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.

 

 

This website has been rehosted

If you are reading this then you are looking at our website on our new host.  This has now completed. Our address remains transitionmalvernhills.org.uk.

Since the start of Transition Malvern Hills, John Howes has been hosting our website as part of his own hosting. John has now rationalised the web hosting and we have moved to a commercial hosting solution. We thank John for the hosting he provided.

As part of  the move we have taken the opportunity to updated the structure of the site. The main change is that we have removed working groups as Transition Malvern Hills no longer has active working groups.

Chair’s Report 2016

This is the report given by our chair, Ginny Lee to our Annual Network Meeting 28th, September 2016.

This year has been a reflective 12 months.  The core Transition Malvern Hills group, (Myself, Robin, Ian and Dinah) has been investing the time in looking at ‘where next’ for TMH.  We started this process by organising 6 weekly workshops, to discuss potential new projects, these were led by Richard Priestley, who has a wider vision and knowledge of low energy projects that are happening on a global as well as a local scale. The idea of the workshops was to reconcile the work of TMH within the Malvern area with the initiatives that have  happened in the area.  The conclusion was that many of us are now working on existing successful initiatives not leaving the manpower to begin new projects.

Our next step was to take an overarching view of our work since the grassroots Transition movement was brought to life in Malvern in 2007.  Some of us remember those early days when we had a blank slate to work with – The question being ‘What was to be our first low carbon initiative?’ Much of it was about creating a medium to highlight the issues we will be facing with Global Warming being very much a reality that would affect us all.  Hence the creation of the TMH calendar, this was distributed throughout Malvern advertising films, talks and projects led by founder volunteers.  In 2009 our calendar had the following events:

  • Transition Roadshow
  • Pudding Club – Bring your favourite pudding to share & swap recipes
  • Transition Drinks
  • Breakfast on the Beacon
  • Colwall Car Club meeting,
  • Malvern Community Forest: Nest boxes for Spring
  • Films
  • Malvern Mulchers
  • Network Meeting
  • Gardener’s Question Time
  • Malvern Community Forest: Nature Trails and Footpaths
  • Alternative Energy Talk
  • Transition Quiz
  • Transition Tavern – Open Mic – Food & Drink to Share
  • An illustrated talk on the problems caused by light spillage from poorly designed street lighting, floodlighting and security lighting,
  • Fun activities for the young people at Malvern Youth Centre.

This stirs up a dose of nostalgia.

Ok, so where are we now?

Within Malvern we have, a Car share club, Electric bike hire scheme, Gas Lamp project to upgrade and reduce their gas use, a community centre (Malvern Cube), Raised Vegetable Bed project, Community Energy Company, Energy Tracers, Garden Share, Inner Transition, Repair Cafe, Malvern Food Alliance, Malvern Community Forest, Abundance, could there be more…

Next door in Colwall we have, Colwall Orchard Group

The work and energy that has gone into these sustainable projects is something we should all celebrate.  Transition Malvern Hills is proud to have initiated some of these ideas and have supported the others that have grown from the need to recognise that a low carbon life style will benefit us all as well as protect our environment.

TMH would like to continue as a mouthpiece to promote and inspire others to continue to develop and grow new low energy projects, also to sign post existing and new initiatives.

How will we do this in the coming year?  By continuing with our newsletter.  We need help with this…  Please let us know if this idea is something you would like to offer some of your time to help with and support.

 

Ginny Lee (Chair Transition Malvern Hills)

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.

Green Heart Gratitude Walk

greenheart

Green Heart Gratitude Walk 14 October 2016

Show the Love

Women’s Institute (WI) members, their friends and other members of the community will be showing their gratitude to organizations in Great Malvern for taking action against climate change, on Friday 14 October. Green hearts, made by members of the WI, will be presented to organizations for taking a range of positive actions.

Harriett Baldwin MP will be joining them and the Gazette has promised some coverage – it would be good to have a bit of a crowd, so please join us – and bring a friend.

They will meet at 3.30pm at Malvern Theatres, where the first presentation will be made. We are then planning to walk around the town centre (not far), making 2-3 other presentations. We plan to finish by 4.30pm.

For more information, please contact Julia on 07904 389889 or 01684 577400.

Can we together Create the Future we want

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

To add to the Transition to a low Carbon more Community resilient world that Transition Malvern Hills (TMH) has been working towards we now have the massive Brexit transition to work our way through.

From a TMH perspective the big concern about Brexit is that the EU has been very successfully working towards (and achieving in many areas) much improved environment protection and standards. As well as being vital leaders of the Climate Change agenda. Will the UK now backslide to the position it was before we joined “The Dirty Man of Europe”? We had the poorest recycling rates, the highest level of pumping sewage to sea and spreading sewage sludge to agricultural land, the most inefficient houses (by Northern EU standards), the least interest in restricting dangerous chemicals and pesticides and much more. Having to raise our game to meet EU regulation has led to major benefits in nearly all environmental areas. In others like air pollution the regulations have enabled the Government to be taken to court by UK pressure groups and instructed by the courts to create a plan.

If there is a loud enough voice from the public we can perhaps stop there being a bonfire of necessary regulation (the bonfire proponents would call all this red tape).

It is just possible that Brexit could lead to the UK creating a vision of a different future. We will be less attractive to Multinationals so maybe their lobbying tactics will stay focussed on Brussels and the publics’ voice could carry more weight in the UK.

As Rob Hopkins the Co- Founder of Transition Towns recently wrote in his blog:
It could, after all, end up with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in whatever permutations of independence or united-ness we end up with, as a model sustainable, equitable and resilient nation, showcasing a completely renewable energy grid, home to thriving and diverse food economies, meeting its housing needs through truly affordable gorgeous homes in community ownership, supporting each other through the long-overdue disintegration of neoliberalism, creating diverse thriving working communities. And if those of us fighting for a better world in the UK have lost the link to the EU, then we will need to find other ways of co-operating with our friends across Europe and around the world, working locally but sharing our learnings, overcoming barriers and tapping with greater vigour into the networks that exist. Well why not?

From a Hillistic perspective we can add to this healthier citizens supported to eat and live healthily with unhealthy food advertising banned or carrying serious warnings and lots of emphasis on complementary treatments that support our bodies to heal themselves, with drugs being a last resort.

To make this much more attractive future come about we, as citizens, are going to have to raise our voices and support or create the many experiments and prototypes of this more healthy society. We need to realise just how many people want this more desirable future and feel rather hopeless about it happening. It is worth pondering on how many small groups are quietly working on this, usually believing they are in a tiny minority as they are not connected to other groups and individuals working on another aspect of a very similar vision.

There is a book called Blessed Unrest subtitled: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. It is a 2007 New York Times bestseller by Paul Hawken. He identifies all the fragments from social justice, indigenous peoples’ oppression, inequality and environmental issues and more and showed how interconnected these are and how many millions of people are working for change but most not realising how much we need to join the issues and our pressure and solutions. To broaden our sense of community and realise together we can achieve much more.

TMH’s project have been based around the notion of them being community schemes (the Malvern Hills Car Club and the Malvern Community Energy Coop being examples). All our efforts have also built links to other Malvern groups. The Malvern Cube Youth and Community Centre is perhaps the most overtly community based project, helping to save the building from demolition and then run it and develop it with a wonderful group of Trustees and Volunteers from other groups and interests.

A great venue for your next event, group or class, have you tried it yet?

Now Malvern has a community resource second to none where all ages, abilities and interest can do their own thing and meet others with different interests.
What else can we create together?

We would like to start a project that brings together the distribution of local food but we need interested volunteers, could you be one of them?

More information: for electric bike https://transitionmalvernhills.org.uk/wp/electric-bike-loan-scheme-2/ for the car club malvernhills-carclubs.org.uk, for the malverncube.com or contact Robin Coates 01684 540284, robin@robincoates.com.

Volunteer Waste Champions

Worcestershire County Council are trying to recruit volunteer waste champions to work for Worcestershire County Council.

Emma Stuart ,Waste Prevention Project Manager at Worcestershire County Council says:

Do you enjoy talking to people and sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm? Are you a passionate composter or have some great recipes for using left over food?

If so would you like to become a Worcestershire County Council Waste Champion?

With Worcestershire residents throwing away a massive 260,000 tonnes of waste each year, there is an increasing need to reduce the amount of waste being produced.  And this is where you come in…..

The County Council would like to work with communities to encourage them to compost more, waste less food or even understand better what can and cannot be recycled.

If you can spare some time and would like to encourage others to reduce their waste please get in touch. You can advise on all aspects of waste including reuse, repair and recycling.  Or just one part; so if you are a keen gardener, you can become a Compost Champion.

The County Council also supports the national Love Food Hate Waste campaign so if food is your passion, what about learning how to run cookery demonstrations and classes to show people how to reduce their food waste and, more importantly, save money!

You do not have to have any specific experience as we will give you full training, all we ask for is enthusiasm and commitment!

For further information please visit www.letswasteless.com and click on the “Waste Champions” button.

 

Electric Bike Loan Scheme

This is an old post for the most up to date information see here 

Cycling is one of those great win/win/wins you get some exercise, feel healthier and more in touch with your environment and it is by far the most energy efficient form of transport. Energy efficiency in transport is all about the power to weight ratio so it seems crazy that we design cars that weigh over a ton to move a person weighing 80 kilos.

OK there is a problem, Malvern is too hilly I hear you say and anyway I am too old to cycle. Not if you have an electric bike, when the sensor detects it is getting harder work for you the motor helps you pedal. The same with head winds. This means you are able climb hills easier and faster, none of that walking up hills, standing on pedals or puffing and panting

I live in Colwall Green and am 73 years old it takes me on average 15 mins to get to the middle of Malvern 4 miles away in a car and 20 minutes on an electric bike. I arrive feeling fresher but not sweaty. With paniers I can carry some shopping and of course park anywhere. There is something very satisfying about cycling, for me it is the combination of choosing my pace, sedate or thrilling, experiencing my surroundings and a warm glow of self-satisfaction knowing this is good for me and the planet.

It was this good for the planet Carbon Footprint saving associated with electric bikes compared with cars, particularly for the shorter journeys, that got us to start our Electric Bike Loan Scheme 6 years ago. Now you see many more in Malvern. We wanted local residents to experience the tremendous benefits of a good electric bike. With the motor assisting you as pedalling gets harder. Our idea was to give local residents the chance to have a real trial over a 2 week period, so they could try some of their regular trips to see if it works for them. We have 4 mid-range bikes for a free 2 week loan. I also have 2 folding bikes of my own that can be tried when visiting me, one is a converted Brompton an amazing machine if you need a small folder. I use this when ferrying the car club cars about.

There are two main systems of providing the power by either a motor in the wheel hub or a motor driving the crank/pedals. The later tends to be smoother and have better range and hill climbing ability with a smaller motor. There are also different power outputs of motors and batteries. We can help you figure out what is likely to be best for you depending on your use pattern, location, budget and fitness.

Our scheme has also been very helpful to people recovering from illnesses, operations and injuries. It has also helped people who have lost their licence to stay mobile and get to work. Many people have not cycled for years and are amazed at how well they can get back into it. Several parents have taken up electric bikes so they can ride with their children to school a great way of keeping them fit and helping children to see that car travel doesn’t have to be the default way to be mobile.

Using an electric bike in combination with our Car Club (Car Share 12 vehicles and 70 households in the Malvern area) can work very well. This way you have access to a car when you need it for those longer journeys or big shopping trips all at a fraction of the cost of running your own car (or second car).

Good bikes are expensive so sometimes people prefer to hire from us on a long term basis and we also sell our bikes after 3 years for less than half price. Malvern Cycles now stock and sell Electric Bikes and we can help you decide on the best electric bike for you. We strongly advise avoiding cheap ones on the internet as they often suffer from poor performance, reliability, early battery failure and no spares or service backup.  The exception might be if you are going to be a very occasional user but then we would suggest buying from a dealer who will give you service and near enough so you can return the bike easily.

For more information on electric bike loan go to here,  for the car club malvernhills-carclubs.org.uk or  contact Robin Coates 01684 540284 email robin@robincoates.com

This post is by Robin Coates and is based on an article by Robin in Malvern Hillistic.

Malvern Clothing Exchange

The Malvern Clothing Exchange currently open every Thursday morning , at the Octagon Centre, Brook Farm Drive, Malvern, WR14 3SQ. Upstairs in the gallery- between 10.30 and 12.30pm for exchanges of  Babies’ and young people’s clothing [ Ages 0-16 years]. The Octagon’s Coffee Club operates at the same time, open to all Malvern  residents.

Click here for a map of where the Octagon Centre is 

The Clothing Exchange welcomes parents/grandparents and children. Exchanges are usually three items per child but you can take more  and can come back again & again!  Many parents bring lovely clothes to donate.  Some are new donations from shops. There is no charge if you exchange items . If you have no clothes to exchange you may still take items  for your kids and leave a small donation to our running costs.

Saving the earth and saving you money for other things!

For more information see theoctagoncentre.org.uk