ActiveEnergy is a project promoting citizen-led innovation led by artist Loraine Leeson in collaboration with The Geezers, a group of senior men in Bow East London, and engineer Toby Borland. Also supporting the project at different times have been social scientist Ann Light, ex-rocket scientist Stephen Dodds and SPACE Studios, who commissioned Active Energy.
The project is being realised through a participatory arts process that facilitates technological expertise in the creation and application of prototype renewable energy devices, which are used as a means of disseminating knowledge at community level while influencing wider practice and policy.
GeezerPower from Loraine Leeson on Vimeo. Camerawork © Jim Prevett, SPACE 2007.
Work so far by this group has involved a practical proposal for installing tidal turbines at the Thames Barrier. Also a renewable energy project at a local school, a wind-driven public light-work for the roof of an Age UK centre and prototyping workshops at University of East London organised by SPACE. Our current project is to create a turbine for installation on a barge opposite the Houses of Parliament to prompt national debate on use of the River Thames as a source of energy for the city.
The effectiveness of this project has lain in its use of art as a means of creative facilitation, production and collaboration that harnesses community initiative. Most importantly, the experience of community elders has provided a foundation for new ideas that have addressed real need and enabled specific local knowledge to create innovative solutions that could impact on all our futures.