Rachel Francis from Household Energy Services, proposes that the winners of the Big Green Challenge represent the building blocks a new Green Economics model
January 2010: Twenty-five people enter a Japanese noodle bar near Russell Square in London and gather for a meal around one of the long, bench-lined tables. They order saki, noodles, beans, miso soup… The diners grapple with chopsticks. It is not quite the Oscars but today, they are heroes and they are celebrating.
The group is composed of three winning teams in the Big Green Challenge. After a year developing their individual projects as long-term, community-sized solutions to climate change, they are no longer competitors but key players in a response, where different solutions must be shared as part of a greater movement.
They are planning but there is still much to be done. So, who is seated at the table? To the right is Lucy, one of a dozen representatives from the Isle of Eigg, on the west coast of Scotland. The island’s 38 households have begun to turn their own vision of what a low carbon community might be, into reality. Opposite, sit Chris and Grenville, both members of the Three Green Valleys team in Brecon, which is building several, locally-owned, micro-hydro generators. Sitting further along the bench is Adam, chief executive officer of the Household Energy Service, from the Welsh and English Borders. HES offers us ourselves… ourselves as people of renewed integrity, resourcefulness and collective potential.
Perhaps it is chance that has balanced the contribution of the winning three, so that together, they form the building blocks of a new Green Economics model: vision for the future; local and renewable energy production and a movement of the people, from corporate consumer culture, to a more decentralised culture of shared responsibility.
There is an African saying that it is hard to move the elephant, but once the elephant is moving, it is far harder to stop the elephant. Mankind is a force of nature, like the ocean, like the wind. We have the capacity for extreme cruelty and greed. Sometimes, we make dreadful mistakes; but we also have the capacity for compassion and integrity and we know that we can come up with brilliant solutions. En masse, we are a force for change.
The outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, shows that the existing political and economic system is struggling to address the problems we face. Meanwhile, vibrant networks of concerned humans across the world, such as geographical communities or digital communities, are mobilising. All these diverse groups have a collective capacity to create low-carbon communities and it is already taking place. The elephant is moving.
HES is a part of this movement. ‘We want less and we want it now; less carbon in the atmosphere; less energy and money wasted; less, as a metaphor for simple and less, as a challenge to the consumer culture. Nothing less than less will do.’
Contact: Household Energy Service,
Light Foot Enterprises,
The Old Primary School,
Church Street Bishops Castle,
Shropshire, SY9 5AE
Tel: +44 (0)1588 630683
Members of the Household
Energy Service core team
Photo: © HES