Exploring alternative energy

Community members came together to explore scientific approaches to alternative energy solutions at an event entitled  Fire! Alternative Energy on 10 March 2018 at Bellingen Memorial Hall. A diverse line up of speakers shared their knowledge of science-based technologies at the forefront of change in the world.

Megan Bliss opened the event and gave an Acknowledgment to Country, followed by a welcome by Councillor Jenny Fenton, who reported on what Council is doing to support and lead change.

Sustainability consultant Arne Hansen spoke on optimising and increasing the efficiency of buildings. He shared what is happening in energy technology around the world and spoke on the idea of the community ownership of the electricity grid.

Keri Phillips, an environmental psychologist, spoke about feelings and values, and the decisions we make to reverse the destructive path we are on and towards a sustainable flourishing future.

Kersten Schmidt, a renewable energy pioneer with more than 25 years’ experience around the globe, painted a big picture of world wide energy initiatives and particularly what is happening in South Australia.

Architect Tricia Helyar spoke about making sustainable design the central mission where building our homes – in the materials we use, size of buildings with solar passive design and other features.

The final speaker was Paul Bryce, a professor of electricial engineering. Now retired. Paul’s impressive career includes being a chief technical advisor at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, designer and implementer of renewable energy in Cambodia, Indonesia, Fiji, Laos, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, and he was awarded the first Fred Hollows Engineer of the year award.

Paul spoke about this regions’ first Community Owned Renewable Energy CORE Project, a solar installation at the Old Butter Factory. This project is funded entirely by individual residents of the Shire, saves one million kilograms of CO2, facilitates 10 local businesses in saving on half their energy costs and 20 local residents getting attractive investment returns.

Audiences were encouraged to think and act differently and change their behaviour  across all aspects of life, from energy production, food production and waste management to how and what we build. All were invited to take ownership of community services as they can.

This event was the first in a series of community forums presented by the newly formed Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub.

Get involved

The next event presented by the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub, ‘Spirit!’, will take place on Sunday 15 July from 9:30-11:00 am at Cedar Bar & Kitchen in Bellingen.

Contemplate questions such as: How did our river form? How did the plateau get so high? Where did the valleys come from? Why did it all happen that way, and where do humans fit into the picture?

Join Gumbaynggirr language teacher Michael Jarrett, Eco-minister Jason John and Buddhist teacher Will James for a conversation with with local ecologist Mark Graham. Explore how geology, spirituality, and language flow together to create knowledge and culture.

This unique event will be presented as part of The LeaF (Learning Festival) at Bello Winter Music, and is brought to you by the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub and the Centre for Ecological Learning. It is sure to be a highlight of the LeaF this year!

The LeaF, now in its 4th year, is an eco-learning festival that takes place as part of the wonderful Bello Winter Music festival. As festival-goers have come to expect, LeaF workshops will again cover a rich and exciting array of topics, facilitated by passionate local presenters from nine different organisations on behalf of the Bellingen Shire Learning Alliance (BSLA) and the newly established Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub (CCRSH).

Find more at www.cel.org.au/event/spirit

The Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub will present five thought provoking community science events in 2018 with support from Inspiring Australia. Find out more about what’s on the horizon on Facebook.