Fund Community Energy Campaign

Fund Community EnergyStarfish is a founding member of the Coalition for Community Energy. The Coalition aims to develop a vibrant community energy sector across Australia.

The Coalition’s first initiative is an advocacy campaign calling on the Australian Government to establish a $50 million grant program to support the development stage of community renewable energy projects. This will benefit the various community energy initiatives that Starfish is involved with (see below links for more details).

Experts have estimated, based on HepburnWind, that a Fund of $50 million will support over 75 projects and could leverage over half a billion dollars of investment in community renewable energy.

Please sign the petition to support the Fund here. And like the campaign on Facebook here.

Read more
Fund Community Energy Campaign
Coalition for Community Energy
Farming the Sun
New England Wind
North Coast Energy Forum

Energy Management Basics Training Course

The Energy Management Basics Course will enable business to better manage their energy. The training is practical and interactive. Made available through NISBN, the course is great value for money at just $50 including lunch. It is recommended that 2-3 people from each organisation attend to get the most value for implementation.

Key areas to be covered are:

  • introduction to energy basics, concepts and principles
  • energy management systems and standards
  • reading energy bills and negotiating contracts
  • understanding energy use, data and baseline performance using an online tool
  • developing a business case

The course consists of two half day workshops, on the 29 May and 12 June 2013, in Tamworth. Participants need to attend both days.

Find out more…
Energy Management Basics Course
Starfish is facilitator of NISBN. Find out more here

Work Begins on Wagga Wagga Community Solar Farm

[frame src=”” width=”250″ height=”200″ lightbox=”on” title=”Executive director of Starfish Enterprises Adam Blakester can’t wait to educate Climate Rescue of Wagga (CROW) committee member Jim Rees and chairperson Stephen James about the benefits and running of a community-owned solar power program. Picture: Michael Frogley” align=”right” ]
Starfish has expanded the reach of its Farming the Sun initiative to collaborate with CROW (Climate Rescue of Wagga) to establish a community-owned solar farm.

This could be Australia’s first community solar farm. Australi has two community wind farms ~ HepburnWind and Denmark Community Windfarm ~ and such is the interest across Australia that it will only be a matter of time before we see a mushrooming of community solar farms join them.

The project has been funded by the NSW Government Office of Environment & Heritage to assess the feasibility of establishing a community solar farm. This involves training for CROW in being able to lead the promotion and development of the project as well as assessing interest of prospective Hosts for the solar farm.

Meetings were held with six prospective Hosts and there was unanimous interest in progressing to assess the feasibility of becoming a power purchase and host for a solar farm. These Hosts ranged from a boutique farm-food-tourism operation to several Councils and a hospital.

Read more…
Farming the Sun website
Source: The Daily Advertiser

Starfish Appointed to facilitate Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network

[frame src=”” width=”IMAGE_WIDTH” height=”IMAGE_HEIGHT” lightbox=”on” title=”Armidale Dumaresq Council Property Manager, Andrew Strudwick discusses the gains from energy management with NISBN Steering Committee member and Regional Manager for AusIndustry, Tim Cotter and NISBN Co-Facilitators, Elizabeth Gardiner and Adam Blakester from Starfish Enterprises.” align=”left” ]

Starfish has been appointed to facilitate the delivery of sustainability programs, technical assistance and support for business throughout the Northern Inland region of NSW. This work will be led by Adam Blakester and Liz Gardinder.

The Northern Inland Sustainable Business Network (NISBN) currently has 120 Members. Starfish’s role will be to both support existing members and encourage new members. NISBN provides practical training and technical assistance in areas of energy, water and waste efficiency as well as providing valuable information about business sustainability programs, funding and case studies.

Armidale Dumaresq Council provide a solid example of the benefits of NISBN Membership. Their participation in the Sustainability Advantage Program over the last three years provided energy management results from behavioural and technology changes that turned a 45 percent increase in electricity charges into a 20 percent decrease.

Find Out More

Starfish’s Role

Ten Ideas Driving the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]””Nobody ever comes out and says they are in favor of starving children, or inadequate sanitation, or war and conflict. And yet they persist. So how is it that if no-one is for these things, and everyone is against them, these problems continue?” ~ Ray Suarez[/quote]The 10th Annual Skoll World Forum, brought together several hundred of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs and served as a useful barometer for how the climate of social enterprise is changing.

So 10 years in, what’s the current thinking? What new big idea now dominates the agenda and concerns of the Forum participants? And where do they think this field is going? Here’s their Top Ten Ideas which will drive the future of social entrepreneurship:

  1. It’s about Changing the System
  2. Change is accelerating
  3. To solve our problems, we need more problem-solvers
  4. It starts with young people
  5. Scale through collaboration
  6. Technology is driving creative disruption
  7. Power is moving from the few to the many
  8. The silos are breaking down
  9. Here comes the social intrapreneur
  10. When you pass the torch on, light many fires


Source: Fast Company
Read more here…

Solar Energy’s Quiet Revolution

Adam Blakester | Executive Director, Starfish Enterprises
SOLAR panels are old tech, don’t incite protests and don’t photograph well, but they are quietly helping to change old notions about energy generation.

Last month, Australia recorded its millionth rooftop solar photovoltaic (solar PV) installation.

After a cost free-fall, solar PV has become cheap and ubiquitous at a time when every new power bill seems substantially larger than the last.

Adam Blakester, who has been at the forefront of the Farming the Sun initiative to make solar energy accessible in northern NSW, argues that solar PV is changing the entire energy equation, roof by roof.

“We’ve gone from a situation five years ago where we needed new power stations and better supply infrastructure, to where the regulator is now forecasting that there will be no new power generation capacity needed because people are generating their own power,” Mr Blakester said.

Source: The Land
Read more here…

Come on Inland ~ Fixing the hole in Australia

[frame src=”” width=”650″ height=”IMAGE_HEIGHT” lightbox=”on” title=”Fixing the hole in Australia’s Heartland | Desert Knowledge Australia” align=”left” ]

Fixing the hole in Australia’s Heartland | Desert Knowledge Australia

During Starfish’s work on the Northern Inland Regional Development Plan it became clear just how little attention is given to inland Australia.

It was during this work that the idea of asking Australians to ‘come on inland’ first emerged. There was a clear opportunity for tourism, relocation for business and lifestyle as well as a range of sustainable development opportunities which were unrealised due to this lack of attention to inland Australia.

This idea has now grown, under the leadership of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, into a full blown campaign.‘Come on Inland’ promotes the Northern Inland as a desirable region to relocate business and families. It is an umbrella brand for each of the 13 Local Government Areas to work under and attract further development in their area.Come on Inland

Find out more

Come on Inland
Fixing the hole in Australia’s Heartland | Desert Knowledge Australia

Locally owned businesses can help communities thrive

A new article published by the Institute for Local Self Reliance has found that communities where small, locally owned businesses account for a relatively large share of the economy have stronger social networks, more engaged citizens, and better success solving problems.

“It wasn’t until the 20th century that this tenet of American political thought was fully superseded by the consumer-focused, bigger-is-better ideology that now dominates our economic policy-making. Ironically, the shift happened just as social scientists were furnishing the first bona fide empirical evidence linking economic scale to civic engagement.

Community Friendly Business“In 1946, Walter Goldschmidt, a USDA sociologist, produced a groundbreaking study comparing two farming towns in California that were almost identical in every respect but one: Dinuba’s economy was composed mainly of family farms, while Arvin’s was dominated by large agribusinesses. Goldschmidt found that Dinuba had a richer civic life, with twice the number of community organizations, twice the number of newspapers, and citizens who were much more engaged than those in Arvin. Not surprisingly, Dinuba also had far superior public infrastructure: In both quality and quantity, the town’s schools, parks, sidewalks, paved streets, and garbage services far surpassed those of Arvin.

“At about the same time, two other sociologists, C. Wright Mills and Melville J. Ulmer, were undertaking a similar study of several pairs of manufacturing cities in the Midwest. Their research, conducted on behalf of a congressional committee, found that communities comprised primarily of small, locally owned businesses took much better care of themselves. They beat cities dominated by large, absentee-owned firms on more than 30 measures of well-being, including such things as literacy, acreage of public parks, extent of poverty, and the share of residents who belonged to civic organizations.”

Read more here…

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

Show Your Support ~ BackTrack Classroom & Gallery

offers young people who have lost their way an opportunity to reconnect with their education and training, to become work ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate fully in the community.

BackTrack have recently expanded their Armidale work to include a two-day per week school with real teachers working with real kids toughing it out the best they can in a real world.

In the same space a gallery is also being created. This will display and sell some of the cracking art and welding gear made by young rookies working with talented artist and youth worker Matt Pilkington.

The classroom/gallery in true BackTrack style is a shed ~ hot in summer and likely to be near freezing in winter.

That is unless some urgent funds are secured to upgrade the facility.

If you are willing to vote your support for BackTrack’s newest initiative they will go into the running for a $10,000 grant from Community Mutual Group. This will go a long way to covering the costs for the upgrade… and making a real difference to the lives of many young people finding their way again. BackTrack has a real track record in achieving such results.

To show your support, simply go to the Heart of the Community, join the website site and make your vote for the BackTrack Classroom & Gallery.

Starfish is currently working with BackTrack to expand their work across multiple communities and locations. See here for more details.

More details about BackTrack here