Welcome back to Sailor for Sustainability. If you don’t know them yet, please read who they are here!
Right now they are back in the Netherlands presenting the first two years of their sailing trip around the world in search of sustainable solutions. Today I would like to share with you their experience in the United Kingdon and the solutions they discovered there. I added a personal touch to the article thanks to my experience in UNESCO Biosphere Reserve there.
Orkney is home to Europe’s Marine Energy Center (EMEC)
Tidal streams can reach up to 16 knots in the Pentland Firth just south of the island group, and waves up to 18 meters high have been measured on the Atlantic West Coast.
The Crown Estate has designated a large area of seabed for the development of wave and tidal energy in Scotland. However, before marine energy can be harnessed in an effective way, robust technology needs to be developed. That’s exactly what EMEC has been facilitating for many years.
Orkney’s Economic Development manager Stuart Allison explains that tidal energy development is ahead of wave energy because of its more predictable flow. Both forms of marine energy are expected to grow significantly and taking a substantial share of Scotland’s renewable energy generation in the years to come. They will supplement the wind energy already in use on the island, as evidenced by the wind turbines we encountered on the island.
Ecovillage Findhorn, for more than 40 years, this community aims to live in harmony with nature and each other. It has become an internationally known showcase example of how a community can organize itself in a sustainable way. The description of the ecovillage reminded me about the CAT (Center for alternative technologies) in Machynlleth, Wales that I discovered in 2011 while working at Ecodyfi. The world can learn a lot from the ecovillage.
Three residents of a caravan started the ecovillage in the sixties. The caravan park was adjacent to an airbase of the Royal Air Force. In stark contrast to the violence of the fighter jets, they founded Findhorn, a community based on love and peace. The community quickly grew to include people with an alternative lifestyle. One in which money or property don’t play significant roles, but love for nature and for each other all the more.
The ecology is a starting point at Findhorn, but the community feeling is what is unique about the ecovillage. Eating together is important for the community and the residents work collectively: the food is mostly homegrown, activities such as gardening, cooking, cleaning, maintenance and public relations jobs are divided among groups, for which residents can sign up.
Ecological principles are not just used for growing their food. Many homes and community buildings are made from recycled and natural materials like wood and stone. In the newest part of the village, there are also modern homes, they face south, are very well insulated, and equipped with heat pumps.
The community is very open to the outside world. Visitors and new residents are welcome. Today the ecovillage has over five hundred permanent residents. In addition, it annually attracts thousands of international visitors and guests. Curious sightseers, but also participants in conferences and seminars. The Findhorn Foundation provides the course program. These range from an introduction (Experience week), “part of a community, ”permaculture”, to “meditation and mindfulness”. More about Findhorn Ecovillage
Totnes in transition
At the River Dart in Devon lies the 8,000-soul town of Totnes. This is where Rob Hopkins founded the “Transition Town” movement. The idea is that communities can shift from oil dependency to local resilience. Practical actions towards sustainability at a local level would achieve that and strengthen the community.
Ivar and Floris had the opportunity to talk with Hal Gillmore colleague of Rob Hopkins, as usually happens change makers want to do more and better, Hal explains “Although we started the “Transition Town” movement in Totnes and many people come to visit us here, we are by no means transitioned. We’re only ten years into this, and although some initiatives have worked, others not so. Many people still stick to their privately owned cars, for example”.
Many initiatives are successful, such as the open eco-house initiative, where people can visit eco-homes in their neighborhood to get inspired to make their own home more sustainable. Or the “Archimedes Screw”, a hydropower facility in the River Dart. It provides about 20% of Totnes’s electricity needs. Another successful example is the “Re-conomy” project, which encourages local spending to support local jobs. Hal also explains “garden-dating”. “Private gardens owned by busy people, for example, a working family with kids, are matched to people with time but no garden to work in. They share the fruit and vegetables, community bonds are strengthened, growing-knowledge is exchanged and preserved, and resources and energy are saved in the food supply-chain.
A community has a lot of potentials to become more sustainable by arranging activities on a local level. Of course, not all sustainability challenges can be solved by a local approach, but it’s certainly an important piece of the “sustainability puzzle”. The “Transition Network” aims to be an “open source toolkit” for other towns to use and adapt how they see fit. More about Totnes transition town
Funny is I worked for a while in Devon (see the video) in 2012, but while there I visited Cornwall and Eden project instead of Totnes, this place is definitely on my list is on my bucket list!!
In Totnes, our favorite sailors for sustainability met Polly Higgins. She is the lead advocate for and expert on ecocide crime, award-winning author of Eradicating Ecocide, creator of the first ever non-commercial global trust fund for Earth Protectors, generator of change-making Earth protecting laws and a driving force behind the expansion of a ‘rights-based’ narrative towards a ‘duties and responsibilities’ based governance model.
Her commitment and objective are huge. When large-scale destruction of ecosystems is made a criminal offense at international level, ecosystems are better protected and, where necessary, prosecution takes place. We are all dependent on these ecosystems for a sustainable future. From that perspective, criminal law is an important sustainable solution. Find out more at Polly’s Eradicating Ecocide website.
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