Sustainable Exeter

We’ve had a post on Interconnected Exeter, so it’s time for one on Sustainable Exeter. I’m cheating slightly, because it draws on the series of posts on how to simplify your lifestyle, and reach out to your neighbours and local community. So I thought I’d couch it in terms of ten challenges, which if you accomplish them, would help make Exeter a more sustainable city. And becausethey could involve some substantial lifestyle changes, they definitely are challenges because. Here goes making a difference…

Challenge 1
Insulation insulation insulation
Call the Energy Saving Trust to find out what grants are available, and help your neighbours apply

Challenge 2
Get hold of an electricity monitor and find out how much your appliances guzzle
Exeter City Council has some you can borrow

Challenge 3
Switch to a green energy supplier
Switch to Good Energy, quoting GE243, and they will donate to Transition Exeter

Challenge 4
Generate electricity as a community
Just Power for Communities, based in Exeter, specialises in solar panels on community buildings

Challenge 5
Sell your car, walk, cycle, use public transport, and join a car club
Exe Co-Cars has cars in Exeter, Topsham and Taunton

Challenge 6
Shop at local stores, and keep 80% of what you spend within the local economy
…instead of sending 80% out of the local economy, when you shop at supermarkets

Challenge 7
Buy local and seasonal food
Check out the Real Food store and café in Exeter, and look out for the Love Local Food van

Challenge 8
Grow your own food in your back garden
Get involved with Exeter Community Agriculture, Broadclyst Community Farm, or the Harvest project

Challenge 9
Share your stuff, and get to know your neighbours
Check out Freecycle, Ecomodo and Streetbank

Challenge 10
Switch to an ethical bank
There’s a branch of the Co-operative Bank in Exeter

Go on

If you’re reading this, the thirteenth in our series on making connections and working together, you know how to surf the world-wide web. But… “There are 8.2 million people in the UK who have never used the internet. It probably doesn’t surprise you that 6 million of these people are over the age of 65, and about 4 million come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Digital champions give their time to help some-one else get online and discover the web. It might just be an hour, and in that time you could help someone find work and improve skills, find information, or keep in touch. They provide a short course in the basics, including in how to motivate someone, and where they can get further advice and support.

Go on… help someone else get connected.

 

A voluntary for volunteering

Blow the trumpet! “Research has shown that people who volunteer often live longer”, says Allen Klein. So in the interests of longevity, eternal youth, and the like…

TimeBank is a national volunteering charity. It aims to support everyone to find rewarding volunteering, whether an individual, a big corporation or a small business. It does four main things: mentoring programmes; employee volunteering; youth programmes; and its people volunteer too. Currently on its database: volunteering opportunities near EX1.

Confusingly, there is also Timebanking, which looks similar to LETS and other organisations we’ve mentioned in previous posts. “Timebanking is a means of exchange used to organise people and organisations around a purpose, where time is the principal currency.  For every hour participants ‘deposit’ in a timebank, perhaps by giving practical help and support to others, they are able to ‘withdraw’ equivalent support in time when they themselves are in need.”

Harnessing crowds for energy

In the last post, I wrote about peoplefund.it. From the same stable, there’s energyshare. It’s not really a crowd-funding site, more of a place for forming an online community of supporters for your energy project and sharing experience with each other. But there is also the energyshare fund, which rewards a few community projects each year.

Worth keeping an eye on is Microgenius. The full website is not live yet, but its aim is to bring together people who want to invest in green energy with community energy projects.

Two’s company, three’s their source of crowd-funding

We’re up to No.10 in our series of posts about how to simplify your lifestyle, and reach out to your neighbours and local community, so it’s time for a posting on the ‘big society’ in action: crowd-funding.

First up is peoplefund.it [update: now Crowdfunder], linked with one of our TEDxExeter speakers, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This brings “good ideas that might just change the world (for the better)” together with people who want to make them happen with their money (from just £1), or by their time and skills, or by telling their friends. Projects might be “the latest tech gadgets, ground-breaking energy initiatives, or nifty ideas to make good, affordable, local food fun – not worthy.”

Then there is PleaseFund.Us [update: now known as Zequs.com], which is very similar, with a slightly different emphasis on the projects. “The ideas that we showcase come from all sorts of people and varying fields such as music, film, fashion, technology, publishing, and more. The motives vary, the budgets vary, the nature of the projects vary, but the one thing that remains constant is the creativity behind them.

And finally, there’s the new Exeter-based outfit, Crowdcube, targeting businesses wanting to raise equity finance.

In the next post, I’ll look at crowd-funding more targeted at community energy.

Streetbank-wise

Number nine in our series, and continuing the theme of lending and borrowing.

Streetbank is simpler than Ecomodo and Bid & Borrow, featured in my last post. This may well be a benefit. There are no lending circles; you get to see people within one mile of you, and all their things. There is no mention of ‘confidence’ or charging for items, but then maybe we need to trust people more and get away from money-based transactions. And when you register, it is a condition that you add one thing that you would be prepared to help with, lend or give away; you can’t get away with not participating.

Both a lender and a borrower be *

I’ve written about Freecycle and LETS in earlier posts. Now, continuing with the series on sharing stuff and working together, I want to introduce you to Ecomodo.

Ecomodo lets you “lend and borrow each other’s everyday objects, skills and spaces with confidence.” They’ve thought carefully about the “with confidence”: the borrower and the item are rated after each transaction; lenders can request security deposits; and the site offers insurance. You can create a ‘lending circle’ in your neighbourhood, so it is closely tied to real world communities. For example, Exmouth Town had a public lending circle. Update 20 March 2015: Ecomodo has now closed.

Bid & Borrow is very similar to Ecomodo, but I think less user-friendly. Again, you can create a ‘sharing network’ in your neighbourhood, and on both sites you can post a wanted ad. Companies can advertise their goods for hire, but I think this detracts, and Bid & Borrow’s local search doesn’t work well. But still, there might be something you need here that isn’t on Ecomodo. Update 21 March 2016: It appears that Bid & Borrow is no more.

* Shakespeare didn’t always get it right.

Sharing a lift

There will be about 460 people travelling to TEDxExeter in April, including speakers, performers, sponsors, delegates, volunteers and the organising team. There’s not much in the way of parking, but it’s quite possible that some will be starting from places close-by or en route.

I think we’ve reached the seventh in our series of posts on forming connections and working together for sustainability.

Liftshare is the website behind carsharedevon.com, and helps people to travel more sustainably by sharing their journey. You can share a car on any journey you make, from the daily travel to work or the school run, to a one-off journey to a festival. You can even search for people to share a journey by taxi, bike or on foot.

Why not share your journey to TEDxExeter, and share your hopes for the day on the way there, and what most uplifted you on the way back?

I’ll do it, but only if you do it too

The sixth post in our series, again on forming connections and working together.

PledgeBank allows users to set up pledges and then encourages other people to sign up to them. A pledge is a statement of the form ‘I will do something, if a certain number of people will help me do it’. The creator of the pledge then publicises their pledge and encourages people to sign up. We can’t be sure people will bother to carry out the pledge, but “We believe that if a person possesses a slight desire to do something, and then we help connect them to a bunch of people who also want to do the same thing, then that first person is much more likely to act.” The site provides guidance to help make your original pledge a success, and you can get a special version of PledgeBank for your organisation. Example of a successful pledge: “I will give £10 towards a tree planting project in Kenya but only if 200 other people will do the same.”

If I ran the world…

More and more websites are being developed that are enabling people to share and work together. And the best are bringing people together in real life too. In this fifth post in the series, I’m looking more at encouraging each other and working together on a common goal.

“I’ve got this great idea, but I need other people to help me make it happen”

If We Ran the World aims to help people with good intentions and broad visions turn them into “tangible, do-able microactions that anyone and everyone can help you to do. All of us can achieve more than one of us, and everything starts with a microaction.” Its home page is an almost blank screen with the challenging…

If I ran the world, I would

What would you do? Then what small steps could you take to make it happen? What help would you need? And how could you help others?