About us.....

Abingdon Carbon Cutters is a Community Action Group formed to help reduce the carbon footprint of Abingdon in response to climate change, and to promote a sustainable and resilient lifestyle for our town as fossil fuel stocks decline. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at St Ethelwold's House, which is here.

At some meetings, we have guest speakers to present various topics, and at others we discuss our own personal actions to address climate change. The group has a focus on encouragement, both of one another, and of the town community.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meeting notes from 21.01.2009

There were fewer people at Carbon Cutters last night than at some of the pre-Christmas meetings, but the discussion was lively and useful nonetheless. This blog isn't intended to be a set of minutes of the meeting, but hopefully the record and the internet links contained within it might be useful.

The meeting started with a brief introduction from everyone, and then we covered the upcoming events.

  • The next CC meeting (3rd Wednesday in February) will have a speaker on Thermal Solar panels.
  • There are swapshops on 7th March, at both the Long Furlong Community Centre and at the South Abingdon Family Centre. Small handouts are to be prepared to remind swapshop visitors as to the value and impact of swapping )as an alternative to landfilling/buying new/travelling further afield to shop.
  • On 24th February, the film "An Inconvenient Truth" will be shown at Abingdon Baptist Church. A 2-sided handout is being prepared for presentation after the film.
  • This will be followed up by a screening of "The Power of Community" at All Saints' Methodist Church.

Daniel spoke about a scheme he developped some years back, called "Green Cred" which is similar in some ways to the more widely marketed (and more funded) Global Action Plan.

  • His scheme is one whereby individuals (encouraged through belonging to a school, a road, or other definable entity) acquire green credits for various practical or lifestyle changes they make. The scheme's milestones have been developped such that when all possible credits are aquired, the residence under examination is approximately a one tonne house - which is to say that annual CO2 emissions are approximately 1 tonne.
  • At various stages through the credit accumulation stage, awards are made, with the intention that they be displayed by the relevant front door.
  • The programme has been run with Drayton Primary school, and the idea has been passed to other local schools, but Daniel wonders if now is the time for the scheme to be pursued by other community groups. He feels that Churches are particularly engaged in responding to the global warming crisis and this could well be a route forward. Discussions have already started with the vicar of Drayton Parish Church.

The group then discussed a variety of other topics. A number of the group have had some involvement with the small devices that measure electrical loads, and "Smart Meters" that add a remote display of instantaneous power consumption for a property. Some concern was raised that such devices can be percieved as overly complex or just plain difficult. This was refuted by those within the group that have used such gadgets, but does highlight an area of work that the group might be involved with.

The opportunity to use external consultants to audit properties was discussed - as was the seemingly high cost of this. The possibility that Carbon Cutters might become a centre of expertise to offer the required information to Abingdon residents on a not-for-profit basis was mooted.

St Ethelwold's house had an energy consumption audit funded by their insurance company - "Naturesave" and their policy premium was significantly reduced on the basis of the results

A brief time was spent revisiting the purpose of Carbon Cutters - to move Abingdon towards Transition Town status. Originally the group had operated on the basis of encouraging one another to action - in a similar format to Weightwatchers.

We were reminded that it is National Bikeweek from June13th to 21st this year. There is some clarification required as to using the market square on the first Saturday, as the Morris Dancers will be electing their "Ock Street Mayor" that day. To date, there is a hope to have the Police around to postcode bicycles, some involvement from the two bike shops in the town and input from Sustrans. There was a discussion around Carbon Cutters encouraging and supporting a Cycling Proficiency course specifically targetted at Adults who may not have been on two wheels for a number of years. There is to be a one hour brainstorm in the coming weeks (time & place tbc) for anyone interested in having an input in to the direction of Carbon Cutters involvement with National Bikeweek.

The Vale of the White Horse document "Core Strategy - preferred options" outlining development plans for the year 2026 was discussed. A formal response will be given from Carbon Cutters - all input to Sophie. Individual responses are also important (by 27.02.2009). Concern was raised that one of the main developments was the proposed additional river crossing. While this concept may reduce traffic density within the town centre, the document was not considered to focus sufficiently on the provision and development of more sustainable transport methods.

With the recent news that Lidl are attempting to open a store on the fairacres site, there was discussion around town centre habits and the influence of out-of-town retail developments. Daniel spoke briefly about his support of the concept of applying a levy on parking space use at out-of-town developments. It is believed that there is a covenant on the use of the retail units at Fairacres, which prevents a food retailer opening there. There will doubtless be some "interesting" discussions to come.

Before the meeting closed, we read together, the four character types reported in the book "Carbon Detox" by George Marshall. It was surprisingly easy to identify ourselves as one specific character type, and straightfoward to categorise our close friends. As Carbon Cutters moves to "outreach" activities to encourage, share good practise, and provide information, it was agreed that acknowledging the personality types we might come across was useful. There was some discussion that maybe a series of four cards could be prepared, with the character type on one side, and suggested actions on the reverse.

Sally is ordering more copies of the "Carbon Detox" book which will be available at all upcoming CarbonCutters events/

The details of all swap-shops in Oxfordshire are on the CAG website: http://www.cagoxfordshire.org.uk/findswapshops.htm

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