By Martin Dickie 

The Common Treasury’s Hastings Emerging Futures project continued its series of future visioning workshops with an online event on Tuesday 23rd February titled Sustainable Hastings: Planting the Seeds for a Better Future Together.

The evening opened with a performance of John Lennon’s Imagine by Izzy Withers, and was followed by contributions from panel guests including Gonzalo Alvarez, chairman of the UN Association Climate and Oceans; Dr Ralitsa Hiteva, research fellow at the University of Sussex’s Science Policy Research Unit; local artist and landscape architect, Julia Hilton; Anna Locke, expert in permaculture and food sustainability; and Hannah Robbins of Wonderfill, a plastic-free refill shop in St Leonards.

Key discussion points from the event were captured live in digital sketch form by local artist Raquel Durán

Their input sparked lively debate in the chat forum, which was martialed expertly by Caoimhe O’Gorman. One notable suggestion came from the
UN’s Gonzalo Alvarez, who recommended stimulating the local economy by initiating a regatta to rival Southampton Sailing Week. He also called for the Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival to be promoted internationally.

A former marketeer, Wonderfill’s Hannah Robbins captured the audience’s imagination by lifting the lid on corporate marketing strategies that ignore environmental concerns. One such trick was the continued promotion of traditional toothbrushes, whose larger brush heads encourage the use of more toothpaste (and therefore greater profits) than with smaller, more environmentally friendly replacement heads for electric brushes.

Julia Hilton talked about Hastings Borough Council, Team East Sussex and other institutions, calling on them to draw on Kate Raworth’s seminal economic model, the ‘doughnut’, especially with regard to Hastings’ Town Deal investment plan and the future of the area’s green spaces.

Among other ideas, Anna Locke discussed the notion of ‘cosmopolitan localism’. Inspired by the transition towns movement, it promotes closed-loop systems to ensure local needs are met, while maintaining global awareness. She called for a local food hub shop where local growers can sell their home-grown fruit and veg.

In one of the more extensive presentations, Dr Ralitsa Hiteva explained how new environmental technologies do not always represent good value for money for local people. She spoke about ‘social’ infrastructure, such as good quality housing, community halls, cafés, playgrounds and open spaces, and how important it is to make local people stakeholders in community projects.

NetZero competition

The Hastings Independent Press has teamed up with Dr Hiteva and her team, who are involved in working towards Hastings’ NetZero target, by organising a free competition to encourage locals to consider what part they might play in our sustainable future.

To enter the competition, simply write down your answers to one or all of the questions below and submit them to: [email protected] by 19th March 2021.

What does NetZero mean for me?
How are we/am I going to afford becoming NetZero?  
How would you like NetZero in Hastings to be achieved?
How do we make sure that the transition to NetZero benefits everyone and doesn’t leave anyone behind?

Submissions can be made by individuals, families and businesses/organisations. Answers should reflect the participant’s experiences and, preferably, include practical ideas, hopes and plans for the future. Ideas specific to Hastings and the surrounding area are particularly welcome. There’s a maximum of 200 words for each question; you may also upload one image in support of your answer.

Favourite answers will be voted for by the public on the HIP website and the best overall submission will be selected by a panel of sustainability experts. Winners will be announced in the NetZero supplement.

Entrants could win one of the following:
• £50 voucher for Chocolate Note
• £50 voucher for Sugarpie Honeybuns
• £50 voucher for Trinity Whole Foods
• £50 voucher for Wonderfill, (matched by the shop owner)

Other prizes may be added.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your answers, resources from the Hastings Emerging Futures event can be found at

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