This is what happens when a Creative Community is given an empty building

Freespace is an experiment in civic hacking, inspired in no small part by Burning Man. But it’s attracting the attention of Fortune 500 companies eager to find ways to bring more creativity and innovation into their work spaces and companies.

Everything in the space is donated or foraged: the couches, the desks, the refrigerator, everything inside the refrigerator, the art, the gardening supplies, and even the giant 12th-century Buddha sitting on the second floor, donated by Christian Armstrong, the founder of the Buddha Preservation Foundation.

Freespace is a month-long experiment to cultivate civic hacks. Through the gift of temporary, underutilized physical space, Freespace fosters creativity, community and civic innovation.

Read more here…
Source: FastCompany

2013 Coffs Coast Sustainable Living Festival

Coffs Coast Sustainable Living Festival Logo

The 2013 Coffs Coast Sustainable Living Festival will be an inspirational celebration of all things sustainable. The Festival aims to engage and inspire ways of living more sustainably through a range of engaging and fun activities including performances, stalls, presentations, workshops, open days, food, children’s activities and art. The Festival focuses on all areas of sustainable living including healthy lifestyles, ethical choices, energy saving, backyard biodiversity, local food, water and waste.

Sunday 3rd November to Saturday 9th November 2013

To register your interest in participating in the 2013 Coffs Coast Sustainable Living Festival email

Find out more here..

Grass is Greener for Families in the Country

Easy living: (From left) Erica, Tom and Ed Nutt, Tom and Georgia Maurice, and Will Nutt. Photo: Steve Gosch  Read more:

Country kids are more independent and have a better understanding of the cycle of life and death than their city peers, their parents have told researchers.

The rural families told Edith Cowan University researchers they value the close-knit community of a small town, which rallies around in times of tragedy and disaster. They also thought life was more relaxed, people were less materialistic, and it was easier to make friends in rural areas.

Read more here…
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Social Inclusion by Design


Starfish particularly likes this story on CoDesign because of the both their innovative work on social inclusion and their innovative service-based approach to sustainability (which is very similar to ours!).

CoDesign is a collective of professional architects and designers aiming to generate social change through projects that shape the built environment. They have undertaken 25 projects both here and overseas, some temporary, some permanent.

The process of communities building something together is a powerful aspect of their work. Their strength is in community activation: seeing communities generate ideas and then realising them.

CoDesign also makes people think differently about social enterprise. When people think of social enterprise they usually think of hospitality or goods rather than services.

CoDesign has proved that projects do not have to be big and expensive to achieve significant social progress. A recent project transformed a burnt warehouse in Collingwood into a vibrant community space. It was built under CoDesign’s guidance by volunteers using repurposed materials.

Read more here…
Source: ProBono News

Help Light up Fiji… with Sustainable Solar

Light Up Fiji brings renewable solar light to Fijian homes to replace dirty, dangerous, toxic kerosene lamps. A two light solar system is installed in the home. The Fijian family pay 1/3rd of the cost of the Solar System (about $50.00 Fijian), for each donation of US$86 to cover the balance (with the total system cost being US$129.

The fixed two light system used has been successfully deployed in the islands for many years. They are a trouble free, highly trusted solar system for conditions such as those found in Fiji.

Most Fijian homes on these islands either do not have indoor light at all or use kerosene to light their homes. Kerosene is both dangerous and polluting. 15,000 burns a day reported in the developing world and the Sierra Club recently calculated that the CO2 output from kerosene lanterns was almost equal the total emissions of the United Kingdom.

Read more here…

Starfish has worked with two of the partners involved with Light up Fiji – Judith and Robert Seton – and is proud to support their important work.

Wood Pellet Stoves for Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Wood Pellet Stove ReportStarfish has been working on a sustainable heating initiative as part of Farming the Sun for several years. This initiative is currently focussed in the High Country region of NSW. While there are a wide range of benefits from sustainable heating, the particular need in this instance is to address serious wood smoke pollution issues which are impacting on air quality and public health.

A new Report, “Wood Pellet Stoves for Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Reduction”, has just been released. One of the recommendations from the research is to consider establishing a discounted bulk-buy arrangement for pellet heaters modelled on Starfish’s Farming the Sun initiative.

To quote from the Report: “Domestic space heating in many cold regions of Australia is usually supplied by heaters running on solid wood, gas or electricity. All three fuel sources usually emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. Firewood collection for wood heaters has serious impacts on biodiversity. Wood heaters emit smoke and other gases which cause serious health problems. This research looked at pellet heaters as an alternative home heating option, to see if they could reduce wood smoke pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity impacts, using the Northern Tablelands of NSW as a case study.”

While Starfish is currently focussed on an innovative and energy efficient solar thermal heating and cooling technology, pellet heaters are a further sustainable heating option well worthy of consideration.

Download a free copy of the Report here

Artist Matt Hope adjusts the helmet linked to his air filtration bike in front of the China Central Television (CCTV) building on a hazy day in Beijing, March 26, 2013. Photo: Petar Kujundzic

United Nations ~ Air pollution scourge underestimated, clean energy can help

Air pollution is an underestimated scourge that kills far more people than AIDS and malaria and a shift to cleaner energy could easily halve the toll by 2030, U.N. officials said on Tuesday.

Investments in solar, wind or hydropower would benefit both human health and a drive by almost 200 nations to slow climate change, blamed mainly on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from use of fossil fuels, they said.

A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution. Toxic particles shorten lives by causing diseases such as pneumonia or cancer.

“The problem has been underestimated in the past,” Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of public health and environment, told Reuters.

“If we increase access to clean energy … the health benefits will be enormous. Maybe the health argument was not used enough” in debate on encouraging a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies, she said.

Starfish is working on a number of community-owned clean energy initiatives. The combined economic, health and environmental benefits of this model make it one of the most valuable components for rural sustainability.

Find out more…
Source: PlanetArk