When founder Gerard Morgan-Grenville started the organisation, he conceived "a project to show the nature of the problem and show ways of going forward." It was originally a community dedicated to eco-friendly principles and a 'test bed' for new ideas and technologies - the Visitor Centre was a later addition. There is still a residential community on the Centre for Alternative Technology's estate, but it is no longer a part of the general visitor circuit. Our members consist of staff, their families or volunteers at CAT. We live in a collection of four timber self build dwellings and five slate cottages which were originally part of the Llwyngwern Slate Mine. The properties are situated at either end of the site. There is capacity for up to 16 residents, four of which are usually long term volunteers who have the opportunity to live on site as part of the community during their 6 month stay at CAT.
We live sustainably, according to CAT's principles of preserving biodiversity, combating climate change and promoting global equity. We share co-operative principles and take decisions by consensus. We all pay monthly subs out of which we purchase a fortnightly bulk order of organic wholefoods and domestic products, a weekly organic vegetable box, our firewood and gas for cooking.
Our twice-weekly community meals are an important occasion to catch up and share news, while planning the next project. We all take our turn to cook and wash up: a tradition that has been going on for 30 years. We share much more than meals. Everyone has a different responsibility: the accounting, the food order, getting the wood in and we also have work days where we pool our resources to fix a house or plant a garden. We all have skills to offer each other and between us we achieve the impossible. One of our long term projects is the design and building of a straw bale community kitchen and dining space. And of course we come together for fun: camp fires, music making and parties.
We are media-savvy and you may have spotted us on such programmes as: 'Changing Rooms', 'Countryfile' and 'Blue Peter' - but we turned down 'Wife Swap'. For those who wish to join site community, there is a waiting list for staff members. The opportunity is available to four 6-month volunteers each season and the short term volunteers who come to stay at CAT join us for community meals and activities during their stay.