in total! On Wednesday, a special delegation of 38 Degrees staff and volunteers converged on Westminster to hand over the data.

Here are some of the things members have said:

“The forests and woods are places where people, especially those who live in built up areas, can enjoy a sense of freedom and well being, whilst enjoying the diversity of nature.”

“A sustainable resource that should be held in public ownership. They should provide areas of woodland that contain fast growing commercial timber, areas of farmed traditional species and areas of unmanaged woodland. All areas should be accessible for a majority of the time.”

“My vision is to have forests and woods that are owned, protected and managed by the government – not the private sector. This will ensure their survival for future generations.”

The panel told us they are now going to log all the suggestions made by 38 Degrees members and other members of the public. Their initial findings will be published in a progress report due in November this year. The final panel report will be ready in April of next year.

This is what people power looks like. Let’s keep working to make sure our forests are managed responsibly for us all and for future generation.

Update 1: here’s a video of highlight of the campaign:

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Thousands of us call MPs to protect the NHS

June 10th, 2011 by

Today thousands of us have been calling our MPs about the important discussions taking place right now between Cameron and Clegg about the NHS reforms. Both members of the public and medical experts are worried about the changes that might still happen – the introduction of more competition into the NHS and the government removing its legal duty to provide a comprehensive health service. Together we’re urging MPs to speak up and ensure the future of a fair and accessible NHS.

Here are some comments from members who made calls:
“She said he was totally against the changes. Seems they have been inundated with calls, many from 38 Degrees people. Her first response when I said why I was calling was ‘Good for you.’”
“I left a message on Jeremy’s answer machine expressing my worries – as laid out in your list of things to say. I am not an articulate speaker so it was helpful as a guide”.

Call your MP

Photograph by 38 Degrees

The parliamentary switchboards are jamming with the amount of calls MPs are receiving!  The more calls that are made, the more MPs and everyone in Westminster will know how strong public feeling is against these dangerous plans.

38 Degrees member Lucy said, “using the helpful prompts given on the 38 Degrees website, I was able to articulately explain to an assistant at the Lewisham West Labour Office (with a few extra comments of my own thrown in about this dreadful business) how the changes to the NHS must be stopped”. Her MP’s office said it was the 15th call they had taken on the subject today!

It’s very easy to make your voice heard and pressure the government so they understand how important the NHS is to everyone. Sue said, “I just called my MP and it was so easy through the 38 Degrees tool. I spoke to Anne Main’s assistant who told me she would help me book a telephone appointment at a later date”.

Some members have been able to speak directly with their MP and others have left messages on the answering machine. In all cases, it will become quite clear to MPs that these plans are deeply unpopular. what is happening with the NHS and that they must speak up now!

One member called her MP Nick Clegg and got the answering machine, but said ‘it was still pretty empowering to ask him, as my representative, to stand up for the NHS!’. Another said, “I would like to thank 38 Degrees for the great work they are doing to save the NHS…  If we don’t stop this we will lose the NHS forever. Once it is privatised (in part or completely) it will be impossible to change back.”

If all of us call our MPs today, we can definitely make a difference to the NHS wrangling!
Please call your MP now: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/callyourmp-nhs/

For updates and more useful information on calling your MP:

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