It’s New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2016, and I have been reflecting on my work highlights, how I can build on these in 2017 and also which are the bits I now need to shed and leave behind?

It’s widely acknowledged to have been a challenging and tumultuous year on many levels. With political and social upheaval bringing uncertainty and suffering around the globe. All made even more poignant with the loss of so many loved and notable icons such as David Bowie, Prince and George Michael, to name but a few.

From a sustainability perspective, there have been some good developments such as the ratification of the Paris COP21 agreement – which went into effect from November – whilst on the other hand there is the small matter of the new US president-elect Donald Trump who is a known climate change denier and has already appointed one to head up the influential EPA.

imagesPersonally, I have also found it a bit of a roller coaster ride; from Brexit stress, to the challenge of developing my business, whilst also staying solvent. However, I have achieved a lot and the new year is a good time to celebrate that. Just the fact that I started off 2016 with an emergency temp job and shifts down my local pub – now both distant memories – shows good progress!

So – after an enjoyable reflection over strong coffee to a 6 music soundtrack – the 2016 work highlights which stand out the most and which I will be building on in 2017 are these:

20160502_1009371. Set up a Local Food Hub – I kicked off the year managing an exciting new project for fresh-range – local food online retailers – to enable them to serve a new public sector food contract to primary schools in Bath and NE Somerset. It was a challenge, as there was less than six months to scale-up a small online retail operation working from a shared depot, to secure and set-up a new warehouse operation. However they have now been operating successfully from the new hub in Keynsham since September and have also started to supply Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) caterers from there too. I am proud to have been part of delivering this complex project and particularly enjoyed putting on a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ launch event at Bristol Food Connections with two teams of children from Bath schools, also bringing in local producers and the B&THNES procurement team to explain the benefits of the new school local food contract. Green Project and Event management for sustainable food businesses and organisations, are areas we will continue to develop next year.

BFC162. Sustainable Food City Conference – Also as part of the Bristol Food Connections I helped organise ‘Going for Gold’ to celebrate Bristol’s new Silver Award from the Sustainable Food City Network, in recognition of their pioneering work in the city to promote healthy and sustainable food. It was a great event bringing food producers, activists, businesses and organisations from across the city who are all part of the Award. Working like this with Bristol Food Network and Bristol Food Producers, is the type of partnership working which I really enjoy and hope to continue in 2017.

_87163528_de27-23. Catalyse Change CIC – At the beginning of 2016 this was just an idea in my head, but now is set up as a social enterprise with a fantastic Board of directors. Thank you to Rhian, Jenna and Julie for helping to make our vision of a sustainability change programme for teenage girls into a reality. It has been difficult this year to find the time and resources to move it forward, however we have now made good progress with our R&D and now have the brand and website in development with Tin Cat Designs, courtesy of a seed grant recently received from Esmee Fairbairn. Also, many thanks to Sheila Mckechnie Foundation who have provided invaluable training and mentoring in Gender Equality campaigning this year, to also help guide this exciting journey.

4. Happy City – I have also been delighted to join the Happy City team this year, supporting them with business development and fundraising for their wellbeing tools. They do amazing work to help individuals, businesses and policy makers to understand and improve wellbeing and have now developed some innovative online measurement and policy tools to help ‘make the invisible visible’.  We have secured some new Innovate UK funding to support this journey and I am really looking forward to working with them in 2017 to further develop this important work.

20161006_1445325. Sustainability Practice – To inform the work of Sustain-Live and Catalyse Change I have been fortunate to have worked with and learned from many amazing sustainability practitioners both here in Bristol and around the world. I am now an advisor for The Natural Step – international sustainable development NGO – and helped them host a learning journey in Bristol this year for Dutch change-makers. I have also been co-hosting the Bristol U-Lab hub at Hamilton House – for this year’s global edX learning course from the MIT team – after completing it for the first time last year. In addition, I have been working in partnership with local networks such as Go Green and consultancy SEM-Solutions, we recently collaborated on a successful Sustainability Business Strategy event, with plans to develop this partnership and format next year.

Which things will I be leaving behind?
In order to achieve my goals in 2017 there are a few things I will be leaving behind…

  • Integrate Bristol – I have been honoured to serve as Trustee for this inspiring youth-led charity in Bristol for two years now. However, in order to concentrate on Catalyse Change I have recently stepped down from this role. Although I will no doubt be helping out in the future for specific events and projects as they continue their impressive journey – now as Integrate UK!
  • Social Media – Well I won’t be stopping it completely but will be more focused to ensure I don’t spend so much time and energy on social media next year! Also, have decided to only do it after lunch rather than using valuable morning energy.
  • Fear – I’m going to embrace the new and practice what I preach through mindfulness to ensure my thoughts, actions and words are based on love and not fear! We’re all going into the unknown in many ways next year and need to stay strong, resilient, positive and kind 🙂

I’m excited to have just been offered a place on the Natwest Entrepreneurial Spark Bristol hub which will provide mentoring and other support to help kick-start my work in 2017. A great Christmas present and I look forward to working with them to achieve amazing results next year.

imagesSo rather than feel lack because of what has been lost this year, how can we learn from the Great’s who have left us?  Well they were all pioneers, always innovating and refused to be stopped by the judgements of others and society as a whole.  The best way to salute their memory is to follow their example,  refuse to accept limits and to be the best versions of ourselves we possibly can.  In addition I would like to thank all of the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from this year, so much talent and inspiration, so generously shared, thank you.

Have a great New Year’s Eve however you choose to spend it. I look forward to sharing 2017 with many of you. Onwards and upwards!

Traci Lewis  traci@sustainlive.org  www.sustainlive.org