Hitting the Jackpot with Wind Energy in Poland

(l-r) Mieczys?aw and Miros?awa Horodiuk  in their home in the Polish commune of Kobylnica. (Robert van Waarden)

“We feel like we’ve won the lottery.”

Miroslawa and Mieczyslaw Horodiuk sit on a couch in their living room, their aged cat stares through the window. Here in Konczewo in north western Poland a late spring snow has fallen, delaying the spring planting for this farming family. They rest easy knowing that summer will come and they now have a guaranteed income.

10 years ago a wind energy developer approached the Horodiuks to lease part of their farmland for a wind turbine. They were sceptical about this opportunity. It would have been difficult for them to agree if they were on their own, but they had support.

Leszek Kuli?ski, mayor of Kobylnica, Poland. (Robert van Waarden)

Leszek Kulinski, mayor of Kobylnica, Poland.

The citizens of Kobylnica had been prepared for such an event. Leszek Kulinski, mayor of Kobylnica, became interested in wind turbines while on holiday in Denmark. (His wife complained that 80% of the photographs he took were of wind turbines.) Leszek wanted to bring this industry to Kobylnica. He travelled to Germany to research and to investigate if it was safe for the community. He returned determined to make his commune attractive to wind energy developers.

His efforts have made Kobylnica the best rural commune in the country for renewable energy projects.

It was difficult to get the people onside. Kobylnica was the first commune in Poland to take steps to build community support for wind energy from the ground up. The mayor and his team had to develop their own processes to raise awareness. Many consultations were held and input from the residents was taken into consideration. It worked. When the wind developers came calling; the Horodiuks were ready and willing to work with them.

A snow covered field seen from a wind turbine in Kobylnica, Poland. (Robert van Waarden)

A snow covered field seen from a wind turbine in Kobylnica, Poland. 

And it’s not only farmers who lease their land who’ve hit the jackpot – the whole town benefits too. The taxes from the wind energy installations make up over 10% of the community’s annual budget. It is estimated that by 2016 it will be 20%. Kobylnica has been ranked as Poland’s best commune to live (2009) and the best commune for renewable energy (2009, 2010). The taxes are helping to transform the community and Leszek now has his eyes set on solar energy.

Firewood is piled outside a shed on Miros?awa Horodiuk's farm. (Robert van Waarden)

Firewood is piled outside a shed on Miroslawa Horodiuk’s farm. 

The partnership between commune and developers has other dividends. Tundra, the developers of the wind turbines on the Horodiuks land, had to build new roads for transportation. They replaced roads that were by all accounts terrible. They also sponsor the sports teams in Kobylnica and funded the reconstruction of the local church shrine in Lulemino.

For Miroslawa and Mieczyslaw, as landowners, the community support and knowledge was invaluable. It helped them navigate the legal documents and they could seek advice if they needed it. Their story is just one among many in Kolbynica. There are many people here that have ‘won the lottery’.

The two turbines on the Horodiuk’s land work peacefully with the agriculture below and Miroslawa enjoys having them there. The quarterly payment for the leasing of their land is one reason, but he also likes the notion that they are helping build a sustainable future.

In Kobylnica, renewable energy is taking the commune forward and in the words of Leszek, “we have to go forward, we are number one, but we have to keep that status.”

Miros?awa Horodiuk rests against a wind turbine on his farm. (Robert van Waarden)

Miroslawa Horodiuk rests against a wind turbine on his farm. 

The Stories TransCanada is afraid you’ll see – Energy East

Bob Smoker

Recently my work creating Along the Pipeline was singled out by TransCanada and their (former) PR firm Edelman as a threat to their Energy East project. The statement in question comes from a Reasearch Synthesis that was leaked to Greenpeace and can be found on page 11. It reads:

Image: Edelman Leak

I don’t know if I should be shocked or honoured that I seem to have the ability to ‘create an emotional response that can override logic and reasoning.’

Along the Pipeline has always been about the stories and opinions shared by people that I met on my journey. Along the way I encountered people that agreed with the project, disagreed with the project, and those that are still making up their minds.

Mike Gerbrandt

These documents clearly show that TransCanada was considering using deceitful tactics to attack environmental advocates, and also one of their key worries is the spread of real stories from real people. They would prefer to write the script for stories from a fabricated grassroots movement – with comments disabled – while attacking and silencing the voices and opinions of regular people along their pipeline route. It is clear that TransCanada is interested in pushing one-sided spin, and is not comfortable with an honest, open debate about impacts on communities and the climate.

Targeting artists that share real stories is the sign of a company that knows it’s losing its social license. If they can’t be trusted to engage in fair, democratic debate, can they be trusted to build a pipeline 4500km across Canada, over hundreds of waterways, enabling an explosion of tar sands growth? Or do we want a different future?

If you believe in the value of real stories then take a moment to watch and share this one from Nora Gould in Alberta.

If you believe that real voices should be heard and can help me continue this project, please donate below.

Along the Pipeline | Energy East Pipeline Photography

Energy East - Hardisty Tank Terminal

The Hardisty Tank Terminal, beginning of the proposed Energy East pipeline.

My latest photography project, Along the Pipeline, is underway. I am currently in Regina and I have been on the road for the last couple of weeks. My journey has taken me from Hardisty in Alberta and will continue to the East Coast of Canada. I have been photographing the individuals and the route of the proposed Energy East pipeline to find out what it means to Canadians and First Nations. It has been a great experience. I have met ranchers, farmers, oil workers, and foreign workers.

Energy East Photography

Photo session at the Gould Ranch in Alberta.

 

The project focuses on a series of large format portraits created on a 4×5 film camera. Each image will eventually be combined with a quote or little anecdote from that individual explaining their position on the pipeline and the future of Canada.

I hope that the photographs will create a journal and record of some of the people along the route and how they will be affected. You can follow all of the updates and the journey at my sister website, AlongthePipeline.com. From here I will keep moving east.

 Energy East Photography

Pat Wheeler, Hardisty, Alberta

Amsterdam Royal Gallery – Photography Exhibition

On April 9th, at 16:00, join me and friends at the Amsterdam Royal Gallery for the opening of my photography exhibit. This will be the first public exhibition of my images and will be a series of images exploring our relationship with the landscape and how we are impacted by climate change. Also in the gallery will be sculptures from Marisja van Weegberg.  

You can confirm your attendance and become a fan via the Facebook Event.

INVITATION

You are cordially invited to the festive opening of our
ROYAL GALLERY EXHIBITION of April 2011:

ROBERT VAN WAARDEN – PHOTOGRAPHY (http://vanwaardenphoto.com/)

Monument Valley and stop sign

A series of images exploring our relationship with the landscape and how we are impacted by climate change.

MARISJA VAN WEEGBERG – SCULPTURES (http://www.marisjavanweegberg.nl/)



Both exhibitions run from April 2nd –  May 1st  (Note: NO opening on the 2nd)

The Opening/Vernissage of Robert van Waarden will take place on Saturday 9th April, 16.00 hrs. at the

Royal Gallery – Koningsstraat 37 – 1011 ET Amsterdam – City Center.

With best regards: Emma Jean Brown & Janne Buurman

www.amsterdamroyalgallery.com – 06-20105650 – [email protected]

Climate Faces – Photography Exhibit at the United Nations

greenland panoramic mountains

Exhibition Panel 1 - United Nations

UPDATED IMAGE BELOW

Tomorrow, July 14, the exhibit, Climate Faces – Changing Earth, Changing Lives opens at the United Nations in New York. Featured are my photographs from the 2008 Cape Farewell Voyage.

This exhibit documents young climate activists exploring the impacts of climate change on the Arctic and how they learned to communicate the issue. It follows on the heels of successful showings in locations around the world, including; Trafalgar Square, Parliament Hill Ottawa, India and Mexico.

The exhibit runs until the end of July. If you can’t make it to New York, click here to see some of the images on display.

More about this British Council project.
In September 2008, 28 high school students from Canada, Brazil, Germany, India, Ireland, Mexico and the United Kingdom boarded a Russian research vessel in Reykjavik, Iceland, and sailed around the southern tip of Greenland to Iqaluit on Canada‘s Baffin Island. On the trip, they were accompanied by scientists, artists and educators, who engaged them in a variety of programmes on board the ship and on shore.

Update: A picture of the opening banner at the UN: Provided by Esperanza Garcia

opening at the UN imagea

Activism, Coal and Arizona

“Just seeing the future for us and knowing that they [our parents] wanted a better future for us, fern benallyI have the same feeling for, not myself, but the kids and for my relatives and that something better will be in the future for them, that keeps me going. Knowing that we have succeeded in one step and maybe we can continue on and see a better future for all of us.

[One of] the other things that keeps me going is knowing that one of my great aunts and my great uncles [had] respiratory problems. Their breath was taken away slowly inch by inch, feeling like they were being suffocated. When they died, thinking about them and thinking that how much better it would be for the rest of the people here. I don’t want them to die that way anymore, I want them to be able to breathe.” Fern Benally, Navajo Activist.

Shadia Fayne Wood from Project Survival Media and I just finished an assignment in Arizona, covering an incredible group of activists that are working hard to stop dirty energy on the Navajo Reservation and pushing the envelope on clean energy development. We are focusing on the closing of one of the coal mines in the area, the tactics that were used and what this means to the people affected by the closure.

The former coalmine is in the Benally’s backyard, land that has been the families for thousands of years. For the last 30 years, 24 hours a day, the large coal trucks would rumble by the house and the coal crusher would drown out nature. Now, thanks to incredible co-operation and dedication amongst groups like the Black Mesa Water Coalition, Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club, the life of mine permit was revoked in January. Now, the Benally’s can hear the birds sing and watch the stars like their ancestors did long before Europeans came here.

There are still many examples of environmental racism here in Arizona and across our planet. But, it is important to celebrate victories and share the knowledge so that we can all move towards a sustainable future. More to come on this project in the future.

Two photographs of Monument Valley, which is the best?

I want your opinion!

I was recently in Monument Valley in Arizona and I created these two drastically different images of the landscape with the mittens. Photographed only 50m apart, these two images raise several questions about composition, viewer opinion and human impact on our environment. I want to know which image you prefer. Image #1: The Cedar Log and Mittens or Image #2: The Parking Lot.

Which one do you prefer and why? Leave your comment below.

Climate Change 2009 – Explosion of a social movement

In 2009, millions of people came together around the world to pressure leaders to sign a legally binding and ambitious deal in Copenhagen. Although the final result in Copenhagen was a failure, 2009 was the year that the climate movement exploded. This energy will carry forward and we will continue to build in numbers until sustainability is achieved.

This multimedia piece looks at the growth of this movement throughout 2009. Take a moment and watch hundreds of those around the world taking action and inspiring others in the fight for climate justice.

All images (unless provided by 350.org) ©Robert van Waarden
Music: Open Road Kisses by The Small Affairs.

Best of 2009 – 20 Images of Climate Change Activism


The Rise of a Climate Change Movement – 20 Images from 2009 – I spent the majority of 2009 focusing on the climate change social movement and working closely with the international youth climate movement, ngo’s and the TckTckTck campaign.

Canadian Geographic Photography – Jan/Feb 2010

The following images appear in the Canadian Geographic Jan/Feb 2010 issue. The article features University of Ottawa geography student Robert Way participating in the CryoEX program, an international exchange program established by the University of Ottawa and the University of Oslo in Norway. Click for the full story by Scott Messenger.