Zero Net Emissions by 2025

Mount Alexander Sustainability Group News Digest 15 August 2008

Posted on 15 August 2008 by e-news

For more information call 5470 6978

MASG News and Events

The Forum
The Members’ Forum on August 6th was attended by 32 people, including all of the committee except Michael McCartney who was on a well-deserved holiday. Ably chaired by one of our members, Rev Gordon Bannon, the Forum started with a welcome by the secretary Lorna Atkinson and a very brief outline of MASG’s projects, plans and financial situation by Felicity Faris. This was followed by a Q &A session during which members raised a large number of questions related to MASG’s work including our aims and projects, the speed of change, the role of volunteers, challenges being faced by the committee (including overwork) and the imminent appointment of an EO. Most, if not all, people present regarded it as a very useful exchange of ideas. The next Forum will be held in the first week of September. Watch this space for details.

Our Carbon Heroes
The Carbon Heroes banners are moving around town. Drop in to Goodfoods Café, Barkers St, Castlemaine and the MASG office, on the corner of Templeton and Barker St, and see for yourself what people in our community are doing to make a difference through reducing their carbon footprint. Please let MASG know if you would like to display the Carbon Heroes banners in your neighbourhood or organization. Ring 5470 6978 or email:

Focus on Community: MASG has funding for a new and engaging opportunity with a whole community approach to addressing issues of climate change. Focus on Community is holding another workshop designed to explore and develop bottom-up, grassroots community development skills for people in their own communities. This session will be held on Thursday 4th September, 12.45-5pm, at the Anglican Church Hall, corner Forest & Kennedy Sts, Castlemaine, cost $15. The workshop will have a strong focus on social justice and environmental sustainability, and consists of a practical step-by-step guide that describes how to develop creative, engaging and meaningful projects with people from across the community that makes a difference in a social, cultural, economic and environmentally sustainable way. Bookings are essential for this and following workshops so email program facilitator, Deanna Neville on: to reserve your place and for further information.

Volunteers needed! The Low Energy Solar Home Project requires a volunteer for two half days over the next few weeks (to be confirmed). We require someone with good phone skills with an eye for good design to contact potential sponsors for furnishings and fittings for the solar home. You would be working closely with Debbie Taylor and Felicity Faris and will need to be confident to ring sponsors and to be able to follow up. We have a sponsorship package prepared to send to potential sponsors so your role would be to make the contact, send the relevant information via email or fax and then follow them up in one week’s time. Interested??
Please contact Fran ASAP on 5470 6978 or 0407 822 723

Greenpower Scam?
In response to our call in last week’s e news, several members have contacted us to complain about not being able to get 100% Greenpower. In each case, they asked for 100% but eventually found they were on only 20%. Only when they switch away from a certain major retailer do they manage to get 100%. This is just not good enough. If there are any more members out there who have experienced similar problems please let us know by emailing MASG believes strongly in Greenpower – there’s just a small problem of ensuring we get what we ask for.

Festival of the Wheel (FOW) Need to Book early! Details of the FOW are now on our website: It’s going to be a great weekend in Castlemaine, with seven rides on the Saturday (from 9 to 92km), Cycling’s Big Night Out at the Theatre Royal on the Saturday night, fun Duathlons on the Sunday morning and a huge Family Day in the Botanical Gardens on the Sunday afternoon. You will see that there are rewards for Early Bird entries, including being in a draw for a quality bike and other prizes. Also, if you’d like to ride out to Maldon and come back on the steam train, you need to book early as there are only 260 seats available on the train. In fact if you book really early and are one of the first 40 entrants for the steam train return, you can travel in the De Luxe Tambo carriage at no extra charge.

Volunteer profile – a new weekly item in E News! Christine Henderson has recently started to work in the office assisting Jill for a half day per week. Christine has a PhD in Astrophysics and taught science and maths in secondary schools for many years (when she wasn’t performing in the Henderson family’s Bong Bong Hat Band!). In 2001 she moved into private industry with Video Education Australasia in Bendigo where she still works in an executive role 4 days per week. Welcome to MASG Christine. We look forward to using many of your skills, though we’re not sure about the astrophysics at this stage.

Schools sign on to cool climate change MASG, in partnership with the Bendigo Sustainability Group are getting local schools involved in raising awareness of climate change.
Hundreds of local students in the Bendigo and Mount Alexander area, from 9 schools, will be standing out in the cold this Wednesday, August 20th, as they say it’s time to cool climate change. They will be creating signs representing key messages they want to send to their communities relating to climate change within the theme: “Signs of Change: Creating a Better Future”. Students, parents and teachers will form a sign made up of their own bodies in the participating school grounds which will then be photographed from the air. The resulting photos will then be used to urge our community and its leaders to take real action on climate change. The schools in our region will be joining with others across the state on Wednesday August 20th to highlight how this issue affects everyone in the city, country, coast or bush. The signs are also a way to enable young people feel like they can make a difference. If you want donate a few hours on the day to help a school with their sign or a few dollars to see this project fly please contact Dean on or 54706978

Slow Transport Forum – ‘a community consultation and conversation’. MASG’s Transport Working Group is organizing a community based Forum to discuss and consult on this issue as concerns the Mt Alexander Shire and associated wider region. We want to: hear what all community members have to say; hear from invited speakers as to what is being planned for or proposed by a wide number of organisations and provide a space for you to contribute to a transport VISION. When? Thursday 4th September, 6:30-9:30 pm Castlemaine Town Hall. RSVP (for org & catering purposes) before 1st Sept – contact Jill Gibson (03) 54723098, M: 0409404791or email

‘The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil’ This inspiring film may have some prudent lessons for all communities as we face a time of uncertainty and possible drastic changes to how we live. There is a limit of 40 seats and the film will start at 7:45pm on Thursday 21st August at the Maldon Grand Hotel. To book, ring Wendy French on 5475 1067

Events organized by other organizations

A National Local government Conference, 20-21st August on Strategic Transport Planning, Spring St Conference Centre, 1 Spring St, Melbourne. For further info see or ring 9667 5525.

Future Scenarios and Solutions with David Holmgren, Friday 22nd August 2008 8:30am – 6pm, $100 Full $90 Concession/CERES members, with David Holmgren and Su Dennett at CERES Multi Cultural Classroom. A one day workshop, Future Scenarios and Solutions, using current work by David Holmgren, on planning for Peak Oil and Climate Change targeted at professionals, planners and decision makers in government and the private sector. To make a booking please contact Ceres on 9387 2609.

Come and join Prof. Stuart Hill for afternoon tea and an inspiring presentation about: “10 common mistakes to avoid, & needs to meet, when seeking to create a better world”. Recently retired from his role Chairing Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney, Stuart Hill is an internationally recognised scientist, thinker, writer and mentor who has been working at the forefront of social change and human wellbeing for over 30 years. A passionate instigator of lateral thinking and holistic problem-solving, his background includes chemical engineering, ecology, soil biology,entomology,agriculture,psychotherapy, education, policy development and international development. Join us on Sunday August 31st, 2-4pm at the Uniting church Hall on Lyttleton St., Castlemaine. Gold coin entry with light refreshments. For more information contact Jane Knight on Ph: 5348 1855 or Janet Phillips on Ph: 0400 050 399

Free Sustainability Focussed Courses at Castlemaine Continuing Education
Templeton Street, Castlemaine. Bookings Phone: 5472 3299
1.Enviro Badges Get your enviro-slogans out there with badge queen, Barb Sparks-Henderson. Make three badges for free and a small fee per badge after that. When: Saturday 30th August 2-5pm
2.The Super Sustainability Side Show Series
Phil Hansen will facilitate 3 intrinsically linked sessions that explore
some of the foundations for sustainable living. Phil is a landscape designer and sustainable land-use consultant.
Session 1 Responsible Landscaping Saturday 6th September 2-5pm
Session 2 The Alchemy of Composting Saturday 13th September 2-5pm.
Session 3 Permaculture Basics Saturday 20th September 2-5pm.

Footprints to creating a sustainable small business Mount Alexander Shire Council is sponsoring FREE workshops for small producers and artisans working in the shire, to improve the sustainability of their business.
Places are still available for individual sessions, which offer practical activities, tools, inspiration and advice for developing action plans to sustain yourself, your business and your planet.
Sunday August 24th 10-1pm: Energy management
Sunday August 31st 10-1pm: Alternative energy, carbon offsets and greenpower.
Sunday September 21st 10-1pm: Packaging, waste and transport
Sunday October 12th 10-1pm: Marketing your greener brand.
For more information and bookings please contact Jane knight on ph: 5348 1855 or email: OR Gabrielle Brauer at Castlemaine Continuing Ed. 5472 3299 or email:

Box Iron Bark Ecology course, Nagambie 13-17th October 2008. Brings together leading researchers and experts to share up to date knowledge and thinking about this landscape in change. For further information email:

Climate Change protest“We call for a national week of protests across Australia at the Spring Equinox, in the week beginning September 21. This week of action can highlight the summer melt of the Arctic ice and other worrying signs that demand urgent measures to de-carbonise the economy from state and Federal
governments. We ask climate change campaign groups and networks and all environmentally concerned organisations across Australia to work together for a co-ordinated and effective week of public protest around these themes”. Call issued by the organising committee for the July 5 link:
Climate Emergency Network General Meeting
Saturday 13th September 1.15 to 5pm
Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC Further information:

Picnic at Muckleford , Steam and Wheels, Muckleford Railway Station, Saturday 6th September 2008, Father’s Day Weekend, 10am to 5pm. Working steam and diesel trains, rides available
Local Wines Food, Produce and Crafts, Live Music Program. Children’s Entertainment. Children admitted free.
Enquiries –, George Young 54752442

Interesting Information and Links

Economic Benefits of Cycling Issue Sheet
The Cycling Promotion Fund has developed a resource that outlines the
significant economic savings to government and the economy from current and future participation in cycling. Follow this link to download the resource.

Big Solar on the boil at last! Australia could house 34 solar thermal power stations by 2020, according to the engineering company, WorleyParsons, which plans to build the world’s largest solar thermal power plant by 2011. Spokesperson Peter Meurs said the company was undertaking a study, funded by resources giants, including BHP Billiton, to find potential sites for its first 250-megawatt solar thermal power station, theoretically enough to power 100,000 houses. Mr Meurs said the company wanted to deliver 40% of Australia’s renewable energy needs via solar thermal power by 2020. Solar thermal energy harnesses solar energy to heat oil or water to produce steam, which is then converted into electricity. It differs from solar photovoltaics, the technology being used by Solar Systems for its $420 million, 154-megawatt power station near Mildura, which uses solar radiation to generate electricity directly. “The desert-type conditions, almost no cloud cover and a large amount of solar radiation make a strong case for solar in Australia,” he said.
The Age, August 13, 2008

Renewables to power Europe
1. £37bn plan to power EU with the Saharan sun
Vast farms of solar panels in the Sahara could provide clean electricity for the whole of Europe, according to EU scientists working on a plan to pool the region’s renewable energy. Harnessing the power of the desert sun is at the centre of an ambitious scheme to build a €45bn (£35.7bn) European supergrid that would allow countries across the continent to share electricity from abundant green sources such as wind energy in the UK and Denmark, and geothermal energy from Iceland and Italy. The idea is gaining political support in Europe, with Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, recently backing the north African solar plan. More details .
2. Wind Energy Could Provide 28% of EU Electricity by 2030
Brussels, Belgium []. In its’ newly released Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), the European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind) a new vision in which more than a quarter of the EU’s electricity could be provided by wind in 2030. According to the SRA, wind energy could cover 12-14% of the EU’s electricity consumption by 2020, with a total installed capacity of 180 gigawatts (GW). This could increase to 22-28% of consumption and 300 GW by 2030. Here is a copy of the report.

Mentoring for young activists available
Promoting Democracy, Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability
SEARCH is initiating a new and exciting program – a mentoring program, which is a component of our InspirActivism – youth activist training program. The program is an opportunity for young 16-30 years old activists to share and learn from ‘veteran’activists, who have had significant experience in campaigning, to help them become more effective social change activists. Applicants should be currently active on social/ political/environmental issues or at least have an interest in becoming active. They should be keen to develop their campaigning skills and knowledge and to work with a mentor on becoming a more effective agent of social change. To apply go to or contact Celine Massa Level 3, 110 Kippax St, Surry Hills, 2010 Ph: 02 9211 4164 or

Veg Futures Australia’s national vegetation conference – 20- 23rd October 2008, Toowoomba Queensland.
Vegetation Management, Biodiversity & Climate Change, Regional Perspectives, Continental Scale Restoration, Practical Solutions, Carbon Markets, Research Presented by Greening Australia and Land & Water Australia. or email:

Sustainable Living foundation is going to run a film fundraiser on the 20th of August with a movie called the Garbage Warrior. This film is really inspiring.

Garnaut report are downloadable section by section at this website;

Green tips:

Note that last week the final sentence should have said: ‘However, don’t cover north facing windows during the day.’ Thanks to those members who pointed this out!

Hot air rises to the ceiling, so you may end up with cold feet. If you have one, a ceiling fan at low speed may help circulate the hot air more evenly throughout the room, particularly if you have high ceilings.

Quote of the week:

If civilisation is to survive, this century will have to be a time of dramatic transformation, not just in technological capacity but also in our approach to the natural world – and each other. The road we are travelling now can only end in disaster.– Prof Ian Lowe in A Big Fix – Radical Solutions for Australia’s Environmental Crisis, Black Inc 2005.

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