PeCAN trustee Rachel Ritchie, who started Petersfield Eco Cafe, tells us what it has brought to our community over the past two years - and what might be to come...

Do you remember where you were on 3rd May 2022?

I was at the first ever Petersfield Eco café with about a dozen other people. I’d recently moved to Petersfield, and had been surprised that there was no regular venue to meet other eco-minded people. So after a little time and negotiation, there we were, sitting in a café on the High Street, with a new sign advertising Petersfield’s weekly Eco Cafe. Some weeks few people came; sometimes many. Some weeks, familiar faces; often new ones too.  Always a warm welcome, whether for the eco-curious or the committed old-timers.

Over the next two years, friendships would be forged and cemented; new projects would be suggested and given further life; strong links made with other local groups and a great deal of knowledge shared. If those in the room didn’t know the answer to a question, someone always had a contact who would! By August 2022, we’d moved to the Courtyard Room at the back of Winton House, the better to accommodate increased numbers of visitors and some of the events we wanted to put on. There were regular jewellery repairs by Vicky from Coffee Pod Creations and an exhibition, Listen to the Children, visiting from Alton Climate Action Network. We offered energy advice sessions, events around composting and plastic free living, and many others. We’ve always been happy, though, for conversations to take different directions, exploring anxieties as well as solutions and being ‘a place to touch base with your tribe’.

eco cafe crafting

The intention was always that the eco café would be more than a talking shop (although talking has been a popular activity!), and we hope to develop it further in future, inspired by hubs like Zero in Guildford and CREW in Worthing. We’ve been taking soundings over recent weeks about what people most like about the café, and what more they’d like it to be.

Please be part of this conversation, and email your thoughts to [email protected], with the title Eco Café. Here are some of the comments so far:

Eco Cafe is for you if you care about community and nature. You will find like-minded people to talk to and share ideas, news and concerns with, or to turn to for support. Sometimes a small number turn up, at other times there might be a larger group and a presentation. However it turns out, I always come away feeling stimulated and supported.

Stimulating and inspiring chat with interesting people I would be unlikely to meet otherwise!

Eco café is a wonderful way to see/ speak to your fellow eco-neighbours.

So important to have a chance to talk and listen with like-minded folk, and be reminded of events coming up.

A very warm welcome, great conversation and cake!

The Eco café is celebrating its second birthday throughout the month of May, so do please come along and see what we are all about. You’ll find us in the Courtyard Room at the back of Winton House between 10 and 12 on a Tuesday. You can get drinks from Winton House, or enjoy our supplies for a small donation to PeCAN. You can even bring your own. We have also started a monthly evening meeting - Eco Pub - especially for those we know can’t make a Tuesday morning. Details of dates are on our website here.

A big thank you to everyone who has been part of this so far, and a warm welcome to anyone who would like to join us! Please come along, share some cake, and meet like-minded local people who want to see community-driven change in support of our shared planet.