Writing the manual: part #2

by Jez Smith

Remarkably, I’m still living off of the buzz of our Yearly Meeting Gathering, during which Quakers decided to become low carbon sustainable communities. And this is despite setbacks along our way.

Be and queue

Since I last wrote, our landlady has agreed to pay for some measures to increase the insulation in our flat, despite not directly benefitting from them herself. So, it looks like we’ll be able to put in reflective material behind our radiators that are on outward facing walls; add a film layer to our windows to act as an extra level of glazing; and add bespoke fixtures such as draft excluders to our doors and letterbox.

But it isn’t as simple as all that. We priced up the modifications via the B&Q website and sent the list to our landlady and were delighted when she came back agreeing to our request. Then we set a date for doing the improvements, this coming weekend. And finally we tried to the buy the materials. It turns out that despite being advertised on the B&Q website the materials we want aren’t available from their site, nor are they available in any of our local stores!


Somewhere that we’ve made more progress is with imeasure. This is a website run by Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. They give registered users the opportunity to record their energy meter reading every week and present graphs showing the usage. After 3 weeks of entering our gas and electricity meter readings there’s not much to see in our graphs, but we look forward to seeing this develop over the next few months.

As well as the individual records, there’s an opportunity to share your readings with other people in carbon clubs (http://www.imeasure.org.uk/carbonclubs). I’ve set one up called ‘Quakers in Britain’ so if you join we can start to compare how we’re doing. It would be great to see some other Quakers get involved with this.

We got into imeasure after reading about it in a comment by Lin Patterson on my earlier post – thanks Lin!

The spiritual dimension

Next week I’m going to hear Shane Claiborne give a talk. I hope that this will provide me with some spiritual nourishment and keep me inspired on my chosen path.

The Transition movement

Our early foray into our local transition movement didn’t go according to plan. We signed up for communal fruit picking to take place last Saturday afternoon. Alas, late on we discovered that there were only two trees to be picked and one was in the morning and they didn’t need any more helpers for the afternoon. We overcame our disappointment by meeting up with 5 friends (including 3 who live locally) and went fruit picking in our local cemetery.

Bike to work

For ages I’ve been meaning to get myself a bicycle and get cycling to work. As well as being a great boost for my own fitness, it should also save me money in the long run. So last week I went off at lunch with my colleague G to visit bikefix, a shop participating in the scheme. It was great going with G as he knows more about bikes than I do and we got helpful service from the bikefix staff too. We both decided to buy Fahrrad T100s, but mine will be a bigger one than his. We’ve completed the paperwork and now we’re waiting to hear from our human resources colleagues that the purchases are going ahead.

Local Meeting

At my local Quaker meeting, Westminster, there were 2 meetings last week – one was for participants in Yearly Meeting Gathering to share their experience with each other and others from the Meeting and to work out what we take from it. The other was organised by participants in a pre-Yearly Meeting Gathering workshop to take forward environmental issues. Both meetings worked out really well and I hope that more will develop.

Our premises committee has also minuted to begin exploring how our Meeting House will be a part of our becoming a low carbon sustainable community.

World conference

Before the Yearly Meeting Gathering decision and epistle I had been given an open place at the world conference of Friends in Kenya in 2012. I had wondered whether I should give up this place in the light of the Yearly Meeting Gathering minute but I received ministry that God is calling me to go to Kenya and so I must go.


I’m continuing to write about my experience on Nayler and I welcome contributions from anyone else who wishes to write about their experience – I’ve already posted one contribution from Anna Sharman and have put together a page of links. I’m also preparing a podcast that will cover some of these issues too. Nayler podcasts will shortly be available on itunes, so hopefully it will be even easier for more people to hear them. So keep reading, listening and of course commenting and writing.

The letters of the word 'Green' looking like a hedge among a riot of colour

Going green with joy. Photo: Erin_Beth/flickr/CC

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