Nick Rosen | |
Test case for an urban off-grid community

As the Occupy LSX movement prepares for a legal battle over its encampment outside St Paul’s Cathedral, its presence down the road in Finsbury Square looks slightly more secure.
Public spending cuts have left the square’s owners, the Borough of Islington, with an overstretched legal team, and although it do not support the Occupy presence,  the Council is “reluctant” to devote potentially millions of pounds to evict the protesters. This news may arouse intense disappointment amongst Occupy’s many neighbours in the banking and financial sector. UBS bank, for example, has ordered its employees to keep the blinds closed in case residents in the nearby Bank of Ideas spy on their documents using long lenses.
Now the Occupy organisers are seeking help from the off-grid movement to turn the square into a model (albeit temporary) off-grid community. They need energy experts, water engineers, builders, mechanics, lawyers, fund-raisers, architects and planning consultants as they prepare for a residency of up to three years until the next local elections.

Finsbury Square and the Bank of Ideas are organising a one day seminar on the skills need to set up an off-grid community.  Anyone who wants to give a workshop on any of the relevant skills ( you know what they are) please email
Step one is to install composting toilets in the square, but the technical problem is that the soil is only 2 metres deep as the square sits atop an underground car park. Please send solutions or offers of help  as comments on this article.The next priority is to put up yurts, benders, dome homes and other eco-buildings in place of the nylon tents which currently crowd the half of the square given over to the Occupy residents. Simultaneously the group are installing renewable energy sources. But the large office buildings on all four sides mean that wind and sun are both in short supply. Bicycle powered generators are currently the preferred solution. These are likely to be supplied by Magnificent Revolution.

The new residents of Finsbury Square are preparing to register for a vote at elections and have called on their local MP, Labour’s Emily Thornberry for her support.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “We support the right to peaceful protest, but this has to be balanced with the needs of our community, which is among the most deprived in England.

“The protesters have no permission to be in the square.  At a time of huge Government cuts to our budget we are very reluctant to waste vital money on expensive legal action, but have not ruled it out.”

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14 Responses to “Occupy London Finsbury Square to be long-term eco-village”

  1. Cityboy

    Oh and the guy who owns the pub on the green is being forced out of business. His taking are 90% down. You should all be very proud ruining a man’s livelyhood. He’s hardly a major corporation just a small independant pub.

  2. Cityboy

    There are never any more than 5 people ‘protesting’ in Finsbury Square. It’s empty, just a load of tents. Just goes to show that these morons are not actually protesting or living in their ‘eco village’ they have in fact gone home having dumped tents and other waste on the green.

    I don’t understand the statement they’re actually making, how is sitting around being a nuisance improving the world. I don’t see any ideas which are feasible coming from them, just ideologies that will never work.

    Who has time o spend all day sitting in a camp site? People who contribute nothing to this world that’s who. Finally how do they feed themselves? Living off the land, the 50 square metres of grass…

  3. lisa

    it would be awesome if people could help in some way, it would prove it CAN be done!

  4. lis

    Hi there you can make compost loos – as a raised platform with removable container – using large plastic containers that are then sealed and moved into storage until ready for use there is a company that supplies these and collects for the festival circuit think they are Devon based
    maybe contact them for advice

  5. Steve

    We are covering this in our next issue.

  6. Ian

    All you need for composting toilets is here.
    There is no need to dig. I would suggest that the humanure is biked off site to an allotment rather than being composted in the square.
    I’m no connection with the humanure site but going down a similar route going off grid in the middle of an Oxfordshire town!

  7. Nick Rosen

    I wrote the story – when I visited Finsbury Square I told the person I spoke to that Magnificent Revolution had offered to supply some bike generators at cost. He said that the money from Finance Committee had not been allocated but he hoped it would be. That is the reason I wrote that the bikes were likely to come from them, and they still could come from more than one source

  8. Ollie Taylor


    In relation to the article and hayley’s comment, I am infact the person who is supplying the first bike generator to Finsburys Square this saturday morning. I provide the bike gen systems at cost price, and I am not out to make money. I am out to help people generate free electricity, and help improve the quality of life of the people occupying.

    Magnificent Revolution do build bike generators – but they are a profit making company, and will ask for many hundreds of pounds for their bike gens (although they are lovely people!)

    I dont know where the information arose that they are ‘likely to be supplied by Magnificent Revolution’ Seems like a bit of sneaky advertising to me.


  9. Cole Walsh

    This is fantastic, I remember when the Eco Villiage at Kew was flattened by contractors who’s new luxury apartments grow more obscene by the day. Hope this one can last for as long as it can and uphold some freedom in this age of oppression..

  10. hayley

    I am a resident on Finsbury Square and am heavily involved in all that goes on with the camp.
    The BOI are a separate group to Occupy finsbury square and although we have good relations with them we operate completely separately and independently from each other.

    I know nothing about getting any political parties or representatives of political parties involved. It certainly hasn’t been mentioned at a G.A. Although we are working alongside the local council on things like health, safety, hygiene and fire regulations to keep the camp safe and clean.

    I have never heard of the Magnificent Revolutions company. We are going to be purchasing a prototype bicycle generator designed by a resident at BOI as he is only asking for the cost of materials used and will be giving us the plans so we can make them ourselves. I don’t know if he has anything to do with this company? that may be where the confusions arisen from perhaps?

  11. Phil Chapman

    Is there a date for the seminar? Thanks.

  12. Jane B

    ‘OFs’, there is much ‘good thinking’ in what you are wanting to do and following through on but please try to ensure there is coherence and integrity to the plans and the motivation behind them. I was at the BoI on Saturday and was really disappointed in so much of what I heard and saw :(

  13. jason