Transition Stroud Newsletter Editor Josephine Murray (JM) talks to Gary Raw (GR) who co-ordinates Minchinhampton Baptist Church’s environmental initiative; Creation Care.
See below for three things you can do today!
JM: When was Creation Care set up, and what are its aims?
GR: I took over Creation Care last year, after it had been running for about 18 months. We are a group at Minchinhampton Baptist Church (MBC) who are leading our church’s response to the environmental issues that are challenging our generation. We are promoting changes in what MBC does corporately, what individual members of the congregation can do, and what the wider community can do.
The church has a concern for the environment, partly for the same reasons as everyone else: it is where we live and It is in trouble. But there are also particular reasons why Christians should be concerned for the environment. Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbour as yourself”. That surely has to include loving God’s Earth and the environment of our neighbours – present and future, near and distant.
JM: Could you describe the activities and projects it does?
GR: The range of activities is broad, reflecting the breadth of what might be included in sustainability. The topics include: our buildings (heating, lighting, water use, etc.); our land and the nature that can be supported there; the materials we use, from paper and plastic to food and drink; recycling and re-use; and how we travel. We aim to promote change through: church teaching and events – for the congregation and for local people; newsletters and online resources; advice and “how to” sessions; and involvement in external groups and campaigns.
JM: Where did Creation Care originate?
GR: The idea came from a national scheme to “award” churches for their sustainability activities – Eco Church. We are not tied simply to doing what gets credit in this scheme but it gives us a framework to start with. With a few small advances in how we use our small patch of land, we should be getting at least a “bronze” award.
JM: How many people are involved in Creation Care and what are their roles?
GR: There are currently eight other core members. Our scope is organised into seven clusters of activities and each member has a focus on one or two of them, in addition to meeting to discuss the whole scope. The first challenge for each cluster is just to make sure we know what MBC is already doing, then research what more is possible and how to do it. Being responsible for a Grade II Listed Building, there are some limitations on what we are allowed to do.
JM: What’s your role in MBC’s Creation Care?
GR: I coordinate activities but I also bring some personal expertise, particularly about environmentally friendly buildings and how people use energy at home.
JM: How does your previous experience feed into Creation Care?
GR: Most of my career, I have done research and consultancy in the general area of people in buildings – the indoor environment, health and comfort, energy use and the behaviour of building users. That was at universities, in Government, in the private sector and (still) as an independent consultant. It means I have a broad understanding of how buildings work, how people use them, and what could change. I was part of the small team that started BREEAM (the BRE Environmental Assessment Method) in the early 1990s, so I also know how difficult it can be to set up a viable accreditation scheme for sustainability.
JM: Are you involved with any other sustainability organisations?
GR: Locally, I joined Nailsworth Climate Action Network but most of my involvement is further afield: consultancy for Government, universities and major construction-related businesses. I am not involved with BREEAM any more but I am working with a company that is deeply involved with the “Well Building” standard.
JM: How long have you lived in the Stroud area, whereabouts do you live, and what do you like about living here?
GR: I’ve been here since 2015, living in Nailsworth. When we moved from Hertfordshire, my wife and I had a list of things we were looking for: a town that is big enough to have the main facilities but small enough to have a strong sense of community, far from London but close enough to get there for a day, a lively arts scene, beautiful views and good coffee. We found it!
JM: What do you do in your spare time?
GR: What’s that? 😊
|Three Things You Can Do Today|
1. Learn how to control your heating – the combination of thermostats, power controls and timers can be difficult to get to grips with but it really is worth it.
2. Order smart meters, if you do not already have them. If you do have them, get the in-home display out and check how much energy you are using when you think everything is turned off. Then turn detective and work out where all that energy is going.
3. If you have a tumble dryer, mothball it for the summer (not literally – naphthalene is not a good smell). Dry your laundry outdoors, or indoors with good ventilation.
Visit the energy saving trust website for more information
Find out about more local Stroud Transitioneers
If you would like to share your sustainable living story, please contact Josephine on email@example.com