Our team

Imagining Alternatives with Feasts for the Future: team profiles

Dr David Sergeant

Dr David Sergeant is an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow and Principle Investigator on Imagining Alternatives. He completed his masters and DPhil at the University of Oxford on AHRC scholarships, and spent four months in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. as a Kluge Center Fellow; since September 2013, he has been Lecturer in English post-1850 at Plymouth University.

David's critical work has ranged from the early nineteenth century to the present day, and resulted in a monograph and several articles; he is also the author of two collections of poetry, and his poems and short fiction have appeared in numerous magazines and journals. His most recent work, in both critical and creative fields, has focused on how we imagine and represent alternative presents and imminent futures.

Dr Anastasia Somerville-Wong

Anastasia is a Research Assistant on the AHRC funded ‘Imagining Alternatives’ project at the University of Plymouth. Anastasia is responsible for creating and editing content for these webpages, and for organising the workshops and first ‘Feast for the Future’ in collaboration with Regen SW. 

“We tend to look at our communities in the light of the past and all the environmental challenges we face because of it. At the heart of the ‘Feasts for the Future’ project, is the idea that if we look at ourselves from the perspective of possible future communities instead, we will take more positive action in the present. By sharing a meal and telling stories about the ground-breaking renewable energy and energy efficiency projects taking place successfully in our region and around the world, we can develop a realistic and cooperative vision of what our communities could be like in the future. This vision may be more effective than the ever-present threat of destruction and disaster in motivating communities to take on ambitious projects that will transform the way we live.”

Read Anastasia's blog: www.somervillewong.wordpress.com

Anastasia has worked for over a decade as a researcher, writer, lecturer/public speaker and project manager in higher education, and also in the culture sector as an independent consultant. She has worked on high profile, international and multi-stakeholder projects in collaboration with partners in the creative industries, culture sector and across disciplines in higher education, as well as with independent artists and cultural entrepreneurs.

Jodie Giles

Jodie Giles is the Senior Project Manager at Regen SW.

Jodie is responsible for the delivery of Regen’s community energy support programme. Jodie engages with communities, developers and the wider renewable energy industry to support the development of sustainable energy projects. She facilitates the Regen Communities network of over 200 community energy groups, keeping them up to date with funding, technical and policy changes that affect the sector, running training, events, and working with local authorities and the government to influence policy.

Jodie has twelve years’ experience working in community engagement. She joined Regen from the Eden Project where she worked on community resilience, bulk energy buying, neighbourhood planning and social inclusion projects.

https://www.regensw.co.uk/

Our partners

Regen

Established in 2003, Regen is a not-for-profit social enterprise with a membership of over 260 businesses, local authorities and community groups working towards the development of a low carbon economy. 

Regen is a widely recognised national leader in community energy with an extensive network within the sector as well as among policy makers and regulators in government. They have a network of 250 community energy groups locally and 500 across the UK. Regen work closely with Community Energy England (a member of the Regen team sits on the board), Community Energy Wales and Community Energy Scotland. The primary aim of our partners at Regen is to create benefits to local communities and local jobs by enabling innovation in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. 

Regen have supported over 30 communities to successfully develop energy generation projects. 

In their experience, it proved important for communities to engage with a narrative about how our energy past was different, and therefore, how we can grasp opportunities for a different energy future. For example, Wadebridge Renewable Energy network in Cornwall has a presentation that starts with a picture of a van labelled “Wadebridge Energy Company 1906” and finishes with a vision of a locally owned energy system.

This shared local vision on energy is becoming increasingly important. Recent government policy changes mean that sustainable energy projects, particularly onshore wind, need to show local backing through neighbourhood plans. However, the visioning process for neighbourhood plans poses a real challenge. It is often expensive and time consuming, which means that most areas do not have them at all. If they do, they rarely include any provision for sustainable energy projects.

‘Feasts for the Future’ will enable our partners at Regen to:

  • Raise awareness of the need for positive local and neighbourhood plans that support sustainable energy projects.
  • Gain new knowledge about how the process of imagining a better future can and might support communities, so changing how they engage with groups in the future.
  • Provide a vehicle to stimulate visioning of a positive future within communities, with this process leading to the development of local plans which incorporate sustainable energy.
  • Generate new ideas regarding community engagement with energy related issues, that will be fed into future engagement work and policy making.
  • Enhance its profile within the sector: both locally, through the supported ‘Feast’ events, and nationally, through networks with Community Energy England and others.
  • Share outcomes with a wider audience and therefore open up new channels that will inform future strategies.
Regen will be inviting all the local community groups in their network to participate in the workshops and ‘Feasts for the Future’, and around 9000 people will hear about the project as it develops through the Regen S. W. newsletter. Regen will also be contributing to the website by developing a toolkit for use by ‘Feast for the Future’ ambassadors. They have already been commissioned by Government to write a best practice guidance on community engagement for wind energy, and a toolkit for community heat networks, so they have considerable expertise in this regard. They are also currently working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on an event in October 2018 which will examine decentralised energy through a ‘local lens’ as part of a call for evidence.