Track a Tree is a new citizen science project to record spring in the UK's woodlands www.trackatree.org.uk
Track a Tree is asking for volunteers to become citizen ecologists who will record the progress of spring in woodlands across the UK. We're looking for people to record the spring phenology, or seasonal timing, of individual woodland trees and the flowering plants that grow beneath them. By observing UK woodland communities we can find out how spring timing varies across some of our most important habitats, and discover how changes in climate could affect our woods.
On the Track a Tree website you can find out more about the project, register to become a recorder and start making observations.
We also have a Twitter account @TrackATree, and a Facebook page where we'll post regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/trackatree We would be very grateful if you could pass on the information about Track a Tree to your network.
Hopefully it'll be a great season to start recording spring in the woods.
Every September the Welsh town of Abergavenny overflows with people attending and participating in the annual Food Festival. This success has turned it into a national event drawing visitors from ‘the great and the good’ of the food world to humble day trippers living nearby.
But the town has also spawned another food event, the community canteen, inspired by local people wanting to bring together food and the politics that link its production and consumption. A wider audience of interest is also emerging as people in other parts of the country and beyond want to know more about how it works and how to create similar events in their areas and countries. Of course, compared to the food festival the community canteen is small beer but it is an idea that is coming of its time in an austere and disconnected age.
So how does the canteen differ from other eating out experiences? Firstly, everyone attending is potentially a ‘canteener’ playing a role in the creation of the event and the experience of the evening. At some time a diner may well have helped out in preparing the meal or taken the lead on making or planning it; been part of the entertainment; got the room ready or picked flowers for table decorations; done the washing up, put the tables and chairs away or swept up at the end of the evening.
The mechanics of the community canteen reach beyond the simple headline of people joining together to cook and eat. Some basic principles include using locally produced and/or fairly traded food and where possible organically grown ingredients: all the vegetables are bought from a local organic farm. The meals are vegetarian/vegan or at the least always include a vegan option. Interestingly many of the diners are not vegetarians and certainly not vegan, but no concerns have been voiced that meals are not ‘proper’ food. It has become a stereotype that meat eaters are somehow disadvantaged and short-changed by being exposed to vegetarian/vegan food. The canteen offers an inclusive approach to the eating and cooking of food where ‘the alternative’ is not dismissed as ‘cranky’. Most canteeners describe the food as delicious and many have been introduced to recipes from as far afield as North and sub-Saharan Africa, Thailand, Italy, Spain and Wales.
Minimising waste and other environmental concerns also ‘spin off’ from this approach. Time and experience have created an expertise so there is little left-over food, but when there is, it is always taken away by grateful canteeners. All vegetable peelings are composted as a matter of course. On one occasion these peelings were collected for the next meal and used to make a vegetable stock for the Thai curry – taking recycling to a whole new level!
Entertainment is also part of the evening: usually provided between courses and spanning the gamut of performance art. The canteen provides a platform for professional and amateur performers usually from within the local community and has included solo performers, a jazz trio, singing groups and a story teller. In keeping with all the other roles guest entertainers will at the least be diners too.
The food and hire of the hall costs from £2.50 to £3.00 per person but diners can choose to donate more to the chosen cause for the evening: each canteen supports a different organisation from a list of suggestions collected at previous events. These are mostly humanitarian or environmental displaying a depth of interest ranging from local issues to global concerns. Victims of the chemical disaster in Bhopal, recipients of Medical Aid for Palestine and a group establishing a nearby community orchard are just some of the causes. Gaining financial support from the canteen is not just about turning up with a collection tin, someone has to advocate on behalf of the cause explaining its relevance and how the money raised is to be used. While this may look like ‘armchair activism’, it not only educates but also successfully provides activities for people to become involved with. It is both localism and inclusiveness in action as people become more politicised and socially engaged in their community.
As awareness of the canteen has grown so too have the numbers of invites, bookings and volunteers. The camaraderie from working in the kitchen to turning up as a diner makes for an unusual and unfamiliar evening out. As Maria, a regular attender explains: “…being involved with the cooking is great fun and the chance to chat and socialise and even learn something new, it didn’t feel like a chore just an extension of the experience.” For all canteeners, the activities of cooking and eating bring a shared purpose turning people from being simply consumers disengaged from the origins of the food to active producers of the event. Organisers are surprised by the level of enthusiasm and support the event and its ideals have generated given its small beginnings. An initial one off experiment has now grown to become a regular monthly event with plans extending it well into the future. A firm fixture on the social calendars of many living in and around this small market town, places at the monthly canteen are highly sought after. So much so that reserve lists are created to accommodate the numbers wanting to attend. In only 9 months nearly two hundred people have attended at least one canteen meal. The attractions of going to the canteen are many and individuals engage with the experience in ways that are meaningful for them: for Judith it is personal and sensory: “I am blind so love to be in a friendly atmosphere…” For Maria it is inclusive and a “safe” place to be “I am a widow and socialising on your own is not always easy.”
The canteen illustrates the power of collectivism allowing people to help themselves rather than creating a sense of a ‘hand-out’ to the disadvantaged. This is not to deny that existing austerity measures leave many without the means to even fund the cost of this monthly meal. Some see the canteen as having a role to play in responding to local poverty by raising funds for a traditional yet secular soup kitchen within the town. Whatever the motivation for engaging with the community canteen, the experience it brings allows a common purpose to emerge linking food with politics and social cohesion.
The last word is given to Barry: “…shared cooking and eating seem to be activities that bind people together in all human cultures…”
Many of you will be aware of the Birmingham Made Me Design Expo that takes place annually.
This year the Expo (27-31 October) intends to promote supply chain activity in the region focussing on six clusters:
1. Transport and Automotive
2. Healthcare and Medical
3. Green and Renewable
4. Digital, Cultural and Creative
They are looking to promote ‘star’ businesses within these supply chains using virtual, real and interactive display techniques, and showcasing the Expo within the Atrium at Millennium Point in Birmingham.
If you would like to be considered please contact Beverley Nielsen at: Beverley.Nielsen@bcu.ac.uk.
Sustainability West Midlands is the sustainability adviser for leaders of the West Midlands.
The Caplor team are committed to continually pushing the Climate change and energy agenda and at all levels within its immediate and wider community. Our mission and whole business is geared towards an environmentally and socially sustainable business that fully endorses and values the third pillar of genuine sustainability – that of economics.
It is with this back drop that we welcomed MP for North Hereford Bill Wiggin to Caplor to view our wide ranging facilities on site and meet the team to discuss the issues that face us and immediate policy specifics. During the visit Bill kindly described Caplor as a ‘’centre of excellence’’ and certainly engaged fully in the issues although it was also apparent his slightly wandering attention toward his love of agriculture and particularly our pedigree Hereford cattle.
Our main theme was really trying to push home how the issues of environmental and social sustainability and the huge commitment and cost associated with this are not at odds with the desire to have positive economic growth and improving living standards. Indeed once the issues are understood – investing into energy efficiency, generation and positive social gain all help our economy at every level, domestic, business, community, national and international.
At Caplor, Bill was able to see firsthand how positive financial investment here in his rural constituent was creating jobs whilst saving huge sums on imported energy that could then be further reinvested locally to create more positive contribution to the economy instead of money flowing outwards from the UK economy. This is irrespective of any belief or otherwise into the ‘’yes and no’’ of the climate debate – Sustainable business simply is good business. On that front it was encouraging to hear Bill reinforce to us that the Govt is genuinely behind the climate and energy agenda and indeed great steps are being made, for example, under this Govt over 500,000 properties now benefit by producing their own energy plus many other measures. Bill and others in the Govt do get frustrated with individuals at Westminster who appear to simply just not get it and incredibly still choose to try and play arm chair scientist by disagreeing with tens of thousands of Nation backed scientists who point out climate change is 97% unequivocal and that we must act far faster and with greater commitment if we are to reduce the huge negative economic impact and further disasters that it is accepted await us.
For many weeks we have been hit with the worst rainfall in recorded history of some 250 years and this is costing extreme social and economic problems. Experts are pointing out that this type of weather will increasingly become the norm and this level of extreme may only be the footnote to the very dangerous territory that we are allowing ourselves and our children to enter. As individuals, with our Governments positive backing we can combat this and at the same time create a better and cleaner society whilst boosting an otherwise difficult economic situation. Our current system and planet cannot cater for the soon to be 9 Billion people. We have the technology and skill to boost our economy and provide a sustainable future; we also have overwhelming support from our voting public. We now need consistent, positive policy and support from our leaders.
For further information please contact Mel Preedy, Business Development Coordinator on 01432 860644 or email@example.com
Following the success of their first micro hydro co-operative share offer last autumn, Llangattock Green Valleys is planning a second share offer, to launch this spring.
A total of 100 people – mostly local – bought shares in our first co-operative, ensuring they raised the full £270,000 needed to fund the development and construction costs of two community micro hydro schemes – one in Llangattock, one just outside Crickhowell. Construction of those schemes is due to begin in late spring, and they should be generating clean, green, renewable electricity by the autumn.
Now, with a second share offer, they’re aiming to raise £690,000 to build a further four micro hydro schemes in the Brecon Beacons National Park. These new schemes will generate some 355MWh of electricity a year – enough to power 90 average Welsh homes. They’ll also generate income and, once running costs have been paid, any surplus will be divided equally between Members and a special Community Fund Based on our projections, the share of surplus to Members should provide a return of 5% per annum, averaged over the 20-year life of the project. Plus there’s potential for attractive tax relief benefits through the Enterprise Investment Scheme.
The Community Fund, meanwhile, will benefit to the tune of some £550,000 over the life of the project, with this money being used to develop further sustainable projects in the Brecon Beacons National Park area – a win all round!
Come and find out more about this great renewable energy opportunity at the launch presentation on 3 March, from 6-7pm at Llangattock Primary School, NP8 1PH.
Alternatively, the team will be in at the Parish Hall in Hay-on-Wye on Tuesday evening 25 March, from 7-9pm.
Or you can pop along to one of their Friday drop-in sessions, starting 8 March, from 10am-1pm at the Crickhowell Resource & Information Centre, Beaufort Street, Crickhowell NP8 1BN.
Mention our name on the application form if you decide to buy shares and Llangattock Green Valleys will donate 1% of the value of your subscription to Herefordshire New Leaf, to help us in our work! How good is that! :)
To find out more, visit the Llangattock Green Valleys website, click here.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call free on 0800 216 0905.
The Directors LGV Ventures and Llangattock Green Valleys Micro Hydro (2) Co-operative
Local storyteller, Carol Graham, is delighted to announce the opening of the new Story Space Studio and from the beginning of February 2014 she'll be based at the beautiful Grange Court in Leominster.
Set in the park in the centre of the town Grange Court is a stunning 17th century building. Originally it was a Market Hall and after many changes of use over many years it has now been renovated and extended to become a Community, Enterprise and Heritage Hub.
Over the coming months Carol hopes to create a programme of day workshops and weekly courses, and to develop exciting new educational and community arts projects. In the summer she'll be offering gentle movement sessions with "Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing." The studio is also a home for Story Play - a Social Enterprise Company set up in 2012 to provide high quality Storytelling and Storymaking programmes for children and their families.
Charities and Community Groups in the Leominster area are being offered the opportunity to run a charity shop for a week to raise funds, promote activities and recruit volunteers. Based on a model similar to the community shop in Kington – where groups regularly make £1,000 or more in a week – the High Street shop is now taking bookings to rent for a week at a time.
The venture has been set up by the Leominster-based charity Oaks, which provides nursery care and support for Leominster families, at the Honey Bees and Daisy Chains nurseries.
To find out more or to book a week in the shop contact Pip Westwood on 01568 613274 or email email@example.com
Community Energy Development Fund Manager £29,000 plus travel and expenses
Robert Owen Community Banking Fund Ltd (ROCBF) is a social lending company providing fairer and more affordable access to finance to both individuals and businesses across Wales. ROCBF, with Community Energy Wales, has been funded by the BIG Lottery’s People and Places Fund to support the growth of community owned renewable energy projects across Wales. This takes the form of both revenue and capital funding. The aim of these funds is to assist community groups to finance the development phase of their schemes. This will help them progress more speedily through to planning and construction stages. As this is a new scheme the Manager's role will be to set up the Fund within our existing framework and programme of loans, to then launch the scheme to communities across Wales, and to be responsible for its ongoing administration and management.
The post is initially a fixed term contract for three years, with the intention to continue subject to funding. It is being developed and delivered in partnership with Community Energy Wales.
MAIN TASKS: To set up and oversee the development and operation of a new Community Energy Development Fund. Supply practical and technical support to new and existing community energy groups across Wales, including those from within socially disadvantaged and marginalised localities. Develop applications, and commissions needed prior to the construction of, renewable energy installations. To work in partnership with Community Energy Wales and other stakeholder organisations in sourcing, supporting and developing groups in the sector.
SKILLS REQUIRED An aptitude for working with community groups and volunteers who maybe trying to develop complex schemes. An ability to assess and prepare a financial case for investment support to a community scheme. An interest in, and knowledge of, renewable energy technologies. A team player, but able to lead and take initiative. Experience of, or strong empathy for, working in the third sector Driving licence, your own vehicle and willingness to travel within Wales.
FFI go to : https://rocbf.co.uk/employment_opportunities and follow the links to PDF downloads.
Anyone wondering what they should think about fracking? … wondering whether it is really ok - perhaps we need shale gas to fill the gap while other reliable heat sources are found for our boilers?
... have a look at the Frack Free Herefordshire website. The site is packed with information, and offers the position on fracking from WWF, the Cooperative and RSPB amongst others. Everything from engineering reports to planning guidance
… and lots on our two proposed Herefordshire fracking sites: Eastnor and Fownhope.