SuperHomes Week – 16 – 24 March 2013

SuperHomes are older homes refurbished by their owners for greater comfort, lower bills and far fewer carbon emissions – at least 60% less! The SuperHomes Week is a chance to see eco renovation at its impressive best as the pioneering owners open their doors. Admission is free!

Oxon-SH1-374x294

You could visit Zoë Williams and see how she has made a 93% carbon saving by a range of measures at her 1950’s bungalow in Stanford in the Vale.

Details at: www.superhomes.org.uk

Part 2 – Sharing stuff and working together

Here Claire continues from her post sharing some ideas and resources about how we can share stuff and work together…

Read part 1 here

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 Part 1, I looked at websites like LETS and Freecycle that help you share stuff and skills. In this post, 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 phrase: 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?

“I’ll do it, but only if you do it too”

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 Put £100 into the fund for setting up the Healing Gardens Cooperative and to start the deposit for buying the Gardens Home house but only if 10 people connected with myself and the Retreat Centre or Gardens will do the same will do the same.”

“There are too many cars on the road!”

Liftshare 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.

“There’s a long waiting list for allotments, but I’m not doing anything with my garden”

Landshare connects growers to people with land to share. It describes itself as “for people who: want to grow their own fruit and veg but don’t have anywhere to do it; have a spare bit of land they’re prepared to share; can help in some way – from sharing knowledge and lending tools to helping out on the plot itself; support the idea of freeing up more land for growing; are already growing and want to join in the community.” There’s a good map of Land offered, Growers and Helpers. Organisations can have their own area on the site, or you can get together with other members to form groups.

This post was written by Clare Bryden – she blogs at clarebryden.blogspot.com
Read part 1 here

Part 1 – Sharing stuff and working together

Here Claire Bryden shares some ideas and resources about how we can share stuff and work together…

So you want to simplify your lifestyle, and reach out to your neighbours and local community. Maybe you want to learn a new skill, or your drill has broken and you don’t want to splash out on a new one, or you have a drill gathering dust in the cupboard. Or you want to do something new, but it’s hard work to make things happen by yourself, and you would like the assurance that others share your vision or have the skills and willingness to help.

More and more websites are being developed that are enabling people to get in touch with each other. And the best are bringing people together in real life too.

“I want to share my stuff and skills with other people, and they have stuff and skills that I need too”

Local Exchange Trading Systems or Schemes have been around for a long time. They are local networks in which people exchange all kinds of goods and services with one another, without the need for money. LETS use a system of community credits, so that direct exchanges do not have to be made. People earn LETS credits by providing a service, and can then spend the credits on whatever is offered by others on the scheme: for example childcare, transport, food, home repairs or the hire of tools and equipment. And the service is usually valued by time, so for example an hour of childcare will ‘cost’ the same as an hour of home repairs. Contact details for LETS in Ox, Bucks and Berks.

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 is rated after each transaction; lenders can request security deposits; they offer insurance. You can create a ‘lending circle’ in your neighbourhood, so it is closely tied to real world communities. For example, Low Carbon West Oxford has a lending circle.

Bid & Borrow is very similar, 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.

Finally, there’s Streetbank. It’s the simplest of the sites, which might 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 you 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.

“I’ve got all this stuff I want to get rid of, but I don’t want it just to go into landfill”

Freecycle groups match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them. You can either offer something, or post a ‘wanted’ message. They say: “Our goal is to keep usable items out of landfills… Another benefit of using Freecycle is that it encourages us to get rid of junk that we no longer need and promote community involvement in the process.” I wanted to get rid of the white gravel in my garden, so I offered it on Freecycle. Almost immediately, someone who wanted it got in contact, and they even took it all up for me! Freecycle groups in Ox, Bucks and Berks

There are websites which offer online swapping, such as Swapshop or a section of Gumtree. But there are also lots of swapshops happening in real life. There’s often no actual swapping involved. Just bring along stuff you don’t want and/or take away someone else’s stuff you do. Community Action Groups maintain a diary of swapshops in Oxfordshire. Is there anything similar in Berkshire or Buckinghamshire?

Read part 2 here

This post was written by Clare Bryden – she blogs at clarebryden.blogspot.com

Creation Tide 2011 – Our Daily Bread Resource

Every year we encourage church communities to observe Creation Tide (aka a Time for Creation) and in 2011 it runs for the five weeks from 1 September to 4 October, which, with the downtime of summer holidays, may mean you need to start planning early.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) produce resources for Creation Tide each year, and this year the chosen focus is  ‘Food in God’s creation’ under the heading Our Daily Bread.

CTBI have produced a range of resources to equip churches and help planning  – and they are available now on their website to download. The Our Daily Bread resources include:

  • Sermon notes – include a series of themed sermons for each week of creation tide, plus two longer sermons
  • Re-imagining Harvest – a creative suggestion for a new form of Harvest Festival and community event
  • Ecumenical service outline – complete with PowerPoint presentation
  • Discussion group resource – through two case studies, and questions to aid discussion, a group is equipped to look at farming practices in the UK and ask what does sustainable farming in the UK mean for us?
  • Background paper – a three page background paper on food, agriculture and issues for consumers.

Download all the Our Daily Bread resources here.

Creation Tide resources from previous years can be found here. Also check out other resources mentioned on Earthing Faith.

Do you have resources that could be used in Creation Tide? Get in touch or leave a comment below.

‘What’s the food like?’, ‘Who is providing the food?’, ‘Is there enough food to go round?’ Our everyday talk constantly makes reference to food, which is no surprise, as food and drink are essentials for life and survival.When we pray “Give us our daily bread” we are both acknowledging our dependence on God’s generosity and our realisation that the answer to that prayer needs to include agriculture, commerce, sharing, trade-justice, animal welfare, diet and a host of other considerations.

For Creed and Creation Book

For Creed and Creation: A simple guide to greening your church is a great new little book of practical suggestions for making your church more energy efficient.

With simple ideas and advice from the way the building is run, to how rubbish is recycled and the light switches used, the guide will help to reduce bills and put your church on the right track to tackling your carbon footprint. Published by the Diocese of Oxford and co-written by local curate, Revd. Dr. Gillian Straine, the book includes details of local organisations and where to go for help.
“…churches aren’t just places of wonder, encounter and community; they’re also real buildings which make an impact on the natural world, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that their carbon footprint is as small as possible. We have over 800 church buildings in our diocese, and with all the people who pass through them in a year, we can influence literally hundreds of thousands more buildings.”
Bishop of Oxford
Copies of the booklet are available for:
  • £2.50 each – £3.28 including postage and packaging
  • £10 for five copies – £11.33 including postage and packaging
  • £15 for ten copies – £18.41 including postage and packaging

Order by Post: Send a cheque for the total amount (including postage and packaging), made payable to ‘Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, to: For Creed and Creation Book, Environment Desk, Dept of Mission, Diocese of Oxford, North Hinksey, Oxford, OX2 0NB.

View online: You can view the contents of the book in the viewer below.

Grow Zones – get your community growing

How can you combine growing your own delicious food, making new friends, learning a natural growing method, and the opportunity to reconnect at a deep, spiritual level with creation? The answer is Grow Zones, a community growing project that you can start in your neighbourhood and church.

Designed specifically with churches in mind, Grow Zones provides an opportunity to engage new people from your neighbourhood in a simple, practical project that bears on our common concern for the earth.

The idea is very simple. Someone from a local church or neighbourhood hears about Grow Zones and, with the aid of the Grow Zones kit, forms a local team. People are introduced to a natural growing method known as Permaculture and helped to redesign their gardens so they can grow more of their own fruit and veg. Each team is offered insurance as part of the package, and sets out on a series of visits, where they work on one another’s gardens to make their dreams real. The commitment is deliberately light just four mornings make up the whole course, but experience shows that deep bonds form between people, lasting friendships are made and many go on to experience and learn more.

One participant said having experienced Grow Zones:

“I have longed to do something really positive about caring for creation. As part of the Grow Zones pilot in Bristol, and being introduced to Permaculture, I have been set on a fascinating journey that has transformed my view of the world we live in and resulted in my becoming involved in a whole set of community growing projects here in Bristol. It seems to me that reconnecting with the land, and with growing our own food, is an extraordinarily powerful means to help us reconsider how we are living and  to build fresh expressions of community life. There was a sort of implicit and deep spirituality that pervaded our experience of Grow Zones here in Bristol, as if God was there among us as we worked together. As a Christian minister, I have also been concerned to express concern for creation in a way that is more than theory, or just ‘doing without’ something. It seems to me that the great biblical hope for peace and harmony in creation finds real expression in the hearts of those who join together in a project like Grow Zones.”

Start a Grow Zones Team

The GrowZones Kit

Would you be interested in starting a group in your area? You don’t necessarily need to have any gardening experience, all you need is to be good at organising and encouraging people. If you can gather a group of people together, the Grow Zones Kit will provide the help and resources to get you growing for your first season.

For more information, and to start a team, visit www.growzones.com.

Grow Zones is a national project – supported by the Local Food fund – and a series of Christ and the Earth retreat days supports the programme. To book a retreat day and find out more about the community behind Grow Zones visit www.earthabbey.com.

 

Energy Saving Week

 

 

This week is Energy Saving Week – there are lots of resoruces available on the Energy Saving Trust website, including a free online home energy check, which could save you up to £250 a year on your bills: Free home energy check.

The whole site is a wealth of information on energy saving for your home and community space. Have a look and mention it to your friends.