The Oxfordshire Sustainability and Conservation Awards

Is your Oxfordshire-based school or community group currently running an environmental project? Are you reducing or recycling waste, saving energy or enhancing biodiversity? If so, you can enter the OSCA!

The Oxfordshire Sustainability and Conservation Awards, is a competition which aims to showcase all the great environmental work that’s been taking place in Oxfordshire. The deadline for entries is Friday 20 July.

Find out more at: The Oxfordshire Sustainability and Conservation Awards

 

 

Low Carbon Hub launch – 1st Dec 2011

On Thursday 1st December 2011 the newly formed Low Carbon Hub will be launched at Oxford Town Hall.

The Oxfordshire based Low Carbon Hub is a partnership of the Community Action Group network, ClimateXChange and local authorities who will be providing mentoring and other services to more than 100 communities to help them reduce emissions through community action.

The scheme will initially work across Oxford city and Oxfordshire, but if it proves successful, could expand further. Once its website is launched, its online services will be available to all. It will help communities make the most of economies of scale, provide resources and online guides, models and templates as well as offering advisors, training courses and networking events.

Come and find out ore at the launch – full details below. To book a place at the launch fill in the form at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/hub_launch

Pilgrimage Project

Pilgrimage involves going on a journey, which can often lead to us connecting to the world in new ways. Be it appreciating God’s creation in deeper ways or connecting with a deeper call to live the spiritual life.

The Diocese of Oxford has launched the Pilgrim Project  to encourage the spirit of pilgrimage,  part of which has led to the launch of a new diocesan pilgrimage map which features 15 places of special spiritual significance across the Diocese of Oxford. The hope is that the map will inspire not just visitors to each place on the map, but also a spirit of pilgrimage elsewhere. For example, one rural benefice has already been inspired by this project to plan a local pilgrim map encompassing each of its seven churches. What could you do in your area? How can the spirit of pilgrimage encourage us in caring for creation?

Resources to help are on hand, including:

There are A3 posters of the Diocese of Oxford pilgrimage map available and also pocket sized folded maps. Contact the Diocese of Oxford Communications office (01865 208225) if you would like copies.

The Bishop of Oxford, The Rt Revd John Pritchard, will be visiting each place on the map to pray with local people over the summer. There is an open invitation to join him if you are in the area.

  • Monday 8 August: 9.30am Olney; 11.15am North Marston; 12.30pm Drayton Beauchamp
  • Tuesday 9 August: 9am Cookham; 10.30am Easthampstead; 12 noon Stoke Poges
  • Wednesday 10 August: 10.30am Speen; 12 noon Goring
  • Thursday 11 August: 10.30am Stanton Harcourt; 12.15 Dorchester Abbey
  • Friday 12 August: 9am Christ Church Cathedral.
  • Tuesday 30 August 10 am South Newington
  • Wednesday 31 August: 9.30 University Church; 10.45 Binsey; 2pm Compton Beauchamp

See below to view the Diocese of Oxford pilgrimage guides for each of the participating churches on their map.

Abingdon Hydro

“If I had known what I was taking on, I doubt if I would have started….” People probably think that more often than they say. But the commitment is made, and you don’t intend to back out. For me it’s Abingdon Hydro.

I have tried in small ways to encourage churches down an eco friendly path, but I didn’t feel I was getting far. The usual ‘way in’ is the appeal of the natural world, but my expertise lies in the physical sciences, so I have not been able to organise the kind of activities that might attract a congregation.

However I do know about climate change, so I have been part of Abingdon Carbon Cutters, one of the many Community Action Groups scattered around Oxfordshire. We decided to focus on three areas: education, energy, and food, and I found myself taking responsibility for the energy group. I had not intended to, and I didn’t know where to start. In a town as big as ours, it looked a bit overwhelming.
I don’t remember where the idea of a flagship project came from, or when hydroelectric power from the Thames was first mentioned, but it seemed to fit – it would be a very visible example of renewable energy, in a very public place. As soon as I started talking about it, I found people who were interested.

Then there was a period of about 6 months when helpful events started popping up in front of me, and I was carried along by a feeling of knowing what to do. There were meetings at just the right time, and I met the right people. Then I sensed that it was time to take the plunge, and see if anyone wanted to join me in making it happen, because I knew I could not do it on my own. To my surprise and relief (“oh you of little faith…”) 6 people responded.

So we became 7 directors of a Community Interest Company. There is much to do, and we are quite a mixed bunch, but we seem to get on OK, and it is good to have a variety of talents and points of view. I am prepared to do a large part of the work, because I am the only one who is fully retired, but I also have to make sure I involve them and ask for help as much as possible, and to see that decisions are properly talked through. If you would like to see what we aim to do, it’s at www.abingdonhydro.co.uk.

After a lot of preparatory work, including big tasks like planning permission and an Environment Agency licence, there will be a share issue. We want to raise about a million pounds, but it’s a good investment. As a community project, part of the income goes to the shareholders and part into the wider community. How we work that out will raise interesting questions, but you could say that getting the community relationships right is the key thing, and the rest is just project management.

I believe God has called me to do this. It is mission, out at the pioneering end of the spectrum, but we are all called to go and make good use of the resources God has given. In that sense it is spiritual work, just as much as teaching, caring and the more traditional Christian vocations.

There has been a sense of momentum in the way this project started, but a question remains, that bothers me: should I have persisted within the church? What if they had decided to endorse and encourage it? A good team could have been assembled. It would be clearly identified as a local church project, and probably more widely known than it is now. Assuming it had the same legal status as we are adopting, “for the benefit of the community”, it would give the church a very positive image, and attract people who otherwise would have nothing to do with the church. Church members would have the opportunity to invest, and tell others about it. It would produce a community share that could be reinvested in other projects, with the approval of the shareholders. At the site there will be an information centre, for educational purposes, but what if it had included an explanation of why this was a church initiative, and how our belief in a creator God motivates us to look after his creation, and make good use of its resources? Just suppose….

There are more opportunities out there. The Big Society is not just a slogan – central government really is trying to devolve responsibility downwards. Of course part of the motive is to save money, but it’s no good just sitting back and complaining about it. Government will step back, and legislation is removing barriers to community groups. Did you know that Abingdon Town Council’s motto is “Faith and industry”? Churches can make a difference in the public arena. There will be vulnerable people needing help, and churches will need programmes to look after them, but our environment too is vulnerable and in need of protection. If we don’t, future generations, even our own children, will be amazed at how foolishly we took for granted the creation of which we are part and on which we depend.

The community action group in West Oxford recently organised the planting of 1000 trees in SW Oxford. It was to be done by volunteers, and it gave the organiser sleepless nights. What if nobody turned up? What if 1000 people turned up and most had to be sent away? In the event it was cold and wet, and about 100 people turned up and planted all the trees. They had a good time, and felt they belonged, and were making a difference in their community. Now they form the nucleus of a new group in South Oxford. This is pioneering work being done by a secular group, who want to change the culture of the whole city to a low carbon future. So they know they have to think big and take risks. Surely there is a lesson there for churches?

Richard Riggs is a member of the Oxford Diocese Environment Group and member of Christ Church Abingdon.

For more information on Abingdon Hydro visit www.abingdonhydro.co.uk

Lord Stern at Dorchester Lecture – 16 June 2011

Lord Stern will give the annual Dorchester Lecture this year at Dorchester Abbey on Thursday 16 June 2011.

Professor of Economics and Government at London School of Economics and Political Science and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Lord Stern is an expert on environment and climate change issues and the author of ‘The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review’ and ‘Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity’.

The lecture will be entitled ‘Building a low-carbon world: the sixth industrial revolution’, and will argue that we need a fresh industrial revolution based on new forms of energy, and will be followed by question and discussion.

Venue: Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames

Time and date: 7.30pm on Thursday 16 June

Tickets, priced at £10 (students £5), are available at the door from 6.45 or in advance from Susan Jupp by phoning 01865 341066.

A glass of wine or fruit juice, or a cup of coffee, is included in the ticket price and advance booking secures preferential seating. Lord Stern will sign copies of his latest book, which will be available for purchase at the event.

Proceeds from the evening will go to the Friends of Dorchester Abbey who raise funds for the conservation and maintenance of the Abbey.

TOE2 funding

Could your environment project benefit fromk £2,000?

TOE2 is a new venture developed by the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC) to drive the strategic direction of community environmental initiatives in Oxfordshire. Working with a wide range of organisations, including the Landfill Communities Fund, TOE2 will make funds of up to £2000 available to environmental projects in communities across Oxfordshire.

TOE2 will provide support and funding for communities wishing to:

  • Promote and improve the biodiversity of Oxfordshire’s wildlife habitats
  • Encourage and develop the sustainable use of renewable resources
  • Increase access to the local countryside and green spaces

TOE2 has a clear set of funding guidelines closely matched to strategic priorities in these three areas in Oxfordshire, whilst supporting the delivery of projects at the community level. TOE2 are inviting applications from eligible environmental projects where funding of up to £2000 will make a significant contribution and which:

  • Are located within 10 miles of a registered landfill site
  • Are non-profit making
  • Can be delivered and completed in a short timescale

For further information on applications or on working with TOE2 to fund local projects, contact Fiona Danks on 01865 883488 or Fiona.danks@oxonrcc.org.uk or toe@oxonrcc.org.uk

 

 

Bulk oil buying scheme

Oxfordshire Rural Community Council is calling on churches to get involved in their new bulk oil buying scheme. The scheme aims to keep fuel costs as low as possible in rural areas, where many households don’t have mains gas. The scheme will source better prices for oil deliveries and also help to reduce the carbon footprint of the actual delivery system.  Every time a tanker comes out to make a delivery, it uses fuel – a full tanker may only get about 8 miles per gallon – so if deliveries are organised so that one tanker can reach as many customers in as small an area as possible, fuel consumption is reduced.

ORCC is asking for people to help get the scheme going by becoming a local coordinators. Their job will be to garner support locally so the scheme can start in your local area. ‘We’ve made it as simple as possible because we know people are busy’ said ORCC’s Chief Executive Linda Watson, ‘Local co-ordinators are going to be vital to the success of the scheme.  They won’t have to do the negotiating with the oil suppliers and won’t have to deal with any money, so we don’t expect this to take much time.’

Further details via ORCC News – and  Local co-ordinators’ leaflet and Members’ leaflet.

* Update * The bulk oil buying scheme offered by ORCC in Oxfordshire has now been extended to Berkshire and Buckinghamshire – details below:

Oxfordshire – contact Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC) at www.oxonrcc.org.uk/home/bulk-oil-buying-scheme

Berkshire – contact Community Council for Berkshire (CCB) at www.actionforall.org.uk/CCB/ccb_oil_club

Buckinghamshire – contact Community Impact Bucks at www.communityimpactbucks.org.uk/pages/work-with-commu-bulk-oil-buying-scheme-159.html