Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My appeal video for Hexham River Hydro (@energyshare)

Last week I had the unique opportunity to visit Hexham and meet the community with whom I have partnered in the bid to win funding from energyshare.

I received the most amazing welcome from so many people in the community, including the project partners, volunteers, Transition Town members, the local Abbey, councillors and the Mayor.  However it was the visits I made to the potential beneficiaries of the funding that inspired me the most, including a local community centre in regeneration area and the fabulous kids who really need their local youth initiative.

Armed with just my very old smartphone, I managed to take some footage while I was there, to ask for your support in voting for a community project that will not just create renewable energy but will help provide some much-needed social projects too.  So please, take a look and then I urge you to join in the EnergyShare vote. The deadline is 5pm 3 December, so Hexham River Hydro needs your support urgently.


video


To vote, you will need to register your email address at www.energyshare.com, but it doesn't take long and you will be in with a chance of winning one of five River Cottage books that are being given away each day.  It will only take 5 minutes, and if you vote for Hexham River Hydro and their public vote is successful, you will be making a real difference to a community's heritage and social well-being as well as helping to create an amazing renewable energy project that will be a valuable resource for the rest of the UK.

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This is a sponsored opportunity on behalf of British Gas. However, all the author's views and research are her own.

Photos of the visit are now also publicly available on Facebook.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Teaming up with energyshare & Hexam River Hydro


It is very rare that something pulls me away from talking about rubbish, but when I was asked to team up with an exciting hydro energy project that's competing for energyshare funding, it was far too interesting to miss.


Energyshare has been created by River Cottage and British Gas, jointly managing a campaign whereby communities across the UK have applied to energyshare to have their project funded. These communities have been shortlisted into a small number of finalists, all looking to have their project funded up to the value of £100,000.

The competition has also been supported by Channel 4’s Three Hungry Boy’s who spent five weeks touring the South West over the summer, visiting communities just like those shortlisted for energyshare funding. Trevor, Thom and Tim were challenged by River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall to live off the land and barter their way around the countryside, sourcing the energy for their electric vehicle from renewable technologies.

Today the finalists have been announced and campaigning has now begun in earnest to help generate public votes to choose the winning communities.


All the finalists are brilliant in their own way.  The community that I am supporting is Hexham River Hydro, a fabulous project which will create a100kW community hydro power generation scheme on the River Tyne in Northumberland.   It is a joint initiative by Hexham Community Partnership and Transition Tynedale and for anyone who, like me, has grown up or lived near such a similar powerful waterway, it is very easy to get excited about the possibilities of harnessing such energy.

However, this project is not just about generating renewable electricity, it is also about securing sustainable funding for social and economic regeneration and community activities in the market town of Hexham and its environs, as well as creating an education and awareness-raising tool for residents and visitors alike.

When I say, I'm very excited about this project, I really mean it and can't wait to get to meet the people and the community behind it. Having spoken to team member Gillian Orrell, this afternoon, I am now looking forward to a trip up north to find out more about their hopes and plans. This project may seem that it's about technology, but at the heart of it, it's really about people and harnessing the energy around us, without impacting on the environment itself.  It's amazing to think that it will generate approximately 700MWh of electricity per year – enough to satisfy the average electricity consumption of 150 households, whicle reducing Hexham’s carbon emissions by approximately 400 tonnes CO2 per year.

With such localised energy supply, it is also deemed a project of national significance that will be of interest to other similar communities around the UK.

I will be able to report on my discoveries next week, but in the meantime, if you are over 13-years-old and have just two minutes to spare, please get voting at the energyshare website.  More information about Hexam River Hydro can be found at www.energyshare.com/hrh. So, please pop over and if you like what you see, please do hurry and vote for them.

Voting is open until 5pm on 3rd December with the opportunity to win one of 5 books that River Cottage is giving away every day to voters. Furthermore, for the energyshare Group that gets the most supporters voting, there is the chance to scoop a £1,000 cash prize.

So please do get involved now and visit energyshare.com/voting.

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This is a sponsored opportunity on behalf of British Gas. However, all the author's views are her own.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

It's that time of year again with "Buy Nothing New November"


For the last few years I've welcomed in November with a personal challenge, to get through the month without buying anything new.  And after an expensive few months through the summer and early autumn, once more I'm welcoming the challenge with open arms for 2011.

It's not an anti-consumerism protest as such, although it does give me a great excuse to throw a huge boo-hiss at all the stores that promote the festive spirit months before December has arrived.

Yes, I admit the heavily commercial unseasonal 'seasonal promotions' regularly hack me off, what with Easter eggs on sale in January, back-to-school gear being promoted in June and the gradual appearance of Christmas paraphernalia showing its face as early as August!  Stuff that makes me go Grrrrrr!

However, regardless of what is going on outside my front door, the challenge is aimed at keeping my own levels of consumerism in check and building in a defence system against all those things that would have otherwise lured their way over the threshold.

I know some people thing I'm mad for attempting such a challenge during what many consider as the start of the Christmas Shopping period but it has proven to save me money and in turn, the less I buy, the less I waste.

Here are some examples of the benefits from previous years.
  1. Scrapping November from my Christmas shopping diary keeps me focused.  There are no temptations to buy all those 'extra' presents I would have once bought for the family. Don't get me wrong, they don't miss out, it simply helps to keep on top of the excess!
  2. Less temptation means fewer presents and less wrapping paper.  No longer do I return home with armfuls of wrapping paper, which only end up in the recycling bin. Instead we get crafty with inexpensive parcel paper, magazines, newspapers and reusable gift bags or festive fabric.
  3. Although food is obviously not on the 'banned list', the challenge gives me an opportunity to focus on using up what's already in the freezer and kitchen cupboards to make space for stocking up on the seasonal stuff to take us through the winter.  The Love Food Hate Waste site is always great for ideas.
  4. Less time shopping also gives me more time to have a go at making gifts instead.  There are loads of ideas around the Internet and Violet Posy's Thrifty Christmas site is one of my favourites, along with some great creative projects that can be found at LellaLoves.
  5. I won't be tempted to buy any spangly new outfits or accessories for the Christmas dinners or parties on my calendar.  Instead, I look forward to going through my wardrobe to plan what will work, without bowing to emergency feel-good purchases either in November or December.
So if you normally find yourself in the pre-Christmas rut, why not join me this year.  I admit, it can be daunting at first, but three years in and it's amazing how calm and in control a "Buy Nothing New November" can actually make you feel.  The best bit is, not only are you able to step back from the commercial rush, it makes December far more enjoyable too.

However, if a whole month seems too much of a challenge, there is some good news in that Saturday November 26th is officially Buy Nothing Day.  That's just one day, not a whole month. Much easier by comparison!  If you fancy a go at that, just click on the Keep Calm logo at the top of this post.

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