Monday, 30 October 2017

Why Pitch Up Pitch In?

I'm a bit nervous about our first Pitch Up Pitch In event (28th November). Will you come and will you pitch in? Even if you don't volunteer this time, as Charlotte (the bike rack lady) says: It should be a fun day where we meet new people, share ideas and promote the concepts of collaboration and co-operation.

Projects range from hands-on to literary/IT, marketing, technology ...
Our projects offer something to everyone. They range from hands-on like the bike racks and the downspout rain gardens, to the literary/IT-centric social media workshop. The Solar Power Push project is probably in the middle. I think it needs some technology and a lot of marketing and probably other skills. Project durations range from a few weeks (bike racks and comms workshop) to possibly years (Solar Power Push). Most of them are at a fairly early planning stage and where they end up probably depends a lot on who pitches in. The key thing is they are all worth doing - each in their own way would contribute to making Cambridge a more sustainable city and a nicer place to live.

A previous project in Empty Common Community
Garden: putting a green roof on a shed.

Thinking about why it can be hard to get new projects started, it is easier to get involved if you can see other people are interested too. Also you want to meet the person who has invented the project, who will probably also be the leader, at least at first. So Pitch Up Pitch In is a way to get people in a room together, hear and discuss the pitch.

It's a challenge to explain your idea in just a few minutes.
I am immensely grateful to the people who have agreed to be our first pitchers. They are each passionate about their idea but distilling it down to something that can be explained in just a few minutes is a challenge. Jacky says she has done lots of presentations before but mostly about cheese; Peter says he has never done anything like this so he practised on friends and found he was starting at the end. Charlotte says they have been thinking about a bike rack for the garden for years but doing the pitch has been the push to get them focussed. Now they are actively looking for materials and have obtained an old trampoline that can be raided for bits.

Projects are likely to evolve - and may become different or bigger.
The projects may not work out quite as described - they may even be the start of something bigger, or quite different. From my own experience, the energy group started out by looking at community energy projects, and only after going down a few dead ends did we turn our efforts to things like the energy forums and fact sheets - which have proved immensely popular. Charlotte hopes to attract people into the garden community, even if they don't actually fancy helping with the bike racks. Dawn would be the first to admit that downspout rain gardens are not the complete solution to sustainable drainage in Cambridge, but they are eye catching and they demonstrate important principles so they are a good place to start. (We saw other drainage solutions including a much bigger rain garden on a tour of new housing near Trumpington, see 'Sustainable Drainage – and why you need drought tolerant plants in a rain garden').

A down-spout rain garden
A much bigger rain garden in Hobson Square,
Great Kneighton, near Trumpington

Pitching in will benefit you at least as much as the project.
I do believe that if you pitch in you will find you benefit personally at least as much as the project. You don't know what you can do until you try, and life is much more fun when you explore the edges of your comfort zone. Building capacity is a key strategy for Transition and that is what we will be doing. It really doesn't matter if it's not perfect, we learn from every attempt - whatever the outcome. You may not think my blog posts are great now but you should compare them to my first attempts! In fact I am very tempted to pitch in to Jacky's social media project. It is an important tool, as Jacky says, to engage more deeply with people on news, events and actions that address carbon mitigation and climate change.

The idea of Pitch Up Pitch In is adapted from an event I went to called Cambridge Soup, where four projects presented, competing for a pot of cash from the entrance money. This time the projects are pitching for your time and energy rather than your money and we hope they will all be winners.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly Dawn has had to drop out this time due to work commitments. But we have a new project which I find intriguing - does anyone like the idea of tinkering with aquaculture? This is a way of growing plants and fish together, so that the fish feeds the plants and the plants clear water for the fish. Casandra and Emyr have a system that works but there is a lot of scope for improvement and they need help: for the plants side, for the mechanicis side and possibly some monitoring too. Ideally they would like to scale up. Can you help?