Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Forum on Fuel, Finance and the Future of South Gippsland

Our forum was well attended, with twenty-five coming along in total. After Lloyd presented a lecture on Peak Oil and the current financial crisis, we had a short break and then resumed to discuss where we should go from here. The proceedings were recorded by Nick Franklin from ABC Radio Nationals 'Radio Eye' for incorporation in a program for broadcast later in the year.

Many ideas were batted around during the discussion, with Joe Pinzone talking about the way he had restructured his fishing business to make it more financially sustainable, using less fuel and less capital intensive equipment. He also pointed to the revival of the co-operative system as a possible model to use where business people with a community of interests could carry out joint activities such as transport of goods to market.

Peter felt that Lloyd's rather gloomy outlook for future economic prospects was unjustified, and he was confident that technological solutions would be found on due course for the fossil fuel dilemma.

It was generally agreed that re-localisation was something to be aimed for, where goods and services currently provided by suppliers from outside the district which may be vulnerable to interruption as the fuel and financial crisis develops are replaced where possible through local suppliers.

Wendy brought up the possibility of setting up a LETS type barter scheme or local currency, and that local food production on a more intensive scale for local consumption could become important part of community self-reliance.

Janine mentioned the plastic bag problem and there was a discussion about ways to reduce plastic bag usage. Ross and Fiona told us about the recycling systems they had seen in Europe and Tiare told us about the retailers in Melbourne who no longer supply plastic bags. Linda saw this as an excellent opportunity for Foster to re-brand itself as a clean green town. Peter and Jan Fell mentioned the possibility of getting funds to assist us to set this up through Philip Milbourne from the State government.

Bryan told us about similar action groups in other towns, and will help us make contact with them to save us having to re-invent the wheel. He thinks it may be possible to get people from these groups to come and address us.

We discussed whether the business of the group might be better carried out by an existing group such as the Foster Community Association. We have decided to continue as a separate group for the time being. Those with memberships of another group can liaise between the two.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday the 11th of November from 6pm onwards, at the Manna Community Garden behind the Community House. It would be great if each of us can tell other people who may be able to contribute to the discussion about this next meeting. Bring them along. And don't forget to bring something to eat!

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