Cilgwyn Community has teaching and practical skills to prepare our children for the future we face.
Blacksmithing, tool making, smithcrafd
Horticulture - a range of skills
Stove building and repairs
Bike building and repairs
Electronics for photovoltaic and wind power
Solar thermal panel building and installation
Low impact home building
Food preservation and catering
Willow work and wood crafts
Decentralised Democratic governance
Some of the skills lead straight to employment, others to not needing it.
All provide the means to enjoy life, flourish and support your community independant of the global economy.
Courses lead to Countryside skills accreditation for those who want them.
Get in touch if interested: 01239 820971
Cassandra Lishman pictured laying her floor
Climate Change Community Network
Climate network events have been happening around
. They were set up by the Assembly to help communities address climate change and create low carbon regions.
I attended the first round organised by the Welsh government, it was spangled with speeches from those meant to hold the reigns, but this round in June 2010 was more earthed, it was good practice stories, people learning from people.
Helen Nelson kicked off. She described her experience of the first year of
’ Climate Commission set up by the Plaid Labour coalition. Everyone who is anyone is represented on it, all the political parties in
, the small business fed, the environmental regulators and quangos,
. She is there as director of Cynnal Cymru, Sustain Wales. ‘We all get on, we have agreed targets’, she reported, ‘but now we are entering the implementation phase and it would be good for some doers to join.’
She was upbeat about
’ low carbon journey, despite
, despite the crumbling economy, she was excited by our future, and the audience were with her.
Then we had three stories from the Practioners.
First was Cassandra Lishman from Lammas. ‘This is the first presentation I have given’ she shared. Lammas is the first ecovillage, being built under the only low impact planning policy in the
. Nine homes to be self-built, nine households getting 75% of their sustenance from their small-holding and all earning an income from the land, and everything has to be complete and successful within 5 years.
This is a challenge of fairy tale proportions. The builders are mostly young parents who have to earn and care for their children at the same time. The homes are built using local natural materials and hand skills, all services must come from the site. Cassandra and her husband have 3 children, one of them special needs. She shared her inventions, like the low cost polytunnel frame made of hazel withies wrapped in cloth to stop them puncturing the plastic. The tunnel is a priority so the family can eat while they build. They have to do everything with very little money. The floor is clay, rammed by foot and hand mallet, polished with oils and wax. There were mistakes along the way, Cassandra stressed that none of them want to be seen as models, just learners like everyone else.
The group share the principle of permaculture including livestock. The homes are independent entities with their own land with some communal woodland and grazing, and communal water power being set up. Permaculture uses everything holistically, humans as part of nature not apart. Things are multifunction, trees provide shelter, soil conditioning and fertility, fuel, fruit and nuts. Water cools homes, stores warmth, irrigates, provides fish and fun. Green-houses warm homes in winter, produce food and cool leaves in summer. There is intelligent design behind all decisions, saving effort, they work that magic of one process supporting another, like a food web. Cassandra has a large personality, laughing with embarrassment. We visualised her scything ¼ of an acre faster than a strimmer, daubing her walls with lime render, baby on hip. Her family home was half way up in 6 months, her neighbours’ complete in two months with 50 volunteers to help - they are experienced, her family building their first house.
was rigidly hostile for three years, campaigning against the ecovillage. But this melted once planning was given at appeal – there are monthly tours to view progress, many neighbours praised what they saw on them unstintingly. A duck race brought the villages together in shared competitive hilarity.
Lammas is not just a 9 family side-show. It is a window into a possible future. This significance has been grasped by the Welsh government who plan to extend the possibility for people to live in a low impact or ‘one planet’ way across
. Wait for imminent announcements.
Next speaker was a complete contrast. Each round of these events has a guest from outside
. This time it was Chas Ball from Carclubs
. Carclubs (called carshare outside the
) recognise that private car use is one of the front drivers of climate change, that the cost of private car ownership is or will be an issue on the energy descent, that making cars uses more energy than running them for their lifetime and that people love their cars. ‘They are a great bit of kit’ says Chas. So to square the circle, keep the private car without private cars, you own them in common. Or more accurately an organisation owns a few and locals buy membership to use one from the pool when available.
It is neat. Like hiring but you just walk to pick it up and can use it for an hour or a week, and much more cheaply. It’s a pay as you drive in contrast to the awful up front outlay of buying a car and the annual bills on top of the fuel. And the sweetener is that you will have a new super efficient model to swank, large or small according to the need of the hour.
Car clubs are successful, as straight commercial ventures, they are also set up by conscientious communities and they foster neighbourliness. All good stuff, but Chas had plenty of experience of the circumstances in which they were unlikely to work as well. He offered a sort of check list to ensure the situation was ripe for a carclub, numbers and socio-economic types living in sufficient proximity for that walk to the car. Internet technology makes the admin automatic, you can book online, even have onboard billing, dispensing with the old mileage book. Support from business and councils greases the tracks: Councils paint parking bays for carclub cars, they get no congestion charge, share priority lanes and still better get fuel tax rebates if I heard right, or maybe I was dreaming at that point.
They are few and tentative in
, so far.
The last speaker was from
project, and he dazzled us with money gushing from hydro power. Wherever water tumbles down a drop you can engineer a head or weight of water to turn the turbine and produce incessant power while the water flows. Government feed in tariffs now make this lucrative, for larger streams absurdly so. There is still red tape holding back the floodgates, this was discussed. The cool bread-head man addressing us has set up a community interest company which will provide the initial finance and most of the work of getting the thing set up, and not surprising as they pay themselves back out of those lovely feed in tariffs and retain some income to set up more of these gushers.
I went to his workshop, the audience asked searching questions which reflected the with-itness of the gathering. Another delight of these events is the company of such front liners.
The other workshop which was memorable was part of ‘open space’. People could raise issues for discussion and anyone interested joined them. A
complained that the biodiversity brigade were stopping green progress, they were called the Species Police, also Bugs and Bunnies Brigade.
I took notes of this discussion, luckily as I could feed them into an Environment Agency and Welsh government review which we discovered. It is looking at the same problem, their tack is to propose that the biodiversity brigade become less speciest and more ecosystematic.