The history of the Active Energy Project
The Geezers have been involved with the Active Energy Project since 2007, before the Our Bow website was launched. The earliest mention I can find here was this article in 2013.
There have been lots of articles on the OurBow website about the Active Energy Project.
Artist Loraine Leeson used a participatory art process to explore how renewable energy can benefit communities, and to discover the technologies needed to support this. The Active Energy Project also involved engineers, young people, students, galleries, environmental charities and most importantly the Geezers, a group of retired men who meet at the community centre beside Tom Thumb’s Arch in Bow, East London.
Loraine Leeson said that, “A lot of knowledge is held at local level and as an artist I am well placed to help bring that into the public domain where it can make a difference – as the Geezers’ ideas certainly did.”
Sophie Knowles, a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the Middlesex University, asked Geezer Charlie Wiggins what he remembered about the project. Charlie described how the group came together to explore tidal power, then worked with young people at Bow Secondary School and engineer Toby Borland to create a wind turbine for the roof of Appian Court that generated the electricity to spell out Geezerpower in lights as it spun. He also remembered the small scale tidal turbine they tested on the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, and the water wheels at Three Mills and the Olympic Park that drove aerators to help keep fish alive at times of high pollution.
The Times Higher Education Award 2022
On the evening of 17th November 2022 at a glittering ceremony at the Hilton London Metropole, Ricky Ayliffe and Eddie Snooks from The Geezers Club accompanied artist Loraine Leeson, Professor Ann Light (who instigated the project in 2007) and Middlesex University’s Director of Knowledge Transfer Professor Mark Gray to accept this prestigious award. The Times Higher Education Awards are described as the ‘Oscars of higher education’. These annual awards showcase the best in higher education and in this case paid tribute to a Loraine Leeson’s twelve-year project, helped by the Geezers’ interest and enthusiasm in ensuring that renewable energy can support the lives of older people in riverside communities.
The Geezers have had a special interest in the development of tidal power, which is not subject to the vagaries of wind or sun and eminently suitable for an island nation with its many tidal rivers. It was the proximity of the Thames and the fact that older people, can often not afford to heat their homes that inspired the Geezers to initially embark on this journey with Loraine Leeson and others to see where it would lead. Not only has much been achieved, but the value of the initiative has now been recognised with the value it deserved.