Look After Your Planet…

Warren Draper talks about the changes that have happened to the planet, such as climate change and global warming. 

Words: Warren Draper

Photography: A view of the Earth from Apollo

I was deciding between two options for titles for this piece. I went with the softer one. The other was “Its not easy being green… but its better than being extinct”.

Make no mistake, we are living in dangerous times and dangerous, panic-ridden headlines are not only highly tempting, but will become more frequent over the next few years. Only the scientifically illiterate and people in the pay of polluters and oil companies are denying climate change these days. The vast majority of scientists and the ecologically aware have been warning about the problems we now face for decades. Which is part of the problem. We’ve placed ourselves in a typical ‘cry wolf’ situation where climate deniers can say: “You were saying this 30 years ago and we’re still here!”

The truth is that the predictions were not only accurate, but, in many cases, they vastly underestimated the speed of climate change. I have been on the frontline of ecological resistance for most of my life. I remember telling people that they should “think of their grandchildren”. It wasn’t long before I had to revise this line to “think of your children”. And now the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading scientific authority on man-made global warming, tells us that if we don’t act immediately to halt carbon emissions, we will reach the significant rise in global temperatures of 1.5% by 2030. Less than twelve years from now. Given that timescale, it is very much a question of “think about yourself!”

A degree or two might not sound like much, but it will mean that the crazy global weather we are experiencing lately will be remembered as the good old days. Sun lovers might think that more summers like the ones we’ve just had is a good thing. Farmers will disagree, but it is also unlikely that we will enjoy them once the Gulf Stream has been affected. The Gulf Stream is a channel of warm water flowing across the Atlantic from the Gulf Of Mexico to warm our own waters. It only thing which stops us living in a climate more akin to Iceland’s. Iceland is very nice. Just right for a population of 350,000 people. But 65,000,000 people living in a subartic UK will not find things so easy.

We don’t even have to look to the future to find the doom and gloom. The UK has lost 75% of its flying insect mass in just 27 years. This is due to a number of man-made factors, including habitat loss, pesticides, car culture and climate change. Globally we have lost 50% of species in just 40 years for much the same reasons. We are living through the sixth mass extinction event in the natural history of our planet. As quick and as devastating as the extinction event which ended the reign of the dinosaurs, only this time we – you and me – are the asteroid colliding with Earth. Even if you don’t have a soft spot for the already endangered polar bear, going beyond the 1.5% rise in global temperatures will see the loss of species such as Theobroma cacao, the plant that gives us cocoa beans. Yes, that’s right, chocolate is in danger of becoming extinct. So why, given that we’re up Poo Poo Creek with a bunch of nutters in charge of the paddle,
would I go for the softer headline?

Because there is hope. Where there is genuine care, empathy and love, there is always hope.Doncopolitan is often criticised for being ‘too positive’. But humans are a story-driven animal. We shape the world with the stories we tell ourselves. I’m not on Facebook, but I’ve heard about the Clean Up Donny campaign, where well-meaning people are spreading horror stories about our town centre. I know that the people on that page are genuinely concerned, but the (ill-informed, often grossly exaggerated, sometimes even false…) negative stories about the town centre are as damaging as the spice users, beggars and litter they like to point the finger at. Yes, Doncaster has problems. Most towns do. But I have spoken to a number of people from the town centre business community who say that trade and footfall was more heavily affected by the doom and gloom stories than it was by the actual problems we share with towns throughout Austerity Britain.

Perception is everything. If we tell ourselves that we’re poor with no prospects and no future, that is what we will get. But it we decide to stop moaning and count our blessings – reminding ourselves of the fact that we live in a peri-urban paradise with fertile land, one of the best climates in the north of England, with warm, welcoming people and a rich, inventive heritage – then we can begin to change the narrative. Something which Doncopolitan has been banging on about for years.

We’re not talking from a high-horse or from a position of privilege. Doncopolitan is not created by a wealthy, well-resourced organisation. We’re just Donny folk who see things a little differently. More importantly, we live a little differently too. None of what we do would be possible if our main focus was getting a bigger house, bigger car and an endless supply of gadgets and bling. Yes, we’ve got next to nowt, but we never feel ‘poor’. Yes, we’d like more money, but only to make it easier to do even more cool, creative and positive things in Donny (hint, hint). But the truth is that we live happier, greener, more creative, more rewarding and freer lives because we live more simply, with more control over everything we do. If climate change is the big bad wolf, then culture change is our happy ever after.

So, if you love this mad, amazing planet like we love this mad, amazing planet, why not join us? We don’t do doom and gloom. We do slow living; we do the local economy; we do artisanal attitude; we do ‘grow your own’ and urban farming; we do communal cooking and eating; we do live art and music. We use less energy; watch less TV; buy less tat; and tread more carefully. And we have a bloody good time doing (and not doing…) it. All together now…

“Culture change, not climate change…
Culture change, not climate change…”

Be Conscious

Rachel Horne interviews Emily Hannah Jones about the group Be Conscious.

Words: Emily Hannah Jones

Photography: Warren Draper

How did Be Conscious come about?

We kept going out on woodland walks and seeing how much litter was around and basically got tired of seeing it and decided to do something about it. We always picked up as much litter as we could already and decided to take a step further and make a group page.

So where’s your page and how do people get involved?

It’s a Facebook page that is open to the public to join if they feel inclined. It’s going slow which is why I need help making it more public to get people involved more often. I make an event every few weeks and people decide whether they want to attend or not. People are quite quick to complain about the litter yet when it comes down to it they aren’t doing much about it which is why I thought group meet-ups would be a good idea.

It’s a brilliant idea, there are 9000 people on Clean Up Doncaster, wonder how many people get involved in physically cleaning up the town? I know some people will and really care, but literally a few hours’ litter pick means you can natter about Doncaster’s problems whilst actually doing something to make a difference.

What areas have you cleaned up so far? Do you feel like you are making a difference? Or does it seem overwhelming? Is a lot of it plastic waste? I know plastic has its uses but when it comes to consumable goods we don’t need it. Each time you see a piece of plastic, I just think what the f*@k are we doing. That’s gonna take 1000 years to decompose.

I decided to start the first one at High Fields park near me which is Woodlands area, it was really successful that first day with around 10 people helping and we got 25 or so bags of trash which were collected by the council as I have a number to ring for collections. We also got a lot of recognition from people while they walked past but didn’t seem like they wanted to join in even though they were unhappy with the amount of trash they see. The woodlands in that particular park are atrocious and accumulates a lot of trash which is why I wanted to keep a focus on it for a while but then fast forward into the future events and less people were showing up to help out.

I would definitely agree and say some places can be overwhelming with the amount that people litter and you feel as if your never going to make a difference but always still have hope that things will change and more people will get involved.

It’s because it’s hard work and relentless, and it’s demoralising seeing the rubbish reappear again. I think to really understand the crisis we are in you need to know how things decompose, everyone should be composting waste at home. When you compost your waste you understand that’s the way things should be done and consumable plastic waste is utter madness.

Yes the majority of trash we pick up is plastic i.e. bottles and straws which are the most harmful to our environment. Plastic isn’t decomposable so it will be there forever. I often think that if people have the time to go out deep into nature and throw all their trash around why can’t they take the time and go to the appropriate place.

How did you get into all this? What motivates you personally?

Yes, I’ve always been interested in the environment since being a little girl so it was just inevitable for me to blossom into an environmentalist. I hate to see trash everywhere and felt the urge to clean Doncaster up. I feel a lot of people have lost their connection to nature and how important it Is for us. Therefore, I want to be able to teach people everything I’ve learned and get people to become connected once more, not only with nature but ourselves and each other.

Also, I became vegan in January 2016 and have never looked back.It was very empowering to know I could make a change just starting with the food on my plate. I kept seeing events online and reading more a more into veganism and how animal agriculture affects our planet. Therefore, I felt the need to do more which led me to becoming a part of Doncaster Animal Action and going to vigils and protests. I love the people I’ve met through this amazing movement and seeing it grow and become more worldwide is a blessing.

Have you studied ecology or anything this field?

Everything I’ve learnt is through experience and lots and lots of research, nobody should need a degree for being an environmentalist just a love for nature and the urge for change.

When will the next pick take place?

Found out on the Doncaster Be Conscious group HERE.

Our Headgears Our Heritage

Plans for Hatfield Main Colliery are coming along nicely

Words: Mike Lanaghan

Photos: Save Hatfield Main Headgears

Hatfield Main is the last colliery in the Doncaster Coalfield, finally closed in 2015. At its height, it employed 3,500 workers from the villages of Stainforth, Dunscroft, Hatfield, Thorne, and Moorends. By the time of its final closure that number could be counted on one hand. The socio-economic cost of having a coal producing mine without employment in those communities has resulted in no input from the Coalfields Regeneration Scheme since in the early 1990s, resulting in the economic deprivation of the area.

On learning of the immediate closure of Hatfield Main and filling of the shafts, a local miners’ heritage group moved to gain protected status for the last headgears in the Doncaster coalfield, and was successful in 2015. The site also has two winding houses, an engine room, and fan housings that are still intact and, in early 2018, a formal trust body was initiated to build a plan for the site.

Firstly, we aim to provide a miners’ memorial garden at the end of the old pit lane included in the proposals for the colliery use.

It’s a well known fact that the mines of Britain didn’t just produce coal; a rich seam of poets, artists, writers along with comedians, singers and songwriters became a by-product of the mining communities. With this in mind, a large part of the trust’s proposals will include affordable artisan workshops and studios in the disused winding houses and engine room, harnessing solar and underground sources of heat and electricity, inclusion of a local radio station and recording studio, along with proposals for a virtual reality underground experience. The old fan housing will hopefully become a gallery to exhibit artworks, including art from the mining communities of Doncaster and other coalfields of Britain, while the area’s surrounding country park will hopefully become a heritage centre including a wedding venue and community facilities aimed at generating a sustainable future. Finally, it’s hoped that both headgears can be repaired and lit so that they can be seen from all major transport routes to the east of Doncaster, becoming a lasting memorial to our coal mining heritage.

It isn’t the aim of the Trust to seek any funding from the taxpayers of Doncaster, instead seeking funding from grants and crowd-funding.

Please find us on Facebook at Save Hatfield Main Headgears and Just Giving Hatfield Main where we are currently raising the initial funds for a feasibility study along with initial structural surveys that are required to open other grant funding sources.

The Big Mean Screen Machine

Greenjacker tells us the secret to disconnecting from the electronic addiction

Words: Greenjacker

Photography: Warren Draper

I worked a wide variety of jobs before taking the plunge to become one of Doncaster’s first urban farmers (there’s still only a few of us, so pop down to Bentley Urban Farm if you want to be part of the first wave). The one thing each workplace had in common was almost exactly the same early morning conversations.

“Traffic’s a nightmare again.”

“Yeah, I’d be tempted to hop on my bike if it weren’t for the rubbish English weather.”

“Yeah, cold again isn’t it?”

“Freezing. Its like bloomin’ Siberia out there. And the TV said it is going to rain later.”

“Really? Again? I’ll check mi phone… Oh, yeah. It has pictures of rain clouds on my app. Says a 60% chance of showers at 2pm. Can’t wait for my holiday to Spain in six weeks, they get proper weather.”

“Bit hot though?”

“Yeah,”… try your hardest not to picture Peter Kay on reading the next line… “Different heat though, isn’t it?!?”

A lot of Doncopolitan readers will hear conversations like this during their own working day, but how true are such statements? Anyone who spends any real time outside in Doncaster will tell you that weather is rarely truly unbearable. We’ve talked about Doncaster’s favourable micro-climate many times in Doncopolitan. Weather forecasts are rarely local enough to give an accurate picture and most of the time when rain is forecast for the general area the rain clouds actually tend to pass us over, preferring to dump their load on Sheffield or Leeds. Believe it or not, thanks to our geography, we don’t get that many rainy days. Go outside if you don’t believe me, the odds are against you getting wet, and at least you have this copy of Doncopolitan to cover your head if it does happen to rain.

The truth is that most of the people who moan about the weather have left their centrally heated home to drive their heated car to work where they’ll spend the next 8 hours sitting in a heated office. Anyone who walks to work knows that the body will acclimatise within 10 minutes or so. Surprisingly, using your body warms you up! Yes, there are times when we need a little extra help, but, as the Norwegians say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

As for moaning about the traffic, if you’re driving, you are the traffic. To be honest, this inability to recognise our own complicity in the problems we face is hardly surprising. It is a symptom of our growing disconnection from the physical world. It is very hard to connect with anything when we spend our lives peering through screens. Whether it be the windows of our houses, cars or offices, or the screens of our TVs, computers, phones and tablets, we seem to live most of

our lives with a layer of glass between ourselves and the real world. In fact, we are less likely to believe that something is ‘real’ if we haven’t seen it on a screen. Tragically, in this post- truth age, we’re also likely to believe something just because it does appear on a screen.

We have abandoned the vital for the virtual, but it hasn’t even made us happy. Anxiety levels are rising due to lack of ‘likes’ from people who we’ve never even met and we’re made jealous by a constant stream of pictures of people

more beautiful than ourselves in places more wonderful than where we are, even though we know full well that the photos are filtered and that they’re taken at a carefully selected angle which shows the only uncrowded spot on the entire beach and conveniently ignores the nearby toxic waste dump and street beggars. In fact, our rose-tinted screens make it much easier for us to ignore things like pollution, poverty, climate change, extinction and war, even though mobile phone production itself has exasperated many of these problems.

I was unhappy, too, not so very long ago. I had a ‘good’ job and some of the best screens money can buy, but it was never enough. One of my Facebook ‘friends’ was a diving instructor in Dubai who always seemed to be at amazing parties; my life seemed dull and listless in comparison. Why couldn’t I have his perfect life? I was much smarter than him at school. And within weeks of me having the latest smartphone or tablet, something faster, cleverer and shinier would come along. My once powerful phone would become ever more brick-like and embarrassing as I waited for my contract to end. But then I started working the land.

Growing things changes your perspective. Firstly you spend most of your life outdoors, with no barrier between you and the real world. Physically, you begin to feel better. Partly due to the injection of vitamin D, but mainly because you somehow feel expanded as you realise that you are an integral part of the whole; a small aspect of a constantly changing landscape. Because you’re growing things, especially if you’re growing organically, you also focus more on the needs of life, rather than lifestyle. A healthy environment makes healthy plants. You become more observant, more focused on the here and now and you work to Mother Nature’s calendar. We develop an ‘ecological mindset’, which is almost the opposite to the screen mindset. It might be nice to catch up with what my actual friends are doing now and then, but some random photo of a cat or a few extra ‘likes’ ain’t gonna make my tomatoes any sweeter.

I feel physically and mentally healthier for reconnecting with the real world. But don’t take my word for it. Take yourself a ‘Vacation from the Virtual’. This is a bit like a ‘Digital Detox’ with a healthy, tasty bonus. Come off of social media for a month. On day one plant yourself a radish. When you get the urge to check your phone, check your radish instead. After all, the little guy’s life depends on you giving it attention now and then. Watch it develop. Within days of planting the seed you’ll see the first leaves. These will be replaced a week or so later by the ‘true leaves’. Photographing this development will kerb your urge to photograph yourself for your feed and, talking of ‘feed’, by the end of the month you will have a delicious radish. Which is more than Facebook ever gave you.

If you get good at growing radishes, come down and grow more stuff at Bentley Urban Farm. We guarantee not to have good Wi-Fi.

Faces of Frenchgate

Warren Draper spent the day photographing some of Doncaster’s finest for Faces of Frenchgate

Words and photography: Warren Draper

To mark the 50th Anniversary of the building of the Frenchgate shopping centre, Doncopolitan are partnering with Frenchgate to create an exhibition to celebrate the people who made the last half century possible. Faces Of Frenchgate will capture the faces, and document the stories, of the beautiful humans who make Frenchgate such a vibrant place to visit. If you would like to take advantage of this unique opportunity to have your portrait taken, or if you would like to share your Frenchgate story (like the guy who remembers his dad taking him to the Arndale to buy a ferret!), then please get in touch:


07846 439982