The Gaia environmental studies programme is very much an action based curriculum. You learn about many issues in relation to the environment and climate change. For the rest of the time you are involved in practical actions, sports, cooking, cleaning, socialising and becoming part of the life of the College.
The study programme of the Gaia Team is organised so that you can join at selected points. Our participants can join Gaia for between one and 7 months. We aim to equip you with an understanding of the main issues related to the environment and climate change. The areas of study are:
• Earth Systems Science and the Gaia Theory
• Climate Change
• Reducing the Impact of Climate Change
• Environmental Justice
Gaia participants are environmental activists ... so the programme is designed to give you an understanding of environmental questions and problems, and get tools and skills so you can take your own stand and make your voice heard. We believe that we need environmental activists on all levels – people who “go green” for personal reasons, people who participate actively in the debate about sustainable energy, people who install solar panels and build windmills, who recycle and make compost, recycle clothes and shoes and buy second hand, and who will spread knowledge about the state of the environment and the consequences of our actions.
The Gaia Team runs a couple of continuous practical Gaia projects, which encourage putting what we learn into practice.
The first of these is the collection of second hand clothes. There are many different tasks in relation to this: packing the clothes in the store room, driving the collection van, finding more sites for our the many clothing banks (= collection containers) that we have put out in many towns in northern England and southern Scotland, and maintaining and painting the containers. We also have a partnership with Planet Aid and help them in their 2nd Hand clothes shops.
All these activities serve a dual purpose, or you could say brings double happiness
1) We reuse clothes that would otherwise be wasted. Some people in this part of the world get though a lot of clothes every year. According to an article by Louise Grey, Environmental Correspondent for the Telegraph newspaper: “textiles are the fastest growing sector in household waste. Every year consumers in the UK buy 2 million tonnes of clothes of which 1.2m tonnes ends up in landfill. Just 300,000 is reused or recycled”.
At the same time, many people in England, Europe and other parts of the world are in great need of clothes to wear. Most of the unwanted clothes still represent a value and can be reused rather than taking up space in landfill sites.
2) The surplus from selling the clothes is placed in CICD’s scholarship fund. Money from this fund can sponsor people who are not able to pay all of the course fees, but who still want to make a contribution to a better world.
Another continuous practical action for the Gaia team is to look after and develop the garden and park at Winestead Hall. We have a great asset for everyone to enjoy in our 30acre park, and it still has a lot of undeveloped potential! You can involve yourself in an almost endless list of possible tasks: cut the grass, establish a rose garden, make a permaculture demonstration area, do the weeding, clean up the pond, expand the vegetable garden, develop the herb garden, build raised beds, make better composting systems, ...
In addition to these ongoing actions we are often involved in shorter actions in local towns and villages: maybe you will take part in a litter picking action, plant trees in the local park, make a recycling campaign, help out the local Transition Hull group, make street theatre about the consequences of climate change, or do something that no Gaia Team participant has done before!