The Sheffield Telegraph's Big Challenge: Rebuilding the world by acting local
'Sheffield is uniquely-placed environmentally speaking, with parts of the Peak District being in the city boundaries - and of course that has a huge influence on the city,' said Sara Hill.
“From visiting walkers to people who have moved here specifically because climbing on grit is their passion, I think Sheffield is categorically an outdoor city already. There’s definitely more that could be done to include the green spaces within the city though, we have some wonderful parks and many of them have great events that happen on them.”
Sara, of production company Mesters Events, is gearing up for the launch of the firm’s new festival in July, called Rebuild - a three-day camping event at Catton Hall, south of Derby, set in a ‘post-apocalyptic survivors camp’.
“We’re inviting the audience to come and imagine how they would rebuild the world if they were starting again and exploring skills needed for self-sufficiency and our relationship with the environment, plus it’ll be a good knees-up,” she said.
“The festival is my current priority and we’re working very hard to make it an environmentally sustainable event in and of itself through eco-bonds, on-site waste sorting and looking at different ways of generating power. We’re also going to encourage people to think about food production and learn about permaculture and growing their own as well as recycling and reusing waste materials on site.”
She added: “We’ve all been working in the events industry for many years and dreamt of this opportunity. To start a new festival that we hope will encourage people to think about the world we live in and how we can all make it better is the most exciting and ambitious task we have ever undertaken. To be able to work from the ground up to make sure the event is both thought provoking and fun is an incredible challenge and I’m indescribably proud that we’ve worked to the point where we have the chance to make it a reality.”
Sara said that, if she had a ‘magic wand’, society would ‘focus on evidence and only evidence’.
“If that were the case there would be no fracking permits granted, no clinging to the ‘perpetual growth’ myth, no healthy trees felled unnecessarily and hopefully a bit more sense. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic and naive but I think it could be a good start, especially in the era of fake news. Call me radical but maybe our Secretary of State for the Environment should have qualification in environmental science, or the Secretary of State for Education could once have been a teacher.”
She said it seemed ‘very difficult’ for individuals to believe they can ‘do anything meaningful’.
“Personally I think that working towards more sustainable lifestyles is vital, but so is putting pressure on politicians and voting with your purse in terms of corporate actions. We’re all in this together. Think global, act local, is an oft-repeated slogan, but there’s truth in it.”
People switching to cycling over driving would help to cut pollution and improve air quality, said Sara.
“It’s often said that it’s too expensive to clean air pollution and cut emissions, but when you consider the cost in terms of the NHS and public health caused by pollution every year, perhaps it might even be a saving.”
Sheffield needs a ‘comprehensive multi-agency strategy’ to become a genuinely cycling-friendly city, she said.
But Sara added: “I know it gets said all the time, but I moved around a lot before I landed in Sheffield and I’ve never lived anywhere with so many friendly people. Plus being this close to the Peak District and beautiful spots such as Cat Lane woods is something I can’t get enough of.
“As a big real ale fan, I’ve definitely landed in the right city! Abbeydale Brewery and their Dr Morton’s series especially are consistently brilliant. We’re lucky to have lots of co-operatives and allotment associations growing amazing fruit and veg all year round on our doorstep. Sheffield’s not just the outdoor city, it’s also a music city, festival city and the real ale capital of the country, filled with people who love it.”