Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Waitati Open Orchard

By Jacob Feenstra

 

15 people (booked out!) attended the pruning workshop in a sunny Saturday afternoon last month.

First we were introduced to the basics of pruning outlining to us Why, When and How to prune.

However, the very first thing you need to do is establish the health of the tree.

The following points are also important to note:

  • Establishing pruning is different if the tree is naturally grown (from seed) or grafted on root-stock like the fruit trees planted by the WOO on for example Brown St.
  • Identifying the different plant parts for instance where new growth has occurred on the old.
  • Imagining how you would like the shape of the tree to be in the future.

The talk was interspersed with frequently asked questions re people's new, older, very old apple/plum/pear trees.

The practical (and scary) part of the workshop then took place on Brown St where we pruned the fruit trees planted by the WOO 2-3 years ago.

It was fun especially when encouraging other people to do the cuts.

Last, but not least on the agenda, was the old apple tree grown haywire near the library, which got a decent pruning haircut as well. Such trees are a little bit harder to work on but in the end what really counts is how you would like it to look like and take it from there (or leave it).

Here Jason pointed out two diseases present on that tree: woolly aphid and scaly insect and gave some advice re treatment.

Tea and cake at Jason's place finished off this very useful and most enjoyable workshop.

Personally, I gained a lot of confidence re pruning. Or did I? It took

me another week before I made my first cut.

 



Monday, 23 July 2012

REDEVELOPMENT CONTRACT TO GO OUT TO TENDER

By Stuart Strachan, Chair, Blueskin Bay Community Complex Redevelopment Trust

 

Since last month's report with the news of the Dunedin City Council's confirmation of its $500,000 contribution, progress has been marked.

 

A project management committee has been established by City Council Property Services that has now met three times. Chaired by a senior Property Services officer, representation includes the architects (Architectural Ecology), the quantity surveyor (Chas. George), the City Libraries Manager (Bernie Hawke) and Head of Customer Services (Mike Collett) and Redevelopment Trust Board members (Alasdair Morrison and Stuart Strachan). Its main business has been reviewing the updated project specification and refining the budget, so that the funds available match the estimated cost.

 

This has now been achieved for the building itself, enabling registrations of interest to be publicly called for from qualified contractors (closed 25 July) and the putting out of construction to tender. The present timeline is for tenders to close in August, with a view to site works beginning in September. By then the Library will have moved to new temporary quarters at Waitati School. An even earlier sign of activity is the formation of the realigned vehicle entrance from Harvey Street as part of the new footpath works, so avoiding the need to remake the footpath later. The plantings there are being relocated.

 

For the sustainability-minded, the building will be as energy efficient as practicable consistent with available funding. Ventilation will be natural and unforced, heating will be by under-floor piping using heat pump technology, and the ceiling and walls will be insulated to the latest building standards, with double glazing of all windows and doors.

 

This does not mean that fundraising is at an end. Fit-out and landscaping costs still have to be met, though these will be minor compared to the cost of building. The main thing is that the project as at last under way and we can all look forward to its completion early next year.

 

 

BLUESKIN ENERGY PROJECT

by Scott Willis

Thank you to all who have brought important energy issues to the fore recently – what better way to pass the winter? In addition to opinion, we'll be bringing some assistance to Blueskin households who aim to make improvements in their home energy situation over the next few months (see below). The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust and Otago University's Energy Cultures Team have teamed up to deliver expert energy advice and study how households respond to advice. We want to help people to make changes to their homes and practices for warmer, drier homes and/or improved energy efficiency, and to evaluate the effectiveness of energy advice. Several different approaches will be trialled including: home audits, information evenings and a telephone help line. If you're in Long Beach, Purakaunui, Osborne, Waitati or Warrington, you may be able to secure an energy audit and will be able to get telephone advice (see below). The Energy Cultures team will be surveying people to assess the effectiveness of the different approaches. The comparison will look at things like the differences in energy-related changes, energy literacy, and energy networking. If you wish to know more about the trial and to register your interest visit us at: www.blueskinpower.co.nz or telephone the energy advice hotline on: 482 2207 (Mon and Tues).

 

We now have an updated wind resource assessment from the Porteous Hill monitored site, and independent experts who are analysing that information to tell us what is possible given the duration and strength of the wind. That will lead to a discussion about what turbines are most appropriate for those conditions, though we're modelling the Windflow 500 model. Then we need to crunch the money numbers to see if they make sense. Given the electricity generated, life of the turbine, capital cost and the income likely to be generated we need to determine if this is a goer and under what conditions. We're wanting to minimise the risk of any such scheme so a lot of effort is going into identifying ways of achieving that end, or finding possible partners that could lower or mitigate any inherent risks.  That's never easy as there are always advantages and disadvantages to every possibility, but they all need to be carefully considered. Once all that information is collated it will be time for hall meetings around the different Blueskin communities again to see if our proposal works for you. We're currently targeting the end of September for those meetings, but the exact timing may depend on when reports we have commissioned become available.


It's probably important to mention that a wind turbine cluster, should it come to pass, is really only another step along the way to making our communities resilient, but it is an important one. If it can be made to occur it has the potential to provide money to support the development of other energy-centred projects in the area like solar, water, steam, household wind generation, smart meters … the list is endless.  The possibilities are exciting and ever changing as new options and new technologies become available. At the hall meetings later in the year we'll try to outline some of those possibilities.

 

For Energy Advice call 482 2207 (Mon/Tues), by email energyadvice@blueskinpower.co.nz or visit the website www.blueskinpower.co.nz/. For more information about the wind cluster project contact Scott on 482 2048 or by email at: scott@blueskinpower.co.nz or visit the website.

Blueskin Energy Project

by Scott Willis

Thank you to all who have brought important energy issues to the fore recently – what better way to pass winter? In addition to opinion, we'll be bringing some assistance to Blueskin households who aim to make improvements in their home energy situation over the next few months (see below). The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust and Otago University's Energy Cultures Team have teamed up to deliver expert energy advice and study how households respond to advice. We want to help people to make changes to their homes and practices for warmer, drier homes and/or improved energy efficiency, and to evaluate the effectiveness of energy advice. Several different approaches will be trialled including: home audits, information evenings and a telephone help line. If you're in Long Beach, Purakaunui, Osborne, Waitati or Warrington, you may be able to secure an energy audit and will be able to get telephone advice (see below). The Energy Cultures team will be surveying people to assess the effectiveness of the different approaches. The comparison will look at things like the differences in energy related changes, energy literacy, and energy networking. If you wish to know more about the trial and to register your interest visit us at: www.blueskinpower.co.nz or telephone the energy advice hotline on: 4822207 (Mon and Tues).

 

We now have an updated wind resource assessment from the Porteous Hill monitored site and independent experts who are analysing that information to tell us what is possible given the duration and strength of the wind. That will lead to a discussion about what turbines are most appropriate for those conditions, though we're modelling the Windflow 500 model. Then we need to crunch the money numbers to see if they make sense. Given the electricity generated, life of the turbine, capital cost and the income likely to be generated we need to determine if this is a goer and under what conditions. We're wanting to minimise the risk of any such scheme so a lot of effort is going into identifying ways of achieving that end, or finding possible partners that could lower or mitigate any inherent risks.  That's never easy as there are always advantages and disadvantages to every possibility, but they all need to be carefully considered. Once all that information is collated it will be time for Hall meetings around the different Blueskin communities again to see if our proposal works for you. We're currently targeting the end of September for those meetings, but the exact timing may depend on when reports we have commissioned become available.


It's probably important to mention that a wind turbine cluster, should it come to pass, is really only another step along the way to making our communities resilient, but it is an important one. If it can be made to occur it has the potential to provide money to support the development of other energy centred projects in the area like solar, water, steam, household wind generation, smart metres …the list is endless.  The possibilities are exciting and ever changing as new options and new technologies become available. At the Hall meetings later in the year we'll try to outline some of those possibilities.

 

For Energy Advice call 4822207 (Mon/Tues), by email energyadvice@blueskinpower.co.nz or visit the website www.blueskinpower.co.nz/. For more information about the wind cluster project contact Scott on 4822048 or by email at: scott@blueskinpower.co.nz or visit the website.

 

Blueskin Energy Project

By Scott Willis

 

Thank you to all who have brought important energy issues to the fore recently – what better way to pass winter? In addition to opinion, we'll be bringing some assistance to Blueskin households who aim to make improvements in their home energy situation over the next few months (see below).

The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust and Otago University's Energy Cultures Team have teamed up to deliver expert energy advice and study how households respond to advice. We want to help people to make changes to their homes and practices for warmer, drier homes and/or improved energy efficiency, and to evaluate the effectiveness of energy advice.

Several different approaches will be trialled including home audits, information evenings and a telephone help line. If you're in Long Beach, Purakaunui, Osborne, Waitati or Warrington, you may be able to secure an energy audit and will be able to get telephone advice (see below).

The Energy Cultures team will be surveying people to assess the effectiveness of the different approaches. The comparison will look at things like the differences in energy-related changes, energy literacy and energy networking. If you wish to know more about the trial and to register your interest, visit us at www.blueskinpower.co.nz or telephone the energy advice hotline on 482207 (Mon and Tues).

We now have an updated wind resource assessment from the Porteous Hill monitored site and independent experts who are analysing that information to tell us what is possible given the duration and strength of the wind. That will lead to a discussion about what turbines are most appropriate for those conditions, though we're modelling the Windflow 500 model. Then we need to crunch the money numbers to see if they make sense. Given the electricity generated, life of the turbine, capital cost and the income likely to be generated we need to determine if this is a goer and under what conditions.

We're wanting to minimise the risk of any such scheme so a lot of effort is going into identifying ways of achieving that end, or finding possible partners that could lower or mitigate any inherent risks. That's never easy as there are always advantages and disadvantages to every possibility, but they all need to be carefully considered. Once all that information is collated it will be time for hall meetings around the different Blueskin communities again to see if our proposal works for you. We're currently targeting the end of September for those meetings, but the exact timing may depend on when reports we have commissioned become available.

It's probably important to mention that a wind turbine cluster, should it come to pass, is really only another step along the way to making our communities resilient, but it is an important one. If it can be made to occur, it has the potential to provide money to support the development of other energy-centred projects in the area like solar, water, steam, household wind generation, smart meters … the list is endless.  The possibilities are exciting and ever-changing as new options and new technologies become available. At the hall meetings later in the year we'll try to outline some of those possibilities.

For energy advice call 482 2207 (Mon/Tues), by email energyadvice@blueskinpower.co.nz or visit the website www.blueskinpower.co.nz/.

For more information about the wind cluster project contact Scott on 482 2048 or by email at: scott@blueskinpower.co.nz or visit the website.



Opinion

Response to Jenny's concerns about the wind cluster.

By Scott Willis and Chris Freear.

 

Jenny's opinion piece last month asked some good questions and thanks to the Blueskin News for the space to respond. Additionally, the BRCT office is contactable by phone and in person (though Friday afternoons, after 3pm is best) for any particular queries about the project. We'll be brief and answer Jenny's points.

  1. Jenny is correct that community wind doesn't protect our substation from any disaster that may befall it. The proposal is for a grid-connected wind cluster, so in the event of a power outage there will be no additional security that comes from
    it to Blueskin. It is possible that over time we'll be able to isolate our section of the local grid but we're nowhere near that point yet.
  2. Wind resource assessment and economic modelling is ongoing, with an independent review underway of the latest technical appraisal after now 14 months of monitoring (the first assessment was done after four months' monitoring). One of the important things in a project of this nature is not to rush appraisals and or make hasty decisions based on incomplete technical data, or single turbine type modelling. But rest assured Jenny, your maths is correct on the early figures – the proposed wind cluster (modelling the windflow 500 turbine) has a capacity factor of 29%. In NZ today our hydro system has a capacity factor of 45% north island, 55% south island. Capacity factor is the ratio of actual productivity against the theoretical maximum and typical capacity factors for wind are in the 20-40% range (the best wind generation in NZ has a capacity factor of 46%). There are sites within Blueskin with a better wind resource than the proposed site – however an economic site is determined by other factors: cost of development, ongoing maintenance, turbine type, etc.  The upshot is that the returns that we expect from this site are in line with other wind developments in other parts of NZ, and further technical appraisal, potentially with an additional hub height mast, are being done and being organised. The purpose of this technical appraisal is to ensure that the risk assessment is as complete as it possibly can be. We're confident at present that the electricity won't be any more expensive than any other electricity, but will in addition provide community value. The project will not fly otherwise.
  3. Control of power supply, unless you're off-grid like Jenny, is not simple (and not necessarily simple when you are on-grid either!). Building energy resilience with whole community benefit will involve compromise, simply because of the range of challenges. If we do nothing, however, then we can be assured of 'business as usual'. With enough community wind clusters and solar installations around the country this will change (how is anyone's guess). At first we'd expect that like with milk - the price will be set by the 'market'. But we will be selling into that 'market' so if prices are high so will the returns to the community owners of the wind cluster and if prices are low the returns will be low but so will our power bills.  Steps in the right direction we'd argue.

 

On the other issues raised by Jenny:

·                   Group bargaining with the gentailers: theoretically possible. Any such negotiation would be enabled by proving we are a collectivity.

·                   Each household as active energy managers: under the current political/regulatory climate it is simpler for most of us to do things like insulating our homes and adding solar/wetback hot water to reduce our dependence. These actions build our energy literacy up and may help us become future prosumers (producer/consumers).

·                   Back of the envelope solar-smart grid alternative proposal: always good to have ideas, particularly about solar, however at present the average household is not easily able to be cheaply retrofitted and these systems are best done at the household level. When we add in the cost of storage etc., the system will be approximately 5x more costly per watt as the projected cost of generation from the wind cluster.

The wind cluster proposal as it stands does not build physical security of supply but rather builds financial resilience to escalating power costs. By becoming a generator and consumer of approximately the same volume of energy we can effectively remove the corporate profits from the community's net electricity costs, which we believe is a small step in the right direction, but not the last word in terms of resilience.

 

Opinion

How far will we compromise?

By Antony Deaker

 

 

I have enjoyed thinking about Derek Onley's opinion piece in last month's Blueskin News – large spurious photo of military hardware and all.

 

First reaction was 'yeah, fair call'. Although it's a tenuous link, the BRCT project to develop a wind cluster could be connected to the military industrial complex if they go with a Windflow turbine. Not a great look.

 

Then I started thinking that Derek's position starts half way down a slippery slope. I don't know what petrol he puts in his car but I can't think of an ethical option for that. Then I thought about his car which is a small and efficient Hyundai, probably perfect for their needs but a quick Google search reveals that Hyundai produces frigates for the South Korean navy. Then I Googled Derek and saw that he contracts to Roger Belton, the guy who harvests tonnes of cockles from the bay. Then I thought about going online to research this stuff in the first place and remembered that the internet was initially developed by and for the US military.

 

At this point, I thought my answer to Derek's rhetorical question about how much are we willing to compromise, would be 'the same level as you Derek'. Then I thought that none of this diminishes my respect for Derek because I know he does many very good things, we have mutual friends that are cool people, and we always have friendly chats when we bump into each other.

 

Then I started thinking about what is the point Derek is trying to make? Is he saying that the civilian use of innovations and technology developed in the military industrial complex or civilian engagement with the companies that produce this stuff starts wars or prolongs wars leading to more deaths and damage?

 

The military are possibly one of the leading sources of innovation, they've got the budget to develop fantastical things for all the wrong reasons.

 

We can thank the military for diverse things like GPS systems, ambulances, radar and sonar, canned food, wristwatches, weather forecasts and MDMA ecstasy developed by the Germans in WW1. Right now, the US military is working urgently on reducing its reliance on oil, which will also flow through to civilian application. This is not in response to Peak Oil but rather its vulnerability to long supply lines such as with trucking oil through Pakistan to its bases in Afghanistan.

 

In a perverse sort of a way I think it is our duty to use such research and development for better uses than the military will.

 

I am not totally convinced by this line of thought and recognise that the military industrial complex wields significant unhelpful self-interested political influence.

 

However, I would have thought the real cause of wars and failure to stop wars that are already underway is inflexible men. So far I can only think of Maggie Thatcher as an exception to this. By far the great majority of wars are started by men who think they have the right and the need to appear 'strong', in other words inflexible, they will be driven by some dogma and or neurotic personality trait.

 

So my response to Derek's article is a call to men and the odd woman to sharpen up their team building, negotiating and collaboration skills, to forget the sad idea that strength is not giving way and to resolve neuroses. I'll start with mine.






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From blueskin.co.nz and 'Blueskin News' published by Blueskin Media: voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff, Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point, Purakaunui), Dunedin, New Zealand. All material sent to or published by us is "copyleft" in the public domain and may be freely shared, archived, re-edited and republished. If you want to credit the source it's "blueskin.co.nz".


Warrington kiosk

By Rosemary Penwarden

 

The newly opened Warrington Beach information kiosk began life as a sketch scribbled on a scrap of paper in a Warrington Reserve Group meeting several years ago.

Suzi and Brendon Flack from Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketiraki were enthusiastic from the beginning and Alex Whitaker was contracted to carve the Pou and Kowhaiwhai. Wiremu Bretton and Alex completed the construction and Derek Onley designed and produced many of the signs. Geraldine Tait coordinated the venture.

The kiosk was opened on a rainy winter Saturday and blessed by Huata Holmes. Funding was provided by DCC Parks and Reserves (money the DCC received from Telecom for putting their cable across Blueskin Bay), DCC Community and Arts Grants, Waikouaiti Coast Community Board and Southern Clams.

 



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From blueskin.co.nz and 'Blueskin News' published by Blueskin Media: voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff, Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point, Purakaunui), Dunedin, New Zealand. All material sent to or published by us is "copyleft" in the public domain and may be freely shared, archived, re-edited and republished. If you want to credit the source it's "blueskin.co.nz".


OROKONUI ECOSANCTUARY

By Sue Hensley


Reptiles and amphibians rather than birds have featured prominently this past month at Orokonui.  The Visitor Centre's new resident, the jewelled gecko, has been fun to spot or watch exploring his new vivarium and the holiday programme which was devoted to frogs included some of the live sort as well.

Carey Knox and Karin Ludwig combined geckos and skinks in a wide ranging talk illustrated by two endangered  Otago skinks. After disinfecting our hands, the audience and the children from the frog workshop were invited to handle these rarities. These are big skinks and the body alone from snout to vent covered the length of my hand. She flattened herself against my palm to maximise absorption of my body heat and lay there while others touched her leathery skin. The gold on black splotches, her slow breathing and little head somehow gave a sense of the ancient.

Carey, like Karin has worked with Grand and Otago skinks and monitors the jewelled gecko populations at a number of sites including Orokonui, as well. The original translocation to Orokonui in 2008/09 was of 36 individuals and today they number around 62, which is fantastic.

A benefit screening of five of last year's Science and Communication Students' films will be held in the Sci Comm building 303a Great King St on Thursday August 9 at 7pm. This includes a must-see comedic look at sharks and shark netting in Dunedin. Very informative too.
Keep a watch on www.orokonui.org.nz or on our facebook page for details of this and other events.

The Visitor Centre and cafĂ© are open daily 9.30 – 4.30pm.

Purakaunui School

By Lucy Davidson


Did you notice the extra 'u' in the school's name? We have begun changing the way we spell Purakaunui in line with the correct pronunciation and history of the name. In May we welcomed local tangata whenua, Nicky Taylor and John McLaughlin, who spoke of their connections to the local area and its history. We really loved the stories they shared with us.

Our end of term school assembly was great, with the handwritten Minibeast puppet shows. Our topic Minibeasts is now finished and this term we are studying space. We will be looking at the solar system and lots of other awesome things in space. We are visiting the Star-Lab at Otago Museum on 13 August.

We have also been busy with the Maori festival at the Waikouaiti Events Centre. We performed the story "The Rata and the Totara Tree" for our other cluster schools. The junior children were the totara tree and part of the waka. The seniors were the noise-makers, and like the juniors, part of the waka. We performed the Toia Mai Te Waka haka. In our act we performed with rakau sticks and clapping. We also had Mr Cook as the narrator. Thanks to all the parents who helped with transport.

We loved our visit from Suzanne, a flamenco dancer from Wellington. This was a great afternoon in the library, and she taught us the Sevilla, a Spanish dance. We learn Spanish at school and this helped us learn about the Spanish culture.

We are also going to "Little Olympics" at the Waikouaiti Events Centre on 7 August, representing different countries.

Don't forget to enter a team of four in the Purakaunui School Quiz Night on Friday 14 September at the Sawyers Bay Golf Club.

Pipi's Playgroup continues to be popular and each Thursday morning sees a delightful bunch of small people enjoying our library and sandpit. Contact Katherine Dixon on 482 1800 or the school on 482 1026 for more information about Pipis.

 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

BLUESKIN GARDEN CLUB

by Lyn Hastie

Blueskin Garden Club members spent a cold, wet July Saturday doing a mosaics workshop. Fourteen ladies smashed, cracked, planned and glued a variety of bits of tile, glass, buttons, etc. onto items of their choice. Look out for flash new letterboxes, rapid numbers, bird baths, balls, mirrors and a watering can. As always, they enjoyed each other's company over shared food and drink. They will get together again soon to complete their works with grouting. Special thanks to Liz and Jim for their hospitality.

Our August meeting will be held on 9th at 7pm in the Blueskin Nursery Cafe. Here we will learn about rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, etc. under the guidance of Mark Brown and David Sumpter. We will learn how to categorise them for our spring flower show in September; this will be of interest to lots of our members. Dessert and coffee will be part of the evening. If you would like to join us, feel free to come along. Interested in joining us? Phone Lyn on 482 2896 or Lyne on 482 2822.

Derek's Garden Diary

by Derek Onley


August can feel like spring. The song thrushes are singing away in the mornings and the first of the daffodils are out. Last year temperatures reached 22 degrees in our garden. Two days later it was frosty, and a week or two before there'd been 10cm of snow and the temperature barely reached 5. From a vegetable's point of view it's a risky business. However, broad beans can put up with it; they will germinate at about 6 degrees and survive frosts and snow but the soil is still cold and wet, as you may notice when digging up the parsnips or scrabbling around for the last of the yams.

 

So sowing broad beans is fine but anything else planted outside in August really needs protection under plastic or glass. You can put a few lettuce plants under there and you can try seeds of carrots, spring onions, radishes and quick greens but don't be disappointed if they don't work; there's time to have another go, or two, or three, in September. You can also try planting potatoes under lots of hay or straw but immediately they stick their heads up you will need to cover them so they don't get frosted. If vigilant you could get new potatoes before Christmas.

 

Onions need a long growing season so if you haven't done so last autumn, you need to plant the seeds now, either outside under protection or inside in pots -- to make it worthwhile you need a lot of pots on your window sill.

 

Start thinking about what you want for the season ahead. The best plan is to plant seeds indoors on your window sill. Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, silverbeet and leafy lettuces will be ready to plant out in 3-5 weeks by late August and early September, so that if the spring weather does arrive, they will be set to get going early. On those warm sunny afternoons with the breeze down from kumara country, don't be tempted to plant zucchinis and pumpkins or other summery stuff. They won't thank you for it and will just sulk.

 

We are approaching the lean time of the year when the last of the carrots, parsnips and swedes get woody, the yams and potatoes begin to sprout again and you are reduced to harvesting the first of the tender new purple sprouting broccoli and that mass of miner's lettuce that, untended, sprang up by the compost heap. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

WAITATI FIRE BRIGADE: Medical Response

by Charles Abraham

Since the formation of the medical response unit, the Waitati Fire Brigade has been busy training and familiarising ourselves with the new equipment we will be using. Our training has involved members of our team spending nights with St John's on shift and riding along in the ambulance. A very practical way to gain experience and knowledge that will benefit the community.


The unit has received funding from a number of community groups and now that we have funds for the initial costs we want to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Gerard Collings, our community board chair, for assisting with our fundraising initiatives. The principal funding so far for our equipment has come from the Otago Motor Trust, recognising that sadly so much of our work revolves around motor vehicle accidents. Support has also come from the Port Chalmers Lions Club and Port Chalmers Women's Institute as well as individuals.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

OPINION: How far are we prepared to compromise?

by Jeanette Fitzsimons, Patron of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust


Derek's article (July Blueskin News, p30) raises the old question of whether it is possible to aspire to sustainable communities, sustainable lifestyles, or particularly, a sustainable Aotearoa in a world where the power is held by deeply unsustainable planet-pillagers, oppressors of the poor, mass murderers, and their military defenders.

 

Personally, I am appalled at the resources and ingenuity that go into making weapons of mass destruction and would much prefer that a different partner for Windflow Technology (WF) had been found. But it wasn't.

 

Personally, I'm appalled at the actions of oil companies but I can't get by without driving a car. I spend my life trying to stop new coalmines but I can't avoid the use of steel which is currently made with coal. The council forced us to put a steel beam around the large windows that allow the solar gain into our house because this is a high wind area. I feel compromised at every step.

 

Does this mean we should give up?

 

In some cases, yes. If the compromise means we strengthen and legitimate the forces of destruction, that for me is a step too far. I guess everyone will draw their moral boundaries in different places but the important thing is that we draw them somewhere, and Derek is quite right to raise the issue.

 

In this case, we have a small and innovative firm which has succeeded spectacularly in its engineering purpose: a robust wind turbine built for New Zealand's high wind energy sites. Medium scale that suits communities rather than large corporate generators. Exceptionally robust – at the high wind Te Rere Hau site which now has well over 100 turbine-years of operating experience, availability has been 96%. The neighbouring Trust Power wind farm with imported turbines has been replacing gear boxes every few months.

 

Windflow has not had NZ orders for its machines since the commissioning of Te Rere Hau, set up by a WF subsidiary, because the NZ electricity market is peculiarly hostile to independent generators if they are using a renewable energy source. There is no provision for backup power when the wind is not blowing other than at the whim of the large competitor generators, and at a price they set. Unlike many other developed countries we have no feed-in tariff to guarantee sales for renewable power.

 

The gentailers who control both generation and retailing are only interested in giant scale turbines like the 3MW machines Meridian currently favours, and would prefer communities just left it all to them and bought their power passively at whatever price they set. In a sustainable world we would have an electricity market that favoured renewables and provided fair back up contracts for them. Until we can create that world, we will have to deal with very unfair rules.

 

Do we let a company like this, providing excellent technology at a community scale, a good employer with well-paying jobs in Christchurch, saving overseas funds and supporting many small businesses who make parts for it, go under?  By the time the deal with General Dynamics was signed, this was the only alternative.

 

If we were making parts for their weapons, if we were making them more profitable or supporting their business, I would see it differently. But if some remote military installations run on wind power rather than diesel, where is the harm? It could be argued that we are making the military look more benign and so improving its PR. But General Dynamics doesn't need Windflow to improve its PR. Those who oppose warmongering are hardly going to change their view because of a few turbines.

 

Back in the seventies I was very impressed with a saying of the famous activist Saul Alinsky. It sounds rather dated and seventies now, but I think the underlying thought still has relevance for our strategy: "Use the system to screw the system".

WARRINGTON PLAYCENTRE

by Lisa Hall

 

Well, autumn has set in although these great blue days are hopefully what winter will also bring us, even if the temperatures are a little lower. 

 

You would hardly recognise our outdoor area if you haven't been for a while – our new swing set is in and always covered in children.  They've been thrilled to have these fabulous swings in action. 

 

After an incredible effort by our parents last month, 53 cubic metres of bark was distributed under, over and round the playground equipment and throughout the play areas.  It truly was a team effort and on behalf of our children – "You guys ROCK!" (and I'm sure they'll promise to look after us all in our old age!).   It looks incredible and ensures a very safe area for our kids to play in.  Many thanks to the patience of the playcentre's neighbours as that Saturday was filled with tractor noises, cars, trailers, shovels and wheelbarrows amongst the heaving and straining of muscles.  Not only were there parents working hard but it was also pretty marvellous to have some locals, and ex-members of  the playcentre helping too – massive thanks to Sam for putting in a big day's work, Pippa's Mum and Dad and, of course, the fabulous Ozanne girls who were shovelling hard with the best of us.

 

We have just had a fabulous cupcake morning tea where some of our local friends and neighbours came along to join with us in eating, having a coffee and helping munch through so many tasty delights.  Wonderful to have you all join us.  The children had a fabulous time creating their cupcake designs; there were polar bears, sparkly pink ones, cats, spiders and dogs.  Pippa made a great plate modelled on Roland's spiders to celebrate his 'graduation' from playcentre, spiders have never looked so tasty!

 

This month we made Matariki lanterns to walk with under the stars to celebrations at Warrington School, and had visits from the Blueskin Library to stock up our reading requirements.  We also had a fabulous trip to the Waikouaiti Events Centre to join with local schools and childcare centres to see and sing along with Craig Smith – the 'Wonkey Donkey' guy.  He really is great entertainment and we all enjoyed his relaxed and very talented performance.

 

Sadly we have had several of our wee treasures head off to the wonderful land of being five and all that school entails.  Happy birthdays to Jake, Freddie, Arlo, Charlie and Roland.  The sandpit just won't be the same without you boys. Charlie we'll miss your amazing arty creativity.  Alexis is now a fabulous four-year-old Jedi and Emily is getting older and cuter too.  Party on everyone!

 

As so many of our older children are leaving there are many places opening up for new friends, so if you have or know of some local children who'd love to come and have some fun and gain new friends – we welcome you.  Parents, don't forget it's a fab place to meet other parents in a very non-threatening, relaxed and supportive environment – come on in.

 

We are open Wednesdays and Fridays 9:15am to 12:15pm.  Phone the playcentre 027 227 7329 for more information if necessary.  You are very welcome to just pop in and visit us.

 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

BLUESKIN LOW OIL COMMUTING GROUP

by Virginia Toy

It's particularly hard to be a sustainable commuter in the middle of a Dunedin winter! Who really wants to stand beside SH1 in the freezing rain waiting for a lift, be dropped off some distance from their warm cosy home to crunch there through the frost, or cycle in the pitch black? I've definitely been driving myself to and from work more regularly than I'd like to admit recently. However, if we keep the lines of communication open and the support network close, I think we can help one another to be motivated and keen to commute sustainably. 

With this in mind, we BLOC-ers plan to hold another pot luck meal -- a lunch this time to make it easier for families to attend. We welcome anyone from the Blueskin area with an interest in sustainable transport, not just mad/keen cyclists! In particular we welcome new potential BLOC members who are interested in hearing what we are about. However, we do have a cycling focus for this event: Lucy and Simon Sheppard have recently returned from an exciting holiday cycle-touring South America, and will talk to us about their travels to keep us entertained as we share yummy food. 

The venue: Lucy and Simon's place, 6 Thornicroft Rd, Waitati. The time: 12-3pm . The date: Sunday 12 August. Contact Virginia if you have any questions: Ph 482 1611 or email bloc@geology.co.nz. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Waitati Warblers

by Karen Jacquard

A new sound can be heard on Sunday afternoons in the Waitati district -- the Waitati Warblers, an enthusiastic group of people enjoying singing in four-part harmony under the guidance of Nancy Miller (ex Sunny Side Up fame). We are meeting at 4:00pm and rehearse till 5:30 every Sunday afternoon at a roster of houses in the district. At most we are 16 people, sometimes only eight, and we would welcome anyone else who has been too shy to come till now. Especially welcome would be bass singers (our two men are a tad outnumbered!). Any queries please ph Karen on 482 2335.