We are usually very busy with lots of different schools visiting the CAT site for tours and teaching. However, we also manage to put some time aside to get together as a team and both report back on some of the projects we have been involved in and share games and ideas for new activities we could run.
In our last meating, Jo reported back on his trip to Portugal where he ran a session on Zero Carbon Britain with people from the arts industry. Ann told us about a project she has been leading on working with several of the local schools to develop new teaching resources about sustainable buildings for them to use in the classroom. My contribution was to talk about a trip I made to Germany where I also ran a session on Zero Carbon Britain… with a twist.
In Germany I was helping to run a seminar about Climate Change and media campaigning with 27 young people from 9 different countries across Europe. In one of the session I started by talking about Zero Carbon Britain and then, using a big map of Europe, we tried to create a vision of what a Zero Carbon Europe might look like. This was a great activity because by pooling our collective knowledge of the resources that were available in each country we were able to get everyone involved in creating a really positive vision for the future.
It’s all go in site community this Summer… for the last few weekends the cottage area of site has been opened up for visitors to come by and take a look at what is going on. The community at CAT started in 1975 when a group of people disillusioned by modern day living and concerned by what they saw as a looming environmental crisis moved to the abandoned slate quarry that is now known as CAT. Over the years, the hard work and enthusiasm of 1000’s of people has meant that the quarry has transformed into a fertile oasis with abundant flowers, fruits, vegetables and tree’s. Although CAT has expanded and grown there is still a living community here at CAT. It is home to 16 people including three children and three cats ( of the feline variety) who live in a variety of different houses, from renovated old slate cottages to eco-buildings, tried and tested at CAT.
The site community residents aim to put into practice the ethos of CAT through sustainable low impact living. All the houses are very well insulated, water is heated through a combination of wood burners and solar water heaters. Wood also provides heating for the houses. The community aims to reduce it’s carbon footprint by sharing resources such as washing machines etc buying food together and putting into practice sustainable low impact living. As well environmental sustainability the community is also concerned with sustaining ourselves as a community. All the decisions about the community are made through consensus decision making process in which all residents are involved. Regular meals together and work days are also important elements of community life.
As well as the weekend tours this summer, residents of site community are also working on their amazing new kitchen. The building dubbed ‘mini WISE’ as it is in the shadow of the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education is a timber frame, straw bale building with a hemp and lime render on the outside and clay inside. The kitchen is going to provide much needed cooking and eating space for the site community and long and short term volunteers who come and stay at CAT.
“I would thoroughly endorse the value of the learning experiences these pupils benefited from” said Jan Bond, External Subject Expert for Geography at the Welsh Assembly Government after visiting Machynlleth primary school to interview children about the Dyfi Footprint project they had just completed.
The Dyfi Footprint is a joint venture between CAT who work with schools, and Ecodyfi, who work within the local community. An Eco Footprint measures the amount of land that we use to produce the resources that we need, to deal with our waste and sequester our carbon, and tells us that if everyone in the world lived the same lifestyle we do in Wales then we’d need nearly three planets to support us. My work in the school was set to investigate the notion that the wider community can be reached through schools. The project mainly focused on an eight week programme with an enthusiastic year six class, but also included workshops for the school governors, all the teaching staff, the PTA, and members of the Eco Committee and School Council. The Year 6 work began with a planning session with Mr Jones the class teacher – I told him what I wanted to do, and he told me what targets needed to be met in all the core subjects. Incorporating these curriculum needs into the project made sure that it was never an ‘add-on’ – instead it was integrated into the teaching.