Hedben Alternatives

The Alternative Technology Centre (ATC) was set up in July 1999 as an educational charity with the aims of inspiring, informing and enabling people to apply earth-friendly technologies to their lives. We want to make alternative technologies accessible to all - encouraging and empowering people to make gradual changes in their lifestyle by making it exciting, fun and inspirational.

In the first 8 months we have achieved a lot: set up an office and fledgling resource centre; opened The Green Shop selling goods made on-site from recycled materials as well as other earth-friendly products; and published two issues of our quarterly newsletter, The Alternative Times. Most recently, we held the Big Green Weekend. And all this on (half!) a shoestring.

From the beginning, we have had a tremendously supportive response from the local community with volunteers joining various teams. The gardening team is developing a permaculture garden to demonstrate growing food in small spaces - very applicable in this valley, where few of the houses have more than a backyard. We have been donated two other pieces of land close to the Centre for a community garden and a "sculpture" garden. We are also working on proposals to create a wildflower meadow, forest garden, demonstration organic gardens and an environmental education unit on six acres of land, offered to us at a peppercorn rent. Other teams include: a group looking at education issues; a "techies" group which is developing various renewable energy projects (including the restoration of a hydro-electric generator in the valley which we hope will supply the Centre with 5-10kW of clean, green electricity, via the grid); and a "Friends of the ATC" group, which is organizing fund-raising and awareness-raising activities.

We are now setting up a Solar Club to promote the use of solar water heating in the area. Members get training and cut price equipment to help them install their own solar water heating system. We hope to cover an area from Bradford over to the eastern edges of Greater Manchester.

The recent Big Green Week-end (see photos) was a huge success with stalls, displays, children's workshops, green walks (ending up at a straw bale campers barn with compost toilets), local businesses joining in with a "shop local" campaign and a brilliant fundraising "masked ball" with the wonderful Peace Artistes street band. People came from all over to visit, from Wales to Norfolk and Leeds to Lancaster. Next year it will be bigger - make sure you're there!

ATC (01422 842 121)

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(c) Networking Newsletter (April/May 2000)