Our new Director Simon Slater introduces himself and his vision for the future of ecobirmingham.
For the last 20 years I have lived a dual existence. Environmental adviser by day, working across the world with royalty, government, councils, and business, and running sustainability policy organisations. Then community worker by night – living in Sparkhill with my family, and chairing the local community regeneration project, and supporting an interfaith youth charity. My new role at ecobirmingham finally lets me combine these two experiences of environment and social justice in one organisation, working in one city.
What else do you need to know? I love:
- coffee – filter or expresso black no sugar
- a good story – let me know if you have heard it before
- cycling as a way of life – not as a sport
- working and learning with others – don’t worry you will know what sort of day I’m having
- being strategic to build something that delivers more without me – I like a plan, training up others, and if I could, a marathon or relay rather than a sprint
- travelling to new places and experiencing different food and cultures – all possible in Birmingham – chocolate barfi is my Indian sweet of choice
- faith and the environment – our church has an eco-award and benefited from interfaith initiatives
- modern boardgames – for the interaction, rather than winning
- I like science fiction, nature, history, and thrillers in book and film form – I’m still waiting for the Jack Reacher novel where he saves the planet by traveling back in time to have a fight in a small town bar
About the future
As you would expect starting a new job, let alone during the latest lockdown – I feel a mixture of emotions. The most consistent ones are privilege and excitement.
It is now my turn to lead an organisation developed over 10 years by an exceptional team of trustees, staff, volunteers and funders. I am grateful that Michael Addison, our former director, has agreed to stay on as our new part-time Head of Operations. This helps me to build a strong and resilient management team to help the organisation grow and provide space to think about our future direction.
My excitement comes from endless opportunities to help people make positive changes for their environment and city. This is where thinking about our future direction comes in – where do we focus?
Over the next few months, we are busy planning the next stage of our journey. Drawing on our award winning track record, looking at the latest evidence, and listening to those we work with and those we have yet to engage with. The questions we are asking are:
- What can we do to provide the tools and support for more people to make positive environmental changes?
- How does this contribute to a more sustainable Birmingham?
- What is our role as a small but influential charity?
To get things going I have had made my first attempt below:
- Make change easy, healthy, tailored, fun, and getting more voices heard
- It takes a sustainable village to raise a sustainable city – get local action right to drive city wide change
- ecobirmingham – building resilient networks and teamworking across the city through the Greener Birmingham Coalition
We will begin to explore these further as we launch our community learning network in the New Year.
I will also be reflecting on these questions in more depth over the next months. I look forward to meeting many of you, finding out your views, and improving our future plans to help build a greener, healthier and fairer future for Birmingham in 2021.
Dr Simon Slater
Remember, black filter coffee no sugar, with chocolate barfi.