Category Archives: PEDAL

PEDAL AGM and Creating our Future Now! event

Over 50 loc­al people crammed into the Baptist Church Hall on Thursday 18th June for the PEDAL AGM and Creating our Future Now! event. Many left proudly wear­ing their new hot off the press PEDAL t‑shirts (avail­able from the PEDAL stall at Portobello Organic Market – get yours quick before they sell out!) and abuzz with the infec­tious energy that filled the hall.

PEDAL has had a busy and chal­len­ging year. Looking back to our March 2010 AGM we were intro­du­cing our newly appoin­ted CCF pro­ject work­ers, launch­ing the food and energy pro­jects and frantic­ally look­ing for anoth­er office. And now, only 15 months later we have said good bye to all the work­ers, moved into and out of the Baileyfield office and have just launched the joint com­munity wind tur­bine pro­ject with Greener Leith on the energy­share web­site. Not much time for stand­ing still! Continue read­ing

Portobello’s new must have fashion item!

Home sweet home t-shirtThe new PEDAL t‑shirts have arrived. Home sweet home t-shirt

You may have noticed cer­tain people about town wear­ing a styl­ish look­ing t‑shirt with cryptic lat­ti­tude and lon­git­ude co-ordin­ates and the PEDAL logo.  Have you yet worked out what it all means? (Comments below please) . Continue read­ing

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).


Invitation to PEDAL’s 2011 AGM and ‘Creating the Future Now!’ session

When: 7.30 – 9.30pm, Thursday 16th June 2011

Where: Portobello Baptist Church Hall, 185 Portobello High Street (next to the Portobello Bar).

Despite recent fund­ing dis­ap­point­ments, PEDAL con­tin­ues to go from strength to strength — pro­gress­ing exist­ing pro­jects, ini­ti­at­ing new ones and attract­ing more and more loc­al people. The loss of core fund­ing — and there­fore paid staff and an office — will impact on what we can do in the short term, but PEDAL con­tin­ue to have ambi­tious plans to help Portobello become more sustainable.

Please come along to hear about what we achieved last year, excit­ing pro­jects you can get involved in this year, and what oth­er trans­ition groups around the coun­try have been up to.  This is also an oppor­tun­ity to become a mem­ber of PEDAL.

All wel­come! Continue read­ing

What did PEDAL do last year?

As you may have heard, PEDAL didn’t get fund­ing for the pro­jects we hoped to run this com­ing year, but we thought you’d like to know what we have achieved over the past year!

In an action packed year to 31st March, PEDAL helped Portobello save an estim­ated 175 tonnes CO2e and involved a total of 893 loc­al people in one or more of our six food-related pro­jects, four energy pro­jects, or oth­er activities.

74 people took part in one of ten Dig In Porty! courses we ran. These cov­er­ing top­ics from grow­ing veget­ables (3 courses) to cook­ing with scraps, mak­ing pickles, mak­ing bread, eat­ing sea­son­al pro­duce, prun­ing fruit trees, and mush­room growing.

Portobello Organic Market in Brighton Park has become a reg­u­lar part of Porty life. Five tri­al mar­kets were held selling loc­ally-pro­duced and organ­ic food, drink, arts & crafts, and the mar­ket now set to con­tin­ue into the future as a self-sus­tain­ing enter­prise.  Our cus­tom­er sur­vey showed at least 300 house­holds shop there every month, each buy­ing on aver­age a quarter of that week’s shop­ping from the 34 estab­lished and 16 start-up traders who have had stalls to-date.  27% of cus­tom­ers at the mar­ket have increased the amount of organ­ic pro­duce in their weekly shop, and 77% would like to see more organ­ic and loc­al pro­duce stocked in loc­al shops.

As part of our Insulation Hotspot Campaign, run in part­ner­ship with Energy Saving Scotland advice centre, 297 people com­pleted Home Energy Checks and 30 homes installed loft and/or cav­ity wall insu­la­tion.  A fur­ther 20 house­holds in loc­al tene­ments had home energy advice vis­its and five tene­ments had their shared lofts insu­lated through Portobello Warm Tenements Scheme. We have now pub­lished a book­let giv­ing energy sav­ing advice for res­id­ents of houses both old and new.

By pro­mot­ing Edinburgh Garden Share Scheme loc­ally, PEDAL helped 5 garden own­ers and 7 volun­teer garden­ers get togeth­er to use private gar­dens for grow­ing fruit and veg. They are now cul­tiv­at­ing a total of 327m2 of land.  The scheme was run in part­ner­ship with Care & Repair Edinburgh.

More food could also be grown in future on some of the five viable small sites and/or three lar­ger sites that were iden­ti­fied through Portobello Community Farm feas­ib­il­ity study. A tem­plate com­munity farm busi­ness plan was also pro­duced, and can be adjus­ted for any large-scale site.

291 organ­ic fruit trees have been planted in 82 gar­dens through­out Portobello as part of Fruitful Porty.  This adds to the 90 apples, pears, plums, cher­ries, plus black­cur­rants, goose­ber­ries and a fig tree that are now planted or due to be planted soon at Donkeyfield Community Orchard. We held three fun cel­eb­ra­tions plus monthly work­days at the orch­ard, and 83 school chil­dren have learnt about where fruit comes from, how to grow fruit, and make apple juice.  They have also made ceram­ic labels for the trees at the orch­ard. Once the trees begin to bear fruit, in 2014, Portobello will have 1,944 kg of fruit to use or dis­trib­ute each year!

Our Solar Porty Scheme iden­ti­fied 98 house­holds who were inter­ested in find­ing out wheth­er sol­ar hot water pan­els would work for their home.  Nine house­holds were sur­veyed for their suit­ab­il­ity and 10 more are await­ing sur­veys.  400 people com­pleted Water Efficiency Checks and 20 took part in water sav­ing train­ing delivered by Energy Saving Scotland advice centre.

Our plans for a com­munity owned wind tur­bine hit a big stum­bling block when we found out that the pro­ject couldn’t work at the site we were look­ing at for health and safety reas­ons. However, our new con­sult­ants are explor­ing the poten­tial for a large wind tur­bine at Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works and so far the stud­ies look very prom­ising. This ambi­tious pro­ject will con­tin­ue to devel­op over the com­ing year.

We also gave out 43 Kitchen Canny kits to help people reduce their food waste, held an Energy Fair and a Gardening & Growing Fair (each with over 120 people attend­ing), and gave talks to loc­al schools and churches plus Transition groups in oth­er communities.

We recently sub­mit­ted a fund­ing bid to Heritage Lottery Fund for Portobello, Plot to Plate, a loc­al food her­it­age pro­ject that will be delivered in part­ner­ship with Portobello Heritage Trust. This will identi­fy, record and make avail­able oral his­tory, doc­u­ments and arte­facts relat­ing to food pro­duc­tion and shop­ping in and around Portobello since 1900.

We hope you’ll agree it’s been a busy and pro­duct­ive year for PEDAL, and we will do what we can to pur­sue sus­tain­ab­il­ity pro­jects on behalf of Portobello in 2011-12.

We’d like to give a huge thanks to the staff team and all our volun­teers who put in count­less hours to make the above things happen!

With very best wishes,

All at PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town


Disappointing News

Unfortunately we have just heard that PEDAL’s bid for Climate Challenge Funding for the com­ing year was unsuc­cess­ful. The cur­rent fund­ing ran from last April to the end of March this year, and des­pite this year’s pro­jects meet­ing and exceed­ing tar­gets we were not gran­ted fur­ther funds for April 2011 – March 2012.

It is very dis­ap­point­ing news, as we were hop­ing to build on the suc­cesses of this year and devel­op sev­er­al new pro­jects, but we under­stand the com­pet­i­tion for this round of CCF was very high.

We would like to take this oppor­tun­ity to thank every­one who has con­trib­uted and taken part in our pro­jects this year, and made them such a success.

PEDAL will of course con­tin­ue on a vol­un­tary basis, and aim to carry on devel­op­ing loc­al grow­ing, redu­cing fossil fuel use, low car­bon travel and work­ing towards zero waste.

To work towards a sus­tain­able Portobello we need as many people as pos­sible to get involved, so please get in touch if you have ideas, time and energy to contribute.

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

Portobello Organic Market — March 5th

The Next Portobello Organic Market is this Saturday!

March 5th 10am to 2pm

Brighton Park

Come along and get all your lovely loc­al, organ­ic pro­duce for the week, and maybe sneak in a yummy cup­cake or two!  We also have some new stalls, includ­ing veg­gie snacks and upcycled cloth­ing (that is lovely new cloth­ing made with recycled materials).

Stallholders for March

The sur­vey we did last month showed that at least two thirds of you walked or cycled to the mar­ket, so keep up the good work!  If you drove, maybe you could walk instead and burn off the cup­cake cal­or­ies on the way home?

Response to Portobello High School planning application

Dear PEDAL mem­bers and supporters,

Several people over the last day or so have asked ques­tions about PEDAL’s sub­mis­sion regard­ing the plan­ning applic­a­tion for the pro­posed new school in the park.  All sub­mis­sions are open to the pub­lic, and a copy of the let­ter which PEDAL sent is below.

This response was debated long and hard with­in the Board.  We felt that the energy and trans­port issues were so much part of PEDAL’s core pur­pose that not to com­ment on them would be odd and not in line with our mis­sion. However, we decided not to com­ment on the core issue of the school being built in the park as we were aware that our mem­bers had such diverse views on this mat­ter.  Our sub­mis­sion was not that we were opposed to the school in the park, but that we and our chil­dren deserve bet­ter if we are ever going to move towards a more sus­tain­able future. Continue read­ing

Jobs with PEDAL

PEDAL — Portobello Transition Town is recruit­ing two work­ers to help deliv­er our car­bon reduc­tion initiative.

  1. Low Carbon Living Co-ordin­at­or (£28152 pa, 35 hours per week)
  2. Office Manager (£23,000 pa pro rata, part-time, 21 hours per week)

Both posts are sub­ject to con­firm­a­tion of fund­ing by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and will be time lim­ited until end March 2012.  If our fund­ing bid is suc­cess­ful, the pro­ject will start as soon as pos­sible after April 1st.

If you would like to apply for either job, please down­load the doc­u­ments below:

Please return your com­pleted applic­a­tion form by the clos­ing date of 5pm Monday 14th March by email to or by post to PEDAL, Unit 1A The Stables, 38 Baileyfield Road, Edinburgh EH15 1NA

Please note that we will only be able to con­tact applic­ants whom we short­l­ist for inter­view. Interviews will be held dur­ing the week begin­ning 21st March.

For an inform­al chat about either of these posts please con­tact Tom Black on 0131 258 4483 or or Jane Lewis on 0131 669 5591.