Every street a POWER STATION

by Optimistic Foundation CIC in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

Total raised £81,350

raised so far

742

supporters

What if every street was a people-powered POWER STATION? tackling climate and economic crises and building community resilience and wealth

by Optimistic Foundation CIC in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 23rd January 2024 we'd raised £79,606 with 717 supporters in 120 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

Thank you so much for all your support! The crowdfunder is still open but it is now DONATION ONLY with no rewards available from Feb 1 2024 as we process all existing rewards.


Furious witnessing our fossil-fuelled government granting new oil and gas licenses whilst our world faces devastating floods, fires and soaring living costs? 

Do you want to be part of building an alternative?

Back in 2021 we had the idea of turning our street in London into a renewable POWER STATION installing solar panels and insulating - following the ideas set out by economist Ann Pettifor –  “Every Building a Power Station.” 

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"EVERY STREET A POWER STATION"

We got tired of waiting for action from above so we declared ourselves a sort of mini-government arguing for the rapid deployment of retrofit and renewable energy nationwide and taking steps towards this -  using our street as a microcosmic story.

Watch our Bread & Roses Video Below


We need to take direct action ‘showing and doing’ that we can reclaim our streets and communities for public, planetary good.

Turning a street into a POWER STATION is about more than technology.It is about intervening in the narratives that say there is no alternative. It is the ongoing work of creating a contagious demonstration. Making  a ‘show and do’ model involving street solar, collective retrofit and the ecological, social and cultural work that builds community resilience and wealth and tackles the combined climate and cost of living crises. 

We film and document everything as we go working towards the release of a feature documentary film in 2024. This and an online 'Every street a POWER STATION’ resource share this story and the tools to adapt this on other streets across the nations.

Watch our making of film Bread & Roses film below!


THE ‘EVERY STREET A POWER STATION’ PLAN

We work on our street developing a holistic approach to what a street and neighbourhood can be if it puts care first – free and subsidised solar, community retrofit, food growing and biodiversity action – nurturing our habitat. 

As we grow this here we share this nationally via online resources, film and digital campaign - opening the doors to action on the 50+ other streets who have contacted us wanting to do the same!

With a General Election approaching we hope that, networked with many other community ‘demonstrators’ across the country, POWER STATION is provocation - piercing  public imagination with a sense of possibility and and pushing for policy change.  

This is why we have to keep building and sharing the POWER STATION -  moving from 'our' street to 'every' street and showing the power of communities coming together for a kinder, regenerative world. 

HOW WE GOT HERE:


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OUR STREET A POWER STATION 

We begin on our home street in Walthamstow, North East London and an attempt to turn it into a POWER STATION , starting with rooftop solar panels crowdfunded for by sleeping on the roof.  This street is the locus of a story that reaches out nationally. It is the demonstrator for the ‘every street’ that follows.

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EVERY SCHOOL A POWER STATION

We have crowdfunded solar panels for a local underfunded school via singing a song and are expanding this initiative working with National Cooperative Solar for Schools to share this so that many more schools can become POWER STATIONS in their communities.

WHAT NEXT?


EVERY STREET A POWER STATION

As we build the POWER STATION here we're calling out to and connecting with an ecosystem of potential Power Stations across the country - sharing and building knowledge and stories through film and a digital campaign.

The core of this work is about more than technological infrastructure - it is about reshaping our social and imaginative infrastructure - painting a vivid picture of a just and regenerative world. Our POWER STATION involves growing 1000s of sunflowers, sleeping on rooftops, singing songs and making films, publications and digital resources and a campaign that shares knowledge and action.

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This is why we are bringing the community into the heart of our next steps - going for Christmas No 1 with the song Bread and Roses. This is an invitation to step onto the doorstep and out of the ordinary and sing out with neighbours  - a rallying cry from our street to the next - a song of the rights to sustenance and beauty.


WHAT WE NEED TO FUND TO MAKE ‘EVERY STREET A POWER STATION’ 


This work is built from people power - people here and across the country wanting to make change. We aim to raise a fund of £50,000 towards:

Expanding the POWER STATION here in Walthamstow

Taking climate action and building community resilience and wealth hyper-locally with a layered approach to:

  • Food streets - Bringing people together through community feasts as an invitation to collective action. 
  • Growing streets - establishing community/street growing and harvesting. Building on 2023’s Sundance sunflower festival and collaborations with Organic Lea food co-op. 
  • Solar streets – continuing to install solar and undertake research to tackle equitable energy distribution via community battery and energy club models with a view to a borough-wide POWER STATION.
  • Insulated streets – Developing and actioning a street retrofit methodology with communal learning and surveying sessions, a demonstrator house and a plan for whole street retrofit here on this street in Walthamstow as a practical demonstrator. Collaborating with HEAL and HEET. 
  • Biodiverse streets - exploring the street and wider neighbourhood as a habitat– producing street plant guides and ‘green fronts’ (front garden ecologies).

Each layer of this street action involves intensive collaboration and production. The process, trials and tribulations are documented and resources are gathered and made accessible in order to be shared and built on.  

We consistently use the locus of a street as a storytelling mechanism to connect a local neighbourhood and national community around different entry points to a way of living that brings the ‘bread and roses.’ 

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Expanding ‘Every Street a POWER STATION’ nationally

The knowledge and tools built on the hyper-local level of our street are shared with every street via an online membership platform, print publication and feature documentary film with impact campaign. This reaches out to other streets and communities across the UK and ensures each street has the resources to take action. 

This involves the building of a networked and evolving ecosystem of POWER STATIONS - sharing knowledge and amplifying the existing, flourishing ‘demonstrators’ of regenerative resilient community action across the country through film and digital campaigns. 

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Printing the 'greenbacks' on a public money printing production line in the frontage of a working sub station. 

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The Greenbacks printed on a public production line in n 2022 to fuel the project and featuring collaborating local organisations working for a just present/transition.

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Stories and Supper on the street the solar celebration SUN DANCE.

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 POWER STATION kits for Coppermill Swifts grassroots football team making sports accessible.

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Sunflower seed harvesting on the street with Rod Sazio from Organic Lea.

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More than ever, we need the subversive, radical imagination to share hope and action. We need to make visible, contagious and connected the power already in our communities and on our streets to build regenerative systems of care for people and planet.

We need the bread for the roses to bloom.


With hope and determination Dan, Hilary and the Power Station team

London, October  2023

FAQ'S

I’ve already given to your previous crowdfunders -  why should I give again?

You don’t have to. It is up to you. We really appreciate your support!

The last 2 successful crowdfunders we ran were for very specific infrastructure – the installation of solar panels on this first Power Station street in Walthamstow North East London and the installation of solar panels on the local primary school. The first wave of that street solar installation happened in July 23 and the school has just got its solar panels! For the Power Station to continue and to have the impact we aim for there is a lot of work to do and this takes time and money and a lot of labour and commitment. 

I’m a member of Power paying monthly or yearly

Thank you for supporting the work from the beginning. As you can see there is a lot more to do. You have made this possible.

We know people join for different reasons – to support and see the work happen, to make use of the online resources and take part in community events, to also get some of the artworks and books. If you are a long-term member we’d love offer you the publication in production that is also a reward in this crowdfunder and are working on a way to do this. Do get in touch if you’re interested in any of the other new work we are making as part of this as we’d love to offer you a thank you for all your support. 

Why are you working with solar with all the issues with supply chains and end of life?

An ongoing part of Power Station is collectively demanding accountable and non-exploitative production of solar, at every stage of the supply chain. At every stage in our own process we share the barriers we come up against in trying to reach our goal - working in conversation with other grassroots organisations to collectively rethink pathways to a green transition, that are non-extractive. This is a collective journey and we don’t have the solutions but will do our best to contribute to them. 

Is your work just one big fundraiser?

No. The work is much more than that but obviously needs funds to happen. 

A large part of our own process is rethinking our understanding and relationship to money on a national scale.

No matter how ambitious our fundraising targets are they are a drop in the ocean compared to the massive investments needed to scale up this form of work. The way we run our fundraising campaigns is also the way we share the message of the work and build more connections and community and it is critical to raising awareness around the key argument.

What is the critical argument?

We see the transition to a renewable and sustainable economic and regenerative economy as vital and pressing. We believe that we can do so much better - and at the moment we are an outlier / demonstrator project aimed to encourage much more investment into renewables at state scale. More than that it is about people power - challenging despondency and despair with hope and action. 

Why Bread and Roses?

We have always loved this poem/song and its call for sustenance and beauty. 

Rebecca Solnit’s book Orwell’s Roses highlights the need for beauty and art within the context of the fight for a fairer world. 

The song demands a world of care, beauty and abundance and it articulates something we can't put our fingers on in any other way - let's sing it together.

The back of our’ Greenbacks’ is a pattern made form bramble and roses and as we now gather the seeds of the sunflowers we grew on our street through the spring and summer of 23, we're also planting roses. 

Bare roots all over this country waiting to blossom - and so it is with these Power Stations - let's plant the seeds of rebellion together in whatever way we can. 

Why are you making rewards?

They’re not made as gratuitous rewards. Much of what we offer up is an experiment that helps push the thinking forward. For example the publication is made possible in part by the crowdfunder enabling us to edit and distil ideas and learning from the story so far to share with others in creative ways. The sunflower works are part of artist Hilary Powell’s deep investigation into the sunflower in art, culture and ecology after a season of collective growing. Each artwork we produce involves research and collaboration working with experts in different craft and art techniques and providing employment and skills sharing in a local creative economy.

Why are you working with print and creating more ‘stuff’ in the world? 

Working with materials in a sensitive and sustainable way is not bad. The carbon footprint is most likely significantly less than the digital channels and devices we all use. We consider every process and material we work with carefully. We aim to tread gently but we believe in thinking and learning through making and material experiments and print production are a critical part of our work.

Why have you got both rewards and donations for the same amount?

You will see a list of artworks and artefacts that you can purchase as part of this crowdfunder. We know that everyone has different desires. Some people might simply want to see the work happen and not be interested in the artworks or publication or a t shirt. Other people might desire and value these. So we’ve made the options clearly available. We are now VAT registered which means that 20% of the price of anything physical will go to HMRC. We are very happy if there is demand for these as we want to share this work with those who value it but also give the option for pure donations. There is also a box where you can just type in an amount of your choice. Clearly if you just choose to donate whatever amount suits you, you will not be selecting an item and this will be treated as a donation.

Who are you working with? I thought I was funding the Power Station?

For this to happen we collaborate widely with people working for social/economic/racial/climate justice and this networking and sharing is fundamental to our approach to a just transition. The building of the Power Station needs to be the building of community wealth and connections and make possible the collaborative work of building ecosystems of care. This is a foundational principle of the Power Station. Right now Britain is being offered a choice between either net zero or cost of living crisis and this is a false choice – tackling one involves tackling the other -  working together for a regenerative future. 

Why are you wasting money on a song and all this ‘extra’ stuff?

We do not consider this an ‘extra’ outside of our ‘main’ work.  These forms of collective, joyful action are a critical part of building power together. The very process of making the song in this way strengthens and grows community and connections. As the song says we fight for bread and roses – the sustenance of soul and body, people and planet. 

 This seems like a lot of money – why do you need it all. Surely ‘grassroots’ action can pull things off on smaller budgets?

This actually isn’t a lot of money. It is distributed to enable the seeding of much more action.  There is also a bigger issue of why grassroots action is only considered deserving of small budgets.  Why do many on the ‘left’ and many artists and activists find it impossible to carry on and burn out? The work is under resourced and under-valued– by others but also internally.  There is value in a DIY ethos and attitude but this work has to be both ambitious and sustainable in every way. We believe in and practice fair pay for all and non-exploitative participation.

 Can you break down where all this money goes?

We're targeting an initial £50,000. 

This enables the roll out of next actions of building the POWER STATION on this street -  resourcing action and collaborations with those experiencing first hand and tackling the challenges of intertwined climate and economic crises.

We allocate £30,00 to the street POWER STATION (the grassroots action that form the tools and templates) and £20,000 towards actually creating these tool kits and resources for 'every street a power station'. This is not enough to complete a feature documentary film but gets us towards the edit and in the process hones the methods used both on the ground and online to create the biggest impact. 

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Rewards

This project offered rewards

£60 or more

£60 - Power Station Welcome Pack

Learn all about us by getting hold of our Bank Job Book and DVD, and we will also include a Greenback 10 note in this bundle.

£20 or more

£20 Reward - personal thankyou postcard

When we print our postcards we'll send you a personal thanks!

£20 or more

£20 Donation

This is a simple donation

£50 or more

£50 Reward - 5 x postcards

You'll receive a series of 5 limited edition postcards - unique to this crowdfunder.

£50 or more

£50 Donation

This is a simple donation.

£100 or more

£100 Reward - Just Start Power Stations T-shirt

These T-shirts are cheeky and fun - and will only ever be printed for this crowdfunder. They will all be ethically produced.

£100 or more

£100 - Donation

This is a simple donation.

£200 or more

£200 Reward - The Sun. Power Station publication

We are making a publication that shares the story so far. As a form of manifesto and plan it aims to share knowledge and action and build on our recent work collectively growing and harvesting sunflowers – expect practical toolkits, stories and artwork with contributions from Stories and Supper and more. Supporting the crowdfunder enables this to be produced distilling our work in a way that we can share with each new community we meet.

£200 or more

£200 Reward - donation

This is a simple donation.

£500 or more

£500 - Ancient Sunlight Edition 1 (edition of 20)

One print from an edition of digital prints from original chlorophyll photographic works by Hilary Powell in collaboration with the sunflowers grown this summer.

£500 or more

£500 Donation

This is a simple donation.

£1,000 or more

£1000 - Seeds ('talisman' edition)

limited edition of cast sunflower seed necklace made especially for this crowdfunder. Using the lost wax process. Each seed casting is unique.

£1,000 or more

£1000 pure donation

This is a simple donation.

£5,000 or more

£5000 Oil on Canvas

Limited edition series of large-scale original prints by Hilary Powell in collaboration with the sunflowers grown this summer. Ten originals will be available, each totally unique. You'll also get an Exec Producer credit in our Power Station feature documentary

£120,000 or more

£120,000 Big Bang 2 - Blown Up Van

The van we blew up at the end of our last feature documentary Bank Job and which has hung in the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge is offered here as a sculpture for a private collector. The price includes VAT but excludes Hilary's time coming to hang it, which can be discussed with us directly by emailing [email protected]

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