Earlier this year Essex Book Festival launched its Young Essex Manifesto For Essex, which forms part of Essex 2020: Year of Science and Creativity

What is the Manifesto? Put simply, the Manifesto For Essex is a creative platform for young people living in Essex and beyond to express their thoughts and ideas about tackling Climate Change.

So far the Manifesto has involved everything from the creation of a special Manifesto For Essex Zine led by Southend-based artist and founder of Grrrl Zine Fair Lu Williams, and our inspirational Climate Change Youth Summit, part of British Science Festival, through to our Tree-Mend-Us Family Day in the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford led by Chelmsford Ideas Hub, which celebrated the importance of trees via storytelling, a community tree tapestry, films and workshops.

A combination of stories, poems, podcasts, posters and short films, the Manifesto For Essex has so far included Fashion/Remade – three online events in partnership with Focal Point Gallery about sustainability in the fashion industry; save our beautiful planet bunting workshops; plus prints, placards, posters and pamphlets created within Colchester’s fabulous Makerspace.

Festival Director Ros Green says:
“When we began thinking about our contribution to Essex 2020 the first question we asked ourselves was: What is the most pressing issue of the day, and who will be most affected by it? The answer was simple: Climate Change and young people. The Essex Coast is one of the UK’s most vulnerable places in terms of rising sea levels. You only have to look at the projected rise in the sea level in Clacton by 2050 to seriously pause for thought. The second question was: What can a book festival do to raise awareness of and help tackle Climate Change? Again, the answer was simple. Ask a friend. Or two. When we asked our friends and partners how they could add to the Manifesto For Essex, we were literally flooded with ideas. Most of which will be on the menu for March, with some taking place later in the year.”

Our marvellous Manifesto For Essex continues to develop and has even provoked a video response from Chelmsford City Council.

Watch the video response from Chelmsford City Council at https://youtu.be/JcpRWvs1Zcw

Find out below about the many Manifesto For Essex activities which have taken place already.

Key Manifesto events and activities which took place during Essex Book Festival:

Created by young people and the ‘young at heart’, Manifesto for Essex is a creative platform for people to share thoughts and ideas on what we can do to protect the planet.

Climate Change Youth Summit 2021

We were thrilled by the number of young people, councillors/officers, and environmental activists/artists who gave up their Saturday to take part in our  inaugural Manifesto for Essex Climate Change Youth Summit, which took place on 11th September as part of the British Science Festival hosted by Anglia Ruskin University.

A mix of panel discussions, breakaway workshops, and presentations led by the young people of Essex and inspired by our Manifesto for Essex zine created by artist Lu Williams it was very heartening to be a part of an event where everybody took the time to listen to each other’s views, all with the collective aim of helping to make Essex Green-Fit by 2030.

Take a look at the photos from the Climate Change Youth Summit

We will be building on the success of the day by pulling together a team of inspirational young people from across the county to create the Manifesto for Essex Youth Panel. If you know any young person aged between 11-19 who might be interested in joining the panel, please contact Ros: [email protected]

Chelmsford Community Radio Eco-Cast


We commissioned young Chelmsford Community Radio journalists to conduct a series of interviews with Chelmsford businesses, organisations and local community groups about their ‘green’ practices. 

Have a listen to the Eco-Cast and find out what Chelmsford businesses are doing to protect our precious environment.

You can also hear readings of some of the Earth Poems which were written as part of our Manifesto For Essex exhibition in Chelmsford supported by Essex 2020.

Read a selection of the Earth Poems here.

We hope these Eco-Casts will encourage and inspire you.

Manifesto For Essex Earth Poem and Bunting Exhibition

Bunting 3x2

In preparation for our special Manifesto For Essex Exhibition we invited young people and the ‘young at heart’ to contribute a special Earth Poem to be displayed in one of our participating venues.

To mark Essex 2020: A year of Science & Creativity, Essex Book Festival worked with its partners and friends to create a giant snake of bunting.

Following a number of hugely successful bunting-making workshops in venues across Essex as part of this year’s Essex Book Festival, we urged everyone to join in the fun at home.

Why? The bunting then formed part of our Manifesto For Essex: a countywide project that offers children and young people a creative platform to express their thoughts and feelings about Climate Change.

11th – 20th September – High Street , Chelmsford , Essex

In partnership with One Chelmsford, Chelmsford City Council, Chelmsford Community Radio and Heritage Open Days, Essex Book Festival hosted an exhibition of poems and bunting in shop windows in Chelmsford City Centre as part of our Manifesto For Essex Project.

Take a look at the photo album from the Manifesto For Essex Earth Poem and Bunting Exhibition.

Read a selection of the Earth Poems here.

Manifesto For Essex Zine and Zine-Making Workshop

We commissioned artist Lu Williams to create a Manifesto For Essex Zine using contributions from our audiences across Essex Book Festival 2020. The result is a beautiful, impactful and inspirational zine – watch this space for details of where you can view the zine during Essex Book Festival 2021.

View a digital version of the Manifesto For Essex Zine


Lu Williams also ran a creative zine-making workshop during the Manifesto For Essex Exhibition in Chelmsford.

Take a look at the photo album for the Zine-making workshop.

Essex Steamettes Manifesto For Essex coding project

Scratch studio

Essex Steamettes have created a Scratch Studio to showcase their Manifesto For Essex coding projects. The Scratch stories include Earth Poems and games along the theme of the environment and flooding. The main idea is to make people think about our impact on the planet and the causes of rising waters and floods.

Take a look at the Scratch Studio here

Essex Steamettes are a group of girls who are interested in creative coding, engineering, digital art and the application of technology to solve problems such as climate change, pollution, ageing. They will be creating more Scratch projects and other activities soon so if you’re interested in getting involved find out more here: southendtech.co.uk/essex-steamettes

Escaping Climate Change Day

Escaping Climate Change Video 3x2

6th March, Hex Building, University of Essex, Colchester.
A special Escaping Climate Change Day open to students and the wider public involving a Climate Change long table discussion, ‘hot spot’ presentations, artist workshops, and vegan ‘tasters’; a Clothes Swish, a Save the Planet pledge board etc. Participants included Festival patron writer and performer AL Kennedy, author and activist Cath Drake (Writers Rebel), and sound artist Lily Hunter-Green.

Watch a short video of the Escaping Climate Change event

View the photo album of the Escaping Climate Change event

Tree-Mend-Us Day

8th March, Civic Theatre, Chelmsford.
Our Tree-Mend-Us Day was led by Chelmsford Ideas Hub in partnership with Essex Book Festival and Chelmsford Theatres. Activities included a screening of The Lorax, nature craft workshops, performances, tree walks, storytelling, sewing, seedling planting, tree bark rubbing, and an ‘Under the Microscope’ digital art workshop.

Take a look at the photos from our Tree-Mend-Us Day

Watch the Tree-Mend-Us Community Animation on Facebook, created during a workshop with Artimate and Chelmsford Poetry Circle on what trees mean to us.

Drop-in Workshops and Activities at our PLACE weekend

14th & 15th March, Firstsite. We hosted a range of activities as part of our PLACE weekend in Colchester. Plant A Story Workshops led by award-winning storyteller Glenys Newton, Save Our Beautiful Planet Bunting Workshops, a Chinese paper-cutting workshop led by Colchester Chinese Culture Society, a Zine-Making Workshop led by artist Lu Williams, and more.

Take a look at the photo album from our PLACE weekend

Manifesto For Essex Printing and Illustration Workshops

Manifesto For Essex Printing and Illustration workshops

14th & 15th March Makerspace, Colchester
A children’s printing and illustration extravaganza was held at Colchester Makerspace with Resident Artist Tom Armstrong and Lee Thomas. Hosted in partnership with Essex Book Festival & Colchester’s Extinction Rebellion, children could Screen Print their own climate change protest placard and illustrate their own large format take-away poster for their school, club or home — as a stark reminder of the urgency of challenge we face.

Take a look at the amazing Climate Change placards and posters created during the Printing and Illustration Workshops at Makerspace

Fashion Remade Poster 3x2

Fashion/Remade Workshop

14th, 15th, 16th July – Online via Instagram
Rescheduled from earlier in the year, these events were held online on Focal Point Gallery’s Instagram page. Three conversations and practical activities centred on sustainability and the fashion industry, led by Sara Brown and Ella Sisso of Eighty Eight Podcast, artist Philippa Stewart and zine-maker Lu Williams.

Listen to the Fashion/Remade episode of the Eighty Eight podcast

Watch this space. The Manifesto grows by the day …