Category Archives: Community

Community Alliance Trust sets up shop

Saturday 9th July saw the launch of the new Green House advice shop in Craigmillar. The Green House helps people save money while help­ing the envir­on­ment, provid­ing a range of advice and activ­it­ies on energy sav­ing, waste reduc­tion, loc­al food and envir­on­ment­ally friendly trans­port. Local MSP Kenny MacAskill atten­ded the launch and cut a green rib­bon to form­ally open the pro­ject and wel­come it to the area.

Anyone can drop in and ask the friendly team of staff and volun­teers for free advice, inform­a­tion about grants for energy-sav­ing improve­ments to the home and courses for learn­ing more. Those liv­ing in the great­er Craigmillar area can also book in a free home vis­it to get more tailored help on sav­ing energy in the home.

Visitors to the shop who com­plete a 10 minute Green House sur­vey will receive a free energy sav­ing gad­get to take home – we now have TV Powerdowns and PC Powerdowns to give away, which can cut between £30 and £40 per year off your elec­tri­city bills.

The advice shop at 64 Niddrie Mains Road, Edinburgh, will be open from now on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon til 4pm, and on Wednesdays from 9 til 1.

The pro­ject is now look­ing for more volun­teers to help out in the advice shop or to help with com­munity out­reach work, and wants to work with loc­al com­munity groups and clubs to help mem­bers save cash and the envir­on­ment – please get in touch to book a talk or dis­cuss ideas for work­ing together.

The Green House pro­ject is fun­ded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and run by the Community Alliance Trust.

For more inform­a­tion see the CAT web­site or Facebook page, or add your­self to the CAT mail­ing list.

Blow me! An urban wind farm

Great piece on the STV news about our pro­posed tur­bine. Also the Evening News has a story on the wind tur­bine plans. (Thanks to all who’ve registered their sup­port on the Energyshare site — we cur­rently have 227 sup­port­ers, and have moved up to 1st place, but we need to stay there, and that aint going to be easy! If you haven’t signed up yet, get on over to The Evening News edit­or­i­al (bot­tom of this page, under the ‘Sick Kids’ lead­er) is also help­fully supportive.

There’s also a fas­cin­at­ing art­icle on loc­al cur­ren­cies by Steve Burgess (with help from Justin and Eva).


Back our Energyshare bid to boost community power

What the proposed wind turbine might look like

Artist’s impres­sion of the pro­posed wind turbine

A unique part­ner­ship between two Edinburgh com­munity groups has been estab­lished to devel­op a com­munity owned wind tur­bine on the coast between Portobello and Leith.

We would really appre­ci­ate it if you, your fam­ily, neigh­bours and friends back our bid by click­ing on the title in the box on the right to reach the web­site, and regis­ter­ing your sup­port for our tur­bine project!

PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town and Greener Leith have joined forces to con­duct detailed feas­ib­il­ity work on a site with­in the Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works. Early sur­veys sug­gest a wind tur­bine on this site has the poten­tial to gen­er­ate enough renew­able energy to sup­ply the annu­al elec­tri­city needs of 300‑1300 house­holds, depend­ing on the size of tur­bine installed. Continue read­ing

Rowporty launches new skiff Sunday 17th April

Please come down to Portobello beach at noon on Sunday 17th April to help Rowporty launch their brand new skiff! It’s been built by loc­als here in Porty for com­munity coastal row­ing as part of the Portobello Skiff Project (aka Rowporty), an off­shoot of the Portobello Sailing and Kayaking Club. Rowporty was set up in response to the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project launched in Anstruther in 2009, a pro­ject designed to bring afford­able, eas­ily con­struc­ted and light­weight boats to com­munit­ies around Scotland for both fun row­ing and ser­i­ous racing, and it already has attrac­ted almost 100 mem­bers from Porty and Joppa.

Rowporty star­ted build­ing this skiff in December 2010, the second that Rowporty has con­struc­ted in the last eight­een months. All the row­ing teams are eager to try her out, and with the increase in num­bers of people tak­ing now, the group can really use this second boat.

The new skiff will be car­ried along the prom from Joppa to Bath Street at noon on Sunday 17th April. There will be a short nam­ing cere­mony, and a present­a­tion by the Royal West Rowing Club of a racing trophy which belonged to one of the ori­gin­al Portobello row­ing clubs, then the new skiff will be launched into the sea, where there will be a few oth­er skiffs wait­ing to greet her.

This is spe­cific­ally a com­munity pro­ject, so costs are paid for by fun­drais­ing. Unlike sail­ing or main­tain­ing your own boat, for example, the only expense in tak­ing part in this club’s pro­jects is yearly mem­ber­ship, and per­haps the pur­chase of the dis­tinct­ive Portobello green ‘Never mind the Rollocks’ t – shirt. You don’t need any row­ing exper­i­ence to join a team. Not all build­ers row and not all row­ers build, and some mem­bers don’t build or row, but every­one is wel­come to come to meet­ings, to arrange for a tri­al trip, to man the infam­ous cake stalls at the Regatta, help with fun­drais­ing, help with main­ten­ance, learn to use the res­cue power boat (nev­er needed, but a neces­sary safety detail) or work on the his­tory and mem­or­ab­il­ia research — or just come along to watch the skiffs out on the water.

Rowporty’s ori­gin­al skiff, ‘Icebreaker’ is a famil­i­ar sight out on the water these days, hav­ing been com­pleted last spring in time for a few months hard row­ing prac­tice, before com­pet­ing in a sea­son of regat­tas. This year’s Portobello Regatta will take place on 30th and 31st July, and will fea­ture skiffs from all over Scotland, from Achiltibue to North Berwick. Some of last year’s com­pet­it­ors have also been build­ing a second skiff so the num­bers of teams tak­ing part this year will be even higher!


Community Growing Spaces Meeting

PEDAL has been offered a num­ber of bits of land to use as com­munity food grow­ing spaces. We now need to work out how we are going to use them – is there a group want­ing to take on each of the spaces? Would people like a train­ing course (we would need to charge for this as we don’t have any more fund­ing) to kick start the process?

Would you like to get involved in devel­op­ing a com­munity farm?

If you think this sounds excit­ing and would like to get involved in any way then please come to a meet­ing on Tuesday 26th April 7.30 – 9.30 at Portobello Community Centre.  If you’re not able to make the meet­ing but are inter­ested in get­ting involved please let me know

Look for­ward to see­ing you there.


Want to be part of Scotland’s first ever online election debate on climate change?

Climate Change Election Debate
Wednesday 13th April, 7.30 – 9pm

The Scottish elec­tions are com­ing up fast.  Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is cam­paign­ing to keep cli­mate change firmly on the polit­ic­al agenda, and we need your support.

We’d love you to take part in the Climate Day Election Debate – a fant­ast­ic oppor­tun­ity to ask your burn­ing ques­tions about cli­mate change to your future politi­cians from the com­fort of your own liv­ing room.

Exactly three weeks today, the event will be broad­cast over the inter­net start­ing at 7.30pm. Tune in online to watch the debate and post your ques­tions by email, Facebook or Twitter, for party spokespeople to answer live.

Your involve­ment will help ensure our future politi­cians under­stand just how import­ant tack­ling cli­mate change is to the people of Scotland.

Don’t miss this unique oppor­tun­ity to make a big difference.

Register your interest and ask your ques­tion today on Facebook or by email.

Find out more about the debate

Gail Wilson
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Co-ordinator

A community building conflict resolution group?

PEDAL’s pur­pose is to sup­port our com­munity to build social, eco­nom­ic and eco­lo­gic­al resi­li­ence. Even if we man­age to estab­lish all the infra­struc­ture needed to ensure our chil­dren are fed and warm when food and fuel prices go through the roof — all the com­munity gar­dens, insu­la­tion and tur­bines in the world aren’t going to be much use if we don’t know how to sort things out and be able to live with each other.

Here are some per­son­al reflec­tions on what we might learn from the com­munity divi­sions gen­er­ated by the pro­pos­al to build a new Portobello High School on the Park.

In 2006 PEDAL made an ini­tial objec­tion to the school being on the park: not because we prefer green space to kids’ edu­ca­tion, but because we didn’t see the need to choose between one and the oth­er. We wanted a new school and wanted the best for our kids, includ­ing being able to con­vert green space to food grow­ing if peak oil makes that necessary.

However, we changed our pos­i­tion to one of neut­ral­ity, as we became aware of just how divis­ive and embit­ter­ing the issue was becom­ing for our com­munity, as well as because (giv­en the way the choice was being framed – a new school on the park or no new school at all) many of our mem­bers were strongly for the new school being on the park and oth­ers strongly against. We didn’t want to be part of a pro­cess that was pit­ting one part of the com­munity against anoth­er. We decided that we would not take a pos­i­tion but would make sug­ges­tions to help improve the school.

We were advised that we needed to frame our sug­ges­tions as objec­tions to be taken ser­i­ously. If that was right, then I believe we made the right call since those com­ments were inten­ded to improve the school and ensure such a big new devel­op­ment can help make Portobello less vul­ner­able rather than more vul­ner­able to fast rising fuel prices. If our under­stand­ing of how we should frame our sug­ges­tions was wrong, then that was a ser­i­ous mis­take. I have sub­sequently sought advice from those involved in plan­ning and the answer is not clear. On the one hand all sub­mis­sions – wheth­er framed as sup­port­ive, neut­ral or an objec­tion – should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion; on the oth­er hand, giv­en the num­ber of com­ments a plan­ning com­mit­tee receives, much great­er con­sid­er­a­tion is (in real­ity, although not in the­ory) giv­en to com­ments framed as objec­tions, since they might lead to per­mis­sion not being granted.

On reflec­tion, the key point for us is less wheth­er we framed our sug­ges­tions in the best pos­sible way, but wheth­er we engaged in the pro­cess con­struct­ively. What has become clear is that Pedal does not need to take a pos­i­tion on divis­ive issues, but needs to engage in com­munity con­sulta­tions in a way that can help build com­munity con­sensus to ensure we get the best for our community.

To be fair, our ori­gin­al 2006 sub­mis­sion was pretty com­pre­hens­ive, pos­it­ive and made sub­stan­tial sug­ges­tions not only in terms of the build­ing but also in terms of the kind of edu­ca­tion our chil­dren need to face the future. Subsequently we have been so over-stretched with all our oth­er pro­jects – from the orch­ard, to the mar­ket, to energy sav­ing and energy gen­er­a­tion to …  — that we just didn’t have the time engage in the school pro­cess.… we have real­ised that in future we should either engage far more fully in poten­tially divis­ive issues or we not engage in them at all.

But how can we best engage con­struct­ively and non-divis­ively in con­ten­tious com­munity issues?

I am head­ing to Kenya to work with six com­munit­ies who are seek­ing to devel­op a ‘com­munity pro­tocol’ that can enable them to present a united response to the threatened build­ing of a huge deep-sea oil ter­min­al. I am hop­ing to learn from them, but mean­while in PEDAL we are aware that we need to con­sult much earli­er and deep­er and to look at issues in the wider con­text of a fast chan­ging world.

How do we do this?

One way would be to pro­act­ively bring togeth­er a small group of people who are inter­ested in con­sensus build­ing, per­haps kick­ing off with people who have not been at the fore­front of the school and park debate, but who are inter­ested in estab­lish­ing a pro­cess that can mod­el for our chil­dren how to resolve dis­putes in a way which treats each oth­er with respect. Anyone interested?

Justin Kenrick — justin AT

United we stand…

Sustainable com­munit­ies work­ing togeth­er towards fin­an­cial independence.

In these tough eco­nom­ic times how do ‘com­munity led’ sus­tain­ab­il­ity pro­jects main­tain momentum? What strategies/income gen­er­at­ing options exist or could be developed, and how can com­munit­ies work togeth­er to increase the effect of what they do?

You are invited to attend a gath­er­ing of act­ive com­munit­ies in Scotland to dis­cuss these ideas and to con­sider some of our options.  Click here to book a place

Date: 5th March 2011
Time: 9.30am (for regis­tra­tion) till 5pm
Venue: Oatridge College, Ecclesmachan, BROXBURN, West Lothian EH52 6NH (click for map)

There will be a free minibus between Linlithgow rail­way sta­tion and the venue


This event is free. You can also get help with travel costs.


Tim Helwig Larsen (author of the Zero Carbon Britain Report) — Energy Bank
Georgy Davis - Community Energy Scotland, Development Officer for SE Scotland
James Hiddinga — Ethica Solutions Scotland Ltd.

A diverse range of speak­ers will high­light some of the ways that com­munit­ies can work togeth­er on income gen­er­at­ing pro­jects. There will be oppor­tun­it­ies to work in depth with the speak­ers and get a real insight into the range of pro­jects they are engaged with. There will also time to talk with people from oth­er com­munit­ies, to share your own thoughts and ideas and hear from others.

Transferring public assets into community control

On the 1st  March between 10.30 and 14.30  the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) will be run­ning a event on trans­fer­ring pub­lic assets into com­munity control.

Greater con­trol of assets such as land, build­ings, or renew­able energy resources can help com­munit­ies become more resi­li­ent and sus­tain­able, increase loc­al use of the assets in ques­tion, safe­guard them for the future, and even gen­er­ate income to sup­port fur­ther loc­al ini­ti­at­ives. Many such assets are under the con­trol of loc­al or cent­ral Government. How can their trans­fer to well-gov­erned and account­able com­munity organ­isa­tions be encour­aged? This is the ques­tion that DTAS Promoting Asset Transfer pro­gramme asks.

This sem­in­ar will:

  • Reflect on some of the early find­ings from DTAS’ Promoting Asset Transfer programme
  • Provide learn­ing from the prac­tic­al exper­i­ence of those involved in asset trans­fer projects
  • Consider future dir­ec­tion of the com­munity asset agenda in Scotland.

If you would like more inform­a­tion on the event or how to book your place, please see the Event Flier.

Castle’ Credit Union

Craigmillar Credit Union now cov­ers the whole of the Craignmillar and Portobello Ward and bey­ond.  The fin­an­cial cooper­at­ive is soon to have a new name – ‘Castle Credit Union’ — and is poised to do fur­ther devel­op­ment work in Portobello to attract even more loc­al mem­bers, as it is about to take on a new full-time mem­ber of staff.  So why not enquire about sav­ing with them today, mak­ing sure you get a com­pet­it­ive rate of interest and your money helps people in the area who are on low incomes? The co-oper­at­ive can help mem­bers who save a little reg­u­larly with to get a very low-cost loan for the essen­tials in life, for example a recon­di­tioned fridge, or a ‘starter pack’ when they take on their own ten­ancy for the first time, or spread­ing the cost of next Christmas.