Blueskin Bay

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, November 24th, 2015 - 28 comments
Categories: Environment, global warming, sustainability - Tags:

blueskin turbine

Blueskin Bay is one of those idyllic places you drive past on State Highway One and think, wow, unspoiled and underdeveloped New Zealand beach that is incredibly pretty, and the tiny number of people within those houses are so, so lucky to have chosen to live there. And the subtext is: maybe I will find a place like that. Maybe some day.

But then, it’s hard. Walk out of whatever comfortable thing you are in. And you keep driving.

It’s on the coast north of Dunedin. In 2006 there was a huge flood in the area, and as a result whole bunches of people realized they could aspire to something.

What this kind of community is, is an alternative to national-level and party politics.
People altering their communities by pulling together their local resources and trying really really hard.
Their main activities are:

  1. Blueskin Wind Cluster;
  2. Climate Change Planning;
  3. Economic Power;
  4. Social and Environmental Good;
  5. Effective Advocacy.

But here’s the really inspiring thing.

Having established their first wind turbine, they are now planning a whole bunch more.

I am sure they have their own internal tensions, and who knows it could all end in tears.
So far it’s proceeding among joy.

Making intentional community work, and then proposing to expand their little unit of aggregated capital into something far bigger?

Inspiring.

28 comments on “Blueskin Bay”

  1. Paul Campbell 1

    Of course they have their internal tensions – wind power is actually quite controversial

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/363928/wind-farm-dissent-vented

    • Ad 1.1

      Never fails to amaze me that you can fill hall full of people trying to stop something, and struggle to fill a phonebooth with people trying to start something new.

      Little hint to Blueskin Bay proponents: never again agree to a meeting format where you stand up the front, the crowd just gets to cross its arms, and there’s no limit on the question time.

      Net time try an Open Day. Trust me.

      • weka 1.1.1

        Good idea about the Open Day. But public meetings are important too. I reckon it’s a good opportunity for them to now answer the questions more fully and put all that up on the website. Open and transparent. The way the ODT covered it is not satisfactory, looks like a he says/she says thing, which is unhelpful.

        • Ad 1.1.1.1

          It’s the oppositional framing that does it. It’s all in the crowd dynamics that you choose to form.

          Open Days are where you get reams of your leadership and your subbie specialists, put a whole bunch of displays out with material to take away, and get coffee and biscuits ready for everyone, and then the punters roll on for a whole day, and it’s all about one-on-one conversations until everyone is satisfied.

          And if a group of protesters builds up outside the door, as sometimes they do, then you get coffee ready for them, and invite them in, and you talk and talk all afternoon until they are exhausted, and agree to differ, and there’s comments from both sides in the media rather than the typical ‘we hate this’ from one side.

          Trust me I’ve done a few.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            Which I assume satisfies the project. I was thinking about the community. It’s a good strategy (write a post on that sometime please!!), I just don’t see why it precludes meetings as well.

            • Ad 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Because that oppositional form is essentially destructive for the community, as well as the proponents. The standard legislative direction is to fight, ending in litigation. Occasionally that’s the only way, but very rarely in my experience.

              Mostly the community and the proponents get to really refine down the sources of the opposition, and in turn for the proponents to offer mitigation to solve it. This strengthens the community and the proponents.

          • Bill 1.1.1.1.2

            Agree. Good idea executed using old fashioned format = bad idea. Shame really.

            I also wonder how much knee jerk opposition is a left-over ripple from the proposal to put mills up in the high country?

    • left for deadshark 1.2

      Paul did you see the ( Birds & Wind Turbines Don’t Mix ) add in last weeks ODT, not sure were you fall on this,but I think its something too be encouraged, any community incentive should be looked at seriously, I know about about some of the land stability , an bird strike issues (don’t mention that cats and other pests) take a large toll.
      Must agree with Ad, lovely spot. I have lived in Waitati, Seacliff and Warrington.

      Might be a bit naff, but “but power to the people” good luck for those that arebacking/supporting this project.

      • Paul Campbell 1.2.1

        I too have lived in Waitati (but not for 30-odd years) – I do have friends who are in that picture, and who are worried about the noise and the birds, they see the power people as part of an outside energy company rather than a local startup (maybe it’s a Waitati vs. Warrington thing?)

        Generally I’m all for wind, and I don’t mind sacrificing a few seagulls – land stability there is a real issue, the Kilmog is a movable feast, reportedly the most expensive stretch of railway to maintain in NZ – but that’s an engineering problem.

        One of the really sad things about the govt selling off the energy companies is the lack of synergy between wind and hydro …. they compete rather than work together …. the Clyde dam has a couple of unused penstocks, they could add a couple more turbines to handle higher peak loads, and let the lake fill when the wind blows and empty it when it doesn’t.

        • left for deadshark 1.2.1.1

          @ Paul….Good points, thats about my time frame to, for living out that way.

          🙂

  2. Interesting Ad. Will continue to look on with interest. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Kiwiri 3

    I am posting this to make this appear in the box to the right.
    For some reason, this post was seen earlier this morning but then disappeared from the homepage when I returned a while ago.

    Rocky: can you look into this while Superman LPrent is away? please?
    Also, there seems to be a problem about picking up comments that people have made. Sometimes, indication that they have commented appear in the box to the right but, on clicking at the specific item, an old page of TS appears.
    And I don’t think this is because the comment is being (re)edited when I am trying to go to comment. I think there is a problem with TS pages refreshing or updating, or something. The page that appears is sometimes only showing comments a good hour behind.

    • r0b 3.1

      I’m having problems with seeing out-dated versions of pages often too. Probably something to do with the multiple layers of caching that go on these days. If a page seems out of date refresh / reload it manually. Let us know if that helps…

    • Bill 3.2

      Been having that problem for weeks on end now. Have adjusted to treat it as a quirk.

      • Kiwiri 3.2.1

        Heh. After my comment below, the ‘reply’ to specific comments are now back.
        Quirkiness, indeed.
        Or chance. Off I go to get an Instant Kiwi.

  4. savenz 4

    +100 – nice post.

  5. Kiwiri 5

    No luck. Again. And the ‘reply’ to specific comments have now disappeared.

  6. Fabulatum 6

    Excellent place for you all!

  7. just saying 7

    Hi Ad,
    This kind of model interests me.
    I don’t think it is anywhere near as ethically neutral as you are implying. Correct me if I’ve got this wrong, but it looks like this is a limited liability company which is owned by the share holders and networks with other private enterprises (mostly if not all other eco-ones from what I can see). It give some donations and the services it provides are useful, but they are privately owned businesses. Which would be fine except the share-holders are financially supported by the council, various charitable trusts and a team of free labour in the form of volunteers. I presume they are manged by some of the paid staff.

    edit here: Forgot to add I assume there is a strategically placed charitable trust in there somewhere>

    I know this is perfectly legal (if my quick perusal is correct), but I find it an exploitative model. It is becoming more and more prevalent.

  8. Ad 8

    JS, at a meeting right now.

    Their site lists and names all their officers, and outlines the structure.

    Heidegger would say that as soon as you conceive any part of the earth (even the wind!) as resource, you are already exploiting the earth.

    For degrees of exploitation, however, this is one of the lightest I’ve seen.

  9. millsy 9

    This model, although not perfect by any means, needs to be rolled out across the country.

    We need a government that empowers communities, not leave them beached on the shore, gasping for air.

    • just saying 9.1

      The very well-to-do know every angle to get money and free labour from every direction – charity, contra-deals, the hope and toil of others less fortunate than themselves, tax and rate-payers, financial support and favours from friends in high places They will get accolades and most of the benefits (not denying there are benefits for the community which is only fair considering what the community has donated without the benefits of actual ownership).

      I know the kind of really hard work that goes into this kind of thing and that there is risk (mitigated, again, by the taxpayer and community via limited liability and, let’s face it, they can all afford to take a big hit and still be very comfortably off). But the point is this kind of thing smacks of preparing the first class lifeboats on the titanic. For themselves as owners. I don’t think this model represents hope for the future, just recognition from the well-off that the shit is about to hit the fan, and suitable preparations for themselves.

      I guess this sounds harsh, I don’t mean it to be. I appreciate the innovation and dedication of these kinds of pioneers. I just wish they were able to put this into this energy and innovation into linking up for the collective well-being. Because life boats for some, ultimately means the ship sinks and the less fortunate drown first.

      • Ad 9.1.1

        Have you tried something like this?

      • Ad 9.1.2

        Probably before you make huge sweeping generalisations about the financial capacity of the people involved in the group, go and ask them. Their accounts are audited. Just get a few facts before you start interviewing your typewriter again.

        As for “first class lifeboats on the Titanic”, you’re going to have to explain why that’s a bad thing.
        You could run a “public network undermined” argument, which would be countered by it being a reasonable response to an almost-fully privatized electricity generator and retailer system.

        You could run a “wait for the Greens-Labour coalition to change everything” line, which would be countered by it having taken nearly a decade to achieve so far.

        You could run a “but it only includes Blueskin Bay people and it should invite the neighbours in” line, which would be countered by the standard point that a line really will be drawn somewhere, or actually nothing starts.

        You could run a “I’ve tried this with people and it doesn’t work” line, and you might get a bit of sympathy, until others tell you how their success worked.

        There’s a bunch of other lines you could have actually run.

        But instead you simply slammed people trying to make something good happen with gross smears without researching them and presuming that they are somehow privileged. If you don’t think what they are doing amounts to collective wellbeing, show us how.

        • just saying 9.1.2.1

          I’m sure there are good people involved. I wasn’t suggesting otherwise. It’s more the model I wanted to talk about than this particular project.

          It’s natural for people to want to protect themselves and their loved ones from the worst of what is to come, and it’s better that private enterprise fosters eco-developments than worse alternatives. But this is a left-wing blog and we discuss topics like the one you have raised here, from a political perspective. It’s not personal.

          As for the first-class lifeboats argument. I wish those with the education, social and finacial capital, the skills, the drive, and the pioneering spirit were more enabled to invest them in linking up with the wider community, in trying to save the whole ship. I’m sure that good people, as these kinds of people often are, do that as well, in different ways. But I feel a real unease about this kind of model, especially presented as a hope for the future. I think there is a tension between personal lifeboats and saving the ship, especially when the wider community is investing in others’ personal lifeboats.

          Most of all, I wish we had systems that fostered truly collective initiatives of this kind, because the system does foster this kind of private enterprise, the community helps in many ways, as I have talked about above.

          Ultimately for me, time will tell. The extent that such projects do link, consult and collaborate with, and respect and share the benefits with the wider community, will be the “proof of the pudding”. I’m really hoping to be pleasantly surprised, and I’m sure in some instances of this model, I will be.

          • Ad 9.1.2.1.1

            At the moment the only groupings that can aggregate people into politics in New Zealand is Parliament, Regional Councils, and local councils.

            You can evaluate pretty quickly whether they are going to generate “lifeboats” for, respectively, the entire country, regions, or cities and regional towns.

            Which leaves three other main organizing principles left in New Zealand: companies, trusts, and cooperatives.

            The proof of the pudding of all of them is there to see for the last century and a half.

            None will be perfect. For example, the West Auckland Licensing Trusts are a beneficial trust that gains income from operating bars, property, and investments. They donate dump trucks of cash into community projects, and have built major projects like the Waitakere Stadium in Henderson. They generally co-fund. You can only help run this show if you are elected.

            Whereas the ASB Trust is a legacy trust, and one is appointed onto that.

            Another is the WECT Trust, which owns 75% of Vector. This distributes its dividends in the form of cheques to everyone in its area. Again, you actually have to stand and get voted on.

            So you choose the model to fit the objectives, not the other way around.

            Now, if you’re wondering why people react when this kind of thing is criticized, it’s because setting this stuff up is hard, getting people to trust each other is hard, and then getting stuff done is really hard. It’s a chunk of your life. But that’s the only way to change a bit of the world for the long term.

            This is in some senses a petty little country. Check out how people feel when one tiny little branch waves a little stick at the big old Labour Party: 320 often bile-flecked comments and still going. Comments on an amazing project borne of straight community goodwill and with clear beneficiaries already going for nearly a decade: 26. If you think the politics of changing the world isn’t personal, your heart’s not in it. It’s personal to the death.

    • millsy 9.2

      Like I said, the model isn’t perfect.

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