Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Cyclists account for 24% of London’s morning commute

Posted in Movements, Research by Jessica Bird on June 27th, 2013

Source: The Guardian

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Photo by Karla Lopez via Flickr CC

From the article ‘Cyclists make up a quarter of London vehicles says TfL‘ by Laura Laker:

Cyclists make up an incredible 24% of vehicles in London’s morning rush hour, according to Transport for London (TfL) figures . The arresting statistic formed from a mass census of cyclists in London – apparently the biggest of its kind to date – is adding weight to campaigners’ and cycling proponents’ arguments that the bicycle is no longer the transport of the minority, and that we need to take the bicycle seriously as a means of mass transport.The numbers on some headline routes are perhaps not surprising to anyone who has squashed in with scores of cyclists at the traffic lights in London’s morning rush hour, though they do make previous cycling targets look shamefully unambitious. […]

London’s new cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told the Guardian: “Cycling is clearly a mass mode of transport in central London and until now it hasn’t been treated as such. Nearly all provision for cycling is based on the presumption that hardly anyone cycles, that you can make do with shoving cyclists to the side of the road and that just clearly is wrong.” Since [London Mayor Boris] Johnson’s cycling vision was launched in March, there have been fears that the proposed £913m funding for cycling will suffer at the hands of George Osborne’s spending review, due tomorrow. Gilligan remains optimistic, however, and says although the money is a lot more than previously spent on cycling, it’s not a lot compared to TfL’s overall budget. As Sir Peter Hendy, TfL’s transport commissioner, noted at the cycling vision’s City Hall launch, we get more for our money from cycling infrastructure than for other mass transport systems. He wants to make cycling “one of his highest priorities”. As campaigners point out, urban cycling is still dominated by a minority. The next goal is surely to get everyone else on a bike.

The London Cycling Campaign’s chief executive, Dr Ashok Sinha, said: “The latest cycling figures from TfL simply underline that, given the right circumstances, a large proportion of London’s population would opt to cycle to work. “The ultimate goal must be to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to feel safe enough to cycle for everyday local journeys, not just commuters. The good news is that Boris Johnson gets this and understands that investing in cycling saves money in the long run. That’s why he must resolutely defend his impressive new cycling programme from impending Treasury cuts.” […]

>>> You can read the full article here.


Energy co-ops retrofit to lower bills and emissions

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on May 2nd, 2013

Source: The Guardian

CARBON CO-OP
Photo from the Carbon Co-op

From the article “Energy co-ops are cutting household bills alongside carbon emissions” by Simon Birch

For customers, trust is key when it comes to getting advice on improving energy efficiency – and co-operatives have the edge.

Ruth Rosselson is an environmental pioneer. The freelance writer and community trainer is one of the first homeowners to sign up with the Manchester-based Carbon Co-op for a programme of energy-efficiency improvements that will transform her cold and draughty house into a warm and toasty low-energy home. “The main motivation for making my house more energy-efficient is that currently it’s so cold and damp,” says Rosselson, 42, speaking from her Manchester semi that she shares with her partner, Justin. “We also care deeply about the global environment and so we wanted to improve the carbon efficiency of the house.”

Carbon Co-op, which launched in 2011, is one of a new generation of co-ops that are now aiming to address the critical issue of climate change by making houses more energy-efficient, which in turn will slash carbon emissions and in the long-run save homeowners money. “The UK has a legally binding target for cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 from a 1990 baseline,” says Carbon Co-op’s Jonathan Atkinson. “At the same time, escalating fuel bills are leading to more and more people experiencing fuel poverty. Consequently we’re aiming high and offering packages of retrofit improvements to householders that will cut both energy bills and carbon emissions.” […]

“We take the whole house approach to retrofitting and recommend a package of complementary measures such as wall and loft insulation that will improve the energy performance of a house,” says Atkinson. “And because we have a strong ethical strand to our work, we aim to source materials from local businesses such as highly energy-efficient windows from the Green Building Store in West Yorkshire.”

So what’s the key benefit of operating as a co-op in this sector? “The big issue in the retrofitting industry is that of trust,” replies Atkinson. “The big energy companies dominate the energy-efficiency market because they are forced to by Ofgem, the energy regulator. However, very few people trust the big energy companies any more because of the recent mis-selling scandals.” He says people are increasingly suspicious of energy companies trying to sell them big-scale changes, thinking that all the companies want is for their bills to increase. “As a co-op, we’re community orientated and householder-owned with no external shareholders,” says Atkinson. […]

The Birmingham-based Energy Saving Co-op, which like Carbon Co-op launched in 2011, has similar ambitions to be a national player in the energy-efficiency retrofit market. “We’ve already retrofitted 50 homes with a target of completing 600 homes by the end of the year, two thousand homes in 2014 and a plan to eventually operate nationally,” says the chief executive and co-founder Ewan Jones, who aims to fund this expansion programme through its current share offer.

Financing the retrofit ambitions of both Carbon Co-op and the Energy Saving Co-op is a major challenge though both co-ops and the wider co-op movement are set to benefit from the green deal, the government’s flagship programme to make millions of homes more energy-efficient, which was launched this year. Essentially a type of personal loan where you pay for the work over time through your energy bill, the green deal is set to kickstart the energy-efficiency market – and co-ops and social enterprises are lining up to take a slice of the action. The Energy Saving Co-op, for example, is now working with a number of co-ops which will act as green deal energy assessors including Energywise, a new Birmingham co-op and the Jericho Foundation, a social enterprise which will install the energy saving kit. […]

>>> Read the full article on The Guardian website.
>>> Find out more about Carbon Co-op and  the Energy Saving Co-op on their websites


Consumers in 2030: Crowd House Mortgages

Posted in Research, Tools, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on March 12th, 2013

Source: Forum for the Future (UK)

Crowd-House-mortgages_web-lores
Image: Forum for the Future / Which?

From Crowd House Mortgages: how our financial world might be different in 2030 by Simon Howard:

“The financial world of 2030 as seen in the Consumers in 2030 report we produced with Which? magazine is radically different from that of today with the emphasis on shared endeavour and a disintermediation of large financial institutions. The Crowd House Mortgage idea couldn’t be more removed from the model of today. The capital lent is sourced from people who know the borrowers – possibly only in a virtual sense – and the lending decision is taken not by computer but by those lenders. “Computer can’t say no, co-worker can say yes.”

Could it happen? Quite possibly. The economic environment may not get better and banks may continue to be unpopular. That’s the “production” side of the current version under pressure. The demand side may be more subtle, coming down to what young people prefer out of the options outlined in the report: multi-generational living, expensive renting or buying with peers in a rolling re-run of student days. Put like that, seeing appreciable demand for co-own mortgages isn’t impossible is it?

The research makes it clear new ideas are needed and not just in housing. One we are looking at in the Forum is an alternative pension, the sustainable lifetime pension. The idea is simple: instead of investing in financial assets located quite possibly thousands of miles from your home, you invest locally in things that will secure a better quality of retirement: How can you help make old people feel more secure? Invest local pension contributions into the local economy so that people are employed closer to home and can feel more protective of the area where they work. How can you protect the elderly from rising energy prices? Allow them to direct pension savings into local renewable energy schemes whilst they are working in return for capped energy fees in retirement.

You can see the idea: local money into local assets with a return which isn’t entirely financial. That idea and the crowd source mortgage are some way away now. But both are valid ideas for focusing thinking debate as we look at an unclear future.”

Go to the Forum for the Future blog to read more by Simon Howard, read other posts in the ‘future artefacts’ series, or download the Consumers in 2030 report.


Innovative Urbanism: Crowdsourcing change

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on February 8th, 2013

Source: Mesh Cities.


Image from I Make Rotterdam.

From the article “Crowd funding city innovation” by Mesh Cities.

[…] We all know or suspect that riding a populist, demographically-driven wave is the essence of electability. This era’s politicians (generally) know it’s best not to think too big in terms of urban-improving expenditures. Time is better spent learning how to deftly kick the can of crumbling infrastructure down the road—increasingly potholed though that road may be. “Let my successor manage the impending crisis,” their inner voices might be heard to say, “I’ll lose the next election if I raise taxes to fix x,y, or z let alone build something new.” This attitude is closely related to the one that causes well-established, successful companies like Nortel to go from world leaders to market flameouts almost overnight. Why improve something that the investors think to be a world beater? Behind the scenes, however, key players are running for the exits with whatever spoils they can carry before the whole operation collapses due to inattention. There is an alternative to the destructiveness of this self serving, near-term thinking about our cities: Crowd funded urban innovation. It is not a fantasy. Some cities are already doing it.

Why is crowd funded urbanism different than what we’ve seen in the past? In a way, it isn’t. It is fundamentally old school thinking brought into the digital age. In the farming communities of our parent’s parents, when people saw something that needed doing they pitched in to get it done. That’s the way crowd funded urbanism works. See it. Fix it. New communications tools are shrinking our complex world to the point where direct action is possible even where political action is an oxymoron. Even better, in a connected world we can assemble best-practice solutions in one easily accessible place for everyone’s use. Talk about efficiency.

Take a look at I Make Rotterdam for one example of a crowd funded pedestrian bridge that is a prototype for this nascent, city-changing movement. The public in that city cared enough to invest real money in the project after being inspired by New York’s High Line Park (good ideas are contagious). What’s more interesting is that their commitment spurred local government to get behind the project as well. […] That’s the power of this idea. It is not about finding new ways of taxing people. What it is about is unequivocally showing where people want their communities improved so governments can act. Another example is the U.K.’s Space Hive. Broader in scope than I Make Rotterdam, Space Hive offers opportunities to tackle the needs of communities across the U.K.

Are these projects reinventing the way representative taxation will work a generation from now; or, are they just another example of online art projects that capture our collective imagination? We will find out, but our guess is that the future of cities demands better forms of community representation. These just may be the early models that will evolve to greatness.

>>> You can read the full article on Mesh Cities.
>>> Check out I Make Rotterdam, SeeClickFix, and Space Hive for some great examples of crowdfunded urbanism in action.


2,012 Food Growing Spaces in London by the end of 2012? Done!

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 27th, 2012

Press Release from Capital Growth:

Capital Growth target

100,000 green-fingered Londoners deliver Mayor’s 2012 food growing target.

The estimated equivalent of 69 Wembley football pitches or 124 acres of disused land in London now brimming with fruit and veg.

The Mayor of London today [Dec 14] announced that the ambitious target to deliver 2012 Capital Growth spaces has been reached, following a four-year scheme to turn disused plots of land into community spaces abundant with fruit and veg. Nearly 100,000 green fingered Londoners have rolled up their sleeves to deliver this leafy Olympic legacy.

The Capital Growth scheme, run by London Food Link, was launched by the Mayor and Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, in November 2008. It aimed to create 2,012 growing spaces in London by the end of 2012 with funding from the Mayor and the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food programme.

The idea is to bring local neighbourhoods and communities together while giving Londoners a chance to grow their own food and green their local area. It is also a response to growing allotment waiting lists, particularly in inner London boroughs, which can be decades long. Capital Growth has worked with landowners and local groups to help identify land for growing and then help people get started in creating successful gardens by providing training and tools.

There are now Capital Growth spaces in every London borough. Food gardens signed up to the scheme have flourished in an extraordinarily diverse and creative range of places, covering an estimated 124 acres of previously disused land. Capital Growth spaces are now growing on roofs, in donated recycling boxes, in skips, alongside canals and in builders’ bags providing healthy food to a range of places including shops and restaurants. The spaces have supported skills and enterprise training, market gardening initiatives and even the development of 50 community bee hives.

Some of the Capital Growth spaces have now scaled up into social enterprises selling produce into cafes, restaurants and market stalls and providing jobs for local people. Other projects that the campaign has supported include larger farms, such as Organic Lea in Waltham Forest that employs 13 full and part time staff doing market gardening under glass houses leased from the local authority. The biggest response to the Capital Growth challenge has come from schools with 687 schools signed up involving 66,000 pupils.

The 2012th space was today announced by the Mayor as St Charles Centre for health and wellbeing in North Kensington. The project, based in a disused courtyard of a hospital, will engage a range of community groups, including youth groups and Age UK, as well as hospital staff to grow their own healthier food.

>> Read more about the projects at Capital Growth.


Urban Food Week: London

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on September 13th, 2012

Source: SustainWeb


Urban Food Week is a celebration of the fantastic food being produced by community projects in London.

The week is a collaboration between restaurant network Ethical Eats; Capital Growth – the campaign to create 2012 new food-growing spaces by 2012; and Capital Bee, which promotes community beekeeping in London, and is to highlight the importance of buying and eating local food, urban growing and planting forage for bees.

During the week, restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs across the city will be showcasing dishes and drinks made with ultra-local fruit, veg and herbs from urban farms, and from London honey cultivated in community beehives.

Diners who submit a picture of their Urban Food Week dish or drink will be entered into a draw to win a one-day urban foraging course.

Urban Food Week
10-16 September

Go to the Ethical Eats site to find out more.


Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production: Postgraduate Study

Posted in Models, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on August 23rd, 2012

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

Applications open for 2012/13

Schumacher College is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production.

The programme has been developed in association with the Centre for Alternative Technology and Plymouth University.  From 2012/13 we are offering a Postgraduate Diploma and a Postgraduate Certificate (subject to final University approval) alongside a part-time and full-time MSc.

Sustainable Horticulture

As global population hits 7 billion in 2011, we urgently need to consider how our food systems will cope in the coming years. Can they produce enough? And are they resilient to an unpredictable climate and reduction in fossil fuels and other high-energy inputs on which they’re currently dependent?

This programme brings together the thinking, research and practice at the cutting-edge of a global food revolution. Drawing from many different projects and schools of thought around the world, and looking at the roles of large scale food production, biotechnology, ‘human scale’ horticulture and botanical diversity, our starting point is natural systems.

How can we work with nature and biological cycles to improve our horticultural production? And how do we do it without increasing environmental degradation, climate change or consumption of finite resources, the pressing questions of our time.

Who is this course for?

This course is for growers, entrepreneurs and leaders who want to progress food systems that are ecologically, socially and financially sustainable.  You will have the opportunity to further develop your technical, strategic, and critical skills and the space to regenerate and hone your passion and creativity for a better world.

We are delighted to receive your applications whether you are coming from an undergraduate degree, taking time-out to study mid-career or wanting an opportunity to retrain in a subject area that is of huge importance to our future resilience and well-being.

We are looking for enthusiastic agents of change who are ready to co-create a new sustainable food system in practice. We are looking for those prepared to take a risk and stand on the cutting-edge of new thinking in this area.

Schumacher College welcomes students from all over the world in its diverse mix of cultural experience and age group which allows for rich peer to peer learning.

Course programme overview

The course format has been designed to allow students to combine postgraduate study at Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate level with work and other commitments.

There are six taught modules between September and April, followed by an 18 week dissertation period. Postgraduate Diploma students to not write up a dissertation, but must complete all six Core Modules including Research Methods. Postgraduate Certificate students take Core Modules 1, 4 and 6 only.

Each module is worth 20 credits and, with the exception of Module 2, are composed of one week reading preparation, two weeks residential at Schumacher College, followed by three weeks for assignments with on-line support. The dates of residency at Schumacher College (or CAT, for Module 2) are shown below.

  • Module 1: 3 – 14 September Plant Science and Botanical Diversity
  • Module 2: 22 – 26 October Food Systems and the Post-Carbon World (CAT)
  • Module 3: 26 November – 7 December Research Methods
  • Module 4: 7 – 18 January Living Systems
  • Module 5: 25 February – 8 March The New Food Economy
  • Module 6: 15 – 26 April Ecological Design and Practice in Horticulture
>>Go to the Schumacher College website to find out more about the course.


Goat Races & Urban farming in London

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 27th, 2012

Source: polis blog via Sustainable Cities Collective


Photo by Manic Street Preacher via flickr CC

From “The Changing Face of Urban Farming in London” by Idroma Montgomery:

Recently I’ve noticed that London embraces urban farming in a way I haven’t seen in other cities. Last month, I attended the Oxford-Cambridge Goat Race at Spitalfields City Farm in East London, a popular annual event that raises money for the farm. It is housed on a side street off the trendy and boisterous Brick Lane, and like many other city farms in London, offers a study in how to effectively utilize small amounts of urban space.

Spitalfields City Farm resides alongside a small park and a residential area, including council flats and primary schools. The sound of the Overground is ever present as trains rush past, visible behind the small playground and vegetable patches. The farm contains a small menagerie of rare breeds, a weekend community market, a greenhouse and small plots for non-professional gardening. It is a farm that is connected to its community and surroundings. Throughout the week, people can easily buy a range of eggs, plants and compost, as well as other locally made goods. Most of the other urban farms in the area follow a similar template, acting as hubs of community activity and knowledge exchange across central and greater London.

The presence of Spitalfields and other farms not only demonstrates ways in which Londoners are attempting to remain connected to how food is sourced and produced (as evidenced by the rise of boutique markets such as Borough and Brixton), but also serves as a means to maintain a multicultural identity and re-establish communal urbanism in a city that increasingly isolates its citizens. Most farms were built in the 1970s and 1980s by local community groups to provide community space and help people provide for themselves and take responsibility for their area. Built amongst rubble on unused land, these farms were the physical manifestations of people attempting to resist the destruction of their neighborhoods — a symbol of activism. Communities were able to reclaim neglected spaces and create stable alternative environments that subverted expected ideas of what these neighborhoods needed and wanted. Most continue to be run by community committees and volunteers and require donations and council funding in order to survive. Their continued existence underscores the fact that they remain significant to their areas.

Many London farms are located near deprived or marginalized areas. The Spitalfields farm —located in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets — has targeted events at local residents to help them learn how to grow fruits and vegetables (including Asian vegetables, in a nod to the large local Asian population) and cook using seasonal produce. Through these activities, marginalized and under-represented families are able to contribute to farm activities, learn about food production and care, and reconnect the relationship between the food that they eat and the animals that are cared for in the farm. It also allows them to think critically about the sustainability of food production, how and what they eat, and how such food practices affect their families and communities. These connections change the spatiality of neighbourhoods and how they are navigated, creating spaces of interaction and production between residents and the land, as well as among residents.

[…]

Read the full article by Idroma Montgomery.


More Than Money: Report on reciprocal exchange systems

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 14th, 2012

Source: Experientia


Image from the More Than Money Literature Review

From “More than money“:

It’s increasingly clear that we live in collaborative times. Many of the most interesting innovations of recent years have at their heart ideas of sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, exchanging or swapping. These are age-old concepts being reinvented through network technologies and a cultural shift driven by the more civic minded millennial generation.
The [More Than Money] report, with the subtitle “Platforms for exchange and reciprocity in public services”, was commissioned by NESTA and nef in an attempt to learn the lessons from the past and to provide a framework for understanding the many different approaches to complementary currencies and other platforms for reciprocal exchange.

An associated literature review brings together the existing evidence of impact, outcomes and cost that exist across reciprocal exchange systems. Time banks, complementary currencies and peer-to-peer platforms for collaborative consumption are all examples of these reciprocal exchange systems, and to structure this review we have created a typology of different types of systems to organise the evidence.

Read this article on the Experientia blog.


Community Renewable Energy Projects: UK

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on January 13th, 2012

Source: guardian.co.uk


River Bain Hydro photo © wonky knee

From “The communities taking renewable energy into their own hands” by Ed Mayo:

“Late last year we – Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Group – published a new report which reveals the growing number of people who are choosing to start renewable energy co-operatives in their communities, against all the odds. What is exciting about the report is that it is the first and most comprehensive guide to what amounts to a new movement of communities who are taking action for greener energy into their own hands.
In a time of doom – when all talk is of cuts, unemployment and rising prices – this report highlights a different story. Despite, or maybe even because, of the wider economic woes, people across the UK are creating a co-operative movement for green energy.  There are now 43 communities who are in the process of or already producing renewable energy through co-operative structures. They are set up and run by everyday people – local residents mostly – who are investing their time and money and together installing solar panels, large wind turbines or hydro-electric power for their local communities.
The report highlights a series of examples. Like Ouse Valley Energy Service Company, which is owned by 250 people who have installed solar panels on a local brewery. Or River Bain Hydro, which installed a hydro electric power generator in its local river with investment of £200,000 from around 200 people.”

[…]

Read the full article by Ed Mayo on the Guardian.