Fracking Campaign Design
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- Resources Audit
- Skills Audit
- Applying permaculture principles & ethics
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Following the survey and analysis process, we needed to make some design decisions about how we would organise and how we would decide the strategy of the campaign. Below are a summary of the design decisions we took as a group.
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For the purposes of the diploma it would be convenient if the design cycle followed the pattern of events, however it was clear that much of the action needed to take place while undertaking the design process, for example designing the website, simply because the campaign has felt urgent and important and action is obviously necessary!
In terms of implementing the design specifically, key elements to highlight include:
- Creating the website: http://www.frackfreesomerset.org
- Designing campaign materials (which has been heavily influenced by the design process), which can be found here, most particularly the main campaign leaflets.
- Establishing the campaign infrastructure, including the monthly newsletter and action alert system, as well as the working group email list.
- Implementing the idea of coalition working – by pro-actively supporting existing groups to declare they are in support of a Somerset free of fracking, as well placing high priority on supporting people to start new local groups.
How to sustain an effective campaign was my thoughts when looking at the maintenance anchor point in the design framework. Key aspects that surfaced included:
Work sharing and personal sustainability – how we as a group can support people to engage sustainably without burning out. This has involved:
- Having a personal check-in as the first point at every group meeting, where we articulate if we would like some time off, have any tasks or jobs we need to share or pass back, and any roles we would like to rotate.
- Trying to keep our events calender feasible and sustainable (Frack Free February certainly pushed our edges).
Designing effective systems for our ‘maintenance’ tasks, such as the info@ email account, newsletter and website updating processes.
Supporting action learning at our meetings, by evaluating what is going well and what has been challenging.
My evaluation of my experience during the design process is contained in my design overview at the top of this page.
In terms of evaluating the success of Frack Free Somerset so far, here are some key numbers and milestones in the campaign to date (May 2012-May 2013) Please note these have grown significantly following May 2013 due to the attention received following the blockade in Balcombe:
- Number of local groups, from 4 to 29.
- Number of facebook likes, from 0 to 857.
- Number of public meetings, from 3 to 21.
- Number of other public events such as workshops and benefit gigs, from 0 to 23.
- Number of newsletter and action alert subscribers, from 0 to 487.
Responding to the first planning application. The first, and only, planning application we’ve faced so far came in September 2012. The same day as a huge public meeting in Wells that attracted more than 100 people. UK Methane announced their intentions to undertake test drilling in Keynsham, in North Somerset.
How did we respond? Organisers with Frack Free Somerset, and the very active local group Transition Keynsham:
- Door dropped over 5,000 leaflets in the town
- Spoke at the Keynsham Town Council meeting, who then unanimously voted against the planning application.
- Organised a large public meeting ‘Fracking vs Renewables’
- Generated press coverage through events and letter writing
By December 2012 more than 780 people had objected to the planning application. UK Methane withdrew their application on 21st December 2013. Although we would love to take credit, it was clear they were receiving major questions from Bath & North East Somerset Council, and the company decided it was not financially worth it to invest time and energy in the application, instead wishing to re-apply for full production in 2013/14.
Frack Free February
It was clear after the first planning application, that a key success factor was the brilliant, well-organised local group on the front lines of the application. We knew as a coalition we had to ‘up our game’ and increase our capacity signficiantly, and so Frack Free February was born.
This month of action involved more than 22 public events. Many of which were in areas where we were ‘going in blind’, without local contacts for support. A number of local groups came out of these events, and as a month of action it generated a huge amount of interest in the campaign. The facebook, newsletter subscriptions and email traffic increased exponentially and most importantly, the relationships were formed between the already active coalition and contacts in new areas in the PEDL areas.
What was the design process & how did we do it ?
- We made a list of all the villages and towns in the PEDL areas
- We found out the population data of those areas
- We looked at the geology and areas most lkely at risk of drilling in the near future
- Combining the two, we identified key places where public meetings needed to happen & the core FFS group took these on
- All the groups were invited to organise events and we listed these together to create an impressive overview of a month of action
- We shared press releases & leaflet designs and all the media coverage benefited every event that took place
- At the end of the month we surveyed people that came to events about how they heard about them and so forth, in order to improve our outreach
Overall, I feel the design process I undertook heavily influenced the development of Frack Free Somerset, mainly because I had invested that much more time and energy into thinking about strategy and potential routes of action. Permaculture design has played a powerful role in my life in making me stay more aware and observant and using the feedback to make more informed decisions about potential next steps I suggest to the group. In evaluation, it has been one of the most empowering and useful designs I feel I have undertaken for my diploma.