Strategy offers bright ideas

Imagining a sustainable future and turning ideas into realities is what it's all about. This week will see the launch of the Lismore Sustainability Strategy - a 40-page report that contains the visions of more than 250 local community members who took part in the Lismore Community Sustainability Forum in November 2011. To celebrate the launch, the community is invited to come to the Star Court Theatre in Lismore on Thursday, July 26, to find out more about the report as well as see the screening of In Transition 2.0, the latest film about the transition movement.

According to sustainability forum secretary Derek Mackenzie, the top three community visions for the future that came out of the forum were having a sustainable local food industry, more Art in the Heart and a nimble bus service.

"The top ten ideas distilled out of the forum will be now put on exhibition in the Lismore Library," Mr Mackenzie said.

"We will be handing over the report to Lismore City Council and this will feed into the Imagine Lismore process that is now underway."

With the support of Lismore City Council and the Department of Industry and Investment, the Lismore Community Sustainability Forum group is hoping that the ideas generated in the sustainability strategy will result in some innovative local projects in the future.

"We'd like to see a local energy industry developed where local energy retailers generate and sell power locally," Mr Mackenzie said.

"The communities in Nimbin and Brunswick Heads have also created sustainability strategies. The Nimbin community is already generating solar power after installing 45kw solar systems on buildings and they have just purchased a house they will develop as a sustainable house project. They also have grain mills and food dehydrators; there's so much going on there."

Mr Mackenzie said the principles of sustainability encompass what is known as 'the localisation movement'.

"It's about fostering our local industry to produce local products and making sure that our children have a future," he said.

"The movie In Transition 2.0 is about the transition to localisation where people are re-learning old skills that are necessary to create a low-carbon, low-energy future such as preserving food, making bread ferments and learning basic skills like fixing our own bikes and solar panel maintenance. You'll hear about communities printing their own money, growing food everywhere, localising their economies and setting up community power stations."

The Lismore Community Sustainability Forum has an open forum meeting on the second Wednesday of every month and everyone is invited to take part.

"We also have an embryonic currency group that is looking into creating complementary local currencies to encourage people to spend their money in the local area," Mr Mackenzie said.

"Local dollars work well in times of recession and can be run by local councils and operate out of community banks. The local dollars can't be traded outside of defined areas and usually chain stores won't accept it, but local bread shops and butchers will.

"It's like plugging holes in a leaky bucket and keeping the money in the local community. There are a number of places such as the town of Lewes in England that have successfully launched their own currencies and have increased local business and employment."

The launch of the Lismore Sustainability Strategy begins at 6pm for a 7pm start and food and drink will be available. Entry costs $12, but is free for people who attended last year's sustainability forum. For more information, visit www.lismoresustainability

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