Lisa Stone: From electrician to technician to local councillor

Cllr Lisa Stone, new deputy leader of the Bristol Green Group, reflects on what drew her to political activism and local governance.

 

Lisa Stone
Lisa Stone

In May last year, I was elected as a Green Councillor for Windmill Hill in Bristol. There has been a long and winding road to get here, and I hope this is the start of a fabulous chapter.

People have been talking about global warming for a depressingly long time, and I distinctly remember discussions about it in my youth. As I grew up, I became increasingly aware of this problem, and increasingly concerned with how it was evolving into something that was not being managed by our leaders. In fact, the issue was not being taken seriously at all, and whilst experiencing a very difficult childhood, with many other things that I had to negotiate, I still had an overwhelming desire to try and help in any way I was able. There was no obvious path to do so and I really had to figure it out myself over a long time.

Not being academically gifted and failing my O Levels, I considered myself more vocational and completed a college course in Electrical/Electronic engineering with a view to becoming an electrician. Sadly, the electrical industry in the 80s proved a seriously unwelcoming environment for a female electrician. Instead, I tried to make a career in broadcasting as a technician, which was really exciting for a while – it took me all over the world, including working on a sustainability project in Malawi.

On returning to the UK, I had a reality check and retrained as an electrician to work on building sites and install solar panels as well as energy efficiency technologies on the ground.

After a while, I started to train people in electrics in the further education sector. This turned out to be a great environment to discuss practical issues in the environment and sustainability, especially in construction. I found that people were keen to learn new skills and that there was a demand for environmental issues to be integrated into the curriculum, so, I took full advantage of the situation to help train a new generation of electricians with awareness of climate change and in new sustainable technologies and ways of working.

Throughout my life, I have always aimed for the simplest and most practical solutions to fundamental problems which are often overlooked by academics, which is seriously frightening. People tend to overcomplicate everything, so in the past I have often looked to activist groups and tried to get involved with them, joining both Green Peace and Extinction Rebellion. 

However, it occurred to me that the way we will ultimately tackle major environmental threats to people and the planet is through working towards changing people’s mindsets and processes from the community level upwards. To me, this means getting involved in local governance and coming up with a simple plan that will change the world. Still working on that one!