Shift Bristol CIC is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company. We provide affordable and accessible training to people wanting to create positive change in their lives, environment, communities and the planet. We offer no-nonsense, practical training with an emphasis on community empowerment and just cracking on with it.
Our students come from all walks of life and age groups. They work together to learn not only how to understand and do useful things, but also how to collaborate and take effective action.
Our roots and influencers
Shift Bristol was set up in 2010 by Sarah Pugh and Laura Corfield. The Practical Sustainability Course was a progression of the annual Permaculture Design Courses they delivered in Bristol from 2004.
Sarah Pugh has lived and worked in Bristol since 1997. She worked as the Community Gardener at Easton Community Centre, organised events and fundraised for St Werburghs City Farm and various roles in the voluntary sector. She is a founder member of the Bristol Permaculture Group - an active network of over 2,000 people practising sustainable growing and living in the city. In 2007 she set up Transition Bristol, the first Transition City. She coordinated this project as a volunteer until she had a baby in 2009 and went on to create Shift Bristol. Until 2020 she was the Lead Tutor and Creative Director of the Practical Sustainability Course as well as teaching other courses, including the Permaculture Design and Effective Collaboration Courses. She's also a single mum.
Laura Corfield has volunteered with a host of community engagement and sustainability groups; including founding Transition Keynsham and participating in Climate Action camps and demonstrations. She helped establish Shift Bristol in its formative years as a Director and Project Manager of the Practical Sustainability Course before starting her family in 2013 and moving to Frome. She returned to Shift mothership in 2020, helping navigate a change to remote learning and the changing goal posts of the Coronavirus. She is passionate about self empowerment, connection and the power of community.
In 2013 Laura was succeeded by Iain Stewart, a medical herbalist and previous Shift student. He brought new skills and expertise in meticulous organisation and risk assessment to the team. He left in 2017 to pursue his herbal practice and other projects, including promoting the film 'In Our Hands' with the Landworkers' Alliance.
Bryher Bloor joined the team in 2017 fresh from co-ordinating volunteers for the Permaculture Association International Convergence and several years working with forest schools. She co-steered Shift Bristol as a Director for three years, during which she brought her own brand of calm efficiency to the Shift adventure. She has since worked as a Campaign Manager for Green Party during it's 2021 election campaign and is now an Outreach Coordinator for the Landworkers Alliance's 'Future Farming Resilience' project. She continues to be Shift Bristol's Roundhouse Project Manager, during our Practical Sustainability Course roundhouse build.
Alex Reuer came on board in 2019 and co-steered Shift Bristol as a Director and Practical Sustainability Course until 2021. Her eagle eye and unwavering dedication to wrestling with our CRM platform, organising our processes and managing our Zoom technology ensured our success during our remote learning adventures. A former Shift student, she has volunteered and worked for the Landworkers’ Alliance and sits on the board of Sims Hill Shared Harvest. She is a qualified and experienced Translator and Conference Interpreter for German, English, Spanish; regularly working with Amnesty International. She can often be found foraging, at the allotment or on the building site of Bristol's hottest new Self Build project.
During the 2020-21 Practical Sustainability Course, due to a change in course format and the need for smaller socially distanced student groups, we worked with an additional small team of bank facilitators. With special thanks to the following (previous students) for your flexibility and support during that challenging year:
Bronwyn Louw, Alex Levontine, Silas Clay, Megan Trump, Rachel Lunnon.
Due to some serious health challenges Sarah Pugh had to step back from her role as Lead Tutor and Creative Director of the Practical Sustainability Course. She continues to be a director of Shift Bristol, and supports its activities with her years of experience and expertise.
This last year of navigating the Coronavirus and Sarah's departure has shown that Shift Bristol is more than the individuals who are running it at any one time. It exists and thrives because it's a growing network of dedicated tutors, practitioners, community projects/ groups and 300+ Shifty students. This network allows our approach to teaching and design of course format to remain resilient and adaptable, alive and transitional. It can remain truthful to its core ethos and ambition; to build community through education, networking and connection - whilst shape shifting and riding some turbulent waves! We are confident that the next team assembled to take forward the 2022-23 Practical Sustainability Course will bring about another fantastic year's experience for our students.
A consistent thread running central throughout all our courses is the ever evolving cracking team of over 40 tutors and practitioners. Who bring their passion, expertise, knowledge and pioneering spirit. All our tutors are working in the field they teach, so their information is fresh, dynamic and direct from the real world. We visit many of them in their natural environment so we get to see the successes, challenges and results of their work as we tour gardens, farms, sewage systems, energy projects and homes.