The Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub’s decision to showcase a series of community events for Science Week has been hailed a success.
PAWSH hosted five events which attracted more than 250 attendees.
“Thee big dividend is that all of the events have inspired follow-up activities,” said Brian Doherty.
Koalas In The Pub on August 10 provided an introduction to the world of koalas and where they’re found in our area.
The pub in question was the Beatty Hotel in East Gresford.
The speakers, John Simpson and Martin Fallding from the National Parks Association, gave locals a run-down on koala habits, scats, skull, mating rituals, and all-important diet.
“A wonderful outcome was discovering how to improve the ecology of our area, with several folk intending to plant some Eucalyptus tereticornis (forest red gum), a koala favourite,” Mr Doherty said.
An immediate follow-on activity looking for signs of koalas in the Upper Allyn area was oversubscribed and a further count is likely to be organised later this year or early in 2019.
On Saturday, August 11 PAWSH and Sustaining the Williams Valley inc hosted the first Community Owned Renewable Energy event (CORE).
“This may prove a game changer in our shire,” said Mr Doherty.
“Three very accomplished speakers introduced many different ways that locals can develop and own renewable energy systems, keep power prices down and stimulate the local economy.
“Many of the outcomes are surprising – solar power for low-income renters, those that don’t own their own home, cost reductions, significant contributions back to the community through local ownership and decision making, education programs for reducing energy use and more.
“Christopher Saunders (from Renew Newcastle) was a lively MC. Jarrah Hicks from the very active Community Power Agency gave an overview of the new CORE sector and the many ownership models.
“Sandi Middleton from Enova Community Energy talked about the North Coast experience with innovative ownership and distribution initiatives. And David Marston from Energise Gloucester energised everyone with his wit and his accounts of what is being achieved in Gloucester.”
An enthusiastic crowd decided to hold a follow-up meeting on Saturday 25 August to continue discussion and start gathering ideas for projects to get CORE rolling in the Dungog shire.
Following on from CORE at the James Theatre was a ‘Best Of’ program from Scinema, the International Science film Festival.
“This year’s superb program ran overtime because one film, Grassroots, was joined by the producer plus agronomists, soil researchers and farmers talking about the use of a fungus inoculant on crop seeds to sequester carbon,” said Mr Doherty.
“This process is still in the development stage but has the potential to both enrich soils and making a significant contribution to combating climate change.
“The buzz in the crowd resulted in the Science Hub arranging for Jeremy Bradley to come back next year to provide an update on work he is doing on soil health and fungi.”
Films continued on Sunday August 12 to celebrate the second anniversary of Dungog’s Boomerang Bags campaign.
Blue the film is making waves for its amazing cinematography, its bleak view and its call to arms to fix our oceans before it’s too late.
“It was heartbreaking to see sea bird chicks on islands in the middle of the ocean dying with stomachs full of plastic, rapidly declining tuna stocks and turtles caught in ghost net fishing lines,” said Mr Doherty.
After the film four scientists and environmentalists spoke about projects and community initiatives trying to address some of these problems including Mitch Burrows’ project to make Newcastle the first plastic free city in Australia.
A group of residents met with Mitch after the screening and discussed the possibility of Dungog joining the Newcastle initiative.
“Stay tuned for a potential campaign for a plastic-free Dungog.