Friday, 21 November 2014

Once a Car 

The coming together of an old 5 series BMW and a wooden shed. Once a Car will go some way to explore why a car is more friendly to use than a house. I need some help with the electrics and electronics, money of course would help make it happen much quicker.

A shed with electric windows and a good stereo would be nice but this will go further to ask why my house does not have central locking. 

The story; of Once a Car goes back to 2005 when I set up a hack at Hooke Park to see what was potentially useful in a scrap car. The new ELV regulations were just coming in and BMW had done a lot of the work to start designing cars for disassembly. After 9 years this challenge has still not been grasped so it's time for another push. 

Other blogs talked about some of these projects but this one is a blatant pitch. I hope to excite you enough to get involved.
I’m self employed and earn my income when an idea gets bought, or made, in some way or another. I often need input to make projects fly and always like to pay people a proper fee for it. Occasionally I have to ask for favours, but for the sort of things I'm posting here any investment in time or money could also be paid for with a share in a company and it's IP.
My motivation is as ever predominantly environmental.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Landscape Protection

We have a planning process to protect the landscape from unacceptable buildings and inappropriate developments but it has always surprised me how some things like static caravan holiday parks, PV arrays, large round bales of hay, fields covered with plastic and fleece appear to be outside the system. If you work for an AONB, rely on visitors who value your local landscape or just love our countryside help me find manufacturers to collaborate with, invest in product development or bring your own skills to bear with me on these landscape problems.

Light reflects off plastic covering rows of forage maize in farmer Joe Foot's Dorset fields. He says the plastic was essential to ensure he grows enough food to feed his herd of 750 dairy cows this winter.

Far be it from me to ask for further legislation to stop these temporary eye sores so I am designing some simple alternative products to stop these intrusions on our beautiful landscape. The solutions need not be technically difficult or revolutionary but the big prize of helping tourism, local pride and general wellbeing achievable if we work together. My aim is to make the products self financing and be so logical that National Parks and AONB's will promote their use within their areas.

If you are an expert in agricultural fleece or plastics and would like to help re design these products please get in touch. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

A 'Pitch in' Blog, asking for your help and collaboration.

PV Blinds

I have designed some solar panels, they are incorporated into window blinds as one way to overcome the problem of obtrusive panels on the Whole Project. The most efficient way to develop the design is to prototype some alternatives, measuring the output and exploring their layout and function. I'm presently working on some of the novel features that I believe will be patentable and will use these features to attract manufacturers and investors to this new product niche. This exciting project needs both skill and cash to make it happen but is very commercial and timely. Grant aid can help the first phase but finding the skills and building a team will be key in the coming months.
The landscape impact of PV arrays is becoming significant and for me when added to the use of good agricultural land bring their sustainability into question. Building integration is the best solution to this problem. If this could be combined with buy in from main stream energy consumers significant progress could be made. Availability of appropriate tech in our local B&Q or Jewsons is crucial and is my focus for a solar blind product.

The story: The Whole project is developing disused water storage reservoirs into experimental houses. It's pioneering new ideas to solve real problems faced during the process of developement. This has so far included the public consultation methods during a planning application, waste water treatment on site and now the need for less visually intrusive PV panel as the building is disguised in the landscape. 

To find out about the novel design details I will need you to sign a short NDA confidentiality agreement as I have yet to file the patent applications. We are talking to universities and grant funding consultants and hope to be able to pitch to potential investors including manufacturers and VC's in the spring.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Whole update

I am having to sell the Whole @ Culmstock.

Sad, but it will help push on the R&D that needs more cash to happen. I will reinvest some of the funds in another underground tank allowing the architectural ideas to be explored at a more realistic budget.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


At the beginning of the 1980's I worked in Germany. I was a carpenter and prepared to live in a wooden shed on a building site working 72 hours a week. This for better pay than was available in the UK and was accurately portrayed in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. There was a mix of blokes, yes we were all male, many with other reasons to leave the uk. Often financial trouble from a divorce, occasionally a fear of the law. One thing in common was we were prepared to do what it took to make what we thought could be a better life.

We were on one level warmly welcomed as we were generally more skilled craftsmen and there was a real shortage of tradesmen who would work that hard. Many of the German tradesmen were more interested in management and had not had the experience as they were only passing through a craft on their way to management. A good way to train managers but not the best way to build an experienced team of craftsmen. We were however not as welcomed by the communities we were dropped into. We were accused of stealing their jobs and women by those frightened of change. This in a country planning re unification with massive economic and political upheaval. Some criticism was justified as there was a problem adjusting to the culture especially as drinking all day while working was normal on building sites in those days.

When I hear people frightened by the prospect of economic migrants coming to the UK I do wonder if they realise how we took advantage of this opportunity ourselves. Belonging as we do to an area of free trade that we take full use of. I suspect we will be sending some of our best bankers to help the Romanians in return for their gift of cheap labour. I wonder which will be the most honest trade and which country stands to gain the most.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

You shouldn't have done that…….

Many thanks to George Monbiot and his great 'Spend, Don’t Mendblog. 

In it he refers to a the latest Toys R Us advert in the US promoting the idea that nature is tedious, and plastic thrilling.

It's got me fired up to fight back against this attack from a corporation who has no moral sense. 
How dare they promote their crap at the expense of the natural world! Over the years I have seen many kids get off a coach and run into the woods equally incredulous that they were so lucky they could have all this for free!

We must not let environmental education be seen as boring and we have a duty to promote the joys of nature over plastic trash. I have worked for over 20 years making environmental education more interesting but perhaps I have missed the point; should I even be calling it 'education'? Should I not be going out selling outdoor 'play' instead.

Of course, some may be taken in, their message comes in a medium very well suited to the fun toys promise, so perhaps we need to use their favourite promotional weapons to sell real stuff to kids and parents? Project Wild Thing are showing the way:

I need to refresh my efforts to attract kids and their parents to the natural world refining the ideas in my Jerwood submission compete with the likes of Toys R Us.

One fantastic interface between kids and the great outdoors is the park. The victorians made sure most of us have a local one. It's a less scary taste of a forest or meadow right on our doorsteps.
Some that work particularly well have been brought up to date with natural play features pioneered by Tim Gill.

Unfortunately the funding for many parks have been cut substantially so we need to find new ways to secure their future and make them play their part in a more healthy idea of play.

I'm looking for a local authority parks department who wants to work with a £100,000 budget from NESTA to develop new ways of making parks both sustainable and relevant to young people. 
If you know a council suffering cuts who may be interested in new alternatives do please put them in touch with me.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Heart on Sleeve

For many years my nephew Dale, who works for the Suzuki super bike racing team, has given me last years pit crew clothing. Covered in their sponsors logo’s that change at the end of each racing season, makes the clothes obsolete. When I wear these in my workshop, it's good recycling but at odds with my environmental work. This spawned my idea of proclaiming my own beliefs and preferences in the same way on a new kind of shirt.

I have over the years refined this concept to produce the Heart on Sleeve shirt. Prototyped in an unbleached organic cotton T shirt, they have an embroidered Heart on Sleeve logo on the left sleeve and contact information on the right. This includes a QR code that could link you to a HOS social networking website enabling people to connect with you in the street and find you online if you wish.
The left chest has the things you like, for example a favourite band, local pub or venue and even your preferred supermarket if that's your thing.

On the right are the logo’s of organisations you support from a local charity you are involved with to an international humanitarian aid organisation like Oxfam.

When designing your T shirt on line the cost of having a charities logo would include a donation that you choose. The social networking site verifies your support and keeps you in touch with the organisations and their activities. 

The main benefit of these shirts are their on street presence, giving the opportunity for face to face social networking making connections with others. Having the opportunity to proclaim your support in the real world. You get to control how much information is printed on them and is available on line.
You choose which make of shirt you want and who prints it from a range of approved printers. We will assist not for profit organisations to set up small local printing shops or staff a pop up shop at a festival to give the project a local dimension and appeal to those not interested in the on line features. 

Thank you to Oxfam, Unicef, Virgin Money, Andrew Riddington and others who helped explore this idea.

Either Heart on Sleeve was a silly idea or it's ahead of its time, either way your thoughts are welcome as I'm finding it difficult to let it go and be happy being the only one wearing them.