The groups initial success in mobilising the community in such a short space of time started attracting attention from the media — first local and then national. Both the Independent and Guardian newspapers ran pieces on the group, and television crews started showing an interest. While this exposure was, in many ways, good for the group, Ian welcomes the fact that this interest has since died down a little:
" we were inundated. It was good, but the trouble was it was building up hype and excitement, and that's not sustainable. We've come over that and we are in a steady state of progress. We are all aware that this is a 20 year process, if we have 20 years. You can't change a village in a year or two. This place is stuffed with SUVs We've got to accept where we are, imagine where we want to be, and plot a path towards that goal."It would be wrong to assume, however, that 'a steady state of progress' implies, in any way, a slowing down. The group has been very active in spreading the sustainability message recently, not just in the village itself, but around surrounding communities also. Ian estimates that he is giving 4 or 5 talks in the next month alone to other villages interested in replicating their success. Already the village of Colerne, near Bath, has set up a similar organisation calling itself Ecolerne. Ian is clearly excited by the prospect of other villages following their lead, though he is wary of others mimicking Go Zero too closely. He encourages groups to work within their own unique circumstances to find a route that is right for them:
"I tell them 'This is what we did, this is how we did it. You can't do the same, because you're not the same village, but why not start something similar?' and people have taken the idea and charged away with it. They [Ecolerne] have got lot's of events happening. Lots of other villages around here are doing the same."
"I think that this scheme answers most of the criticisms of offset funds. We are addressing emissions here in the West, but at the same time we we are channelling money into the poorest parts of the world allowing them to rise up sustainably whilst we contract down. The perfect example of contraction and convergence."
Clearly then, Go Zero is spawning change that goes way beyond Chew Magna's parish boundaries. But crucially Ian doesn't think there is anything special about Chew Magna that would mean communities elsewhere couldn't set up similarly ambitious schemes. He confesses that they may be a little way ahead of the game, and points out that they were blessed with a number of skilled people with an interest in the subject but, he argues, Chew Magna is also a place where action is most needed:
"We are a very rich community. I can point to people with three houses, three cars etc. To me this is why this is more valid here than anywhere else. We are great consumers. We need to contract more than almost anywhere else. But there is certainly no blame. We have this mantra: 'No blame, can do, and patience.'"
Ian is adamant that other communities can, and must, start to tackle their own impacts. He envisions a world in ten years time where major structural changes have been made to the way the village, the region, the country, and hopefully the world is run. In coclusion, in true TreeHugger fashion, we asked Ian if there was one thing that everyone should do to make the world a better place, what that would be. His answer was unequivocal:
"I'd like everyone to have a ten year plan of how we can reduce our carbon emissions by 60%. That is the challenge we face."
With organisations like Go Zero around, coming up with such a plan seems just a little less daunting.
[Interview conducted by: Sami Grover]