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James Samuel's blog
With all the talk of local food and the increase in backyard and community gardens I guess it's not surprising that more websites are coming online to make it easier to find information, trade produce and setup enterprises which together are helping re-build the food web.
I've made mention of Ooooby in the past and the new Bucky Box initiative, two of my favourite home grown (NZ) initiatives.
Lately I've been supporting and following the Hawea Flat Food Forest project. Andy is the driving force behind this project and is making good use of social media, crowd funding and the open sharing of information.
The website which Andy told me about today is Practical Plants, a wiki with an abundance of information about just that, plants with practical uses.
If you're interested in being part of this growing and evolving local food movement, and so many of us are, even in small ways through purchasing from local producers, then you may find some of the links here worthy of some relaxed inspection over these holidays.
In another stirring story of community get up and go, networker and all-round-inspiring activist/entrepreneur Sam Rye, writes about FoodPods , and speaks to Heinrich Ungerer, about this local food production and distribution initiative in South Africa.
Based on the idea of: …grass roots entrepreneurship which the Grameen Bank pioneered in India through their micro-loans, and offers a simple franchise model for people to take on a small enterprise to grow food for their family and to sell the surplus for income.
Here's another one of those gutsy community initiative storys worth celebrating.Brixton Energy had just closed its second share launch, Brixton Energy Solar 2, which had raised £70,000. Its first project, Brixton Energy Solar 1, was the UK’s first inner-city community-owned solar power station, a 37kW solar array on the roof of Elmore House on the Loughborough Estate. The second was a 45kW system spread over the roofs of the 4 housing blocks of Styles Gardens. I joined Agamemnon Otero of Brixton Energy on the roof of a neighbouring tower block on a crisp and clear winter day, with a clear view over the solar systems that Brixton Energy had already installed (see picture above), to ask him more about the project.
Can someone please explain in simple terms what this amount of power equates to. What size settlement would this cater to, if we were all energy conscious, and using it wisely in our homes, and substituting most of the water heating with direct solar?
What I saw through Rob's excellent summary was a project that engaged with people:...we knocked on doors and find out what people want. You know, we did public engagement and served organic bread and lentils, but people wanted sandwiches and crisps, so we served sandwiches and crisps.
...all thecommunity. In a mutually respectful process:At our community engagement events/ workshops and people would say, “I hope you guys can do this again for us and other people”. Our Solar Panel Making Workshops attract, mom’s, grandparents, little kids from the estate and beyond. They’d be making these small solar panels, and saying, “this works”.
Another time, a woman who lives here, a single mum, 4 kids, with 2 jobs, said, “this is good. I’m saving money on my energy bills, my kids got inspired in your workshops”. She then said, “I just hope this can go to other estates”.
Erica and Ernie Wisner are coming to NZ in February
The Wisner's are experts on building RM's aka Rocket Mass Heaters. RM's are possibly the most efficient and clean burning wood fired heaters in the world. They are constructed from cheap, local, recycled and natural materials, and can be built by anyone with basic skills and tools.
The Wisners have been involved in the construction of over 600 RM's in America and have got them up to "permit standard" on suspended wooden floors.
At the moment Grant Steven in Moerewa and Graeme North in Warkworth have committed themselves to holding RMH workshops but the Wisne's are stopping in NZ on their way to Australia and have said they could come back to NZ after they have finished their Australian Tour.
If this article, while insightful doesn't lift your spirits, then try visiting Rob Hopkin's blog at www.transitionculture.org, where he regularly and consistently posts articles about the great work people like you are doing, all over the world.
The summits which promise to save the world keep us dangling, not mobilising.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 19th June 2012
Worn down by hope. That’s the predicament of those who have sought to defend the earth’s living systems. Every time governments meet to discuss the environmental crisis, we are told that this is the “make or break summit”, upon which the future of the world depends. The talks might have failed before, but this time the light of reason will descend upon the world.
We know it’s rubbish, but we allow our hopes to be raised, only to witness 190 nations arguing through the night over the use of the subjunctive in paragraph 286. We know that at the end of this process the UN secretary-general, whose job obliges him to talk nonsense in an impressive number of languages, will explain that the unresolved issues (namely all of them) will be settled at next year’s summit. Yet still we hope for something better.
This week’s earth summit in Rio de Janeiro is a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago. By now, the leaders who gathered in the same city in 1992 told us, the world’s environmental problems were to have been solved. But all they have generated is more meetings, which will continue until the delegates, surrounded by rising waters, have eaten the last rare dove, exquisitely presented with an olive leaf roulade. The biosphere, that world leaders promised to protect, is in a far worse state than it was 20 years ago(1). Is it not time to recognise that they have failed?
Dick Smith has been quite outspoken about his views on energy and population, so this event could be an opportunity to have some open honest discussion, on important topics. If you know people in the Queenstown area, please let them know about this.
An Afternoon with Dick Smith & Sam Johnson
hosted by Rod Oram
September 14th, 2012
Don’t miss out on an amazing afternoon hearing Dick Smith talk in Queenstown. Dick Smith is one of Australasia’s most progressive business leaders having founded Dick Smith Electronics, Australian Geographic Magazine, and Dick Smith Foods. Come along to hear him talk about what drives him as a leading entrepreneur and what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for the future.
He will be joined by Sam Johnson, an inspiring and action-orientated young New Zealander who is best known for initiating the Student Volunteer Army in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. One of their current projects is The Concert: A Concerted Effort where youth are asked to volunteer 4 hours of their time in return for a free ticket to the best concert the South Island has seen!
For the last four months a team of volunteers has been working on a piece of free software called Loomio, which I think has huge potential to help grassroots groups increase their positive impact in the community.
Loomio is a free open-source web application that helps groups make better decisions together, and remarkably there is nothing else like it. The team is operating on a not-for-profit and open-source basis, and the aim over the coming two months is to get the software to the stage where it can be given away to non-profit groups, with support for how to use it.
If they can get a little bit of support, to put some food on the tables of the programmers, they'll be able to provide this free tool to groups like Transition Towns. They're now in the last few days of a PledgeMe* campaign, to raise enough money to allow two core volunteers to devote all of their time to this project for the next two months.
The Festival of Transition is an invitation to think positively about how our lives could change as we adapt to the end of cheap fossil fuels, address the threat of runaway climate change and fix our broken financial system.