Greenbelt 2016 Top Twelve Memories

Judith Allinson, Green Christian web editor writes:-



“Hello” to Everyone who went to Greenbelt 2016- and to Everyone who wants to know what went on.

This year I organised the Green Christian stall at Greenbelt. I am grateful to others for preparation work (see end of post).


Here are my top twelve memories.



1. Bill McKibben says we need to fight the oil industries.

greenbelt2016-P1420574bill mckibbenFor the past 14 months, each month has been “the warmest month ever” e.g. July 2106 was the warmest world wide ever.

All these records will get broken again and again.

The oil industries knew the science of climate change 25 years ago and have put millions into obfuscating the issues. He regretted the twenty five years time lost writing and arguing.. when we should have been organising and protesting.  e.g.

Now it will take effort and mobilisation on the scale we did things in the world wars if we are to stand any chance of keeping the world to stable temperatures.

I recommend listening to his talk 


2. A reminder to go more vegan.

greenbelt2016-P1420650-meatLinda Johnson, a helper in the GC stall, pointed out that getting people to go vegan, or at least eatless meat and dairy produce, is much more important than the hymn writing competition on “The God of creation” about which I had put up a poster.

So I made a new poster, and I stuck it on the brilliant pelmet of velcro round the top wall of our tent. It said:

18% of Greenhouse emissions are caused by the production of meat and dairy products

Opposite us was an Animal Rights stall. They had equipment to  let you see the inside of an intensive pig rearing factory using 360 degree electronic goggles.

The young man explained how up to 91% of tropical rainforest deforestation is due to the animal industry.

I experimented with intriguing vegan dishes from the Indian food stall.


3. Understanding the night sky

greenbelt2016-P1420703Standing or sitting in the dark at 11pm on the grass bank, with about 30 others  looking at the stars (those we could see between the clouds), whilst Bruce Stanley explained about stars, planets, equators etc with a globe and red torch, was a great experience.

Sorry you can’t see much in the photo ….. 🙂

He did most of the explaining by asking people questions. And even asking a second or third person for their contributions before saying whether the answer was correct .. so making us think.

If you hold out your fist at arms length it covers about 10 degrees of sky – so putting 9 fists above each other should get  your arm up to vertical.. Try it.


4. Trees walk – 

greenbelt2016-P1420581I enjoyed the trees walk led by Simon Kallow of the Millennium Seed Project at Kew (seen far left, with Boughton House on the right).

We learned that the vast majority of the trees are a hybrid lime and the variety is Hatfield Tall Lime.  They are very, very tall, and the trunks divide quite high up. Because hybrids don’t breed true, they get more of the trees by taking cuttings.

greenbelt2016-P1420583We also had fun looking at a semi-decayed horse chestnut with Dryad’s Saddle fungus.


I got side tracked by examining Green alga (Enteromorpha intestinalis?) in the canal




5. Drinking hot chocolate at 2.30am  morning in the ” 24 hour cafe”  tent

The first evening I awoke in my tent with cramp in my leg (probably from not drinking enough water the hot arrival day).  I walked around and then found the cafe tent. There were a handful of people  including people happy to chat or listen.    I walked up to the top of the camp site.. so quiet and peaceful with every one asleep in their tents..,  I chatted with the campsite marshal there.



6. Weather changes

greenbelt2016-P1420520The arriving day (Friday) and the leaving days (Monday afternoon and Tuesday) were hot which was good for pitching and dismantling tents.

On the Saturday there was torrential rain.

Making me glad I had brought wellingtons.

Typical festival weather ? or signs of increasingly extreme weather brought on by climate change?





From sheets of rain on the Saturday






to bright Sun for the Sunday morning service with Justin Welby

(Try watching this video of Justin Welby at the service here It is quite amusing )







7. Grateful for the help and companionship of the nine volunteers on the GC stand.

To the volunteers, and  to the people who visited our stall, I say “Thank you”

I would really welcome feedback from anyone who visited our stand.

greenbelt2016-P1420547 how could we have made the stand better?

– and how can you contribute to the work of greening our UK churches and congregations, and to the work of Green Christian?


left: Lucinda admires Dan Papworth’s  new book: “The lives around us” – Dan later ran a Forest Church event/service under the trees in “The Grove” In the book, Each chapter begins with descriptive reflection on a specific creature (animal, plant, fungus, mineral) followed by one or two thoughts about what we can do for them practically. There is a Bible reading and then a section that encourages prayer and sometimes a prayerful activity.





8. Disinvest Now.

Our stand was partnered with Operation Noah, with their “Bright Now campaign. They were inviting people to sign the petition asking the Church of England and other churches  to disinvest from fossil fuels. Most of them had been on the pilgrimage to Paris last autumn. (Do sign the petition)

Before the Big Public Communion Service on the Sunday with Archbishop Welby some people wrote letters to give to the Archbishop Welby urging him to get the C of E to disinvest.



9. Philippines:  Change, Cloud Education and Smokey Mountain

greenbelt2016-P1420699Fr Benigno Beltran, a Filipino priest has written a book “Faith and Struggle on Smokey Mountain – Hope for a planet in peril” about working with the people who live on the huge refuse tip in the Philippines called Smokey Mountain.

It was shortlisted for the Michael Ramsey Prize. He gave a talk, and described life and smells working on the tip.

But he really lit up when he talked about “Using the cloud” for developing Filipino education. Some  people have never been to school but they have mobile phones and tablets – lots of them – and love to play games.

So he is working developing a teaching/ learning system based on games, at different levels. Then they can learn everything themselves.

He said “Change is coming. We can stay on the shore like king Canute, but change will still come”

He also mentioned that in deforested areas they can reforest- but with bamboo – that can be used for so many things. I was not too sure about that.. Will Bamboo then become a monoculture replacing the native wildlife? I wish I had been able to ask him that.


10. I had my rack of “Cards for sale for the Rainforest fund

Raising £100 can save 1 acre of rainforest.

I only sold six cards. But every little helps.

I could tell people how I was raising money in Settle, and how local GC groups or individual churches can take part and raise £100.



judith-tent-greenbelt11. For the first time in my life I put up a tent and stayed in it.  

Thank you Jo (my neighbour) for lending it to me.





12. Mixed up world. Wild flowers, motorway verges and helicopters

When I write up events it is often the wildlife /wildflowers I remember – – see Greenbelt 2008.  Boughton Hall grounds had rather limited wildlife – the grass is nearly all ryegrass and white clover and a little Yorkshire fog and Common Bent; the trees are nearly all Hatfield Tall Lime… splendid though they are.

On the way back to Yorkshire on the Tuesday morning I was treated to some wildflowers.

greenbelt2016-P1420791I was held up in the sun, in totally stationary traffic for two hours on the A1 at Junction 36 (where the M18 crosses) due to an accident.
greenbelt2016-P1420762On the verge were a host of different yellow composites including Bristly Ox-tongue and Common Fleabane.






greenbelt2016-P1420823As we waited, I looked at the slope where the road cut through the ground .. and saw orchid stems in fruit, pink Century, Yellow-wort, Marjoram, Red Bartsia,.. lovely wild flowers that grow on calcareous soil.




“Look red apples!” “Yes we’d noticed them” said a lorry driver nearby.


A yellow helicopter arrived and eventually departed.


We were concerned for the people in the accident – and very aware that but for 15 seconds time difference we could have been in the accident.

Life is precious.

And for all the oil it uses, the helicopters can save lives.



 Extra Thoughts and Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Paul Bodenham for storing the GC boards and booking with Greenbelt etc to have the stall; To David Beattie (who  originally committed going to run the stall before local circumstances prevented him doing so).

To all the volunteersand organisers and donors at Greenbelt – a huge event with over 10,000 people either camping or being marshalled in.

The overheads must be huge: – setting up water pipes to the taps around the huge camping fields, the electric lights, marshalling so many points of the site; erecting the tents.

greenbelt2016-P1420745I had been inhibited in coming because I did not know how to go about setting up at tent, and the need to be “Stall organiser” finally forced me over the relatively tiny step of asking a neighbour (an experienced Festival attender) if I could use hers.
At the site I saw how another GC volunteer had hired one of the “ready set up tents” (shown left), thus meaning she was able to come by public transport.

I wonder in a future year if it would be worth promoting this idea next year to all GC members.  There may be others who would wish to come.

You can book at Greenbelt now for 2017

Do add your comments about Greenbelt below in the comments section.



Author: | Date: 31 August, 2016 | Category: Biodiversity Climate Change Reports | Comments: 0

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