Updated: Mar 30
Written by Jess:
Mother's Day - for some a time of celebration, for thinking, for feeling, for loving, for relaxing, for sympathy, for dreaming, for creating. A day for women everywhere - most people know a mother.
Photo credit - www.anyacampbell.com
Today our call is to the innovative, dynamic people who run their own eco enterprises; maybe a side-hustle, perhaps in transition to your main work, maybe something for after maternity leave or now that your children have flown the nest, perhaps just for a change of career. This is our story, the story of Planet & People and how it came to be. Today we share with others who are at the ideas stage, the embryo of a new business is forming and you are wondering...what if?
If this is you, or if you are further along in your tale of idea to entrepreneur, please get in touch with us. We want to help you!
Planet & People CIC is a Community Interest Company which works to empower environmentalists:
Mission - To positively and proactively support schools, businesses and families to learn the value of the natural environment and how to protect it during a climate and ecological crisis.
Vision - A world where provision for the environment is integral in decision making and all people have a positive impact on the planet.
Values - We are positive, practical, empowering and inclusive.
We offer workshops in schools, eco-business mentoring support and environmental consultancy.
So, for us, the pieces slotted together in a way that couldn't have been foreseen. Bethia & I (Jess), the co-founders of Planet & People CIC, were two people who were battling. Struggling with post-natal life we happened upon each other. Dissatisfied with trudging the well worn footsteps of the babygroup circuit (I'm sure a lot of you know what I mean!) I had set up an outdoor group for parents with toddlers at home with a friend with a similar streak for the wild. With a bit of outside space and some rudimentary shelter, we met weekly to make soup over the fire and entertain ourselves with eco activities.
Well, sort of... Sometimes we had something in mind to do - making rosehip tea, wreathmaking, nature watching and mud-kitchening. Sometimes the kids had plans of their own and they happily worked together to scrape up the grass clippings or make patterns with the mud! Other times, it POURED with rain, and we sat out, surviving whilst trying to secure a ragged tarpaulin above our heads. It was refreshing, we connected as adults - we talked life, politics, environment and everything in between.
One particular day, it was just Bethia and I - Beth had moved in next door (what luck!). It was the first day our two year old's played together, and we watched them as we planted some apple trees together.
Seriously strong women, Roberta and Bethia and crew - how our walks seemed to always end up...
"Why don't we do a project together", I said, somewhat out of the blue.
"Alright", said Bethia, I think her words were even surprising herself as she said it.
I had ideas flying around my head, whizzing and crashing as my mental health was taking a bit of a dive. Perinatal OCD had crept up on me. Who knew it even existed?! A usually relaxed type, I was getting tenser and tenser by the minute. Things that I wasn't normally scared of or irritated by, caused serious anxiety. People chewing, hens, heights, even riding (my life's passion!) was scaring me. I wasn't happy with how anyone was looking after the children and everyone was doing EVERYTHING wrong. To others it seemed like I was spinning a million plates, for me I was failing. Thankfully, I managed to take charge of it and with medical help, I could think straight again.
I had run a few eco events at home and wanted to share our land and the environment with people who didn't have so much opportunity to. As an ecologist by training, I just wanted to tell people about the amazing stuff I saw everyday so that people understood it was worth protecting. Bethia, a geography teacher and all round brilliant person, had just the qualities I lacked. The magic had started but we had no idea where we were going with it.
Some time later, we had thoughts of a workshop series for kids to learn about where food comes from and how to grow it. 'Seed to Spoon' was to be our inaugural launch, and we thought that would be it, the start! Little did we know, it wasn't going to be until nearly two years of hard work and family juggling later that we would have something that resembled a business. Planet & People Community Interest Company was born.
We are still a small organisation with loads of ideas and a long way to go but we have now supported hundreds of families and school children to gain more of an understanding of the value of the natural world and how to protect it. We have built a brand, we can call ourselves 'entrepreneurs', we are even making some money to support ourselves and our families.
Now, it is time to start to help others along the same rewarding journey. It has not been easy, not even nearly! Despite being educated people who have been in the working world for many years, we are learning ALL THE TIME. We are the salespeople, the designers, the teachers, the administrators, the writers, the photographers, we are forever spinning (and dropping!) plates. We have been diverted by the pandemic, by homeschooling, by pregnancy, by young children, by ups and more often downs, but we are still here and we are starting to see more wins.
To give you a sneak peek of the ways we can connect and inspire you, these are the things that we are celebrating at the moment. We are developing and hosting the Devon Sustainable Schools Network (a student-led platform for discussion and action for sustainability), new hosts of the Network of Environmental Educators Devon (NEED), we have been accepted on the School of Social Entrepreneurs Accelerator Programme with a whole lot of funding, we have won £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund. We are excited! And we'd love to hear what you are celebrating too.
If it sounds like we are the people that might be able to help you, these are the exciting programmes that we have coming up:
Planet Action Workshops in schools programme - funding available for schools in London and the South West.
Planet Action Businesses, empowering sustainable workforces - looking for Devon businesses to trial our funded environmental audit and eco away day package
Planet Action Families, empowering eco-living - a sustainability masterclass and membership
Planet Action Professionals, empowering fledgling eco-enterprises - an eco business membership
The BIGGEST thing to mention is that we've had amazing support from our families and friends. We are so lucky to have the space, uplift and soundboards that we've needed to get this idea off the ground. It's been challenging and you really have to want to make it work, but we are proof that it can be done and we'd love to share some of our insight and support you too.
If your school or business needs support in thinking more environmentally and taking positive sustainable action, please get in touch, we would love to help you.
FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE is a regular blog conversation by ‘Planet & People’ to reflect our values and behaviours and encourage open conversation on topical eco-issues.
We are the creators of the 'Planet Action Kit' and Planet Action Workshops, inspiring kids to LOVE the Earth. PAK is an educational resource and subscription activity box providing personalised learning resources engaging budding planet-friendly kids. The activities focus on the four main themes: Learn, Observe, inVolve and Enjoy and are centred around matters of environment and sustainability. We run Planet Action Workshops in schools and for large community groups where we develop the next generation of planet protectors using adapted materials from our Planet Action Kit. Find out more on our Website, Facebook group, and Instagram Feed.