Report from outgoing President, Richard Telford

Outgoing president, Richard Telford

Outgoing president, Richard Telford

Richard presented this report at our AGM on the 16th of August, which includes a selection of our achievements over the past year and the announcement of a Life Membership to Caro Morris.

Thank you for all making the effort to join us tonight, which promises to be fun with food for thought.  My thoughts are also with our treasurer this evening, David Atkinson, who is unable to make it because of a sickness in his family.

The public face of BEAM has increased significantly over the past year. We’ve increased our membership and online presence considerably. Of note, our Facebook community has blossomed – the BEAM Sustainability Network, formed in December by Linda Kennedy has been actively in building networks in the community.

The Cherry Tree Wind Farm Campaign has helped raise our profile in the locality and was the main focus of our activity during the later part of last year.

We had representatives at most of the VCAT hearing days throughout September and October, and submitted a letter to the Chair, pointing to research on wind-farms from public health agencies and academics.

A number of members represented BEAM with Yes 2 Renewables on ‘listening posts’ at markets in the region, set up to help answer questions about the impacts of the wind farm. I also made a number of appearances representing BEAM on WIN News in support of the Wind Farm pointing out some of it’s benefits.

We also worked with with Yes 2 Renewables to put together the Energy Futures Forum in Seymour last November, placing the wind energy issue in a larger context, and attracting around 50 people. It featured speakers on energy use in the home, the impacts of unconventional gas extraction in Victoria, community-owned renewable energy, a wind-farmer and a Councillor with a wind-farm in their Shire.

VCAT finally approved the Cherry Tree Wind Farm, just in time for our Christmas Party in Tallarook and many of us featured in an photo celebrating the victory for a double page spread article in the Age, the image also featured in promotional material for the AGM.

After taking a strong position against Councils decision to reject the application for the wind farm, BEAM coincidentally lost it’s representation on the on the Mitchell Environment Advisory Committee after many years service. There are still BEAM members on board, but they can’t represent our group. This will have an impact on our advocacy role with the shire which has been very strong to date.

The Monument Hill Management Plan was finally adopted by council with many of BEAMs recommendations included.

We’ve maintained a public presence in the community with stalls at the Kilmore and Seymour shows. In Broadford several BEAM members attended the planning workshop for the Community Garden contributing to the development of the overall concept plan.

We’ve supported the FarmBlitz program to help present more workshops on food preserving and related topics across the shire, which are always popular and usually booked-out.

Bulk Food Scheme began with our first group order and has had four orders during the past year, prioritising locally sourced food over organically produced food when appropriate. We’ve now extended the scheme for people outside of BEAM. A special thanks to Cynthia and Caro for all of their hard work.

And on that note I’d like to invite Caro Morris to come forward to accept this Life Membership award that I present on behalf of BEAM in recognition of the extraordinary contribution that she has made to our group over the last 10 years or so… Congratulations and thank you!

I’d also like to thank each of the BEAM committee members for their commitment and support throughout the year.

On a personal note, after 3 years on the committee, I’ve decided to step down and focus my attentions on building community closer to home. I still intend on being involved, as a support for the next Publicity Officer, submitting articles for the website and newsletter and as an active BEAM member.

I’d also like to invite everyone here to visit our home, Abdallah House on the 7th of September for Sustainable House Day, where you can see how we are minimising our impact on the environment by using around a sixth of the electricity of a standard home, growing most of our own fresh food and drinks – we ferment most of them, preserve home grown fruits and fill about one rubbish and one recycle bin of household waste a year.

And to the future… The BEAMing Future Workshop held a couple of weeks ago was well attended with around 40 members participating. This really was a starting point for the next phase of BEAM, and I’d like to gently push each of you – just slightly out of your comfort zone – to get involved in making BEAM the group that you want it to be.

Now over to Peter Lockyer for more about the workshop. Thank you.

Richard Telford,
BEAM President 2013/14

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