Being a person from a place – in Canada

I have always been fascinated by first nation people from northern America and Canada. There has been something wild and right about life in and with nature.

I grew up believing i was born in the wrong place and time. I saw myself fishing and hunting in close contact with nature and people. Innocent thoughts from a young boy!

Soon i realized though what a tuff destiny the first nation people really experienced. But still fascinated by the culture and the spiritual thinking of the people!

A couple of years ago I met Christoffer Henderson! He and I were invited to work with an international group on climate change and what to do! We talked and i started thinking we could meet again. Chris is the manager of Lumos Energy in Ottowa and also the creator of a training program for fist nation people form Canada in a program called Catalyst 20/20 read more Chris invited me to be a mentor in 2016 where i met with 20 catalysts that had been elected by elders and Chris´s team. The idea is to educate and help there people to make a plan for their community and go through the processes and finally get it approved and financed so the plan can help the community to be more self supplied and less depending on imported fuel. I learned a lot about where these people came from and what it meant for them to be sent away to represent their community. How do we listen to the elders and seek help in history and the spirits. Not a common structure where I come from! We believe in the great free marked and in money talks and that time is key to success. We believe in fixing things and expanding the footprint.

And now this may 2017 i have been at it again. A new group of Catalysts met in New Brunswick to get to know each other and to met the mentors and get started with the planning.

3 weeks during the next 3 month, they will meet in 3 different locations across Canada. They all come from communities in the north across Canada from Intuits in the east to Vancouver Island in the west. Being from a small island in Denmark I need to remember that it started long time ago for us. Time is important. Rooted in a culture with a deep understanding of history I need to be patient and to listen to what they really say when they talk. There is a lot of healing to do. Lots of harm and crazy stuff have been going on in the early days of immigrants. And it actually still does in a way. It is standing in the way for a positive development! As a mentor IO need to understand that a small problem in my eyes seems so much bigger for someone who deals with so many other things in life. Listening carefully helps a lot. Sensing what is behind the words and the playful jokes helps too. Sustainability is about people working together to improve the quality of life. These first nation people can laugh and make fun. I want to learn how to relax and not take life too seriously. We will save the world eventually! But we need to sense and feel what we can do together. My mentor role is to expand the network, to involve smart people who can see what’s is really needed.

I was this time with my college Malene from Samso and the Academy. She asked the question long time ago. Did you ever document what happened during the process leading to 100 % renewable energy?

She has now developed a guide for sustainable communities. Read the guide This guide is a concentrate of almost 20 years of sustainable development of the island of Samsø. What happened and why and how did we then react as a community and what did we do when we realized the god reason to act? How did we meet and what happened at the meetings that led to the question of why we should change and why we should engage ourselves in the process.

This is what we can share with the Catalysts. Not so much the question of how we did it. It does probably not make a lot of sense in another environment but more the why we did what we did. Ask a lot of questions about why leads to really good discussions about the future, where we want to go and what we see out there both as threats and possibilities.

We tried to introduce the Pioneerguide. We laughed a lot! It was good and we shared the unknown for a while.

The young native indians from the communities are strong guys with a lot of power and will to engage and do things right. The future looks better and I am proud of being a mentor. We will guide each other and make life better when we do it.

Energy “down under”

After now almost one month in the southern parts of Australia, i am now on my way home. One month is just enough to give you a sense of what is going on here.
The big deal is coal. Not only are the Australians facing a big change in the energy system. Hazelwood – the largest coal fired power plant in the southern hemisphere – is already closing. This is a very big deal in Australia. This plant is using brown coal. A very polluting type of coal with an extreme emission as a result. But this is also economy and a kind of backbone in the distribution system. So the conservative part of government  in the capital Canberra is trying to make wind power and green energy guilty of an unstable energy supply. The truth is more likely that the grid is not modernized and even worse it is centralized because of these very large energy power plants.

Quote from Sydney Morning Herald:

“State and even local governments have recently adopted their own targets and policies to boost renewables in their jurisdictions, but few have raised the ante as rapidly as the ACT.

While the Canberra-based wing of the fossil fuel industry – their lobbyists and political supporters – try to scare us into thinking the transition to 100 per cent renewables will be a disaster, the ACT government is just getting on with it, and the benefits of doing so, directly and through the impact of its leadership on others, will flow for decades to come.

Author:Tom Swann is a researcher at The Australia Institute and reigning ACT Environmentalist of the Year.”

( ACT is: Australian Capital Territory- made by states. Australia has 3 levels of government. Federal, state and local)

Obviously the states are so disconnected from the federal government that they have individual goals for emission and RE integration. Federal government is talking about “clean coal” as a tool to cut emissions!!. I can only guess what made them think coal could be clean?

Why do I care? I think we are all guilty and therefore responsible for the state we are in now. Denmark imported for many years almost all of our energy in coal. And a lot of this coal came from Australia. So in a way we built our modern society with coal! We have changed this lately but still! I think we need to help out where we can and make sure we use the development we had, payed for by coal, is now available in the change there is going to take place in Australia, in Japan and other countries we do business with. We like to say we are a nuclear free nation in Denmark- but we still drive Toyota and watch TV on Sony screens.
Lets make the Paris declaration and the signed UN agreement work in practise!

From coal to ??

How does a country that has one of the biggest reserves of coal in the world make a transition to green energy?

Hazelwood coal fired powerplant – the largest in the southern hemisphere

This is the great debate for two days at the Community Congress in Melbourne.

I have now been visiting, making contacts and workshops in 9 different communities in 2 Australian states Victoria and South Australia. It has been a very nice experience and I have met both worried and interested people who are working hard to make change.
But what does it take to be successful and actually accomplish what you are aiming at.
I was asked to host a workshop for as an outsider to inspire and share the experiences from Samso and from my home nation Denmark.
I tried to use the Samso Energy Academy new tool we call the Pioneer  guide . I was very useful to have the framing of the guide to stress the importance of planning and to be structures and disciplined in the work.
People appreciated the methodology and I certainly liked the engagement from the participants. A learning experience for me too!

LaTrobe people working

In Melbourne I meet many of the local people again. They travel long distance to attend the second Community Conference where they share the vision about a sustainable future with out coal. They use open space technology and they harvest and condense the findings in a constructive way. I find this very productive and useful and good to bring home to any community

Open space

I am together with Tetsu and Shota from ISEP Japan. We are all together with Taryn Lane from Hepburn Wind and C4Ce – the other partners are Sustainable Molokai in Hawaii and Island Institute in Maine.
The purpose of the project is to share whats happening – just like the conference here in Melbourne and see if we can inspire all of us to work better and even more successful for the development of sustainable local communities.The Community Conference is a melting pot of people meeting to share the transition to a sustainable future.

Chief Gordon from Canada and young guys from the Aboriginal first nations in Australia

The project is supported from the Danish International KR Foundation, chaired by Connie Heedegaard, former energy minister and EU climate commissionary.



On sustainable communities tour in Victoria Australia

A round-up of last week’s Soren Hermansen events in New England, and the positive response & press coverage we received for Sapphire Wind Farm (SWF) & CWPAM:

Inverell Event
106 people attended Soren’s talk at Inverell RSM on Wed 15th Feb. The evening was MC’d by Deputy Mayor Cr Anthony Michaels. It was a fabulous atmosphere & attentive audience – Soren is a warm, funny and captivating speaker & everyone was fascinated & inspired by his talk on how his island of Samso became 100% renewable & energy independent. It was hard to leave the venue afterwards as there were so many people wanting to chat !
We videoed the event & will be editing the material for clips to support the upcoming SWF community investment testing. Here’s a gif which captures the atmosphere:


soren talk clip.gif

Ross Hill Primary School, Inverell
A group of 11 & 12 year olds interested in science & technology asked Soren a barrage of questions about SWF and wind energy & gave us their ideas for what they’d like to see on an interactive wind farm website. These will be passed onto the SWF website developers & we’ll return to the class later in the year to show them what we’ve done with their help.

Armidale Event
Around 80 people attended at Armidale’s Ex-Services Club on Thurs 16th Feb, and the evening was impeccably MC’d by Adam Blakester of New England Wind.
A different crowd to the previous night in a cavernous room that didn’t lend itself to generating a good atmosphere, as well as possibly less of a local feel of ‘ownership’ ?
At dinner afterwards we were joined by Adam Marshall, local NSW MP

Media coverage
ABC Local Radio Tamworth – breakfast show interview on Fri 10th Feb to promote the event & and provide an introduction to SWF.
Social media – extensive Facebook promotion via Inverell Council, New England Wind & various local organisations (thanks Adam)
Inverell Times – online article including photo from Ross Hill
Glen Innes Examiner – front page on Thu 16th Feb

Thanks go to Taryn, Adam & Liz who helped organising everything, to Andy Bray from Australian Wind Alliance for his support with both events and to Anthony Broese van Groenou for videoing /photographing & helping out.
Above all thank you to Soren who is quite simply a star & whose talks provided much food for thought & were a great prelude to our community investment testing which will launch in April.

Lisa Stiebel
Community Engagement Manager

On Parliament house tour


From Melbourne my next stop is Canberra the capital of Australia. Canberra was chosen as the capital in 1908 as a compromise between the to cities Melbourne and Sydney. My purpose to be there was to meet with university, make a presentation there and see the local government energy plan for 100% renewable energy and to meet the Danish embassy and the relative new ambassadorTom Nørring whom I actually know from his earlier assignment in the Danish Embassy in Athens and last but not less important to meet politicians.

News from the tour


The parliament

6 month ago there was a serious black out in the electricity system in southern Australia. What happened and why? The big discussion right now is about whom to blaime for the blackout? The conservative government, lead by Prime minister Turnbull is blaiming windpower! The labour politicians are blaiming bad management and poor infrastructure! The big industries like aluminium smelters had to stop the entire system and were aout of production for a week! House owners could not air condition their houses even the temperature was sky high!

I wanted to understand how the national government responded to this!

My lobbying partner Andrew Bray from the Australian Wind Alliance had a number of appointments and we checked in and were cleared at the security gate

First we saw Mr Andrew Broad who is a conservative farmer who has a seat in the energy commission. His first comment before we even introduced ourselves was:” well fine enough that you bring this guy from a small island in Denmark with only 4000 people and a few windmills. Bring me something better to impress me!!”

Environment commity with my angry man in the backrow middle

I should have punched him on his nose but smiled and thought he felt threatened somehow. Never the less he ignored that windmills could do anything good for Australia.

Broadcasted on TV you could follow another way of saying the same. “here is a lump of clean coal- don’t be afraid it is clean and good. Like that could convince anybody:

The difference in policy from Denmark is most likely that the coal lobby is strong and powerfull. There is still business to do and what pollution can a bit of coal do? Climate denial is the thing to hold on to. Should Australia ratify the UN declaration decided in Paris? Maybe not – listening to these conservative guys!

The greens, a political party asked if it was possible to move to Denmark! They are frustrated!

Lunch at the embassy was nice. The ambassador just returned from Perth where he had walked the city with architect Jan Gehl who visited Australia. Famous man in city planning! The ambassador gave a nice friendly and Danish introduction and the party felt god, both because the food was exellent and the talk was free and enlightening. The ambassador greeted me for my work and the good story from Samso about Danish innovation and policy and asked me not to forget to mention the Danish green tech industry ;-))

I am now visiting the largest wind development in Australia – Sapphire Wind- guess who is supplying the windmachines?

Australian sustainability tour

I am now in the capital of Australia. Canberra is a new town between Sydney and Melbourne.
My purpose is to talk to politicians before I go on a tour to visit a number of local communities in southern Australia to talk about their dreams and possibilities. This blog will be following the experiences. I started out in Melbourne at the sustainability festival. Lots of people and very good feed back. The Australians are ready! see here

My job is to tell about my experience in Denmark and especially on my island Samso – it looks like they understand.

Japan – solens land

Fukushima lider stadig!
Atomkraftværket brænder og Fukushima og omegn er bange!

Der er ikke styr på noget og vandet fosser ud i Stillehavet – radioaktivt og måske mere farligt end nogen ved noget som helst om.
Japanerne vil noget andet.
Måske sidder Premierminister Abe og tænker på hvordan han kan fortsætte som leder og hvem der støtter ham.
Industrien er vigtig for Japan og dermed billig energi fra eksisterende atomkraftværker.
Men det er ikke det befolkningen vil.
De er bange for deres børns fremtid og de vil ikke længere finde sig i central -administrationens kortsigtede og farlige beslutninger.
Community Power International mødes og der etableres en ny organisation, Fukushima Renewable energy foundation.