This year there won’t be the usual “Speaker” - or just staid report-backs. The theme for this AGM – on Sunday afternoon, 27 July - is “Seeding the Future: the Power of Ordinary People (POP!)”, and we are focussing on the younger generation who will be inheriting what we create now.
A short DVD of three extraordinary young girls, who won top prizes in a national competition for their innovative environmental projects in the Knock Knock TV series, will be screened. All three were present at the June National Conservancy Conference in Bronkhorstspruit and their views and attitudes to problems wowed the entire audience. The R6 000 first prize went to one of them, a 15–year-old!
In addition, there will be the “Hennopskop”, a revue of Hennops River Primary School that has earned the girls a place at the Tshwane Youth Arts Festival in the Pretoria State Theatre on 25 August. You can’t miss this – 34 lovely girls doing an “opskop”! A jumping castle will also be there to keep the younger fry occupied during the AGM – so bring the family.
The Horseman’s Haven will display a selection of riding equipment, especially for kids, local schools will be exhibiting and InSynch Technologies will be there with their renewable energy products and advice on “green living and building”. If you have something to display or sell, let us know. You’re welcome.
A very special “Thank You” to Andrew Banks of al Fiume / River Place for making the venue and refreshments available to us. For those who would like to have a leisurely lunch before the AGM, the delightful "Riverside Green Café & Tea Garden" is open for brunches and lunches so you could always have a bite to eat before the meeting.
Please call them directly on (012) 659 0052 for info and to book.
“A French novelist once said: ‘I don’t understand the English and I don’t like them, except when they are dead’. No-one wants to feels this about the speedsters on our roads – but it is tempting!” (Amen!! say all other RNC residents!)
The Oori’s two game guards are uniformed and in action. They have found large numbers of wire snares. Check your fences! (A reminder to all of us in the RNC.)
Funds have been made available to bring in a mate for the Oori’s beloved George, the giraffe. Contacts will be appreciated. (George’s ex was struck by lightning not long ago.)
Tanya Gomes from Doornrandje reports constant theft of fence poles and fencing from their property.
“The last straw was on Sunday, when we were alerted to the fact that the winch and part of the ancient crusher at the old Silver Mine on our property had been stolen and vandalized,” she says.
“The thieves had broken and removed part of the crusher and they keep trying to remove the balance of the crusher! We retrieved a piece of it, which was too heavy for them to load. We then found the winch and part of the crusher at a nearby scrapyard and took it back.
“We have managed to retrieve all the parts of the crusher and winch but we cannot leave them on the site any longer as the criminals will be back. The Silver Mine has a lot of historical value which has now been lost.”
What with steel prices going sky-high, criminals are targeting anything made of metal. The metal railings on the side of the road over the N14 bridge into Hills and Dales are disappearing fast.
Helge Metzner of Hennops is also a desperate man. Over the past few months nearly half a kilometre of electric cable has been ripped up and stolen. “Our transformer was situated 650m from our house, so we applied to Eskom to relocate it closer to the house and we paid their fee,” he says. “Then the transformer was pulled off the pole and stripped.”
The saga carries on. “Eskom said it would take three months to install the new transformer on the existing pole that is now situated approximately 20m from the staff quarters! This merely requires fitting the transformer onto the pole and fitting a meter box for us to connect to. We are still sitting without electricity and without water.”
After a multitude of e-mails, calls and requests for help to the media, to a DA councillor and contacts within Eskom, a contractor finally did the installation – for an “emergency connection”, according to the Clerk of Works. But – “I am now fighting with the Eskom Outages Department, which is taking weeks to do the simple ‘emergency connection’”, says a battle-weary Helge.
More and more people are becoming interested in the fascinating aspects of Rhenosterspruit (and I’m not referring to those who can only see Profits and Bugger the Environment).
The comments we get from local and provincial government officials whom we take each year on a tour of the Conservancy bear testimony to their appreciation of what is still unspoilt.
Scientists from the Geology Department of UNISA have now asked to visit the area, as have members of the Spider Club.
The Tree Society remarked on the “unusual variety of trees”, when they led a walk in the vicinity of Koppie-alleen recently. They found more tree species in a relatively small area of Roodekrans than exist in the entire British Isles!
Members of neighbouring conservancies and from the North West Province stood awestruck when we took them to a vantage point from where they could see the vast stretch of the Conservancy. We certainly live in a “gem of a place”.
Courses in renewable energy, green home design and permaculture, etc.
Alastair and Sonia Armstrong are building a cob house in Hills and Dales. Their “house-in-the-making” featured recently on SABC 3’s HybridLiving programme. Alastair, an engineer, has been sharing his knowledge and expertise in a range of innovative building methods and renewable energy options. Take your pick from the list below.
19 July Green Home design
2 August Basic cob building
9 August Basic renewable energy
6 September Mud/cob Pizza oven construction
13 September Basic straw bale building
4 October Green Home design
11 October Natural plastering & painting
18,19 October Introduction to Permaculture
1 November Advanced natural building
8 November Green Home remodelling
15 November Basic renewable energy.
Venue: Riverbend Farm, Hills and Dales
Duration: One day courses, except for Permaculture, which is two days.
Cost: Ranging from R400 to R450 per day, including lunch and teas
Not content to simply accept Eskom’s hiccups and wait for better days, Jeanette Horn of Hills and Dales decided to join the debate at the recent public hearings arranged by NERSA (National Energy Regulator of SA).
A passionate believer in the potential of green technology, Jeanette got a speaker’s slot at the hearings to present the concept of the Green Tower – just before Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga’s presentation!
“One Green Tower can generate 400 MW of electricity (compared with a Pebble Bed Modular Reactor’s 110MW)”, she says. “South African conditions are ideal for Green Towers, eg the vast areas in the Northern Cape and Namibia have been considered.”
Based on the success of the Solar Chimney which was tested over seven years in Spain, the Green Tower stands 1 500m high and is surrounded by a huge glass-covered greenhouse under which crops can be planted, even in desert conditions. The hot air from the greenhouse causes an updraught in the chimney which drives the turbines generating electricity.
One of the speakers at the June National Conservancy Conference, Dr Chris Brown, Director of the Namibia Nature Foundation, is very interested in the concept and Jeanette has followed up with him, putting him in touch with the German physicist, Wolf-Walter Stinnes, who developed the Green Tower.
The potential contribution of Renewable energy in South Africa (A Project for EarthLife Africa. This report is about 2MB.
In the late ‘90s Rhenosterspruit applied to GDACE for Nature Reserve status but this was not granted. Residents had put in large sums of money to have the area game-fenced and secured but many lost heart when this effort was thwarted. In the meantime, landowners in two smaller areas went ahead and created the Roodekrans Game Reserve and the Oori, in Riverside Estates.
A conservancy – however successful and effective it may be in protecting biodiversity and the character of the area - has no legal status. Conservancies are also still viewed by the Powers-that-be as exclusive, white, elitist enclaves – in spite of the fact that there are township, urban, school and industrial conservancies all over the country, making it possible for citizens to take responsibility for where they live or work. Perceptions are difficult to change.
It is becoming clear that new options need to be investigated and Stewardship and Protected Areas are two routes for consideration. More info on this later…