What On Earth Do You Do All Day?
What’s that I spy? A new social enterprise in LAB, focusing on sustainable environmental solutions, and green energy? Don’t mind if we do! Scene Community have blessed us with a lovely new member, and an awareness of an amazing organization. We just couldn’t wait to sit down and find out as much as we could about Sandy, and Scene!
Name: Sandy Robinson
Organization Name: Scene Connect (www.scene.community)
Organization Age: 7, nearly 8 years old:
As someone who knows nothing about you guys, tell me a little about the organization:
Scene started as a small Edinburgh based social enterprise that came from a desire to support community and locally led renewable energy. A lot of investment and subsidies support renewable energy projects and organisations which offer little in terms of local community reinvestment and benefit. We support communities and other local actors to do it themselves and develop their own energy projects which are locally appropriate and offer beneficial sustainable solutions. Communities can then generate their own income to invest in their local area, such as supporting local services and lowering carbon emissions. It’s about sustainability as well as community empowerment – local communities know where funding is needed most.
The second area Scene work in is international off-grid energy solutions, especially in East Africa and India. Over there the focus is on developing products which support the deployment of off-grid energy solutions including solar power and biogas, to provide marginalized people and communities with access to cheap and reliable renewable energy. These are people who rely on things like kerosene for heat and light, which is both expensive and has extremely negative health impacts. You can imagine that if you have kerosene lamps inside it’s going to be smoky, so people are less likely to use them for long periods, and that means kids can’t do their homework late in the evening, families can’t sit around and have dinner together late at night, you know? Providing access to clean, renewable energy removes these problems and can offer huge individual, family and community benefits.
So, what exactly is it that you do all day?
Oh, no, that’s a really hard one because it’s so varied. At the moment I’m working on a State of the Sector report about Community Energy across England, Wales and Northern Ireland alongside our partners Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales. I particularly manage Scene’s research work, including both UK energy and international off-grid energy research. Outside of this, I work across all of our consultancy work, from technical modelling of wind turbines in the Scottish Highlands to mapping off-grid energy in refugee camps in Nepal and Rwanda.
This is obviously something that is close to your heart- what inspires you to do what you do?
Local benefit and local democracy I would say – giving people control at the local level, be it generation and supply of renewable energy or making money for community development. Communities know where to deliver the greatest impacts in their local area. Helping communities gain control of their local resources and the resulting economic benefit is key in delivering these impacts. I think that especially applies internationally, where even small amounts of investment can have enormous impacts on communities who often have very little.
What are your goals, what is it that you want to achieve while you’re here?
I want to develop the research side of Scene’s work and really carve out space for research within the organization. This includes both our research into the importance and impacts of community led energy as well as our work into understanding global energy access and how to deliver impactful projects and products. We also aim to expand Scene’s presence in North West England and Wales through networking, developing ideas and collaborating with like-minded organisations.
Do you feel welcomed? So far so good? How’s Liverpool?
It’s nice actually, really relaxed. I moved nearly a year ago from Scotland, and I find it quite similar to Glasgow really, there’s lots going on. Loads of independents, bars, shops, music, arts, there’s a good scene here. The people are also really friendly.
What drew you to LAB as a space, because you’ve been in Liverpool a while now?
I went to five or six different shared working spaces, and I just felt that working for a social enterprise, Lab fits well with Scene’s background and approach. It’s the right type of people and atmosphere, and everyone is really friendly, so yeah.
There we go, you heard it here first- LAB is much better than working from home! There’s nothing we enjoy more at LAB than a social enterprise that aims to bring power back into communities. Environmental work and green energy is so fundamentally important not only to the UK, but beyond, and it’s always humbling to see how far people can push their social enterprises across the globe. Scene are doing truly inspiring work, and we can’t wait to see how they grow in the North West and beyond!
Want to get involved with LAB.
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