Community Resilience

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic in September 2017.

Transition Malvern Hills & Malvern Youth & Community Trust – Community Resilience.

When the Transition Towns initiative was set up it was recognised that helping individuals reduce their Carbon Footprint needed to go hand in hand with supporting the development of community resilience. As this would assist individuals and communities feel more able to face the challenges ahead.

Sadly we now regularly see extreme weather events from around the world on the news and of course more each year as global warming increases. We can see how devastated communities can be. Also there are many examples of how communities get together to create enhanced conditions and possibilities in times of need but not devastating crisis.

In this article I want to talk about what felt to some of us a local crisis and has been turned into being a wonderful local resource, doing great things daily. It is a story of great collaborative effort by Malvern residents committed to supporting the Community.

In 2012 Transition Malvern Hills heard of Worcestershire County Council’s plan to demolish most of the Youth Centre on Albert Rd North and it was decided to join the group that was emerging to support the campaign to save the building as a Youth and Community Centre. After much sweat and tears by all the campaign team our efforts succeeded in WCC leasing the building to the organisation we helped to set up, the Malvern Youth and Community Trust. Whilst the lease didn’t require us to pay a rent it didn’t come with any support and we are responsible for all the costs (running, maintaining and developing what was a very dilapidated building). This meant the building had to be used extensively by the community to generate sufficient funds to at least pay the running and minor maintenance costs (approx. £75,000 per annum). In addition there would need to be a major effort submitting grant applications to charities and potential donors for all the repairs and development of the building and projects.

The centre’s new name was the Malvern Cube and we have recently had our 5th birthday.

What a vibrant place it is serving over 3,000 residents a month. Where else in Malvern can you see/partake in the variety of activities and support groups on offer and go to a café that has all ages and all abilities sharing the space.

Whilst many residents might just come for their Bridge Group, French Lesson, a favourite band or wellbeing group many will notice the enormous variety of offers and people using the Cube. When we encounter difference in a relaxed and friendly environment it helps us break down our stereotypes and reduce any tendencies we have to isolate ourselves. This together with joining, engaging, learning with others and supporting one another are a key part of creating resilient communities. Unless we have the meeting spaces where we “bump in” to difference rather than stay in our same grouping this doesn’t happen. (To get a snapshot of what goes on see the calendar of events on www.malverncube.com).

The Malvern Cube is designed to be such a space with Jon the welcoming manager, a café, 7 different sizes of meeting rooms and a building slowly developing and improving. The Volunteer Trustees group and all the volunteers, so essential to making the place work are very proud of what we have created, for and with the Community, which of course we are all a part of.

Have you visited lately, this August and September after lots of grant applications we were able to resurface the Basketball court/car park, improve the disability access to the rear Theatre entrance with an automatic door, lay new flooring and decoration to the entrance lobbies, bring the Theatre floor it back to its former glory and install energy efficient windows to the back stage rooms and toilets.

Over the 5 years we have spent over £250,000 improving the building. The grant giving organisations and local businesses who have supported us are listed on our website.

In line with Transition Malvern Hills energy reduction aims we have dramatically improved the energy efficiency of the building replacing one of the boilers and heating systems, insulated the wall and installed new windows. The Co-op we created (Malvern Community Energy Co-op) enabled 60 local residents to raise the £40,000 needed to install 120 PV panels on the roof. They generate the same amount electricity that the Cube uses altogether (but because they only generate in daylight hours this provides half the Cube’s consumption and balancing the import and export with the grid).

We mustn’t forget to mention the lovely garden with the community vegetables in their raised beds, the Quaker Peace garden, the Connect learning disability beds and the new Pizza oven. All helping to remind us of our connection with Nature, the wider community of life.

If you would like to find out more so you can use/benefit from the Malvern Cube or offer help as donations or volunteering contact www.malverncube.com or Jon White  manager@malverncube.com, also transitionmalvernhills.org.uk/wp/events/ Robin Coates robin@robincoates.com

Sustaining the Energy

We will be holding our Annual Network Meeting on 19th June 7:45pm at the Cube,  Select here for a map.

The main talk will be by Jon Halle, who is the co-founder of Sharenergy Co-operative, which has helped over 100 community energy groups across the UK to get up and running – from solar in Somerset to wind on Shetland. The talk is Sustaining the Energy, How to keep building community renewable energy in turbulent times.

There will also be a talk on the latest Zero Carbon Britain report by Robin Coates.

Select here to download the PDF of the poster.

For the formal part of the Annual Network Meeting here are:

New Year from Despair to Hope?

 

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic.

There can be no doubt that 2016 will be remembered as a year of seismic political shifts. We now live in a world where the President of the United States has espoused climate change denial and has installed a climate sceptic to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, whilst the former CEO of ExxonMobil is the Secretary of State! Meanwhile here in the UK, most established environmental policies are up for grabs in the Brexit negotiations and Government action on renewable energy is sadly lacking, although the cost of onshore wind is now the cheapest form of energy. It would be hard not to feel despair in the face of our new reality.

We can’t deny having those feelings but there is also a great deal of hope. For the first time, we (and the majority of nations) have ratified the international Paris agreement that begins to address the key issues of climate change. Investment and operating costs of renewables are outperforming fossil fuels across the world, and global businesses and finances are coming on board and disinvesting from fossil fuels – the momentum appears irreversible. Alongside this (whilst it might not always feel like it), public opinion supports tackling climate change and renewable energy, that makes us really hopeful.

Another hope indicator was the Marrakesh Climate Change meeting in December. Where despite Trumps pronouncement’s about not ratifying the Paris agreement, there was overwhelming support to redouble efforts to tackle it. China, now by far the biggest investor in renewables, is leading the way and India now realises, it is a cheaper option than coal and allows them to help their massive rural population without having the expensive and long lead times of building a grid. There are also a number of States in the USA who have told Trump they will take him to court if he renegades on the Paris agreement.

The other big shift is all the new thinking and investment on energy storage.  We are now seeing the possibilities of household batteries, use of parked electric cars batteries at peak times and major battery installations, like those of Google all happening. Other large scale storage solutions are either being installed or seriously being considered like compressed air, electricity conversion to hydrogen and chemicals. All this together with local grids with smart systems that can shed load and charge differential prices for peak time electricity and manage supply and demand in new ways. These approaches can make the intermittence of renewables a benefit rather than a problem.

We citizens need to keep talking to others about all this to realise that a consensus is building and take every opportunity to put pressure on the Government to get back into renewables, rather than the Fracking dead end and the unbankable nuclear option. The UK needs to return to leading on these issues, most of the good work that has been done to date was as a result of the pre 2008 government, the frameworks they put in place that allowed on and off shore wind as well as PV have now been dismantled.

Phasing out fossil fuels gives us a chance to reverse a number of serious problems. The obvious ones are environmental climate change, devastating pollution in many poorer countries around the mines and oil fields, acid rain from the power stations. There are also political problems, oil rich states are very often totalitarian as they can “bribe” the people to keep the status quo, in democratic oil rich states the lobbying has distorted democracy (see USA). The plight of indigenous peoples has often been extreme as their lands have been plundered and destroyed.

It is to be hoped that this move from fossil fuels will allow more people to wake up to the need for humanity to deepen its awareness and change its relationship with the whole of creation. This consciousness shift has been growing (it is what our Inner Transition Group is all about). More people are aware of the devastating impact of believing humankind are separate from the natural world and can use it as we please as if it is inexhaustible thereby creating waste, destruction, pollution and actual progressively harming ourselves by losing the clean air, water, fertile soil, heathy animals, wilderness and climate that supports us and all life.

It would take a long article to outline the many influences that have lead us into this dead end of separateness from most of creation. It is important to see it as a progressive blindness that has come over the developed world.

Although this process started before the Enlightenment, its influence and subsequent educational emphasise placed an over reliance on so called “rational thinking” and the idea that the material world is the whole world. This has led to us subordinating or discounting our imagination, intuition, embodied experiences (feelings, emotions and things we know but can’t yet put into words), sense of mystery, wonder and the sacred.

So, the hope for 2017 is that the technical solutions to our/the earth’s problems happen in parallel to humankind’s consciousness shift to understanding and being part of all creation, if we care for all creation we will be caring for ourselves.

 

 

MalvernSoup

Crowd funding for micro community projects

MalvernSoup is a new start-up Soup following in the tradition of Soups around the country  and inspired by Detroit Soup. 

So what is MalvernSoup?  They are a Group of volunteers who will organise a Sunday lunch get-together four times a year somewhere in Malvern.  You’ll pay an entrance fee which will go to the winning project.

The next Malvern Soup is to be held At:  Malvern Town FC Langland Avenue, Malvern WR14 2EQ. On:  11th December, 2016 At:  3pm to 6pm.

see malvernsoup.co.uk for more information.

Sustainable Malvern and Where Do We Go From Here?

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Transition Malvern Hills are putting on a course of 6 workshops led by Richard Preistley on Sustainable Malvern and Where Do We Go From Here?

The course is open to all with an aim of investigating how we, within the Malvern Hills district, approach making changes within our community  that can create a more sustainable and resilient society.  

The course will be six sessions: 

Thursdays 14th, 21st, 28th April, and 12th, 19th, 26 May, 7.30pm – 9.30pm at Manor Park Sports Club, Vaughan Hall, Albert Road North, Malvern WR14 2TL

The cost of these workshops will be £45 for the six workshops.

To book or for further information please contact us at publicity@transitionmalvernhills.org.uk or phone 07989 439117.

The poster for the workshops can be downloaded here

 

Malvern Energy Generation Co-op

In a previous article we set out the case for Local Community Energy Co-operatives as a valuable way forward in reducing our reliance on damaging fossil fuel energy sources. Now Malvern Community Energy Co-operative (MCEC, set up by Transition Malvern Hills) is offering you the opportunity to invest in this attractive, ethical investment in community renewable energy generation.

There are now examples in the UK and a very large number of community schemes in the rest of Europe. To see some of the UK schemes visit www.sharenergy.coop, local examples are Leominster Solar PV panels on the leisure centre, Woolhope Woodheat Biomass boilers and wood supply and Neen Sollars Community Hydro.

MCEC has a team of 10 volunteers determined to make this work locally. We are now completing the Share Offer document so that local people can decide whether they want to join us as members of the Co-op by subscribing/investing in our first project to put Solar PhotoVoltaic panels on the Malvern Cube.

We have chosen the Cube as our first building because of the additional social value we can create by reducing the Cube’s electricity bills, as well as being capable of delivering a modest return to MCEC’s members/community subscribers. Could you be one of them?  The minimum shareholding is £250. We are still finalising the sums but we expect the average annual rate of return to be in excess of 3% for non tax payers and more than twice that for tax payers. 

There will be a Launch meeting for the Share Offer at the Cube at 8pm on the 10th March. We are collecting details of people interested in investing so we can keep them up to date.

If you are interested or even excited about this new and very important venture, contact at www.malverncommunityenergy.org

MCE Poster for circulation and display (pdf).

UPDATE: link to share offer information

Community Market at the GeoCentre

Starting 3rd August, Community Market at the Malvern Hills GeoCentre (Wyche Cutting) from 9am – 11am on the first Saturday of every month.

It will be free for both buyers and sellers with an aim of encouraging community use of produce and generally strengthening the community (and follows on the previous West Malvern version).

See GeoCentre website for more info.

UPDATE at October 2013: the Market has been discontinued – not enough space and not quite working as intended.

Malvern Hills Communities Fair

Transition Malvern Hills and Malvern Hills Repair Café are working together to organise the first Green fair in Malvern – the Malvern Hills Communities Fair!

The aim of this one day event is to raise awareness of and celebrate local environmental initiatives, particularly the efforts of those individuals, voluntary groups and businesses who are contributing to the sustainability of the Malvern Hills communities.

Malvern Hills Communities Fair will take place on Saturday 21 September 2013 at Malvern Cube.  There will be themed areas based on different environmental issues such as waste, energy, transport and food and a variety of different workshops, presentations, children’s activities and entertainment will take place throughout the day.  Stalls will be available for a small charge.

We would welcome more volunteers to join us on the organising committee as we want to ensure that this will be an event that Malvern will remember!

If you could spare some time to get involved, please call 01684 892581 or email [sf_email]mhcommunitiesfair@gmail.com[/sf_email]