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Ecodynamic Share Offer in Guardian Money on 4th May

‘Crowdfunding offers alternative to traditional investments’ , writes Rupert Jones as a lead story inThe  Guardian Money on Saturday 4th May

‘Crowdfunding websites offer anyone the chance to be an armchair ‘Dragon’ – from backing a start-up business to supporting a musical..Perhaps you’re looking for something that will give you a better return than a savings account. Maybe you fancy emulating the likes of Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne by becoming “an armchair Dragon” and investing in a fledgling business that you think has the potential to grow. Or perhaps you would like to do something good for your community, such as chipping in a few pounds towards solar panels for your children’s primary school, or to support a vital local amenity……..’

‘Community co-ops

There are always lots of community ventures looking for backers. Over the past couple of years Guardian Money has featured a number of these “community co-operatives”, which typically aim to bring vital amenities back to life, secure the future of valued local businesses or generate renewable energy.

We’ve written about pubs, shops, a housing co-op, a music venue and many others. Often there is an opportunity for people to invest in them by buying shares. Some offer a return in the form of interest while, with others, the rewards are described as social rather than financial. They may not necessarily be listed on a snazzy crowdfunding website but they certainly fit into the model.

Schemes currently seeking finance include Ecodynamic, a community-owned enterprise where profits will be reinvested in renewable energy, biodynamic food and farming as well as providing a “fair rate” of financial return – projected at 3% per annum in years one to three and rising to 5% by year four – for investor members.

The share offer, to finance a wind turbine in Redruth, Cornwall, has been extended until 24 May.’

Share Offer Closing Date now May 24th, 2013

Several people who have just heard about Ecodynamic have asked us to extend the Share Offer deadline, so we have  decided to extend the Offer until 24th May 2013, when it will be closed.

The Share Offer is going successfully, with over £150,000 shares invested and we hope £50,000 to £70,000 more promised. Word is getting around…from the 27th April  Launch at the Sheep Barn  Tablehurst Community Farm.  Ecodynamic Directors will be writing to all members who have invested so far shortly with an update.

Today Rupert Jones  included Ecodynamic and our Share Offer in an article entitled, ‘Crowd pleaser’s time has come’ in The  Guardian Money section on Saturday 4th May.  Ecodynamic was the only community co-op featured.

 

 

Why is our first turbine called after Geoff Watson?

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Geoff Watson PhD was a widely respected pioneer of renewable energy who died in March 2011. We named the Endurance 55KW wind turbine at Croft West ‘Geoff’, because he was an inspiration to both Martin Large and James Mansfield when we met him  in the last year of his life..and an inspiration to many others.  He pioneered renewable energy, helped found the British Wind Association, founded a co-operative, and wrote a book, hopefully to be published soon, on small wind turbines..And much more… Reading his life story and giving thanks for his life, you realise that Ecodynamic wouldn’t  perhaps have happened without the pioneering work of inspired, socially committed, environmental conscious engineers like Geoff.

When Geoff turned up on his small motor bike at The Exchange in Stroud to help a group of us develop a community renewable energy co-op, now called Gloucestershire Community Energy, I was impressed. Here was a Geordie engineer who had worked his way up to a PhD from a Wallsend, Newcastle shipyard and  who worked in the great tradition of engineering pioneers like the Stevenson’s.

Geoff was born in Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in October 1949 marrying Wendy at the age of 21. He followed his father, grandfather and aunt into engineering, and went to work at Swan Hunter Shipyards.  With block release he studied for an engineering degree and rose to development manager. Geoff and Wendy became inspired by the alternative movement and  moved out of the city to begin a new venture in the country.

With a group of friends, Geoff and Wendy started an Educational Charity spreading information on alternative technology, wholefoods and organic agriculture. He became a founder member of the British Wind Energy Association. At that time Wind Energy was regarded as completely ‘off the wall’ and no one took it seriously. But Geoff was a visionary who understood both the potential and the need – and he foresaw a day would come when the oil could run out.

The charity evolved into a worker’s co-operative called the Northumbria Energy Workshop. This co-op marked the beginning of the wind power movement in the North East, and also the beginning of a life dedicated to promoting wind power as a source of energy. Geoff studied for a PhD in the subject, and became a well known advocate and respected professional in this field.

When the Cooperative was set up there were only half a dozen members, but by the time Geoff and Wendy left Northumberland there were about thirty members, wind power was established as a new and exciting field and graduates were coming to work with the co-op.

In 1987, Geoff decided to take on consultancy work. He and Wendy left the cooperative, took their family to the Isle of Man, and started Manx Wind Energy Services. Geoff travelled as far afield as Africa, China, South America and the Falklands to develop and install wind and solar power systems, and train the users to operate and maintain them. In Trinidad, he set up an energy system for a school, and made a board with lights that lit up to show how the system worked – so the children could learn about it. In Zimbabwe, he installed power systems for a remote clinic, so that they could refrigerate medicines and provide light to help the staff in the evenings.

He also developed a system using spare power from diesel-powered grinding mills. Women from the villages around would come to these mills to grind their corn into meal. Geoff found a way of using surplus power from the mills to charge batteries. So now when the women come to the grinding mill to grind their corn, they can get the batteries recharged at the same time. The batteries mean they are able to light their homes after sunset, and that means they and their children can study in the evenings, educate themselves, and improve their lives.

Geoff loved to work in collaboration with others. So his involvement in cooperatives was partly down to principle, and partly down to preference. He would say that he just wanted someone to share the blame. But he was never a bystander. He always made a great contribution to any group – he was always fully involved.

Geoff had many interests and belonged to many clubs in his lifetime. Recently these interests have included the Stroud Canal and the Industrial history and architecture of the area. He was a member of the Stroud Canal Trust and loved taking his turn driving the trip boat. He loved to talk to enthusiasts to share in their knowledge. Despite his life-long quest to find alternatives to oil as an energy source, as an engineer Geoff had a passionate interest in machines. Over the years these included motorbikes, boats, his VW campervan and an off-road four-wheel drive. He even toyed with the idea of buying a canal boat that he and Wendy could live on, though Wendy managed to talk him out of that.

The last in the line was his 1953 Jowett Javelin car, which he bought just before his final illness. He’d been looking forward to tinkering with the car, taking it to shows, and chatting to other enthusiasts. In the event, he was only able to take it for one outing, but he was still thrilled just to have it.

Geoff loved boats and being by the sea. He reckoned he had sea water in his blood. When they lived on the Isle of Man they had a house by the beach and the room with the best view of the sea was his office, where he kept a telescope to watch the ships coming and going.

He was always full of ideas, plans and projects. And he was very good at persuading others to adopt them. Being a modest man, he never wanted to be the centre of attention, but was skilled at influencing the direction of a discussion. Any idea that he wanted to put forward was carefully thought through in advance, with all the advantages and disadvantages. But most importantly, he had immaculate timing – he knew how to pick the best moment to nudge things along in the right direction.

Geoff continued his work in the third world until his first serious illness twelve years ago. After his recovery, he and Wendy wanted a more settled life, so they moved to Stroud to work for Nexgen, a small renewable energy company. During this time Geoff developed masts to test potential sites for wind turbines, and Nexgen still sends these all over the world. After leaving there he continued to work as a consultant and to pass on his knowledge of small wind systems through the Wind Energy Association.

Then in November 2010  Geoff fell ill again, and was told he did not have long to live.  He’d just been invited to write a book on wind power by Earthscan.  With hard work and determination throughout his illness he managed to get the book to the point where it could be passed to a friend to complete.

He was quite accepting of the approach of death. He said he had no regrets – he’d led a meaningful life and enjoyed it. And he knew he’d done the right things. He knew he’d remained true to his beliefs, stuck to his guns.

Geoff was a people person. He cared about people, valued them, and appreciated them. And he loved his family. He was someone who could be depended on. He was clever, wise, and unflappable. He wanted to make the world a better place, and he succeeded.

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Ecodynamic Share Offer Presentation at Tablehurst Community Farm at 12-1pm Saturday April 27th

You are invited to a presentation by Robin Evans and James Mansfield  of the Ecodynamic Share Offer at 12-1pm at Tablehurst Farm, Forest Row, East Grinstead, Sussex RH18 5DP, probably in the Sheep Barn.

Here is the   Invitation in the form of a Ecodynamic Share  Leaflet, updated for the extension of the closing date from 22nd March to the 30th April 2013.

Here is the  PDF of the Invitation

Ecodynamic Leaflet — 28 March 2013 — WEB

Ecodynamic Leaflet — 28 March 2013 — PRINT

 

Revised Ecodynamic Share Prospectus PDF

Here is the slightly revised Ecodynamic Share Prospectus, updated for the extension of the closing date from 22nd March to the 30th April 2013. There will be a presentation by Robin Evans and James Mansfield  of the Share Offer at 12-1pm at Tablehurst Farm, Forest Row, East Grinstead, Sussex RH18 5DP

Here is the full  Share Prospectus PDF

Ecodynamic Prospectus — 28 March 2013 — WEB

Ecodynamic Share Offer Closing Date is now 30th April 2013 : Update

The Ecodynamic Share offer  will now  close on 30th April 2013, and not 22nd March as  originally planned.

 

This is because  we are organising a special Sussex share launch from  12  to 1pm  on Saturday April 27th at Tablehurst Community Farm, Forest Row , East Grinstead, Sussex , in the Sheep Barn or nearby. The cafe and shop serve really good biodynamic food, and the farm is a beautiful visit if you haven’t been there already.

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Robin Evans,  the  chair of Ecodynamic will present the offer and lead a discussion with James Mansfield, so that participants will be able to get the full picture. Robin is also the chair of the Plaw Hatch and Tablehurst Co-op.

So far, the Share offer  has successfully  raised around £210,000, so we need to raise £140,000 more. We are getting more and more enquiries as word gets round.

Here is a picture of the foundations of the Croft West WInd  Turbine, and we hope this will be working by the end of April.

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22 March, not 28th February , is the Closing Date of the Ecodynamic Share Offer

Tony has inquired if the closing date is the 28th February or the 22nd March. The small leaflet stated 22nd February, incorrectly. The closing date is the 22nd March.

So far, we have had investment and promises of around £90,000-£100,000, which is very positive. The Biodynamic Land Trust  (also a community benefit society) will invest up to £100,000 so that makes £200,000.

So we have £150,000 still to raise! Please tell your friends and pas the information on..for which many thanks. And phone Martin up if you have questions…..07765 006829

Ecodynamic Launch at Stroud Brewery-fermenting a local renewable energy revolution!

Fermenting a local community investment revolution

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Ecodynamic Community Benefit Society launched its founding Share Offer at 2pm on Friday 25th January at Stroud Brewery. 25 people attended and several people made significant expressions of interest in investing. Said Greg Pilley of Stroud Brewery, ‘Just as many people invested in the Stroud Brewery startup, so I will invest in Ecodynamic for generating renewable energy and for community reinvestment.’

Jamie Mansfield said that the Offer will enable Ecodynamic to purchase and run a new 55KW Endurance wind turbine near Redruth, Cornwall, and reward investor members with social, environmental and fair financial returns. Any surplus will be reinvested in renewable energy, biodynamic, organic and sustainable food projects.

Why found Ecodynamic ? Faced by the challenges of the current environmental and financial  crises,  Martin Large said people are asking, ‘How can I invest ethically and sustainably? How can I invest directly into projects that I support – rather than into the global financial casino? How can I get a fair return for my savings when banks pay such low interest?  These challenges, not just that ‘the lights may go out’,  led the directors of Ecodynamic to look for  co-operative energy solutions that will help build a low carbon, social economy –  one project at a time.

‘Ecodynamic offers the  potent combination of both investing savings with interest  in a community  project, backed by  the government’s Feed in Tariff ,  and also reinvesting any surplus income  into other community food, energy and land projects,’

The  founding team of directors  has relevant experience of  business, co-ops,  renewable energy, farming,  banking and administration. Ecodynamic is guided  by the seven co-op  principles: voluntary membership, democracy, economic inclusion, independence, education, cooperation and concern for community. The vision is to help create a ‘co-operative turn’ towards a sustainable social economy. So, unlike many private,  for profit renewable energy companies, Ecodynamic will reinvest surpluses in the community.

Ecodynamic is seeking to raise a maximum of £350,000 in the inaugural share offer to finance the Redruth  wind turbine project in Cornwall.  Ecodynamic will be offering shares with a projected annual return of 3% rising to 5% after year three. The project is applying for  EIS status, which if successful will provide income tax payers 30% relief in year one. The share offer opens on 25th January and closes on February 28th 2013.

‘Ecodynamic will enable the biodynamic, organic, low-carbon community to generate renewable energy, and to reinvest the surplus in grassroots projects and land access. This investment will provide environmental and social benefits  with government backed, fair financial returns for member investors while significantly contributing to a co-operative social economy’  Robin Evans, chair, Ecodynamic

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For PDF of Presentation, see: EcodynamicLaunchPresentation_25_1_2013

 

The Real Dirt on Farmer John

Robin Evans recently  met biodynamic farmer John at Emerson College and saw  his film,  ‘The Real Dirt on Farmer John’ which was  very entertaining and informative about CSA’s and biodynamics. Farmer John of Angel Organics wrote that people might be interested in their kickstarter campiagn at  www.kickstartfarmerjohn.com

‘We’re in an all-or-nothing race against the clock to raise enough money in the next 30 days to complete the transition of the dairy barn and corn crib into a glorious meeting spaces, with fire escapes, an interior staircase, emergency lighting and other essentials. These improvements will provide a year-round space for members of the CSA and our thousands of other visitors to Angelic Organics. John  wrote about our campaign and the special  BD day on the farm here: