So this is my first blog ever. My name is Kirsty Holstead and I am a reseracher on TESS. This blog will be my experience in the Climate KIC Summer School which begins in a few weeks. Now that Liz (my boss in TESS) has announced that I am going to keep this blog on the website, I guess I better raise to the challenge. If you want to know about me you can look on my staff profile at the James Hutton Institute, where I’m based. Anything else, feel free to ask.

I have been working on TESS since its inception a good few months ago. TESS is an EUFP7 project which aims to provide an understanding to provide an understanding on how community groups can grow and be encouraged to grow. To do this we address two main questions: What is the impact of community-based initiatives in terms of carbon reduction potential and economic effect? And what institutional structures (values, policies and mechanisms) support these initiatives.

Because of the early stage of the project a lot of the work so far has been planning but we have achieved a lot. We are developing two websites for example; our Italian partners Sapienza are working on them and they are looking great. We’ve also developed an inventory of the community based initiatives that are operating in the study regions of TESS partners. The region that the Hutton team are focusing on is Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, in the North East Scotland. We hunted down the initiatives by calling one community based initiative and then following their recommendations on who to speak to next (a snowball approach). We continued to do this until no new initiatives were recommended. For those we couldn’t speak to we gathered as much information as we could from online or from what others said about them. In total we mapped around 100 initiatives which do work in energy, waste, transport and food which are the key areas that TESS focus on. We hope in the coming months and years to develop close relationships with some of these initiates and hopefully to work alongside them to answer our research questions. We have already learned that because some community groups are very small or informal we couldn’t find information online and we had to rely on acquaintances and community’s knowledge. We chose the snowball approach in order to overcome this but one of its weaknesses is that initiatives that are not so well networked may not be captured.

After a longwinded introduction please let me mention the summer school i’m attending in Frankfurt as a result of my involvement with TESS.  The agenda is packed full of activities that focus around the theme of “Energy Transition in Frankfurt”. One of the most exciting things for me is the main Summer School Assignment where we’ll develop (in groups) concepts for the practical implementation of the Masterplan 100% Klimaschutz of the City of Frankfurt. The summer school participants will attend lectures, workshops, excursions and discussions; meet world renown experts and visit companies as well as city representatives. More on this to come!

Kirsty