Bee Aware!

Bungay Community Bees is pleased to announce the birth of it’s Education and Outreach Group, probably to be named Bee Aware. A table-full of us met in my kitchen and after gorging on loads of yummy food (and delicious blueberry juice) we were finally brought to our purpose. So, with Charlotte facilitating, we compiled a whole host of ideas about ways in which we can engage others with our interest in honey bees.

We are building a portfolio of skills, interesting stuff and educational activities (including those linked to Key stage 1 and 2 for schools) that can be tailored to accommodate different situations and groups of people. Grander plans were also discussed – but we will wait until they are in the pipe-line to reveal them. We will also be teaming up with the Plants for Bees group to promote and facilitate bee friendly gardening.

So, spread the word and if you or anyone you know would be interested in our members coming to chat (or more) with your group/friends get in touch!

Green Drinks: Energy and Communities – A Report

“So long as you have a good hat on and boots,” said Paul. We were not talking fashion, we were talking insulation at the second themed Green Drinks on Energy and Community. Once my head was full of French movies and tailored coats, but now in Transition my attention is on more practical things. At the Waveney Rural Summit I found myself intricately involved in Bungay community bus routes, here in how two feet of breathable sheep’s wool will keep you toasty no matter what the weather. The energy was buzzing in the Green Dragon, as everyone swapped data about solar panels and wind speeds, fired questions, busily immersed in the details of KW, PV and CO2. How many people does it take to erect a turbine? Where are grants to be found? What is the payback time?

The backroom was full: 27 people from different locations including the local church, UEA and the Centre of Alternative Technology had gathered to discuss energy. Josiah hosted the evening which took its shape from our first one on Economics and Livelihoods. Two expert conversationalists, John Taylor, the Climate Change officer from Suffolk county council and Simon Weeks of Cookpole Energy Action spoke about how the new push is towards community energy projects:

“The real potential lies with FITs,” said John who is also part of Transition Ipswich’s pioneering wind-turbine project.

John placed the evening’s discussion within the wide frame of global warming, resource shortage, peak oil and the stark fact that during the boomtime 80s and 90s Britain could afford to export its oil and gas, but now had to import it, along with its fluctuating fortunes. We all live on an island that was once energy rich but is no longer: our vast coal reserves that fuelled the industrial revolution and North Sea oil as John pointed out in his wide-reaching introduction “drove a lot of the prosperity of the 80s and 90s, but now is in long-term decline.”

On a global level the energy market is “like a crowded bar,” he explained. “Though there is big demand the bar can just about keep up; but outside a coach with a rugby team has turned up. Is it possible to deliver?”

We are challenged as a nation by an inclement damp climate and houses that were not built for energy-efficiency. Nor do we have enough trees to spare for mass conversion to wood-burning stoves (you need 3 tons per household per year to keep warm). So there is a need for retrofit and massive insulation on an individual scale, coupled with a move on a community scale to get more locally resilient. We need to start forming co-operatives and social enterprises and pool resources to buy solar panels and wind-turbines to generate local electricity.

Wind turbines are a sticky subject in East Anglia despite its being a landscape historically peppered with mills (500 windmills and 200 watermills in Suffolk alone). However community wind-turbines are smaller and less controversial. Their challenge lies in the perseverance of each community to pull the project off. Funding big projects takes time, energy, resources and a massive shift in attitude, as people relearn how to negotiate and work together. Simon Weeks quotes the Good Neighbour scheme: people offering their services free to help everyone get wise on energy. Cookpole Energy Action has already been going for two and a half years to erect two 18 metre Gaia 133 turbines (“Not the most efficient,” he agreed, because the higher you go the more wind there is). Two local farmers are providing land in return for free electricity (wind was preferred to a solar panel array, due to the space – turbines only take up 5 sq metres of field). The turbines cost £100,000  which they are finding through grants and fund-raising.

Most of the villagers are on-board though a few households do not support the enterprise. How do they deal with that?
“We listen to their views and try to include them,” replied Simon, “Because the last thing we want is a divided community.”

Cookpole reckon on making £16, 000 per year (£2000 of which will go towards maintenance) once the turbines are installed and the money will go towards the social regeneration of the community. The two outlaying villages of Cookley and Walpole have no pub, no school, no shop, no village hall (except a pavilion) – and the intent of the project is to provide the community of 150 households with the necessary green infrastructure to thrive in a downturning resource scarce culture. Setting up a community woodland for example.

“We were the big society before there was a big society,” laughed Simon.

“One minute there is no society and now there’s a big one,” remarked Lucinda. Originally from Brixton (where there is a strong Transition initiative) she told me how the borough was changing, how a lot of the poorer, mostly Caribbean residents were being moved out to Banbury. “Oh, that happened in Leiston,” I said “when everyone was moved out of the East End”. Someone I had met when I first moved to Suffolk had called it “slum clearance” and I remember how shocked I was not so much by the fact itself (though that is shocking) but that someone intelligent and apparently philanthropic should say such a thing and not give a damn.

Simon Weeks comes from another time and another paradigm: he has a stack of experience he is happy to share, especially the pitfalls to avoid. His present difficulty lies in unsure planning details regarding bat and acoustic surveys where there is no legislation for small wind-turbines (only for large wind-farms). He is the first to admit there are no assurances when it comes to the future:

“One thing you can guarantee: there ain’t no more oil and electricity prices will rise.”

At question time David Gibson spoke about the 11 1/2 Kwp solar array on the Emmanuel Church (whose conference on Climate Change in 2007 sparked Sustainable Bungay into being). He was once the energy conservation officer for BT before joining the ministry and like many English churches heating is high on Emmanuel’s agenda. Their funds came from grants and the rest has been donated or given in interest free loans by the faithful. The scheme has cost £80, 000 (30,000 from government grants). Payback is over 7/8 years.

Afterwards we broke up into groups and moved around the room, speaking to each other about the different aspects of energy efficiency and micro-generation. I talked with Paul about what it was like to live off-grid for seven years (in Thetford Forest) and remembered a time in my own life when I had lived for several summers on an island in Greece. I remembered how everyone gathered in the cafes before electricity came to people’s houses and there were cars and television. We had running water twice a week, I said, and the bread was baked in a communal oven in the side of a mountain. The communal places were where the warmth and the meaning was.

We’ve lived such individualistic lives with our houses set at 21 degrees, with our daily hot baths and washable lifestyle, we’re going to have to shape our lives very differently, get used to living in colder places, invest in good hats and boots and start sharing our resources.

“Even if we cover the whole of Wales with wind-turbines it’s never going to be enough to maintain the energy we are used to,” said Nick. That’s a fact that most of us aren’t looking at right now. And in the centrally-heated warmth of our own home, not one we want to much. But in a buzzing room, with all the options and possibilities in front of you and 27 people pooling their time and attention, that’s a different matter. A low carbon community starts looking like the place you want to be.

Green Drinks will resume in 2011 and will engage in different Transition themes, including Social Enterprise, Transport, Waste and Cultural Values. Keep an eye out for our next SB newsletter next month, or check the calendar on this website.

Photos: John Taylor talks about resource and energy constraints; A Gaia wind turbine

Green Drinks: Energy and Communities

Green Drinks, Tuesday 16th November from 7:30pm

This month’s theme is energy and communities


*Update 12/10/10* There is a front page article about the solar photo voltaic project at Emmanuel Church in this week’s Bungay and Beccles Journal (Bungay edition). If you don’t have access to the Bungay edition you can view the article here: BBJ Article (665kb). Graham Gibbs, who features in the article, isn’t going to be able to make it to Green Drinks but David Gibson, Emmanuel’s minister hopes to be able to.

After the great success of last month’s economics and livelihoods themed Green Drinks evening (you can read about it here) we’ve invited not one but two excellent guest conversationalists to bring their expertise and insights to our second evening. Simon Weeks is a member of Cookpole Energy Action, a community group that plans to set up its own wind power scheme – the only one in this part of the country. John Taylor is the Community Advisor for the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership where he advises communities on energy saving and generation schemes. John and Simon will speak for a few minutes each before we open the floor to questions and then devolve into the more relaxed conversational style that makes Green Drinks evenings so enjoyable.

We’d love you to join us too and bring your thoughts and questions about energy (generation, saving and efficiency) and how communities like ours can take more control and reap more of the benefits.

The timing of this evening couldn’t be better.

Not only is there a surge of interest and confusion around feed in tariffs (whereby small generators are paid a fee for the energy they produce), but the Government is about to introduce a new energy bill (The Energy Security and Green Economy Bill). Once law this will provide a new financing framework to enable the provision of energy efficiency measures to all households funded by a charge on energy bills (rather than up-front payments). It could make it much easier for people to invest in a range of energy saving measures – from better windows and draft exclusion to loft and cavity wall insulation – but does it really go far enough?

Last week Sustainable Bungay, as part of the Big Climate Connection, sent a team to lobby Peter Aldous (MP) and raised some of the issues that will undoubtedly come up on the 16th. Peter’s response was very positive (you can read more here), but the pressure needs to be kept up because grassroots initiatives and low-carbon communities in general need greater backing from government and ideally the creation of an infrastructure with secured resources to implement projects – without these neither top-down government, nor bottom-up initiatives will get very far.

One of the guiding principles of Green Drinks is that the evenings should go where they want… But I imagine we might find ourselves talking about: insulation schemes for Bungay; community owned energy generation using wind, solar or bio-mass; energy reduction ideas; the sustainability of schemes like the feed-in tariff; the drivers for changes in energy use and generation; the implications of a less energy secure future…

This month our guests will be:

Simon Weeks of Cookpole Energy Action

Cookpole Energy Action (CEA) is a not-for-profit organisation formed in July 2009 by residents of the parishes of Cookley and Walpole in north east Suffolk. While recognising that individual households and businesses can do a lot to reduce their carbon footprints and that many have already begun, CEA believes that action at the level of the community is important – in their case that is a community of around 150 households. At the moment CEA is developing a community wind power scheme.

They intend to install two medium sized wind turbines in the parish and all the electricity generated will be fed into the grid. The community will receive an income for this electricity according to the ‘feed-in’ tariff, which came into force in April 2010. The income will be spent on carbon reduction projects in the community. The whole scheme will be managed by a charitable Trust, or similar not-for-profit organisation.

Simon will talk to us about the progress of the project – what’s been easy and the difficulties they’ve encountered so far.

John Taylor, Community Advisor, Suffolk Climate Change Partnership

Suffolk County Council is working with other key organisations as part of the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership to develop a comprehensive action plan to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Partnership wants householders and local businesses to get involved to make their pledges to help reduce their CO2 emissions and to help save energy, it provides free hands on advice to small and medium sized businesses in Suffolk who want to cut their carbon emissions, save money and stay ahead of the competition.

John has an MSc in Sustainable Architecture from the Centre for Alternative Technology and his work focuses on supporting communities and helping them to help themselves. He’s given advice and support to many groups  – including Cookpole Energy Action and Sustainable Bungay – and has a wealth of knowledge about energy generation (especially small scale renewables) and energy saving. He’s also an active member of Transition Ipswich.

News from across the Transition Network

Every month the Transition Network sends out an e-newsletter; it gives a little taste of what Transition initiatives are up to all over the world. Sustainable Bungay has featured several times in this global round-up, particularly for our work with bees and Charlotte’s Pattern Portrait of an Initiative.

You can subscribe to the newsletter here and read the latest issue below.


The November 2010 Transition Network Newsletter

COUNTRY NEWS
~ October round up of what’s happening in Transition
~ The China Syndrome
~ An Update on France
~ Hawaiian Food Film
~ International Commons Conference report

~ Ingredients of Transition
~ PROJECTS
~ FORUM
~ Transition Network Diversity October Newsletter

SPEAKERS & TALKS:
~ Transition in the House of Commons, your input sought
~ Nicole Foss aka Stoneleigh is coming to the UK
~ ODAC Speaker Offer
~ Transition Radio interviews Alexis Rowell – 11th November

EVENTS
~ International Conference: Diverse Routes To Belonging
~ German Conference
~ TRAINING for Transition
~ Transition Trainers’ Dreaming Circle for “Groups”

~ Quote of the month


COUNTRY NEWS

October round up of what’s happening in Transition
This month there is news from Brazil, Hong Kong, USA (which now has its 50th official TT initiative), Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Scotland, plus around the UK including Fareham, Kingston, Shrewsbury and more.
http://transitionnetwork.org/news/2010-11-01/october-round-whats-happening-transition

The China Syndrome
Naresh Giangrande recently visited Taiwan to talk about Transition – a society that lives and breaths money, financial success, and business opportunity. His fascinating report is in two parts. Part One in which Naresh finds himself surprised to be in a very business oriented setting and hear about love and compassion. In Part Two he experiences a typhoon first hand and realises that the job of Transition in Taiwan will be to translate that awareness of climate change (and Peak Oil) into action. Links: [1] http://bit.ly/aQWVbM [2] http://bit.ly/9Slg8S

An Update on France
Transition-wise things seem to be moving along very swiftly in France. The “In Transition 1.0” film is now available on Vimeo with embedded subtitles and the Transition Handbook has now been translated into French. There is also a shiny new website for Transition France.
http://bit.ly/drNb6n

Hawaiian Food Film
A delightful short film about growing food in your backyard from Hawaii.
http://transitionnetwork.org/news/2010-11-01/hawaiian-food-film

International Commons Conference report
At the begining of November Gerd Wessling from Transition Germany re-presented the Transition Network to 150 very active participants from 34 countries at a conference in Berlin of the emerging “Commons” movements. Figures such Canadian activist Maude Barlow,  as well as many others like Thomas Grecco, a government minister from Ecuador, expressed their support for Transition. It was clear that there is a growing interest in the Transition approach globally.
More details:
http://www.boell.de/economysocial/economy/economy-commons-10451.html
http://p2pfoundation.net/Berlin_Commons_Conference
Ingredients of Transition

The ideas around Transition are constantly being updated and refined as we go along. One of the new ways of seeing and sharing our approach is being described as though it is a Pattern Language. A “pattern” can be described as as just another word for “we’ve seen this problem before” and this is what we did about it. Another word is ‘ingredients’ and also “A Collection of Ideas and Solutions for Setting Up and Running a Successful Transition Initiative”.
Read more about the ideas behind the ‘pattern’ approach here
http://www.transitionnetwork.org/patterns

These are some of the topics below that have recently been updated by Rob Hopkins and that are looking for your input:

PROJECTS

Ever wondered what everyone else is up to? If share your Transition projects here, as well as earning lots of karmic brownie points you’ll inspire others and can get feedback. There are nearly 100 projects there already. Projects can be viewed on a map or searched by topic:
http://www.transitionnetwork.org/projects/map

FORUM
Here are some of the recent topics in the forum.

  • Do the little changes really make a difference?
  • Call for respondents to a Dissertation Questionnaire
  • Community Composting Network’s Local Food Project survey

Dive in and join or start a debate here
http://www.transitionnetwork.org/forum/recent

Transition Network Diversity October Newsletter

has a collection of news and events about inclusion and diversity.
http://bit.ly/diversity1010

SPEAKERS & TALKS

Transition in the House of Commons
Peter Lipman, Chair of Transition Network, and Fiona Ward of Transition Consulting will be speaking to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil on Tuesday 9th November at an event called ‘The Transition Movement & Government’, which will consider how the government can best assist the Transition movement in its work. They would love to hear from initiatives with their suggestions for what MP’s and/or government could do to support transition. Any thoughts?
http://bit.ly/bKMNV1

Nicole Foss aka Stoneleigh is coming to the UK
Following her astounding talk at the Transition Network conference, she has said she will go wherever people want her. Since her conference talk she has been expanding on the practical aspect of her talk too, along with the rationale for preparing.
http://transitionnetwork.org/news/2010-10-21/nicole-foss-aka-stoneleigh-coming-uk

ODAC Speaker Offer
Expert speakers on Peak Oil are available through the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) to Councils.
http://transitionnetwork.org/news/2010-11-01/odac-speaker-offer

Transition Radio interviews Alexis Rowell
11th November
Author Alexis Rowell whose inspiring book ‘Communities, Councils and a Low-Carbon Future: what we can do if governments won’t’ is the first up in a series of winter warming conversations with Transition voices. Join by Internet Radio and phone-in with your comments or get involved in the chat-room.
http://bit.ly/d1qn0Z

EVENTS

International Conference: Diverse Routes To Belonging
20-21st November Edinburgh

This conference will offer a feast of fantastic opportunities to see how the range of movements currently driving social change to reclaim our creative, collaborative, place-based way of living can make alliances and work together.
It is hosted by Transition Scotland Support with the support of Transition Network and Transition Edinburgh University.
http://www.transitionscotland.org/content/join-us-november

GERMAN TRANSITION CONFERENCE
19th-21st November Hannover
There is a growing number of German, Austrian & Swiss Transition initiatives emerging, with many attending the conference.
The Program (in German) and booking info is here:
http://www.transition-initiativen.de/page/transition-konferenz

PARTNER EVENTS
There are a number of events organised by Network partners here:
http://transitionnetwork.org/events/partner

Transition Initiative events
and upcoming events from the just launched Community Microsites are here:
http://transitionnetwork.org/events/community
TRAINING for Transition

Transition Trainers’ Dreaming Circle for “Groups”
1-3rd December
http://transitionnetwork.org/events/2010-12-01/dreaming-circle

2-day “fundamentals” courses for those wishing to know how to set up, run, and maintain a successful transition initiative packed with imaginative and inspiring ways to delve into both the theory and practice of Transition.
http://www.transitionnetwork.org/support/training/training-transition


Quote of the Month

“It’s better to be two years too early than five minutes too late.”
Nicole Foss


Newsletter Editor: Mike Grenville (from Transition Forest Row)

Contact: transitionnetworknews@googlemail.com

+44 (0)1342 825169

Subscribe to Transition Network news:
http://tinyurl.com/transitionregister

Big Climate Connection – 5 November

Six of us went to see Peter Aldous MP last Friday (5 November) as part of the Big Climate Connection organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.  In 2009 Stop Climate Chaos organised The Wave –the UK’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change which Sustainable Bungay took part in. This year the Coalition called for people to connect with others in their communities and lobby their MP on 5 and 6 November.

November is a key time for climate politics, giving everyone an important opportunity to influence world and local issues. A new Energy Bill is on the way, which could make it easier and cheaper to improve the energy efficiency of homes and clean up the emissions from the electricity we use. Lobbying local MPs strengthens this bill in parliament. It also comes three weeks before the UN Climate Talks in Cancun, so we can ensure MPs push for key policies for significant progress towards a fair global climate deal.

On Friday Charlotte, Daphne, Kate, Lesley, Mark, and Nick, car-shared to Lowestoft to meet Peter Aldous and raised the three key climate issues within the framework set by the SCC – energy efficiency, a cap on carbon emissions from power stations and support for low-carbon technologies in “developing” countries. Mr Aldous agreed to all these. We also talked about the need to create a “powerdown culture” and a working infrastructure for social enterprises engaged in community projects, such as microgeneration.

We cited a local community wind turbine project, Cookpole Energy Action (who are coming to talk at our next Green Drinks on Energy), who have struggled with planning demands (e.g. for expensive surveys based on large wind-farms) because there is no guidance for smaller projects. We urged Mr Aldous to allow microgeneration to be able to receive upfront public grants as well as feed-in tariffs.

We talked a great deal about how grassroots initiatives and low-carbon communities in general need greater backing in government policy and the creation of an infrastructure and resources to implement projects, for without these neither top-down government, nor bottom-up inititaves would get very far. Charlotte talked about the need for a communtiy approach for low-carbon measures, not just appealing to individual households to make big changes in the way they are powered. It was also important to direct the large proportion of the responsibility onto those who were using the most resources (i.e. the wealthier households) and not just focus on the poor. It was important that energy descent became mainstream, as well as be provided with the necessary information and expertise (on how to apply for grants etc). No matter how energetic social entreprises and community initiatives are they have little cultural acceptance or national policy to back them.

“You need to be enfranchised,” he said.

We covered many energy topics from the small (Lesley raised practical issues to do with funding of energy efficiency measures in low-income households, including window replacements), to the bigger picture (Nick spoke about resilience in the face of resource shortage and economic shocks). Key were our several concerns about the vulnerability of people in the face of cuts in public services and the dismantling of a support base. Charlotte questioned DEFRA’S proposed sale of 50 per cent of our national forests to private investors (Aldous is also part of the new Environment Audit Committee). Kate questioned energy efficiency measures being taken over by energy companies with too much vested interest.

“The Green Deal has very good intentions” he said, but questioned whether there was enough money to implement all its measures. Mr Aldous admitted he used to focus on creating energy but was now thinking about saving it.
“How far would the carbon restrictions be imposed?” we asked “Would we have a decarbonised electricity supply in the future?
“Yes,” he said but these things will take time.
“The longer you leave it the worse it will become,” advised Nick and Mr Aldous said he would see to it straightaway, and talked enthusiastically about “clean” coal and carbon capture (of which none of us were convinced, since it has yet to be tested on a large scale). Kate said all scientific research into this should to be matched by 50 per cent into renewables.

We all agreed that the UK had a vital role in reducing carbon emissions as the originator of the industrial revolution and was required to lead the way towards to a low-carbon future. “We have a high moral responsibility,” Aldous said and had already broached the subject of issuing grants rather than loans to developing countries in a letter to Andrew Mitchell and Alan Duncan.

All of us expressed a concern in regard to the privatisation of many public services: Kate raised the topic of corporate control and philanthropy in schools and how there was a clash between environmental and corporate interests. We talked about resilience in respect to local business, food systems (“not just shop local but think local”), using local builders, the increased saleabilty of “green houses” and creating jobs for the retrofitting of existing housing stock. At the end of the meeting we agreed to meet again in four months to see how these isses have been taken forward.

Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is the largest coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to taking action in the UK on climate change and limiting its impacts. It brings together over 100 organisations, from environment and development charities to unions, faith, community and women’s groups to Transition initiatives, and has 11 million members.

 www.stopclimatechaos.org. Here’s what the RSPB reported

Sustainable Bungay lobbying crew with Peter Aldous at his constituency office in Lowestoft; preparing at the Library cafe; queuing up with our questions

Library Courtyard Autumn Update

The planting which took place this summer has reacted very well to conditions and the garden appears to be retreating towards winter in good health.

Additional benches are being prepared for installation and negotiations are underway to procure a wooden plaque to commemorate this community achievement (suggestions for the form of this plaque are welcome asap please). The hazel screen is expected to be in place before years end.

Bungay Lions has kindly donated £100 to purchase a birdbox complete with camera and equipment to relay pictures inside the library. Watch the birdy!

Thanks to Paul Coleman who has donated his valuable time to finishing groundwork both before and since the opening ceremony, and to all the other volunteers.