Group News: April 1997 - August 1997

Street Collection
To all members - please keep an hour free on Saturday, 19th April. We have obtained a licence for a street collection at Broomhill between 10am and 2pm on that day. Given that we are spending a lot of money on printing 500 membership leaflets - in full colour - it's important that we make best use of this opportunity to raise some funds. Usually each person can collect approximately £10 in an hour, so the more people who can help, the better. We will stand fairly close to each other, so there is plenty of support. Please give Paul a call on 220 4868 if you can spare an hour.

Press Cuttings Wanted
Does anyone have any press cuttings of Sheffield Friends of the Earth or any photographs of days of action  to donate to the group’s new scrap book?

We believe that documenting the group’s history is important as it enables new members to see what we have achieved in the past. I also found last year’s  conference celebrating 25 years of Friends of the Earth very interesting as we were shown photographs of campaigners from the 1970s wearing flares and other amusing fashion items. I wonder what our local campaigners in 25 years’ time think of our fashions and campaign actions when they look back at our scrap book.

Please send any press cuttings, old newsletters or pictures to our normal postal address.

Annual General Meeting - Policy Changes
This is your chance to find out what we have been doing for the last year and to elect co-ordinators for the following year. Most important is a proposed policy change that we felt members ought to be given the chance to debate. We (the existing co-ordinators) propose that the group should have the discretion to pay all travel expense and fees for attendance at FOE training days. At present we pay only up to half the travelling expenses, and this does prevent some members from going on training days - often members with time to make good use of the training on behalf of the group. It is your money we will be spending so we want to know what you think. Come along to the AGM to make your views known.

Centre For Alternative Technology Social Visit
We are thinking about organising a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology which is located in Wales. The centre has good working demonstrations of wind power, solar energy, energy efficiency and  recycling. If you are interested in going on this trip we need as many people to contact us as soon as possible so that we know whether a mini bus is a feasible option. At a later date we should be able to inform you about the cost of the mini bus seat and the entrance cost. If you are interested or just want more information then contact a co-ordinator as soon as possible.

Evening Meal
On the evening of 3rd February, about a dozen FoE members enjoyed a meal at the Kashmir Curry House on Spital Hill with Deborah Bell our new Local Groups Development Officer. Taking advantage of the joint "licensing arrangement" with the pub opposite, it was a good opportunity to catch up socially, without the distractions of business! It was also pleasing that we were joined by a couple of members from Rotherham Friends of the Earth.

Regional Meeting
North East Regional Meeting, York. These are always worth going to. There will be some workshops (probably on housing, agriculture and incinerators), lots of time to network with people  from other groups and to find out what they are up to and of course a chance to go for a drink with everyone afterwards. We can take as many members as we want, so do come along. Phone Rebecca for details.

Friends of the Earth’s Strategy Day

This was an opportunity for all Local Groups to have an input into Friends of the Earth’s strategy for the future. The day was split between plenary sessions outlining areas of broad strategy, with questions at the end and small workshops concentrating on specific issues. The plenaries covered Campaigns - the big picture and The Big Local Picture. Spencer Cooke went to workshops on Food for Thought, about what the soon to be appointed Agricultural Campaigner will be working on and to Area Campaign Priorities (ACP’s), a new initiative to provide support for campaigning on issues that FOE is not working on nationally, but which affect a number of local groups. The first ACP will be open cast mining. I went to Ecological Tax Reform (ETR) and Local Groups in the Year 2022. At the Ecological Tax Reform workshop Amanda Brace outlined the work that the Sustainable Research Development Unit has been doing in this area. Then we considered areas they might wish to cover and ways that local groups could work on the issue. It was very interesting and I’ve got a briefing on ETR that you can borrow if you’d like to find out more - see the action point at the end of this article too. The second workshop I went to looked at what changes we thought might occur in society over the next five and twenty years. Then we considered how that would affect local groups, how they might change and what they might look like. It was extremely hard work, partly because we couldn’t agree on what the changes might be, but also because we didn’t agree about where FOE should position itself in any of the future scenarios. However Donald Ritchie, the Local Groups Development Co-ordinator certainly went away with a variety of different ideas to ponder.

Membership Drive
Can you help increase our membership? Recently we have put a lot of effort into designing and printing a new membership leaflet, one which is enclosed with this newsletter. If you know of anyone who might be interested in joining Sheffield FoE, please pass it on to them. Or better still, buy them a year's membership as a present! Also, if you can think of anywhere where the leaflets could be displayed, please phone Paul on 220 4868. Any other ideas on how to increase our membership are welcome.

To further increase our membership base we are planning to send information about our group to all national members of FoE in the Sheffield area (over 800 of them). Because this work is done for us by the people in London we don’t get to see the national membership list. As a result of this we realise that people who are members of both national FoE and Sheffield FoE might receive a letter asking you to join us. If you get this letter please ignore it or pass it on to a friend.

While on the subject of increasing membership to the group, we would be pleased to receive feedback from you about how we could improve any aspect of the group and which bits you think are good.

Membership Renewal
If you find a cross in the membership renewal box, according to our database, it means that your subscription is due. However, if you believe that our records are wrong please contact Paul Hooper on 0114 220 4868 to clear up any confusion.

Regrettably,  I am sorry to say that without renewing your membership we will be unable to send you any further newsletters due to the cost of photocopying and postage.

I very much hope that you will renew your membership using the form included with this newsletter

FoE Board Meetings
I, Rebecca Higman, have been co-opted to the Board of Friends of the Earth since Liz Beth went off on her travels. I have attended one full Board Meeting, one Strategy Committee and two Local Group Committees, as well as reading mounds of paper. So far I am finding it extremely interesting, but I still feel as if I am finding my feet. I’ll write more in the next Newsletter.

All general meetings unless otherwise stated, will be held at 8pm in the upstairs meeting room at the Red Deer pub, 18 Pitt Street. This is near to the university off West Street (between Mappin Street and Regent street).  Phone a co-ordinator for more details.