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 nick@off-grid.net.
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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