Sun shines on Energy Fair

Big crowds turned out in perfect weather for the Bellingen Energy Fair on Saturday to hear the main speakers Bob Brown and Dick Smith. Photos by Tim Aitken.The 6th Bellingen Energy Festival held at the show ground on Saturday is being hailed as ‘the best so far’ with a record crowd coming to hear Dick Smith, Bob Brown and other inspiring speakers talk about our options to save ‘this blue marble revolving in space’.
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Organisers estimate the crowd peaked at over 4,000 around 1pm when Ellen Sandell and Bob Brown gave their addresses, following Dick Smith, Rose Wright and Dick Clarke earlier in the day.

“It was a wonderful day, really Bellingen at its best. I felt so proud of our community for its passionate, artistic and knowledgeable people, who so generously share their time and skills. I loved seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces all day and the sea of people listening so intently to Bob Brown,” said coordinator Liz McCabe.

Paul Nebauer felt the same way: “Everyone had a terrific day: I was really impressed by the willingness of people to make a contribution, from the Girl Guides at the front gate to Reanne, who kept the bathrooms clean all day: everyone gave their best and it all worked, and most of all everyone had fun, even us stress-heads behind the scenes”.

Commercial exhibitors and community groups alike reported strong interest in their products and ideas: Transition Bellingen and Bellingen Seed Savers emailed that they had their busiest day yet, and have signed up 25 new members; Community Gardens, Bellingen EYE, BelloFoodBox and the Men’s Shed similarly reported strong interest in their activities.

The unifying theme for the day amongst the speakers was that the way we are doing things at the moment is unsustainable, and that we have to find a new way of being if we are going to provide a liveable planet for our grandchildren.

Dick Smith boggled the audience with his graphic illustration of how much energy we all use every day: something like 8 bags of coal for every family, every 24 hours, every day of the year: the resulting amount of C02 is staggering. He highlighted the intermittency problem with renewable energy technology at the moment, particularly Solar, and said that we need to find ways of storing and distributing green energy more efficiently in order to move away from coal.

Bob Brown spoke about the power of people acting out of concern for each other as the catalyst for positive change. In a homespun and powerful speech, he recalled his early years in Bellingen, and some of his history as an environmental activist and Green political leader.

He spoke about the sustainable employment in eco-tourism created by the saving of the Franklin River in 1983: there are now hundreds of jobs in a tough area that would have gained only 32 permanent full-time jobs from the proposed hydro-electric dam.

His underlying message was that technological solutions will be found for the problems of renewable energy, and that the most important catalyst for positive change is the determination to do it, motivated by ‘a little bit of love’.

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