Some members of the team inside the centre with Harriet Cross
The former Dr Bell’s Swimming Pool on Great Junction Street in Leith, will soon be revived into the Himalayan Centre for Arts & Culture, providing a low cost, energy efficient community space for workshops, theatre productions, exhibitions and ceremonies.
While the Centre is under construction, it’s Climate Challenge Fund initiative http://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/sustainability-climate-change/climate-challenge-fund/the ‘Leith Community Climate Change Project’ is still going ahead, co-ordinated by Harriet Cross – the Engagement Officer for the Centre. When the Centre was initially bought, it was decided this project should coincide in order to create a legacy and connection between the Centre and the surrounding community, but also to widen its reach in promoting sustainability.
The project aims to inspire environmental behaviour change across Leith, and was kicked off with a flavoursome bang in May at a lively event with the voluntary organisation World Kitchen in Leith. Through a shared interest in food, community members heard about the project and its environmental aspirations, while enjoying music, dancing, sunshine and momos.
Over the last few months the project has involved the recruitment of a group of Community Champions, all dedicating time to the initiative. The group consists of diverse individuals from Edinburgh and further afield, attracted to the project due to their concern for the planet. As a result, their involvement has escalated and many are now coming up with their own ideas for the project’s direction. One Community Champion has created an Eco Game that can be used by families and community groups to generate environmental awareness, through an interactive, friendly and creative means.
Harriet on the left with some of the Champions
The Community Champions have been trained to support households in EH6 to reduce their energy consumption and food waste levels, to help Leith become a healthier and greener place for all to enjoy. Interested households can get in touch and then arrange a time for a Community Champion to visit and have a discussion about current energy levels and existing environmental behaviours in the home – and ways to improve these. With the householders’ permission, we will be taking pictures of them and their front doors to kick start a ‘Doors of Leith’ mini project , exhibited when the Centre opens.
Alongside the household visits, the project involves a series of workshops and creative activities throughout the year to inspire environmental action, but also make it enjoyable. The Centre teamed -up with the community group Leith Community Pots and Crops to show participants how to grow Veg on a Ledge (very useful given Leith’s dense tenement population!). A local artist also ran a Colour Ecology workshop showing how community members can use plants and natural substances to dye clothes, rather than chemical processes which can contribute to environmental damage. An autumnal schedule of activities will soon be available involving creating natural skin products, and upcycling household items you may just be about to throw out.
Ultimately, the project aims to go beyond financial incentives as a motivation for reducing our impact on the environment (for example saving energy to save household bills). Harriet, the Community Champions and the Centre hope to show that through creativity, the emphasis on the non – material, and by providing responsible information to householders, this can be achieved.
Facade of the Himalayan Centre before construction began