No. 1 – 13th April 2009

Eco-Hamlet Newsletter No. 1

13th April 2009


This is the first newsletter to keep you up to date with the project to create an eco-hamlet. The project was launched on 1st April, so is still at an early stage. So far about 16 people have shown an interest. Some are very seriously interested, and are ready to act, while others are not yet ready. So there is still a long way to go. I have been e-mailing all the contacts I have made over the past few years from my previous efforts to get a group together, and have had some positive response. There has also been some interest from the Facebook group, and I’m gradually starting to spread the word through internet forums and e-mail groups. More of this later.

  • Publicity
  • Communications
  • Getting Involved
  • Who Are We, and What Are We Looking For?
  • Future Newsletters
  • Events

Publicity

To attract enough people to make this project work, we need to do a lot of publicity. So far:

  • I have set up the web site at http://www.epfsolutions.org.uk/eco-hamlet
  • I have set up a Facebook group
  • I have produced and printed a simply A5 flyer to hand out, and put it on the web site so that anyone can download and print it
  • I have made good progress on e-mailing all the contacts I have made over the last few years
  • I have started posting messages on all the relevant internet forums I belong to
  • I will be posting messages on all the relevant e-mail groups I belong to
  • I intend to contact various relevant printed magazines

If anyone is able to help with this work, please let me know. There are many places we could do publicity that I’m not aware of, or don’t have access to, so please come up with your own lists and send them to me. I can tell you if I have already dealt with it, and if not we can agree who is going to make contact.

Please spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested.

To get maximum publicity on the internet, we need to get links on as many appropriate web sites as possible, and get mentions in forum postings, blogs and news pages. This not only gives us direct publicity, but will also get a higher ranking with search engines. So far, the highest entry on Google is from a link in my signature on an obscure posting on the PowerSwitch  peak oil forum!

If you are involved in any events, such as green fairs, festivals, green building exhibitions etc., and are able to hand out leaflets or put on a display, please let me know. I’ve had a stand at a number of events over the last few years and they do attract interest. I’m hoping to get leaflets on some stands at the Homes for Good Exhibition in Exeter next weekend, but don’t have the time now to organise a proper display.

If anyone is an expert in this area, and would like to take on the task, I’d be very happy to hear from you.


Communications

So far this project exists entirely on the internet. As I live in a van and travel round the country, it’s impractical for me to deal with postal enquiries, as I sometimes don’t get my post for several months. I haven’t included a phone number on the web site, but have put it in smallish print on the printed flyer I have produced. We need to communicate with potential members, and between ourselves. So far I have:

  • Created a public web site at http://www.epfsolutions.org.uk/eco-hamlet. This has a contact e-mail address
  • Set up an e-mail list to distribute this Newsletter and contact individuals or the whole group
  • Set up a Google e-mail group, originally with the intention of using it for sending news, but think it would be best used for discussion and exchanging information. See below for more information
  • Set up a private web site for group members, using a wiki. For those who don’t know what a wiki is, it’s a web site where users can edit existing pages, and create new ones. This has been set up and tested, and I’ll write more about it in a future Newsletter, when I’m ready to make use of it.

Google Group

I originally set this up with the intention of using it to distribute news, and to see if people started using it for discussion. I now think it’s easier to send Newsletters separately. So it now exists for any of us who want to use it to share knowledge and ideas, get to know each other, and discuss anything relevant to this project. It is a private group, restricted to people who have expressed an interest in this project, so if you want to join or leave it please let me know. I subscribed the first few people, so if anyone doesn’t want to be a member, please tell me. In future I will invite new members, who will have to respond to the e-mail they will receive, if they want to be a member.

Once you’re a member, to send a message, all you have to do is send an e-mail to

eco-hamlet@googlegroups.com

. Who’s going to start the discussion?


Getting Involved

At this early stage, I’m doing all the work, and I’m happy to do that. But this project aims to create a wonderful home for as many of us as possible, and there is a lot to do. The more people who get actively involved, the better the chance that we will achieve our goals. So if you can help with the work, or take on responsibility for some aspect of it, please get in touch. This is a brief, and certainly not exhaustive, list of some tasks that come to mind:

  • Searching for potential sites for sale
  • Researching/advising/defining policy on planning permission, building regulations and land use
  • Researching/advising/defining policy on legal and financial structures for site ownership (eg limited companies, land trusts, co-operatives, leases, freehold etc)
  • Researching/advising/defining policy on the people care aspects of a community
  • Compiling information on members requirements (type of housing, land requirements, possible locations etc)
  • Financial and land use planning
  • Organising meetings, social events and other ways to get to know each other
  • Publicity and membership recruitment
  • Countless other large and small tasks!

If you are willing to get actively involved, please contact me.


Who Are We, and What Are We Looking For?

I started this project based on a widely published view of how the countryside could be, if Permaculture was used for planning, developing and maintaining it. We can only hope to create a small part of this landscape and way of life, but we have to start somewhere. We also have to begin in the world as it is now, make many compromises, and aim to evolve into a future world as close to the vision as we can achieve. Over the last few years, I’ve been involved in searching for a suitable site for a similar project, and learned a lot about the restrictions imposed by the planning system, and the difficulty involved in forming a group and raising enough money. I hope I’ve incorporated this knowledge with the Permaculture vision to start with some practical proposals, without imposing my personal wishes too strongly, although I wouldn’t have started this project if it wasn’t to create a place I want to live!

When I was part of SWESES, the group that bought Trelay Farm in North Cornwall, we produced a number of questionnaires to learn about each other, the skills we had, and what we were hoping to achieve. I have these documents, and many others, that we can use as a starting point. So in the near future, you will be asked to fill in some forms and write a bit about yourselves. As I haven’t got mind reading skills, I’m afraid it’s the only way we can make progress, and create the type of settlement you will want to live in, so you have been warned!


Future Newsletters

This first Newsletter is entirely the work of one person, and as that person is me, I hope it isn’t repeated in the next edition! I’m intending to send them out quite frequently, to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on. I may even do one next weekend, if anything interesting happens before then, and if nothing happens you may get one anyway to encourage you to make something happen!

I’m intending to send Newsletters to everyone who has expressed an interest in being kept informed, and maybe to a few other people when I think that would be worthwhile. But I’m not intending to make them publicly available.

So get scribbling and send me something to put in the next edition. Tell us about yourself, write a bit about any special skills, knowledge or interests you have, news of similar projects, world news that will scare us into action(!), details of events and activities, in fact anything that I can copy and paste to avoid having to write so much myself! At the moment please keep your contributions to text only, as I have trouble sending e-mails with pictures on my slow mobile internet connection. I might manage one picture per edition, but you’ll have to wait until someone else volunteers to become editor before you get a fully illustrated Newsletter (hint!!).


Events

Homes for Good Exhibition

Friday 17th and Saturday 18th April, 10am – 4pm

Westpoint Arena, Exeter, Devon

Excellent annual show organised by Ecos Trust. Covers all aspects of sustainable construction, and well worth the £5 admission.

See

http://www.ecostrust.org.uk/h4g/

for full details.

I hope to be there on Friday at least, so if you’re going, get in touch and we can arrange to meet.


Newsletter Editor (and everything else until others volunteer!): John Boshier (

eco-hamlet@epfsolutions.org.uk

or phone/text 07908 406197)