The Eco Open house event finished on Sunday 23rd and most of the householders and volunteers gathered for a celebration at the Lewes arms that evening. Final attendance figures were gathered together and we were able to announce a record breaking attendance of over 1200 house visits! More than 50% up on the last event in 2014.
We would like to thank all the householders who took part for generously opening their homes and giving up so much free time to help others. Similarly we couldn’t have done it without the army of volunteers working at the houses and the team behind the event. Finally, we should acknowledge the very generous backing from the Big Lottery and the very useful grants from Lewes Pound and Lewes Town Council. Neil Williams
For future reference, and for those who couldn’t make it, Neil has produced a leaflet going ideas on how to make your own home more energy efficient, with particular focus on high impact/low cost measures.
One of the most important men who has ever lived has recently died. He is up there with Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill and Krishnamurti. Unlike them he was not widely acknowledged during his life, being so far ahead of the curve, but his ideas have been adopted by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world at all levels, from the rebuilding of Cuba’s economy to farming in drought-stricken Africa to spiritual ecology at Findhorn. He is Bill Mollison, inventor of Permaculture.
Most people involved in the Transition Towns initiative will know that it is based on Mollison’s ideas: do what works, don’t keep putting effort into what doesn’t work, use natural processes to model solutions, co-operate rather than control, value small successes, take the long term view of everything. Rob Hopkins’ Transition idea came from applying Permaculture principles as a community-level response to global resource depletion and life beyond cheap oil.
Jon Gunson, TTL:
|I was sitting in the living room the other night when a bulb went. Took me a minute or so to work out what was going on, because modern bulbs last for ever, don't they? Well, near enough. Now in terms of embodied carbon, this is, of course, a jolly good thing. However, it has a downside, as you don't have to think about changing a light bulb for years on end, and by the time you do, you realise that you have been missing out on some very interesting developments. As a reader of this August newsletter you are, I suppose, way ahead of me in this field. Just in case, though, here is a report from the front line...|
Campaigners from around East Sussex have launched a new brochure and web tool to help members of the East Sussex Pension Fund (ESPF) lobby the County Council to reinvest the £172 million it currently has invested in the coal, oil and gas industries. See Fossil Free Hastings
Members of the East Sussex Pension Fund can use the new web tool to contact the chair of the East Sussex Pension Committee, Richard Stogdon, and urge the Committee to divest the Fund from fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas). A printed brochure with a tear-off slip addressed to the Committee chair, suitable for Pension Fund members to share with their colleagues, is also available free on request from Fossil Free Hastings, c/o Ore Place Farmhouse, TN34 2RA or email@example.com
Jill Goulder visits an Ovesco project
An imaginative extra was added to the official opening on 4 September 2016 of a newly-built community-funded 5-megawatt solar farm at Merston east of Chichester. Directors of Meadow Blue Community Energy (a partnership including Ovesco in Lewes) offered to guide a group of attendees on a bike-trip to the farm from Chichester station. I and another Lewes resident Ann Link managed to dodge Rail Replacement Buses and join a dozen Chichester cyclists for the 4-mile ride to the farm. The proliferation of solar farms in that region is a revelation to those of us facing the opposition to them in the SDNP and Weald: with the Downs far to the north here the farms in the flatlands don't 'spoil the view'. Read more...
East Sussex Credit Union has moved to Hove Town Hall.
|The new phone number is 0300 303 3188 and opening hours are increased: now 9.30am to 4pm on weekdays. More details here.. The Lewes help point is still 10am to 12 noon at Lewes District Council offices in Southover Road near to Lewes rail station.
The Credit Union is a not-for-profit savings and loans co-operative. Our new neighbours in Hove Town Hall include Citizen’s Advice and Money Advice Plus.
ESCU continues to grow and provide new services to members, many of whom join online. There is a saving for members of £60 on the cost of an annual bus pass to Brighton and there are bus ticket loans which cost less than paying for a monthly ticket. See More here...
A community inspired initiative in the heart of Sussex
Sacred Earth - there is a great short film around their efforts here. They are inviting support from people to become members, as share holders of the community company. You can do this through their website or via crowdfunder.co.uk (search sacred earth). This might boost their numbers, they have very little time left to ensure they hit their targets.
... A personal rant by Julia Waterlow of TTL about the misuse of our sewerage system
Lewesians have first-hand experience of inappropriate materials shoved down our sewage pipes: the closure of Station Street in recent weeks was allegedly caused by bedsheets of all things blocking the underground pipework system. Although that’s extreme, the day-to-day rubbish put down our foul water system, from toilets and sinks, is pretty gruesome if you’re beach-cleaning along our coasts.
As well as the yuk factor, wet-wipes are a risk to wildlife as creatures mistake them for food. The Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean survey reported that the number of wet-wipes on UK beaches more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. ‘This rise in pollution of our oceans and beaches is mainly due to the fact that people want convenience and so many people treat their toilet like a bin’. Wet-wipes, like nappies, sanitary towels and cotton-buds are designed not to disintegrate in water; even ‘flushable’ biodegradable ones take some time to decompose. The sewage treatment filters don’t always catch everything – though the water companies still ferry tons of waste from the sewage filters to landfill. Read more...
Despite the challenges for renewable energy Ovesco has continued to progress with home grown energy for the Lewes District and beyond. Latest community energy news and events from Ovesco here...
Left: one half of the Wallands Primary School PV array.
Last week National Grid admitted its complete failure to predict the rapid advance of small-scale renewables. Four years ago it estimated that 0.5 gigawatts would be installed by 2021. Already, the total is 11GW, and an extra 13GW is now considered likely. That’s an under-estimate by a factor of nearly 50. Accordingly, National Grid has now slashed its forecast for the building of big block power stations by more than 50%. More...
And now eight new battery storage projects are to be built around the UK after winning contracts worth £66m to help National Grid keep power supplies stable as more wind and solar farms are built. EDF Energy, E.On and Vattenfall were among the successful companies chosen to build new lithium ion batteries with a combined capacity of 200 megawatts (MW), under a new scheme to help National Grid to balance supply and demand within seconds. More....
Thanks to the wonderful No2Nuclear Power for these items.
|Pesticide-Free Lewes represented our campaign at the Lewes Societies Fair in Lewes Corn Exchange on the 3rd September. They had a very positive response from the public to their campaign. Many people shared upsetting or disturbing experiences with conventional pesticides (some employment experiences, some experiences from their neighbourhood) which shows that (contrary to industry publicity), many people are concerned by the harm pesticides can do. We've collected 521 signatures so far.|
Kate (from the pesticide - free Lewes Campaign team) managed to speak to Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, who attended the fair, about the campaign and the need to reduce agricultural pesticide use.
If you want to help the campaign, you can sign the petition or look out for one of the paper copies being circulated throughout Lewes District. If you'd like to get further involved in the campaign, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at the Brighton-based Pesticide Action Network UK
Wildflower Lewes is a campaign to get Lewes buzzing with bees, fluttering with butterflies and brimming with stunning wildflowers. It's being initiated by local councillors, wildlife groups and ecologists - and your help is needed too.
It's a well-cited fact that there has been a 97% decline in wildflower meadows since WWII, which has serious implications for bees, butterflies and other insects and wildlife.
Wildflower Lewes is asking people in Lewes to help identify possible patches of land in their neighbourhood that they would like to see become wildflower spaces, with the opportunity to get involved in creating and looking after them. Read more...
Photograph: Joanna Carter
Transition Town Lewes was host to a field trip by the World Student Environmental Network (WSEN) in July as part of the WSEN 2016 Global Summit held jointly at the University of Sussex and University of Keele.
WSEN is a global hub supporting creative student initiatives to help incorporate sustainability and environmental issues into higher education.
TTL hosted students for an afternoon at the Linklater Pavilion - Lewes's purpose-built centre for the study of environmental change. Delegates from countries including Israel, Kenya, Austria, Palestine and the USA learnt about the global evolution of the transition town movement and TTL initiatives such as community energy company Ovesco and the Lewes Pound. Read more
On Tuesday 12th July groups from all over the county presented a petition asking East Sussex County Council to divest its pension fund from fossil fuel funds. The petition was started by Keep It In the Ground Sussex, part of Transition Town Lewes. Fossil Free Hastings and Climate Forest Row organised the event, and have now set up an official petition on the ESCC website
|The KIIGS petition was received by Ruth O'Keeffe and will still receive attention from the council. Many people feel that not only should we not be investing in new fossil fuel extraction but it may not be good financially either.
The groups have also produced a leaflet for pension fund members, who include teachers, leisure centre workers and many other people employed locally as well as employees of the Town, District and County councils. This includes a card to send to those in charge of the fund. If you would like copies, contact Fossil Free Hastings
We may think (and we’re often told) that many of the positive messages of transition are “…all very well for ‘professionals’ in Europe, but unreal for people living in the ‘real world’ …”. Well, here’s an example that confounds that way of thinking …the spreading enthusiasm for and popularity of ‘naturegain walks’.
People in the Southern Rift Valley in Ethiopia also experience naturegain and it was really lovely going for walks with groups of local people in various locations – from semi-natural woodland to intensive commercial cotton farms, from lake-side biodiversity to smallholder farming plots...
The Ecological Land Cooperative has purchased its second site in East Sussex for small-scale ecological farming. Read more/watch film.
Solar farm near Merston enabled by funding from £1.2m share offer
Meadow Blue Community Energy (MBCE), a community benefit society, is celebrating as the 5MWp solar farm near Merston has been connected to the grid. It will generate enough clean solar electricity to power the equivalent of 1,515 local homes. The finance was raised following a popular share offer, which raised more than the target amount in less than three weeks. Read more...
A personal view by Dirk Campbell
|Because of the way life has evolved, organisms respond to immediate concerns rather than gradual ones – a threat from a predator, for example, rather than environmental change. Humans are like all other organisms in this respect. Because nature has bequeathed us the additional ability to imagine, we can also greatly inflate certain perceived threats and diminish others. Our criterion in any situation is: how does this directly affect my and my family's immediate safety and food supply? Most of us make our choices and decisions on that basis. So we ignore the dangers that we hope won't affect us directly, even constructing counter-arguments to prove that the dangers themselves are imaginary. Or acting in response to imagined dangers, and then regretting it. Such is the complexity of the human mind. Read more|
|A new campaign aims to persuade Lewes District Council to stop using all toxic pesticides in Lewes District streets, parks, schools, and public spaces. There is clear evidence that pesticides used for weed control are harmful to human health (and especially harmful to children). Effective alternatives already exist which are not harmful to people, pets, and the environment. Furthermore, the use of non-toxic alternatives for weed control will encourage greater local biodiversity. Many cities have already become pesticide-free – in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, and the US – and Lewes District needs to follow their example.|
If you want to help the campaign, you can sign the petition or look out for one of the paper copies being circulated throughout Lewes District. If you'd like to get further involved in the campaign, contact email@example.com
Take a look at the Brighton-based Pesticide Action Network UK