Julian Holbrook, environmental campaigner and community councillor, has become one of the first people to be funded by the Fred Edwards Trust to attend a citizen leadership programme in the United States.
Julian Holbrook, 54, who lives at Damhead, Midlothian, has been named as one of the first two Fred Edwards Trust fellows, who will follow in the footsteps of Dr Martin Luther King, travelling to the internationally acclaimed Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee to take part in its 2015 workshop week, followed by a programme of visits to US-based citizen-led groups.
The trust was set up in memory the former Strathclyde social work director who was a radical campaigner on international development and the environment until his death in 2008.
Mr Holbrook, who studied geology at Edinburgh University and then worked for the Nature Conservancy Council and its successor body Scottish Natural Heritage, specialising in land use strategy, for 18 years before being made redundant when SNH moved its headquarters from Edinburgh to Inverness.
He then took a year out to finish a self-build eco-conversion of an old farm building into the family home at Damhead in the green belt,
And he has spent the last seven years working on climate change in Scotland, first as manager of a Government-funded adaptation programme helping organisations tackle climate issues. and since January 2013, with the independent environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, working with community groups across Scotland.
He has developed a one-day climate change training course, which he holds monthly in different parts of Scotland and has now delivered to around 200 community representatives.
He says: “It’s much more real and grounded working with communities rather than organisations. People still feel confused about climate change, why it’s happening and what they can do. My job is working through that with them and trying to provide support.”
He is also a member of Damhead and District Community Council, where he has encouraged fellow members to broaden the scope of their activities beyond planning matters to community empowerment.
He says he hopes the programme tin Tennessee will allow him to tap into expertise on community activism.
Julian is married to Kate Holl, a leading woodland expert, and they have four daughters: Nathalie, an environmental artist; Josie, a final year vet student; Marianne, just back from a year in Senegal and starting a law degree and Roseanne, the youngest who loves to look after the chickens on the family’s 5.5-acre organic smallholding.