Considering Today and Tomorrow

What Can We Do?



Considering Today and Tomorrow and this time Yesterday too.

With curious crowns adorning the letter box and our revered red phone box, the Jubilee celebrations gain prominence. Inevitably those of a certain age look back and several Forum members can reflect on the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. We are normally a forward thinking group, keen to do our bit for the environment, so is there anything we can learn from those memories about securing a more climate friendly future? Most of our memories are of a time that was considerably less comfortable and sometimes just as bad for the environment but hidden amongst the memories are some useful tips.

Dominant in my memory of the 1950s is the call of the rag and bone man. His voice rang out sonorously and effortlessly in a 4 note repetitious call, but what he called I could never work out. What he did was take away unwanted and broken items, scrap metal, wood, stones and bricks and sometimes lost items than had ‘fallen off’ something or somewhere. It was a serious recycling service. Single bricks of use to no one gradually became a neat pile in his yard that was enough to build a garden wall. The scrap metal went to be melted down and lengths of wood are always handy. When I moved to Wenvoe, a few years ago, there was that call again, amplified now by electronic means, still totally incomprehensible but nevertheless quite clearly the all-purpose recycling centre.

Memories of washing day seem to loom large. All the week’s washing was done on one day, either by hand or in a tub washing machine.

“My Mum wrung out washing by hand and had a grip that would beat most navvies. Clothes drying was weather assisted on a double washing line with a fixed low line and a high line that pulled up to the top of the posts and into the wind. When she had her first ‘washing machine’ it had an electric mangle which she always complained never got enough water out.” GS2

During most of the Winter, the washing line had frozen clothes on them. In honesty, I don’t know how my mum managed to dry clothes every week in those days.” DP

These days we use tumble dryers which gobble up electricity and money and fewer people have that high washing line in the garden to make use of the sun and wind which come for free. Clothes dried in a breeze are easier to iron too, making an extra saving on electricity, something to note for today. I think I’ll contact Monty Don and ask Gardeners’ World to feature how to fit a washing line into modern gardens. It may do as much good for the environment as their campaign for peat free compost.

“I can remember my mother’s snort of derision during an early East Enders episode. The characters were bemoaning their poverty. She said ‘Well, if they stopped buying kitchen rolls that would save a pretty penny. What’s wrong with an old rag for those jobs? (We used to have rag bag of them) Rinse them out, dry them off and you can use them again!’ I have to say that when a leading manufacturer of kitchen rolls advertised their product as ‘rinse-able and strong as bull’ I recalled her with a wry smile.” GS1

Ice on the inside of windows, layers and layers of clothes, getting dressed and undressed under the bedclothes … there were lots more memories and maybe more lessons for another day

 



 

Wenvoe Forum Zoom Event

What Can We Do?



Wenvoe Forum Zoom Event

“ while the sun is shining ”

7pm. Thursday 12th May 2022

Saving energy and money! Simple, practical ideas and questions answered on the best way to manage your household energy needs. Make changes before next winter arrives.

To book your place and or send in a question e-mail

Gwenfo.forum@gmail.com with SUNSHINE in the title bar.

You will receive a zoom link before the event..

 



 

Wise Advice From JFK

What Can We Do?



“ … while the sun is shining!”

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”

[State of the Union Address January 11 1962] – John F. Kennedy


Wise advice from JFK who used this saying to introduce a programme of spending that he intended would rebuild the US economy. The suggestion behind it is that it is prudent to prepare and repair while there is no pressing need. In the same vein, despite the lovely recent spring sunshine, we should all be looking forward to the cold weather of next winter and considering now what we can do to keep our homes warm and comfortable, our food hot and nourishing and our bills manageable. The Wenvoe Forum can offer some help with that preparation.

On Thursday 12th May we will be hosting our second Community Zoom meeting. Local resident Emmanuel Ebubedike (Manny) who works as a consultant in the energy industry has kindly agreed to share his expertise with us all. Manny will give us his suggestions for things we can do to make our lives and our homes more energy efficient, and we can ask questions about our own ideas.

In principle, we need to reduce our unthinking use of energy. When we do use it, we need to make sure we are using it efficiently and if we can use energy that is generated sustainably, so much the better. There is a plethora of energy saving ideas in the media but many of them require investing time and money before they yield results. It can be confusing and difficult for any one individual to work out what is best for them in their circumstances. Most people won’t be able to do everything they can or want to do, so, how do we choose what is best?

After the presentation there will be a Q&A and discussion. Some of the practical changes may be individual actions, other may be community based. Please send your questions or ideas, in advance if you can, and we’ll try to find answers together, either on the night or through follow up research. We are holding this meeting in May, while the days are longer and the sun sometimes shines to give time to try to put them into practice before grey and cold November rides up.

It is just over a year since the first meeting of the Forum raised, as part of addressing the climate crisis, that we try to encourage the community to be energy aware. Little did we know then how much more important that sentiment would become. Join us while the sun shines to prepare for winter, which if we do it well, will support our precious environment too.

To book your place or send a question please e-mail gwenfo.forum@gmail.com with UNSHINE in the e-mail title. We look forward to seeing you.

Emmanuel Ebubedike, is a Chartered Engineer (C Eng MMMIM CEMI) with over 15 years experience in initiating and implementing energy conservation projects

 

 



 

What Can We Do?

WENVOE FORUM

What Can We Do?



Read that short question several times, with the emphasis on different words, and you will hear that the answer is not straightforward. One of the ideas behind setting up the Forum was that action is needed at local level to tackle what are worldwide problems, so do nothing is not the answer.

Gareth, who wrote last month’s contribution to WO, mentioned the expected increase in our gas and electricity bills. In the 4 short weeks since then many of us have had written notice from suppliers about just how frighteningly big that increase was forecast to be. In those 4 short weeks Russia invaded Ukraine with huge impacts on economies, the environment and security and the bills are likely to be higher still.

I noted that one of the WO much loved little writings came directly below Gareth’s optimistic and practical article:

No sense in being pessimistic

It would never work anyway.

Whether that was pure serendipity or editorial wit I don’t know but just as do nothing is not an option, we will maintain our optimistic approach, knowing that, just as we should do what we can, others are doing what they can.

Challenging situations provoke, and people rise to the challenge in their own ways. Some clever engineers are researching a product that could modernise building techniques, make the construction industry more sustainable, make use of recycled glass and provide building materials with better insulation. (https://tinyurl.com/yck4un8p) The seemingly simple idea of replacing the sand used to make concrete with ground up recycled glass has wide ranging benefits. When you add in the fact that this new material can be used in a 3D printer, the building materials can be much more attractively shaped than the concrete block or beam, it sounds like a winner to me.

On a completely different path, professional storyteller Carl Gough is putting his energy into developing Nexus 100: creating change through story, a network of creative people who will find ways to encourage individuals to think about the environment with a positive approach and highlighting what we will gain by paying attention to it.

So what can we do as a community to help with the rising costs of everything as a result of more expensive energy, while tackling environmental problems at the same time.

In earlier WO articles we have suggested many ways to reduce energy use particularly associated with the reduction of carbon emissions. In May we plan to hold a session where experts will present some very practical energy reduction tactics and strategies, focused mainly on the home. There will be an opportunity for questions. Final details are to be confirmed but we hope it will be on Thursday 12th May; Look out for details in next month’s WO, on the Wenvoe Community Facebook page, on our Facebook page and on our blog.

When we carried out our initial survey of community views last summer/autumn, one of the most popular suggestions was a Community Energy Scheme. Forum members have been working on exploring feasibility and making some progress. However, we could use some help to take this forward. Anyone who is enthusiastic about the idea is very welcome but in particular we would benefit from adding to the team:-

  • A business planner with experience of long term financial planning
  • Someone with legal expertise
  • People with experience of alternative sources and methods of household heating and or energy generation

If you are interested in helping or want to know more please e-mail gwenfo.forum@gmail.com

Any Wenvoe community member is welcome to join the Forum meetings, via Zoom, held at 19.00 on the second Thursday of each month. E-mail gwenfo.forum@gmail.com if you wish to come along

We put information on our Facebook page Gwen Fo @ https://www.facebook.com/gwen.fo.1/ and Wenvoe Forum @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/635369267864402 and Blog site https://wenvoeforum.wordpress.com/

 

 



 

Considering Today and Tomorrow

 

WENVOE FORUM

Considering Today and Tomorrow


Global gas prices have seen record increases over the last 6 months, with wholesale prices quadrupling in the last year. They are set to rise further, and with the knock-on effect to electricity production, the Ofgem energy price cap is due to increase by £693 from 1 April for around 22m UK customers. This will impact all of us to a greater or lesser extent, and Government is looking at a range of packages to help alleviate the financial situation.

A recent article sparked in me a degree of hope. Oxford scientists announced that they had smashed a previous record for generating fusion energy, hailing it as a ‘milestone’ on the path to cheaper, cleaner power and a cooler planet.

Nuclear fusion is the process that the sun uses to generate heat. By forcing together atomic nuclei, at high speed, energy can be released and used to generate electricity. Operating the power plants of the future based on fusion would produce no greenhouse gases and only very small amounts of short-lived radioactive waste. Proponents believe it could one day help address climate change by providing an abundant, safe and green source of energy.

The team at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility at Oxford generated 59 megajoules of energy for five seconds during an experiment in December, more than doubling a 1997 record according to the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).

That is the equivalent energy needed to power 35,000 homes for the same period of time, or boil 60 kettles. The UKAEA claim the results “are the clearest demonstration worldwide of the potential for fusion energy to deliver safe and sustainable low-carbon energy”.

Great news I thought, except that the article went on to say that the practical benefits would not be realised for 20 years, at the earliest, more likely during the second half of the century.

In the slightly nearer-term, wind and solar-power generation is developing along with better insulation projects, heat pumps, hydrogen boilers, energy efficiency schemes and community energy generation, they are expensive but will eventually ease the economic problems and help to address global warming.

So, what can be done to help bridge the gaps in the meantime? Various websites offer a range of energy- (and money) saving tips that can help.

The Which website offers 10 key ways to save on energy bills, see below (with more detailed information on their website). The eco-friendly habits website (also below) offers 37 specific tips for both money-saving and energy conservation, and the

U-switch website (also below) offers a staggering 98 tips. We hope some of these will help.

  1. Review your energy bills: small savings are available
  2. Choose energy-efficient appliances
  3. Add to your insulation
  4. Consider a new boiler
  5. Replace light bulbs with low-energy options
  6. Install / make use of your central heating controls
  7. Fit draught proofing
  8. Use less hot water
  9. Find out if you could get energy efficiency grants or free cash

10.Consider the wider range of quick energy-saving tips

 

Finally, if you want to be part of the ongoing Forum discussion and help to shape any future schemes for Wenvoe, please get in touch, via gwenfo.forum @gmail.com.

For further reading / information:

https://phys.org/news/2022-02-scientists-britain-fusion-energy.html

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/price-cap-increase-ps693-april

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/cutting-your-energy-bills/article/how-to-save-on-your-energy-bill/10-ways-to-save-on-energy-bills-aX2RS8b8llMR

https://www.ecofriendlyhabits.com/how-to-conserve-energy/

https://www.uswitch.com/energy-efficiency/free-energy-saving-tips/

In the meantime we’ll be keeping a look out for schemes available in Wales to help those finding energy price increases difficult to manage. We will put information on our Blog site https://wenvoeforum.wordpress.com/

Any Wenvoe community member is welcome to join the Forum meetings, via Zoom, held at 19.00 on the second Thursday of each month. Next meeting 10th March. E-mail gwenfo.forum@gmail.com if you wish to come along.

 



 

A Belated Happy New Year!

 

WENVOE FORUM

Considering Today and Tomorrow


A belated Happy New Year!

Our apologies. We hadn’t realised that the New Year WO copy date was early and we missed the deadline for the January issue. However, our article on Making 2022 happier can still be read currently on the home page of our blog site. Happy reading https://wenvoeforum.wordpress.com/

For February let’s have a quick look at what the Forum has been up to recently.


Welcome Pack

The ‘Welcome to Wenvoe’ pack that has brought together information provided by many of our community organisations and services, is ready for distribution. If at any time you have new neighbours who have moved into Wenvoe from elsewhere please let us know and we’ll deliver you a printed Welcome Pack to take to them. (gwenfo.forum@gmail.com). The pack will also be available on the blog site (see above) to download. If we have missed anything out or you want to update the information, please get in touch.


From Happiness to Hoppiness

A couple of Wenvoe residents have been involved in the Cardiff Community Hop Growing Group. Members grow one or two hop plants in their gardens and then in mid-September the hops are picked and the harvest pooled to create the Taff Temptress beer brewed by Pipes Brewery in Llandaff. Contributors are entitled to some free or reduced price beer. We were thinking that it would be nice if a few more Wenvoe residents grew some hops and we were able to harvest enough for a ‘Wenvoe’ brew.

Hop rhizomes can be planted in the next couple of months and should produce a small harvest even in their first year. They are very easy to grow, and like to climb, (up to 20ft!) but need not take up a lot of ground space. Dwarf versions are also happy climbing along a fence as long as you give them a bit of encouragement to follow the route you want them to take. Current growers can provide growing advice, though all are beginners.

If you think this is a fun idea please join in. Steve and Sian Jones (gwenfo.forum@gmail.com) are willing to coordinate the link to the Cardiff community while we recruit enough growers for a Wenvoe Beer in the future – suggestions for good name anyone?


Community Energy Scheme

Forum members have met with some Vale of Glamorgan Council officers who are working on reducing carbon footprints to discuss potential community energy generation and other energy efficiency schemes. Ideas are beginning to develop and we hope to hold a meeting with wider community representation soon.

If you want to be part of the discussion and help to shape any future scheme please get in touch. (gwenfo.forum@gmail.com)

 



 

Celebrate Consciously

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WENVOE FORUM
Celebrate Consciously Today to Preserve Tomorrow


If each of us changes just one or two things to cut pollution, waste and carbon emissions during the Christmas celebrations and into the New Year, together, it adds up and makes a difference. Here, some of our members share their ideas.


Hello, I am Diane and I’ve joined the Wenvoe Forum as I feel that we can all help the cause. This Christmas I’m aiming to send Christmas cards that have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark. This can be found on the back of the card and guarantees that the paper has been produced sustainably and ethically. After Christmas I will recycle my cards or pass them onto friends who will turn them into present tags or decorations for next year.

 

Gareth and Glenys Stone. We have lived in Wenvoe for almost 10 years now. We joined the Wenvoe Forum with a view to doing ‘our bit’ and working with others to build on the existing, strong community spirit. Our family have festive fun with the e-bay challenge. We set a price limit and a theme for family presents to be bought second hand on e-bay. We have a lot of fun buying the best present for £5 and in the past they have included Lego, headgear and even original works of art. As we open them together at Christmas we can also enjoy the stories and adventures of e-bay auctions won and lost, as well as the presents themselves. Reducing, reusing and recycling whilst having a fabulous time.

Hi. I am Heulwen and I shall be making my own Christmas present labels from handmade seed paper embedded with various flower seeds for recipients to plant. No waste card to deal with and I’m looking forward to a spring and summer full of flowers that will also encourage pollinators.

My name is Nicola Starke and I am the Headteacher at Gwenfo Church in Wales Primary School. My green festive tips include:

  • Donating old Christmas dressing up costumes to the school to loan to other children during our Christmas concerts.
  • Make a funny Christmas video to send friends and family instead of a card
  • Over the festive period swap your car for a lovely walk around the village to spot the advent windows
  • Shop locally and support small businesses when buying gifts and festive food.

 

I am Sian Jones and live in the village. I am a member of the Gwenfo Forum because I want our Wenvoe Village to be a cleaner safer environment in which to live. I think it would be good for us to embrace the New Year 2022 by thinking of ways to help our carbon footprint, less pollution in the village. For example think about ways to dispose of our Christmas wrappings and cards. Look at buying gift wrapping paper that can be recycled. Christmas cards being bought without glitter and buy from charities to support their cause. My goal for 2022 is for all of us to think and act now before it is too late!

 

 


 

More environmentally friendly ideas on our blog see below.

The Forum is always open to fresh suggestions, creative ideas and especially to new members and contributors.

Twitter @ForumGwenfo, Facebook: Gwen Fo @ https://www.facebook.com/gwen.fo.1/ and Wenvoe Forum @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/635369267864402

Blog site https://wenvoeforum.wordpress.com/

Any Wenvoe community member is welcome to join the Forum meetings, via Zoom, held at 19.00 on the second Thursday of each month. E-mail gwenfo.forum@gmail.com if you wish to come along.

 



 

A Community Energy Scheme?

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Is it time for a Community Energy Scheme?


The coverage of COP26 and the need to replace fossil fuel based energy generation, coupled with the potential insecurity and dramatic cost rise of our energy supply is a source of concern. We are reaching for our warm sweaters, turning down the thermostat, not leaving the TV on standby etc etc. But is it time to consider an increasingly popular option? Is it time for a Community Energy Scheme for Wenvoe?

What is a Community Energy Scheme? In essence Community Energy Schemes are about community led, and importantly community controlled, renewable energy production, energy efficiency schemes or energy purchase schemes. They can be wholly community owned or with commercial or public sector partners or can act as a trusted intermediary to ensure community interests are considered by commercial generators. The movement is growing in Wales which has more Community Energy schemes per head of population than other parts of the UK. Some of them have been around for over 20 years and have learnt some of the tricks of the trade the hard way but all are willing to share their experiences in order to advance the sector. The sector is supported by Community Energy Wales (CEW) and a look at its map of members will show you wind, solar and hydro generation schemes alongside insulation schemes, provision of charging points, a biomass project that heats a community swimming pool and plans for schemes using heat pumps.

How are they funded? Largely they are run as businesses with a variety of different models; co-operatives, community interest organisations, Ltd companies etc. Investors get a reasonable return on their money but no share of the profit which is used for community benefit and often applied to other environmentally friendly or energy efficiency projects. In common with charities, Directors are usually volunteers. Community members are able to purchase energy at a reliable and often lower price

What other benefits are there? In its State of the Sector 2021 report published earlier this year CEW cites the following benefits:-

  • A major practical contribution towards achieving zero carbon emissions
  • Involved, energy aware community members are ready to make the behaviour changes necessary to combat climate change
  • New jobs and local investment
  • Other community driven projects utilising the surpluses that would normally go to shareholders

 

So what might a scheme for Wenvoe look like? Council buildings and many more houses with solar panels or heat pumps; a way of capturing hydro energy from the water that pours down from the woodland when it rains; a Wind turbine up on the hill… who knows, the community decides based on practical feasibility.

One thing is certain however, the magic ingredient of any successful scheme is a handful of people who are prepared to give some time to get things going. If you are one of those people, let’s make it happen, please get in touch gwenfo.forum@gmail.com.

Recent Forum Activity

We are still pursuing the monitoring of air pollution in the village and encouraging drivers not to leave engines idling.

We submitted our response to the WG 20mph zones scheme. This is due for implementation in 2023 and there will be further consultation about local issues.

We attended a Road Safety meeting hosted by Jane Hutt SM and attended by other rural Vale communities, Vale of Glamorgan officers and Councillors, South Wales Police and Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change. Other communities shared proven examples of schemes that improve safety, reduce pollution and encouraging active travel.

We have an exploratory meeting with Community Energy Wales planned and a request from the Vale officer in charge of Project Zero to meet with us for an update..

An information pack to welcome newcomers to the village is nearly ready which includes the list of local providers which can be found on our Blog site.

We will be responding to the Vale of Glamorgan consultation on plans to improve the play area at the Grange. You can respond too. blog https://wenvoeforum.wordpress.com/ .

New members welcome, meetings on Zoom 2nd Thursday each month 7pm. Comment or Contact us on :-Facebook: Gwen Fo @ https://www.facebook.com/gwen.fo.1/ and Wenvoe Forum @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/635369267864402 twitter @ForumGwenfo or e-mail us on gwenfo.forum@gmail.com.