October 2023
Welcome back to our newsletter about all things River Ouse. This bumper edition covers our upcoming events, our expanding team and network, anniversary reflections and a unique River poetry feature from Western Road Primary School.

River People Tour

Come along and join us on our next wave of community events! The River People Tour is a series of four events taking place at community venues from source to sea providing opportunities for everyone to celebrate, learn and act for the river and its tributaries.

We start near the source up in Balcombe at the beautiful Victory Hall on Saturday 21st October. We’ll then be at Barcombe Village Hall on 27th January, Malling Community Centre in Lewes on 24th March) and finishing at Newhaven quaysideat the river's mouth on 25th May at the Marine Workshops. Pop the dates in your diary!

Events will include stalls, talks, workshops, and cultural activities with something for everyone.

We will focus on our Rights of River work gathering local people's ideas for the developing Ouse Charter. Our large aerial maps will be out for our community river mapping activity where people can contribute their memories, concerns and hopes for the river. Plus, we are also starting to recruit for an exciting new Citizen Science Project to upscale monitoring and testing along the river.

The tour showcases Ouse initiatives and enthusiasts including The Ouse and Adur River Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, a talk by the Anglers on the fish of the Ouse, a talk by South East Water on enhancing catchment resilience, creative writing with Chalk and Stream and more! There will be Ouse arts and crafts for all the family and plenty of tea and cake.
Events are free and accessible for all. Keep an eye on the event webpage for more details. We hope to see you there.

Get involved!

Are you an Ouse expert, enthusiast or part of a local group/organisation? You can still apply to take part in the tour.

Want to do your bit for the river? We have volunteer opportunities to be part of the team. We’re particularly seeking committed volunteers in a special opportunity to be part of delivering our interactive river community mapping activity. All you need is a curiosity, a willingness to learn and interact with all kinds of people who live along the Ouse. There's lots of flexibility in tasks and rotas. No experience is necessary, just a few hours or muck in for the whole tour!

Get in touch with Tasha for more info on both at info@loveourouse.org.

Building our network

We’re really pleased to have been accepted onto the Adur and Ouse Catchment Partnership after presenting to them last month at their quarterly meeting.

Hosted by the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust and formed in 2011, the Partnership is a range of organisations, groups, agencies, and individuals all committed to working together to improve the water environment and surrounding landscape across the whole catchment for both people and wildlife.

The Partnership includes organisations such as The Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs National Park, South East Water, Southern Water, District Councils and the Environment Agency. We very much look forward to contributing to the catchment scale work for the Ouse, bringing increased community representation to the partnership and working for mutual benefit of the river.

We have also been speaking with Weald to Waves, an emerging network who are establishing a nature recovery corridor from the High Weald to the Sussex coast and revived seas, encompassing over 20,000 hectares of contiguous habitat. We are currently scoping partnership opportunities with them.

Meet our new team members

We warmly welcome Sandra Manning-Jones to our Steering Group. She is a very experienced landscape ecologist, with a focus on freshwater, flooding, floodplains and catchment scale thinking with over 15 years’ experience in the field particularly in and around the Arun & Western Rother and River Ouse catchments.

We would also like to introduce Josh Levene who is developing our Community River Mapping activity. Josh’s background is in anthropology and ecological design advising international NGOs and UN agencies on community engagement for different sustainable development issues and has been working on river issues on the Nile, Kosi, Whanganui (first river to be given rights of personhood) and the Dart (who has also had it’s right declared).

We feel so lucky to be working with such awesome and experienced river people!

Rights of Rivers Summit

We are delivering an industry focused conference on 24th November. The Summit will report on key implementations of Rights of Rivers, delve into the opportunities it presents for the Ouse and hold workshops on emerging key themes.

This comes after unprecedented interest, offers of support and collaboration opportunities when Lewes District Council passed a motion in February. The motion will ‘explore Rights of Rivers in a local context and in particular the River Ouse and work with local communities, relevant stakeholders and local authorities along the River Ouse towards producing a ‘Declaration on the Rights of the River Ouse’ for adoption by the Council within 2 years.’

The intention for the Summit is to bring together key parties to help progress the River Ouse Charter significantly. Invitees include academics, students, Wildlife Trusts, statutory agencies, local authorities, national river groups, local landowners and community initiatives. It promises to be an informative, lively and intense day. We will be reporting publicly on the outputs of the event.

We thank the Ouse Valley Climate Action project for supporting this event.
Learn more about Rights of Rivers by visiting our dedicated webpage.

River Run – poetry anthology

Magical River

I can see the sparkly river
I can hear the whooshing water
I can smell the fresh grass
I can touch the rough pebbles

By Auri - Reception
Western Road Primary School in Lewes has published its third annual poetry anthology, River Run. Every child in the school contributed! The anthology is full of beautiful river-themed poetry and art with plenty of Ouse and Winterbourne Stream (it flows under the school grounds!) poems in there.

It was a pleasure to talk in assembly about how rivers inspire us and it was an honour for Tasha Padbury, Love our Ouse Director, to write the Forward for the anthology.

Everyone can enjoy the book via this digital version:

They will be exhibiting the anthology throughout October weekends at Fitzroy House.

Anniversary reflections

It’s been a year since our public launch, putting on the River Festival in partnership with the Railway Land Wildlife Trust. We can’t believe how much we’ve learnt and achieved in this relatively short time.

We first came together in November 2021 after watching a film called Invisible Hand at Depot cinema. It was an inspiring documentary about communities who were standing up for their local waterway with such clarity and determination. We also observed the power and effectiveness local initiatives in the UK were starting to have on raising awareness, addressing the issues and creating community cohesion.

But where was the voice for the Ouse and why didn’t we have more of a unified sense of pride and appreciation of our precious river? Despite the many key agencies working to improve and enhance the Ouse, why is it in such a state? We felt we could help to upscale the profile of the river, give it a voice and get more people involved.

It is a privilege to connect with so many different kinds of people dedicated to rivers. We spend an enormous amount of time and headspace (that we struggle to find in our busy lives!) researching, plotting, observing and dreaming for the Ouse via Whatsapp, email, at events and in meetings. The to-do list is longer than the river and tributaries put together. Sometimes it feels like we're swimming upstream against the flow without a paddle and sometimes we drift down gently with the damselflies.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Helen Meade, CEO at the Railway Land Wildlife Trust. She has been in our steering group from the start and gives invaluable input which is always practical, pragmatic, resourceful and laced with superb sense humour.

Thank you also reader for being part of our journey so far. We hope you’ll continue to love our Ouse.

And a final thanks goes to the river. Thank you for being the watery thread through our landscape that binds us, shapes us, provides life and joy to so many living beings. We wish you a healthy, abundant and thriving future.

Thanks for reading from Emma, Duncan, Tasha and Matthew at Love our Ouse.

Check out our website: loveourouse.org
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