Walking through Stroud for the last time I head to the local shop Made in Stroud. Looking around the bright, light coloured shop there is art, pottery, soaps, clothing, and toiletries. There are neatly stacked silver tins, candles and cascades of cards.
“I’ve been working here for three years now.” The young woman tells me. “I started as a Saturday job when I was in school. The basic concept is we sell products that are made by people in Stroud, so for a commission, we display and sell their work and do a lot of exhibitions. There’s been a lot of local trade around here that was shut down by the recession, so it’s been really important recently for artists and crafts people to have a consistent place. It’s something I’m really proud of, working here. We’ve got everything from cordials and soaps to jewellery. We’ve got over two hundred makers, yet it’s only a tiny town. So yeah, I think it’s really important to preserve that crafting spirit.”
My final stop is the Stroud Valley Project shop. Three people are sat at desks at the back and there are pine shelves displaying wares with bright material bunting. Biodynamic seeds, bee homes, bird and bat boxes and wildlife posters catch my eye.
“Stroud valleys project was set up in 1988,” Claire tells me, “so we’ve just celebrated our 25th year anniversary. It was set up to support people working in the environment and also to provide educational opportunities for people to learn about the environment. The last couple of years with the economic situation it’s been quite a struggle for the organisation. We were fully dependent upon grant funding until a couple of years ago. Then we set up the shop and all sorts of things to try and make money. This weekend we’ve got a plant swap and sale happening. It’s a really nice opportunity for people to share their stories. We do badger watching and take people up on the commons and look at orchids and butterflies. We’re doing a course today about growing vegetables up at the allotments.
Claire introduces me to Fred who helped start GlosCAN a Climate Change Action Network. His clear thinking, organisation, dedication and drive are a wonder to behold. Again I feel a very fast sense of bonding, and a strong desire to help Fred in any way I can in the future. We swap details and he writes down various organisations that I tell him about from the Global Shift Conference.
It’s wonderful to hear the things he’s working on – a declaration to be voted on at the council, a march to coincide with the International People’s Climate March in September. I feel like this is someone who’s really going to get things done and indeed, as I write this in November I know that’s exactly what he does. The Stroud climate demonstration in September not only happened, but had an incredible turnout of five hundred people! For a town the size of Stroud that is the most incredible achievement!
Leaving Stroud I take the footpath along the dry canal, which has tall wire fencing around some parts and workmen in and around it. There are a dozen volunteers for the Cotswold Canals Trust in high viz jackets and gloves.
Harry is volunteering and fills me in on what I can expect ahead of me that day. “About six miles up, through the golden valley, it rises up onto the escarpment and you’ve got the daneway and the sapperton tunnel, two and quarter miles, when it was built it was the longest tunnel in the world.” he tells me.