03 Aug Re-Branded: Enriched Earth, Survey, Causeway Council, Eco-Schools Time capsule and Findhorn Ahoy!
Please fill in our Business Plan marketing survey to help show that the need for this Ecovillage, nay, demand, is there 😉
New Logo Idea
Things with our Ecovillage plans are moving along steadily.
Big news for this blog update is that following a recent consultation meeting with our PR officers and key-stakeholders we have decided to re-brand as Enriched Earth Ecovillage. The new name was developed from a brainstorm during an Aspiring Resident’s meeting at the Europa Hotel in Belfast on 28/5/16. We feel Enriched Earth encapsulates perfectly the mission of the Ecovillage on many levels.
We have completed our first draft of business plan and are now polishing it. One of the key things we wish to include is some primary market research so would ask all of you to please fill in and share our survey. Basically we need to show demand for an ecovillage in NI to help us secure funding.
We are also really pleased that Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (with whom we are in the process of setting up formal affiliation with) have asked us if our Ecovillage can be the location for burying a time-capsule made to celebrate 30 years of Eco-Schools NI which is to be opened in 20 years time. We are very honoured and the capsule will be buried in a central part of our Eco Education Adventure Trail.
On Thursday 23/6/16 we held a meeting with Causeway Coast and Glens Council. The council representatives were very supportive of our project and we are keen on a wide consideration of council areas at this stage while we are still seeking a site.
We have also been in contact with Philip McGowan and his team at the central Planning Policy Division ref the spring review of government PPS21 ‘Development in the Countryside’ (and ‘Renewable Energy’) policy. Philip kindly informed us that “officials are currently analysing all the responses received and will brief the Minister for Infrastructure in due course” and he noted that submissions from Enriched Earth Ecovillage Director John-Paul Patton and our architectural consultant Professor Tom Woolley were being considered as part of the review. We wait with interest to see how the new Minister for Infrastucture Chris Hazzard of Sinn Fein works to adopt a progressive policy in relation to sustainable development. We note from his biography that it was “a passionate hostility to the injustices of rampant capitalism” that inspired him to get into politics and we hope that this will help him see the virtue of the kind of sustainable, environmental enterprise that we are pioneering in the province.
We still have pledges of £200,000 and the plan is that these will be used to buy private shares in Enriched Earth Ecovillage CIC in September 2016. However we really could use having at least £250,000 private investment. So we are still seeking Aspiring Residents who would be willing to invest in the project. The plan is to then seek a £250,000 social enterprise matching loan and then to seek a £500,000 match loan from the lottery (we have spoke with supportive funding officers from both these sources). With £1,000,000 we will be able to buy a site and set up initial infrastructure. Though we will be seeking further grants for development after that point and have a few other funding agencies to apply to.
We have also been offered a potential site in Armagh via DTNI and SIB which has potential but it would be a longer time-frame due to red tape-but its one we are keeping an eye on and an open mind.
We attended two very interesting conferences organised by Northern Ireland Environment Link on funding environmental projects, which were useful and made some more good contacts in the Environmental sector. On 27/6/16 a conference was led by Stephen Pigeon one of the UK’s leading fundraisers and on 13/4/16 we attended the “Seizing New Opportunities: the potential of social investment to finance the environment” which had Dan James (development director at the Eden Project) as keynote speaker. Dan informed us of how they managed to raise over £1,000,000 in four hours via crowdfunding and also how their project has been able to bring in over £23,000,000 in 2013/14 with 858,000 visitors in that year alone and be worth literally billions to the wider local economy since its set up.
We are also currently researching Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland as a case study and intend to visit there for an ‘experience week’ later this year. We again note the potential for prosperity, which this pioneering community represents with it bringing in over £2,000,000 per year. It also has now grown into an incredible 33 organisations and businesses that operate under their Community Association these include projects such as ‘Trees for Life’, which is working to restore the Caledonian forest and Build One, an ecological building company. Inspirational stuff!
We are continuing to work with a core group in Belfast helping to pioneer NI’s first Housing Co-op. This project will involve an urban and rural aspect as a twin approach.
We are also delighted to have been nominated for Social Enterprise NI’s ‘One to Watch Award!’ Fingers crossed for this as would be great for helping raise our profile and with PR.
The new logo and website for rebrand as Enriched Earth Ecovillage is currently being worked on and we have just got the legal paperwork through to formalise the name change.