If you go down to the woods today….

Get out into the woods this October with some great weekend and day courses at CAT. Forage for mushrooms or herbal remedies, learn about woodland management, or get to grips with wood fires as we settle into autumn.

5345533951_b1bcd01ff8_oEnjoy some seasonal foraging on 1st-2nd October with a mushroom and fungi identification course, where you can discover what’s good to eat – and what’s not. Go on a woodland ramble with our fungi forager then come back and cook up what you’ve found. You’ll also learn how to grow your own mushrooms using different cultivation techniques, so you can enjoy home-grown fungi feasts all year round!

As the days start to get shorter, get prepared for those cold winter nights by learning how to make the most of your wood burner with our Wood Fire Guru course on 1st October. Learn about choosing, storing and even growing your own wood, plus stove maintenance and safety to help you stay cosy right through to spring.

On 22nd October, learn how to make your own balms and tinctures with an Introduction to Herbal Medicine, including plant identification and collecting, gathering and storing as well as preparation for therapeutic use.

If you want to spend even more time in the woods, check out our courses on sustainable woodland management and horse logging.

CAT Short Courses Coordinator Steph Robinson said: “We’re so lucky to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful woodlands in Britain. We created these courses to help people learn new skills that will allow them to make the most of what’s on their doorstep.”

And don’t forget to join us for our Quarry Trail launch party on 24th October – see visit.cat.org.uk for details.

For more info and to book visit courses.cat.org.uk or call us on 01654 704966.

Small is Beautiful Festival 2016

Small is Beautiful is the Festival that takes place at CAT. After a big event in 2015, we decided to make 2016 smaller and distilled into just one day.  It really was beautiful, and we left on Sunday feeling uplifted and full of energy for the next one (8-11th June 2017).

Our Schumacher Speakers this year were Natalie Bennett (Green Party) and Paul Smith-Lomas (Practical Action) – who both challenged and provoked the crowd. Andrew Simms chaired an interactive panel discussion which drew in Greta Leeb (Welsh Government), Helen Atkins (CAT/ZCB) and Shaun Chamberlin (author). On a gloriously sunny day the CAT site was at its finest: hands on workshops were scattered across the centre and covered ideas including aquaponics, thatching,  pee-powered toilets, tiny homes and resisting fracking.

Here is a collage of photos from the day:

sib2016collagelogo

The next Small Is Beautiful festival will be a full long weekend, on the 8-11th June 2017, on the theme of Housing Justice. Book your early bird tickets here.

Speak Up Week of Action

Join us from 8th-16th October in a Climate Coalition Week of Action to celebrate the people, places and things we want to protect from climate change – and make sure our political representatives feel that love.

facebook insta speak up beautiful things buntingAll over the country, we’ll be seeing nature walks, tea parties, classic lobbies, community energy visits and all sorts of other events to start those key conversations about climate change. All this will either involve politicians or be showcased to them, so that they see, feel and hear how much their constituents care about what we could lose to climate change.

People all over the UK are organising events in their local areas, and we’d love you to be involved. Join or organise an event in your area at weekofaction.org.uk

At CAT we’re hosting a coffee morning with Simon Thomas AM on Friday 14th October. Come along and discuss why you care about the environment and what you think politicians should be doing.

Roundwood timber frame – new course

We’re really looking forward to the crew from Ty Pren Workers’ Co-op joining us in a couple of weeks to teach our new Roundwood Timber Frame course.

This really is do-it-yourself building – we’ll start off in the woods learning how to choose the right trees for construction and by the end of the week we’ll have completed the frame for a small building.

If you’re visiting CAT on the week of 22nd to 26th August, you might just get a glimpse of the build taking place, and if you’d like to join the course there are still a couple of spaces left.

Here are a few pics from recent Ty Pren projects to get us all in the mood…

TyPrenBuild   Roundwood-Sheppards-HutTyPrenBuild2   Joints1

TyPren-Roundwood Ty-Pren-Roundwood1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zero Carbon Conversations

During our latest Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) course, film-maker Mike Erskine asked people about their hopes, fears and ambitions for a climate safe future.

Watch these Zero Carbon Conversations to find out how people stay positive despite challenging times, where they think the barriers lie, and what they think needs to be done to make change happen.

If this inspires you to take action, why not join us on the next Zero Carbon Britain course to find out more about how we can get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions using technology available today.

 

  

 

Switching Heads – Sound Mapping the Quarry

This summer, visitors to CAT can meet a very special quarry resident. Artist Holly Owen introduces Geoffrey Grey, our resident story-collector, and looks at how you can get involved in an innovative project exploring responses to climate change.

mainimageSwitching Heads – sound mapping the […] is a collaborative multi-media art project between myself and artist Kristina Pulejkova, which we started together in 2013.

Blending our different art practices together, our project seeks to inspire environmental action through shared empathy, honesty and the lived experience.

Using our unique combination of immersive sound technology, environmentally un-intrusive sculpture and film, our project celebrates areas around the world that are environmentally significant. Spending time in these places, we invite local people to share their stories, concerns and solutions in the face of global climate change with a life-size head sculpted from site-specific materials. Audiences are drawn into a continuous switch between home and place, stimulating emotive response, shared concern and grassroots action.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 13.14.56The first film in our series entitled Switching Heads – sound mapping the Arctic was filmed in 2015 in the remote frozen city of Tromsø, deep within the Arctic Circle. Searching always for the true story, we captured local people’s concern for their home sinking beneath the rising Arctic sea, the loss of their traditional and contemporary culture, and the extinction of their iconic species, as well as excitement at the idea of one day having a longer, hotter summer.

This year we are delighted to bring Switching Heads to the Centre for Alternative Technology. Having spent seven months at CAT as their 2015-2016 artist in residence I am delighted to have the opportunity to work alongside this influential organisation again and this time to be able to transport audiences around the country and beyond to this unique and beautiful location.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.21.32Every day from 24th July to 1st August Kristina and I will be filming Switching Heads – sound mapping the Quarry alongside the third member of our Welsh team Geoffrey Grey. Geoffrey, a life-sized head that we have sculpted from CAT’s very own quarry slate, will be waiting to hear stories from CAT’s visitors as they explore the centre’s gardens, woodland paths and exhibits.

Keep up to date with Geoffrey’s adventures on the Switching Heads blog.

Website: www.switching-heads.com
Twitter: @OwenPulejkova

 

Off-grid water works

Do you know where your water comes from? You probably just turn on the tap and there it is. Flush the toilet and off it goes. Most of us have no idea where our water comes from, or where our sewage goes.

At CAT we do things differently. We’re completely off-grid when it comes to water – we have no mains water supply or sewage treatment. So we have to think very carefully about how we use this precious resource.

Here’s how our water works.

 

Reduce, reduce, reduce!

We start by minimising the volume of water that we use. Low flush toilets, waterless urinals and compost toilets help by reducing the amount that gets flushed away. Low flow taps and water efficient shower heads mean less goes down the drain. Which of these things could you do at home?

So what’s left? We need it for drinking water, for hydro electric turbines and to power our cliff railway. Let’s focus on how we get it clean enough to drink, and how we treat the wastewater so it can be safely returned to the river that flows past CAT.

 

Good enough to drink

The CAT reservoir, which is nestled in the hills behind the visitor centre, holds most of the water used on site. It was created to directly power the machinery for the old quarry on which CAT is built. The other sources of CAT’s water are rainfall into the lakes, ponds and rainwater butts across the site.

The water is siphoned from the middle of the reservoir, using atmospheric pressure to force it up through a pipe. This method doesn’t use a pump, which ensures that the system is low-energy.

Water is then piped down the hill to CAT. Water to be used for drinking passes through slow sand filters to remove pollutants. While this process effectively removes pathogens, the water is later treated by ultraviolet (UV) purifiers to finish the job.

 

Managing the wastewater

Greywater and foul water from CAT flows into settlement tanks, where solids are separated from liquids. Solids are composted whilst liquids are passed into a series of reed beds which sit below the CAT site.

The reed beds clean the water through a combination of the micro-organisms in the reed beds, and the physical and chemical properties of the reeds.

After being passed through these beds, the now clean water is returned to the river below CAT, where it is joined by the water that has powered our hydro turbines, driven the cliff railway and heated a building through a water-source heat pump. All of it borrowed – and made to work very hard – on its way from the mountains to the sea.

 

Over the summer, we’ll be giving free guided tours of the CAT water systems so you can get a close-up look at some of these systems. Take a look at our events calendar for details of what’s on when.

If you’d like more in-depth info, the three courses mentioned above run back-to-back and can be booked as a package. Book two or more of these and we’ll give you 10% off. See courses.cat.org.uk for details, or call us 01654 704966.

Skill-sharing with the Wanju Ladies Club

There’s a quiet revolution happening in South Korea. People are moving ‘back to the village’ in huge numbers following the economic crisis and rejection of the consumerist and competitive urban lifestyle.

For many this is a difficult transition from a highly service-orientated city culture, but there is a group for whom it is particularly challenging and that is the unmarried women who are making the shift in large numbers. These women are not only bravely embracing a new way of life with limited skills but are also tackling long standing traditions and prejudice around gender roles.

Jijeong and Bohyun with Jyoti and Paul from CAT's courses team.
Jijeong and Bohyun with Jyoti and Paul from CAT’s courses team.

This week we welcomed two such women: Jijeong and Bohyun from the Wanju Ladies Club, a cooperative established to up-skill and enable single women returning to the country. In just three years they’ve established the cooperative and created training courses and materials on heating, cooking, renewable energy, insulation, rainwater harvesting and up-cycling. Jijeong and Bohyun are two of the seven founding members who are all activists in social and environmental movements and experts in the field of alternative and appropriated technology.

By up-skilling women in this way the club hopes to enable women to be more autonomous in their homes but also to elevate their status within their communities, improve the lives of the village as a whole, and to establish these women as role models for future generations of girls to become learners and teachers, transforming culture over time to be more inclusive and welcoming.

Jijeong and Bohyun came all this way to learn about CAT’s evolution and how we’ve challenged gender stereotypes over the years, from hiring a female builder Cindy Harris to lead construction at CAT for 17 years, to continually questioning our thinking and actions to attract a more diverse audience to CAT as members, visitors and students. Our latest Zero Carbon Britain research ‘Making it Happen’ (coming soon!) also features special content on gender and race equality and the author Helen Atkins was interviewed by Jijeong and Bohyun during their stay.

Whilst here our guests have also attended a course in Traditional Timber Frame Joints with Carwyn Jones and ‘a way of building used locally sourced materials’ with Maurice Mitchell, author of The Lemonade Stand.

We are the first to admit we don’t have all the answers but hope we can help them during their visit by sharing how we aim to inspire people from diverse backgrounds. So what’s next for the Wanju Ladies Club? Well they’ll be setting up an advice service for aspiring community energy projects as well as a construction cooperative for social housing initiatives, and that’s just for starters…. We wish them all the best for what sounds like an amazing and very worthwhile project.

What’s on at CAT this summer?

Every day during the school holidays…

Enjoy special activities every day during the school holidays (18th July to 29th August). Get the kids out exploring nature and let them get creative with eco-crafts and solar boat-building. Take a guided tour or explore our brand new Quarry Trail. Just relax in our organic gardens or stop for lunch in the CAT cafe. See you soon!

Fun for kids!

 

EcoCrafts-Blog

 

 

Get crafty with natural jewellery making

 

 

 

 

 

SolarBoat

 

 

Put your inventing cap on and build a solar-powered boat

 

 

 

 

 

SlugsAndBugs

 

 

Get up close to some amazing beasties on a slug & bug hunt

 

 

 

And adults too!

 

GuidedTour

 

 

Take a guided tour to learn more about renewable energy and greener buildings

 

 

 

 

NewQuarryTrail

 

 

 

 

Explore our brand new Quarry Trail for amazing views across the old quarry on which CAT is built

 

 

 

 

 

Woodwork

 

 

Release your inner bodger with green woodcraft demonstrations every Wednesday

 

 

 

 

*School holiday activites run from 18th July to 29th August, with kids’ activities and guided tours on every day

To find out what’s on when, take a look at our events calendar at http://visit.cat.org.uk/whats-on

 

Zero Carbon Britain short course scholarship

Would you like to come and stay at CAT, learn about the ins and outs of Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB), attend a high profile conference – all the day before the wonderful Small is Beautiful Festival?

To apply for your free place, please send us no more than 300 words explaining why you would benefit from a funded place, and how you’ll use the knowledge gained from the course.

Apply by emailing courses@cat.org.uk

Deadline: 5pm GMT Friday 12th August.

Course details

Thursday 8th – Friday 9th September

The next Zero Carbon Britain short course will explore ways we can deliver a climate positive future, while maintaining a modern lifestyle. We also look at how ZCB can be used successfully to inspire positive action, stimulate debate and build consensus in our communities and places of work.

Scholarship entries will be judged by a panel of CAT staff and announced on 17th August on the CAT Facebook page.

By entering, you accept that CAT will post the winner’s first name and surname initial to our Facebook page.

The prize includes all course fees and full board accommodation at CAT.

Good luck!