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You can't be at everything...

POdPixFor a long time, I have been interested in both renewable energy and community based action. It was a real treat then, to be invited along to the Community Energy Scotland Conference and Training Day in Inverness. There were a lot of interesting presentations. There was a lot of very interesting 'networking' happening too. I wanted to see if I could grab a number of the participants/contributors and get a few words. After all, not everyone can get along to every event they want to.

So, over the next few days, I will be posting one podcast intervew each day. Recorded over the background of tea and coffee and "networking", these interviews, with the subject matter experts and front line community activists, will give a useful flavour of what goes on. 

Thanks to Iona McDonald of CES who suggested interviewees and the brave souls who agreed to being interviewed. They are expressing their opinions and theirs alone. CES did not commission these podcasts. I did them because I was interested. Watch this space.

Why podcast?

It's the simple questions that are the toughest. I was asked this gem by a lady who just wanted to know. She understood the basic technical concepts but wanted the facts. So, my answer went along these lines. We like to tell each other stories. We like eye witnesses, engaging speakers and interesting subjects. We all like to listen to each other; especially if the subject is relevant and means something to us. We like reassurance and yet we enjoy surprises.

I think the human voice can deliver all this. It's true, sometimes we want to see. A lot of the time, the voice is enough. I remember a memorable opening to a Blairgowrie High School podcast; "....our thanks to the Queen, Arnold Schwartznegger and Tim Henman. More from them next week...this week we start..."  Imagination, at its best, and best in audio - not video.



Dundee multis - an appreciation

Here is a piece I did about a visit to some tower blocks in Dundee. They are scheduled for demolition sometime next year. I listened to a lot of stories from different people before I went up the stairs the first time. I was also fortunate enough to have Councillor Jimmy Black, the Convener of the Housing Committee to explain some history. Enjoy the result.

Interesting meeting...a continuing theme

Screen Shot 2011-10-07 at 15.20.47  Interesting meeting. A room full of academics, charities, commuity support groups and activists...and a bank or two. And a consultant or three. And moi. The title of the gathering; "the Sustainable Community Energy Forum".

Did I learn anything new? No, but we all shared a lot of pain, frustration and anguish about how tough/slow/challenging it was trying to get communities engaged with energy projects. Nothing new at all in that aspect of the whole endeavour.

Reassuringly enough, some of the 'same old same old' was actually good to hear. The enthusiasm, pragmatism and confidence of the attendees who sincerely believe they can solve the problems. Good to know. Great to hear.

Biggest challenges I would see are two simple ones. How to capture the brain power in the room and make it available to everyone. Secondly, how to encourage the non traditional participants to participate?  These are the big ones for me. Naturally enough, I believe digital and social media can go a long way to do this. Stories, with the authentic voice of the participants, can provoke reassurance and confidence. I am interested in pursuing this; there are answers there.

Thanks to Anna of Sustainable Community Energy Network who organised this symposium ( we all did have a drink together at the end ). Also special thanks to David Somervell, Sustainability Officer, University of Edinburgh, who was a keen participant and very vocal about the good ( practical ) things Edinburgh University are doing around sustainability.

This Friday - Lesley and Credit Unions - the Bert Mullen Lecture

The Scottish League of Credit Unions is hosting this years bi-annual Bert Mullen Lecture in Stirling University on the evening of Friday 7 October and it is a special pleasure to reveal that this year’s guest speaker will be Lesley Riddoch, the award winning journalist, commentator and broadcaster. Lesley has kindly agreed to deliver a lecture on “Community control: Scotland’s missing dimension” looking at the opportunities of Social Enterprises to transform community life.

More details here.