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Karen Parkhill - Community - Bristol Green Week

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Presentation given at Bristol Green Week Friday 21st June 2013.

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Karen Parkhill - Community - Bristol Green Week

  1. 1. Communities Engaged inLow-Carbon Transitions:The Energy BiographiesProjectKaren ParkhillFiona Shirani Karen HenwoodCatherine Butler Nick Pidgeon
  2. 2. Overview• Project details• Lammas – context• Inside and outsidecommunity• Conclusions
  3. 3. Project details• 4 case site areas across the UK• 3 waves of interviews over a 1 year period• 74 participated in initial interviews, 36 inthe longer-term (18 men and 18 women,aged 18-70)• Photograph tasks between interviews
  4. 4. Energy Biographies ResearchObjectives1. Develop understanding of energy use by investigating andcomparing peoples different ‘energy biographies’ across arange of social settings2. Examine how existing demand reduction interventionsinteract with peoples personal biographies and histories.3. Develop improved understanding of how differentcommunity types can support reductions in energyconsumption…We will also be exploring the usefulness of innovative(narrative, longitudinal and visual) research methodsfor helping people reflect on the ways they use energy
  5. 5. ▫ Perceptions of the Lammas community▫ Dealing with visibility of the Lammasproject▫ The work of forming and maintainingcommunityNegotiating communityin the Lammas project
  6. 6. Introducing Lammas• Lammas Low Impact Initiatives – Tir y Gafeleco-village• Low-impact lifestyles• 9 households (17 adults and 16 children)• Planning requirement to meet 75% basic needsfrom the land within 5 years• Off-grid• No running water• 2-3 years no hydroelectricity▫ Solar cells & batteries & clamp
  7. 7. Outside Perceptionsthings were said that we’d trash the land, wewould be a load of hippies, smoking lots ofdope and not doing anything very much. Itwould be feral children running around allover the place; it would look like a travellersencampment (Ruth)
  8. 8. Outside Perceptions‘…some critics of the project couldnt getpast the words "community living", whichimmediately conjured up images of 1960s-style acid-fuelled love-ins: "Not in myback garden!" came the response fromthose expecting a sudden influx of soap-averse drop-outs…’‘While this reaction may not have beenentirely surprising, the basis of theopposition on both counts was misguided.Firstly, the free-spirited hippy communesof old and the new type of highlyfocused community represented byLammas are diametrically opposed.’
  9. 9. Changing Outside Perceptionsthey were expecting lots of dreadlocks and buses anddogs and people you know chaining themselves to treesyou know just lawlessness if you like and so like what’shappened here at Tir y Gafel is we’ve managed to turnaround local opinion very quickly because they seesomething very well ordered, very well organisedand so their fears are put to rest (Peter)
  10. 10. Changing Outside PerceptionsSo there was a sea-change in peoples attitudes towards who we areand what were up to. I think as a result largely of those OpenDays. And then theres things like the duck race in the villageand we all go down, this ridiculous thing with these yellow ducksfloating down the stream and stuff and the raffle and the tombolaand all that sort of stuff you know. But we all go off to that andthen theres the WI Produce Show … and I think theres quite alot of goodwill that comes out of just being part of those things.There are quite a lot of people learning Welsh … so just beingable to speak a little bit of Welsh and communicate in the PostOffice or whatever in Welsh, that kind of thing. I think that alldefinitely helps. (Vanessa)
  11. 11. Changing Outside Perceptionsweve had such a profile that maybe its almost hashelped integrate us into the community more if you likebecause people know us more, theyve got ahandle on us a bit and in most cases they dont find usparticularly threatening anymore and so, therefore, wehave a place in the wider community you know.(Roy)
  12. 12. Changing Outside PerceptionsI was really, really concerned that we had goodrelationships with the people that we live around … Imight not have any technical skills but Ive gotcommunication skills, so and Ill go around andtalk to people and thats what I did. So I madesure that the people knew what was happening, when itwas happening, that they were happy about it and ifthey had questions they knew they could ring me upand ask me …I was just really determined that wewouldnt cause our neighbours any problems. (Ruth)
  13. 13. InsideCommunityThe residents of the ecovillage have come from all walks of life and whilstsome have experience of low-impact living and natural building, many havenone. They have all purchased plots costing between £35,000 and £40,000,and have 5 years to establish their holdings. Water, woodland and electricityare managed collectively and the plots are largely dedicated to growing food,land-based businesses, growing biomass and processing organic waste.
  14. 14. the legal layout here is very kind of supportive of social freedomand social independence … the conventional village or socialmodel we’ve got in this country which has developed over thousandsof years with good reason is anybody can move into a village andmove out and they don’t have to interact with that village at all, Imean there are communities and sub-communities andcommunities within communities but there’s not, there’s noagreement to share any social values if you like … [Lammas]was always designed that anybody could move in, could be acomplete hermit all their life and sell up and move on and that’s oneof the kind of core principles (Peter)InsideCommunity
  15. 15. Making Community?All communities can be really hard and theres a lot ofdisparate and intelligent people here … who actually,when you look closely, are here for lots ofdifferent reasons that sort of float aroundsustainable, low-impact, green but that is not acombining ethos; its a complicated group of peopleand a fully-functioning operating and happycomplicated group of people is a hard thing to findwithin the human condition [laughs] Generally you getan arguing, miserable, fighting bunch of bastards (Roy)
  16. 16. Aspects of communality• Infrastructure e.g. track ways, water• Car sharing• Hydroelectricity• Planning targetsSo, were going to be interdependent on each other for verymany things: Our electricity supply; our water supply; our fuelsupply, our communal woodland is all managed together … Otherthings with the community, it was specifically set up so that there isno obligation to attend meetings and there is no obligation to docommunal work. (James)
  17. 17. Aspects of communality• Infrastructure e.g. track ways, water• Car sharing• Hydroelectricity• Planning targets[re: planning requirements] Its across all of us so if eight of us do itand one of us doesnt, the idea is that we should be able to have abuffer zone and help support other people cos theoreticallysomeone might have a brilliant idea that takes more than five yearsto establish, so we have to support each other to a certain extent tomake sure that everyone else manages, because, if Im the onlyone who makes the 75% then we have failed our planning(James)
  18. 18. Being part of ‘Lammas’I feel its very, one of the thingsabout living here is that you arevery open to judgementbecause its eco Village so anyvisitor that comes can go, Wellthats not very eco is it?(Graham)
  19. 19. Being part of ‘Lammas’its great because Lammas is this kind ofinternational thing now, we get people fromall over the place … so part of why this is feasibleis because weve got people on tap and it’s good,intelligent, willing, sorted people who want to dothe same sort of thing themselves, who comealong and its super-positive for us in the main(Roy)
  20. 20. The ‘work’ of becoming a communityAnd so, there are people here that want to make usbe a community or just have it in their mind thatwe are a community; [but] that takes a certainamount of energy…that’s a continual processof re-affirmation. (Michael)
  21. 21. The ‘work’ of becoming a communityWe are all under an enormous amount of pressure.I mean its massive you know, the task thats beenset us is enormous, which doesnt always bring outthe best in people when they are under that degreeof pressure. So there is kind of friendships thatform, as is normal with human beings, some peoplewill be friendly and others not… Yeah we have beenkind of thrown together and you dont pick yourneighbours sort of thing. So we are becoming acommunity. I feel thats quite important.(Vanessa)
  22. 22. The ‘work’ of becoming a communityPeople do all the time send out texts saying ‘cananybody help with this?’ or ‘can anybody lend methis?’ you know ‘can I borrow somebody’s car?’ orwhatever and that’s lovely, that’s really lovely. I see therest of the world it’s just chance, you might have agood neighbour or you might not and you might beable to build a good relationship, whereas here I feelthat people have really signed up to be goodneighbours and that’s lovely (Emmanuelle)
  23. 23. Concluding thoughts• Perceptions of the community▫ Changing, connected to those outside the community e.g. localneighbours, Welsh Government▫ Have done a lot of work to challenge stereotypes• Visibility of the project▫ Both necessary and problematic▫ An important part of changing perceptions• Forming community▫ Requires ongoing work, forming community through tensions,struggles and achievements• Scaling up?
  24. 24. ImplicationsIf we were just trying to build a community or kind of go througha developmental process for a community that really didn’t existbefore we got here…If we…[were]…just trying to deal with andengage with local and national governments in terms of lowimpact development policy and things like that…or just trying topromote sustainability or low impact development…within thepopulation and supporting people who want to do low impactdevelopment. Any one of those things is, would be a full timeundertaking within itself. We’ve decided to do them all at once,one, and we have agreed to meet some, these kind of abstracttargets within 5 years as well, so it blows my mind. (Michael)
  25. 25. Thank youwww.energybiographies.org

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