Friday, 15 October 2010

Blankety Blank

Hello, Gemma here. Yes, again. You wait for a blog entry for ages, then two show up on the same day!

There is something happening at Ashby 2020 HQ, but I'm not at liberty to divulge just yet. Believe me when I say it's harder on me than it is on you, but I promise it's worth it. In the meantime, I'm going to tell you a story about two things that seem not to be connected but are, just very tenuously:
     I am a big fan of the popular American sitcom Friends. I think it's predominantly a generational thing as when I was at secondary school everyone watched it (and what's more, my friends and I all nicknamed each other after the character we had most in common with - I'm Chandler, for the record).
     You're probably wondering what this has to do with sustainability and the truth is... nothing. BUT, something this week reminded me of an episode, so bear with me. One storyline sees two characters (Rachel and Joey) swap favourite books (Little Women and The Shining, respectively), but half way through reading them Joey accidentally reveals a plot spoiler. From this point he begins speaking in code about What Happens Next. It is this element that came to mind yesterday during a meeting with Carl Benfield and Clare Bampton to discuss something HUGE on the horizon for Ashby 2020. Actually, it was on the horizon a month ago, now it's waving at us from the swing set next door.
     But let's briefly go back to my poor analogy. You see, Joey's code merely involves substituting the word 'blank' for others that reveal aspects of the plot ('All blank and no blank, makes blank a blank blank'), and that is how I feel when updating FB, Twitter etc. this week. I can't reveal what the 'blanks' are, but similarly can't not tell you something superb is about to be announced. 
     Thankfully, all will be revealed next week and I'm not alone in struggling not to bounce off the walls - when Carl, Clare and I sat down to discuss the meeting we're having with BLANK about the BLANK this coming Tuesday, it was a sight akin to three Tiggers on Spacehoppers.

Now admittedly, you're not getting many clues here about what's coming to town from this post, suffice to say in retrospect you'll appreciate why I'm oscillating as I type. Something for the whole town, green, and the first of it's kind - history in the making!

The Big Switch Off

Those beady eyed among you will have seen the emails and updates regarding the Big Switch Off promotion Ashby 2020 took part in on Saturday. If you made it to Market Street in Ashby between the hours of 10am and 3pm, you'll have been treated to sights, sounds and smells that Ashby has (probably) never witnessed. Most of the kerfuffle came from a noisy but VERY satisfying Pedal Powered Smoothie Maker [our pièce de résistance] which proved itself to be a valuable aquisition for the day, particularly for attracting younger members of the community. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but a free smoothie was well within everyone's reach! We took short surveys about opinions on 'green' things in Ashby, gave away tea towels and posters, and gave everyone the chance to sign up for something leafy and possibly fruity, as part of the NW Leicestershire Free Tree scheme [you can still sign up for one here].
Special thanks to Joshua Benfield's legs.
The reason Ashby 2020 and NWLDC's Green Footprints team joined forces was to promote the county-wide BSO event taking place throughout this week [11th - 17th October], which you may have figured out is all about switching off those energy zappers that aren't needed. It is easy to dismiss the odd light bulb left on as 'not doing much damage' to our energy consumption and our pockets, but consider the accumulative effect of all those appliances left on stand-by and phone chargers left plugged in around the county and you begin to see why Leicestershire chooses to highlight this bad habit once a year.

Today is Friday 15th October, which means we are in the mid section of BSO week and the likelihood is that your awareness of the energy saving event will have come through wherever it is you spend most of your daylight hours i.e. work or school. There's nothing wrong with that, but how many of us fall back into naughty habits when at home? [You can't see, but I'm raising my hand] Just yesterday I visited the home of an Ashby 2020 'player' and watched  him walk around the house muttering 'big switch off, big switch off' to himself every time he turned off an unnecessary light or socket. I also watched as he left the house to run an errand and missed the light in the room he exited from. He's pretty spun up on this energy saving stuff, so it goes to show nobody's perfect. It isn't easy, I know that and we know that, no one can honestly say otherwise [even those eco angels out there!], but maintaining a sustainable energy supply and cutting down on unnecessary expenses are  two things that can effect our lifestyles in both positive and negative ways.

So what I'm trying to say [in a round-the-houses sort of way] is that when you turn off your desktop at work, switch off that coffee machine and douse the strip lighting, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that the weekend is finally here as you make the final trek to the car [which you're using to Liftshare, obviously ;-) ] or bus stop, and when you reach the sanctuary of your home - don't forget to keep up the good work!

Central Networks are working to monitor the energy consumption before and during the BSO week to measure the effectiveness of being a bit more careful with our gadgets so we'll have a real gauge of how good we've been and how much we can improve. It'll be illuminating.

~ Gemma, Ashby 2020