2016: It Doesn’t Stop Here

Natalie Fee Presenter Refill Bristol2016 got off to a great start for City to Sea, the C.I.C I founded last year to tackle Bristol’s contribution to marine plastic pollution at source. We were invited to be part of Bristol 2015’s ‘It Doesn’t Stop Here’ campaign and this week saw our campaign go viral in a big way! The Refill Bristol film made for the campaign has had over 134,000 views on facebook and keeps on climbing! And we have billboards too!

On Friday 5th February we took part in Bristol 2015’s closing ceremony, as the title of European Green Capital was passed to Ljubljana. It’s been a fantastic year for Bristol and the ceremony on Friday was testament to the hard work of all involved – with seriously great statistics on how many people and projects were supported, educated and inspired to live more sustainable lives!

I’m hugely proud to represent the team and grateful to Bristol 2015 for supporting Refill Bristol last year – it most definitely doesn’t stop here!

And here’s the link to the Refill Bristol video that made a splash on facebook this week:

Help stem the tide on marine plastic pollution! Natalie Fee from Refill Bristol reveals the scale of plastic waste on the banks of the Avon, what they’ve done in 2015 and what we can all do in 2016 to help – visit http://www.citytosea.org.uk/index.php… to learn more and get involved. It doesn’t stop here!

Posted by Bristol 2015 on Thursday, 4 February 2016

2015: people, planet and plastic!

On the TV:

2015 saw me presenting and producing half an hour of daily, prime time TV for Made in Bristol. From sewage to strictly, here are some of my highlights!

 

On the banks of the River Avon:

refill bristolIn Spring 2015, I formed City to Sea, a collective of local organisations, practitioners, scientists, marine biologists & campaigners addressing the problem of marine plastic at a city level. Our objectives are to reduce the amount of plastic litter flowing from Bristol into the Severn Estuary, by phasing out single-use plastics and creating a replicable model that can be shared with other coastal and river based cities. Have a look at the website for more info on our campaigns, Refill Bristol and Switch the Stick!

ITV West Country, BBC Radio Bristol and Made in Bristol TV have been supporting and following the journey.

 

On a raft made of plastic:

On World Oceans Day I launched the music video to my song, Burden, a year to the day after the crowdfunder that made it all happen. 15% of iTunes downloads and 100% of Bandcamp downloads go to Surfers Against Sewage Marine Litter Team. Hugest of thanks to everyone who backed it, especially Bristol 2015, The Wave, Bristol Water, Wessex Water, At Bristol, Bristol Aquarium, Reflex Marine and Bristol Port for their support!

 

Here’s to 2016! Thanks for your interest and please subscribe to my youtube channel for regular updates, interviews, plastic-free tips and more!

 

thoughts from brandon hill

bathe-yourself-in-birdsong

the everyday alchemy of … GoodGym!

I wrote this article last month for the Bristol Post (see below) after being super inspired by GoodGym! Here’s the full version, followed by the version that recently appeared in Bristol Post ‘Weekend’.

 

Happiness Matters.

Local Happiness Champion Natalie Fee tries out Good Gym and finds there’s more to exercise than ever before …

What makes a gym ‘good’? The quality of the equipment? The proximity to your house? Low monthly fees? Or can it measured by how good you feel when you’ve been? Strictly speaking, Good Gym isn’t actually a gym. It’s a very clever way of getting people to do things for the good of their community.

I first heard about Good Gym around six months ago at the Green Mingle at Bordeaux Quay, a monthly networking event run by the Green Capital Partnership. Chris Bennett, the local organiser, had moved down from London, where Good Gym has been running (excuse the pun) since 2010 as a not-for-profit organisation. Set up by a group of runners who believe gyms to be a waste of energy and human potential, Good Gym aims to redirect that energy towards the neglected tasks and people in our communities who would benefit from it. To be honest, it’s taken me six months to get with the programme. I helped promote the launch of Good Gym Bristol on Twitter as it seemed like such a marvellous idea – get fit, do good, meet people. In actual fact, it ticks all five boxes from the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ research that Cameron’s Happiness Index is based upon. More on those later.

As one of Bristol’s Happiness Champions, I felt Good Gym was well worth championing and promoting it online was a pleasure. But as is often the case when I hear of a good idea, it stayed in the realm of good ideas while my busy life raced on. That was until a few weeks ago, when I spotted a flock of lycra-clad gardeners, grazing on the weeds of Brandon Hill. Or at least that’s how it looked. I called out them to in good humour, ‘Is this the latest sport, extreme gardening?’ To which a familiar face looked up and replied, ‘Natalie, I was wondering if you were going to join us!’ Which is how I ended up at the Good Gym meeting place last night, outside Bristol’s newest cycle cafe, Roll for the Soul. I reluctantly chained up my bicycle; despite running my son to school most days I don’t consider myself a runner – I’d much rather be on two wheels than two feet. But I was glad to see the group of Good Gymmers gathering and I was looking forward to a new experience. I love exercise, I enjoy meeting people and I’d been meaning to do some voluntary, community action since moving to Bristol last year. Tonight the stars were aligned with my shoes and it all came together in one sweaty, sociable session.

We headed out from the fountains of central Bristol up Christmas Steps towards Redland, stopping for a much needed warm-up stretch en route. The pace was steady and the stitch in my side kept it that way, but nobody seemed to mind. The run was fun, people were chatting, getting to know each other and remarking on new sights – never before noticed trees, buildings … and a lot of quaint-looking pubs! About 3-4k later we arrived at the Metford Road allotments for our evening’s task: to clear an overgrown plot and dig over some new ones. A volunteer from the allotment met us with tools, along with food for the local foxes. Last week’s group had been happily distracted from the task in hand by the proximity of the local wildlife – two young vixens dropping by for some dog biscuits! We split up into two groups and for 45 minutes enjoyed some extreme pruning, hacking and digging. It’s down to the individual which task they take on, usually depending on how many calories they want to burn or simply which thing they like to do the most. I opted for the saw and spent my time rescuing an old apple tree from the grips of a feisty young damson. I think he’d of thanked me for it if he could.

The run home was, thankfully, mainly downhill, as by this point my legs were well aware that they’d run further than my usual distances. But that’s just one of the great things about doing things in groups, you spur each other on, distract each other, inspire each other to go that little bit further. I don’t think I’d ever run 6k before last night. The other benefits were becoming obvious too – by the time we got back to Roll for the Soul our spirits were high, bodies energised and the endorphins were positively dripping off us. Which brings me back to the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Good Gym really does meet all the criteria for ‘what makes us happy’. You connect with people, be active, take notice of new routes, wildlife and changing seasons, keep learning from each other, be that gardening skills, running techniques or wild food and give, by doing something nice for someone, just because you can. And all in under 90 minutes, with the added option of a refreshing local beer at the end if you choose! Good Gym is a brilliant model, getting people off the treadmills and into their communities, harnessing the desire to look and feel good with the genuine need for more connection with our communities. I for one will definitely be doing it again, from now on my Wednesday evenings are dedicated to the cause. Not because I should, or ought to, but simply because it was good, clean fun. And because happiness matters.

For more info about Good Gym visit goodgym.org

 

Natalie Fee is is one of Bristol’s Happiness Champions, a presenter and author of ‘The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook’ (Findhorn Press). Find her at nataliefee.com or twitter.com/nataliefee. For more info about Good Gym visit goodgym.org


the everyday alchemy of cycling

 

I recently bought a new bicycle. Apparently it’s a road bike, but to me it’s a racer. That’s what they were called last time I had a bike anyway, way back in the 80’s. Back then I had a girl’s Raleigh Coco. An all terrain bike that saw me cycling no handed through suburbia, in the days before we all got too cool for bikes. So it’s been a good twenty years since I’ve owned a bicycle and judging by the ‘new’ one I’m riding now, it’s been a good twenty years since it’s been ridden too. I woke up one morning as the proud new owner of a bike I’d never seen, thanks to an overnight ebay swipe in which I won a vintage 1970’s Raleigh, for the bargain price of £77. Let me backpedal a little. My reason for having to buy a bicycle, after twenty years of not cycling, was that I’d just moved to central Bristol. My work’s a five minute drive away, but in rush hour that became 25 minutes. The five minute journey to my son’s school (in the opposite direction to work) became a twenty minute ordeal. So instead of a 45 minute commuter’s nightmare, we were going to go by bike. Ten minutes to school. Fifteen back to work. Time saved, money saved. Cycling was a no-brainer. Little did I know however, that my brain would soon have very little to do with it – I was about to fall in love.

Everyday-alchemy-cycling-Chris-WatsonThree months later and I’m still totally smitten. I’m having a whirlwind romance with a velocipede … and not just mine. The whole damn lot of them. I love my son’s bike. My workmates’ bikes. The whole kit and caboodle. I, am a cyclist. Please believe me when I say this is an extraordinary statement for me. Six months ago I scoffed at people who rode bikes for fun. I was baffled as to why people would choose to go on a cycling holiday. To me the words ‘cycling’ and ‘holiday’ categorically did not belong in the same sentence. Those people were mad. And yet, here I am just months after ‘having’ to buy a bike, with a cycling holiday to France under my padded lycra and new bar tape. I know. It’s astonishing. I’m mad. Or am I?

Actually I feel healthier than I have for a long time. The holiday was a complete revelation. Me and my semi-pro-cycling friend (to whom I owe the majority of my limited experience) drove to Plymouth, left the van in the car park and cycled onto the ferry. We were actually encouraged to jump the queues. No waiting in lines for us cyclists! The terminal staff in high-vis jackets – that you’d normally see through steamed-up car windows as they grimly waved you on board – became real human beings. They spoke. They smiled. I was ecstatic. I know it was only cycling onboard but to me it was the best experience I’d had getting onto a ferry. In fact the whole week was one ‘best experience’ after another. Ok, so there was one experience which I don’t ever want to repeat. Having spent the morning cycling south from Roscoff, we decided to hop on a train to the beaches and menhirs of South Brittany. We arrived late and in the dark. Buoyed by our first day’s adventures, we switched on our flashing LED lights and headed out of town to find the nearest campsite. ‘TOUTES DIRECTIONS’ said the sign. It said nothing about all directions leading to the motorway. By which point, we’d gone all the way down a one way slip road onto the hard shoulder. Turning back was not an option. I’ll admit that during those next 2.5k I prayed. Very Hard. The truck drivers were generous, giving us plenty of space. Somehow we made it safely to the next junction, pulled into the first garden we could find and pitched the tent. Not surprisingly, due to the amount of adrenalin I had still pumping round my system, I slept badly. But that really was the only hiccup. And best to get it out of the way on my first day’s cycling.

france-cycling

After that baptism of tarmac, the rest of the holiday was a wonderful adventure. It was sociable – people wanted to ask us where we’d been and where we weregoing. It was connected – I saw bees on flowers that I could actually smell as I passed them. Each day I grew stronger and started to see hills as fun instead of fearing them. I began to develop a sense of distance, understanding in my body (not just in my mind) that travel requires energy. Up until now I just had to put my foot down on the accelerator to get somewhere. Now I needed calories. I had a huge appetite and was blissfully enjoying being able to eat whatever I liked, whenever I liked, guilt free. In fact, since I’ve been cycling my eating habits have relaxed. Whereas I used to get bloated if I ate wheat, now I don’t. I would get tired if I ate too many carbs, now they don’t seem to affect me. And it’s not just my digestive health that’s improved either, my heart is stronger too. I suffered from daily palpitations, but since cycling regularly I’ve not had any. So when I said that cycling would become an affair of the heart, I meant it in more ways than one!

Cycling has become a way of life. A panacea for all ills. It’s ironic that our move from the rural countryside to the city has made us healthier – usually it’s the other way around. Our ‘commute’ involves wide cycle paths along the river, dotted with nods and smiles to the strangers we see each morning on their bikes, smiles that acknowledge our good fortune. We’re the lucky ones. We have bodies, bicycles and bells … and we’re going to use them.