3.1. Literature review
Literature has shown that the development of a sustainable community is a dynamic process involving all segments of the locality, especially within the limits of an island like Texel. The key component to this process is found in the creation and maintenance of channels of interaction and communication among diverse local groups that are otherwise directed toward their more individual interests. By facilitating interaction and developing relationships, these diverse individuals interact and begin to mutually understand common needs, goals and interests. When relationships, consistent interaction and channels of communication can be established and maintained, increases in local adaptive capacities materialize and community can emerge.
While much of the attention given to building local capacities is often focused towards only specific groups of the local population, previous research supports that different intermediary actors, operating across the areas of community renewables, energy efficiency and behavior change and at both local and national scales, can also play a significant role.
Intermediary actors can be broadly defined as organizations or individuals engaging in work that involves connecting specific and often isolated local innovation projects with one another and with the wider world and, through this, helping to generate a shared institutional infrastructure and to support the development of the niche in question (Howells, 2006). Moreover, as Hargreaves et al. state “through this “relational work” (Moss, 2009) they are able to identify common issues and problems encountered across multiple local projects, and can therefore support niche development and diffusion by sharing this knowledge more widely, helping subsequent projects to benefit from accumulated experience”.
These organizations can play a range of different roles in the sub-system of “accommodate community”, including:
- Initiating new community energy projects;
- Sharing information and developing forms of networking between local community energy groups (e.g. newsletters, seminars and conferences); Providing tools (e.g. carbon calculators) and resources (e.g. good practice case studies and handbooks);
- Offering specific professional services such as legal or financial advice;
- Managing and evaluating funding programmes; and
- Interfacing with policymakers and energy companies to further develop community energy
While organizing our sub-system’s strategy, we have also to keep in mind specific characteristics for conceptualizing the elements and the processes involved in shaping the interactions that take place between technology and promoters and local publics. According to Walker et al. while building the framework of our system, the first step is unpacking what is going on over time in how different actors think and behave. It’s not about predicting things that are likely to happen but mostly about having in mind from the beginning the different expectations that different actors may have. Moreover, Walker et al. again claim that, according to some key limitations, the framework of the research should be:
- Symmetrical; giving equal attention to both the public and to the actors who are involved in promoting sustainable development in Texel and engaging with publics in various ways.
- Seeking to capture the anticipations and the expectations; how people and organizations will respond to the sustainability transition of Texel especially at the accommodation sector. First, and centrally, there would be expectations about the form and impact of the proposed accommodation system. Second, there may be expectations about the project developer (what they will be like, how they are likely to behave and how ought to behave). Third, they might expectation about the process that will be followed and the implementation of development proposal. Fourth,the local community might have expectations about what a proper and appropriate distribution of benefits from a development should be and what a community potentially hosting a development should get out of it.
- Dynamic; over time, anticipations and expectations evolve and both the details for proposed projects and the currents of local debates can shift considerably. The initial expectations that are held or developed by local people will be shaped the extent to which they seek more information, read or listen to media reports, and so on. This process of interconnection can be unpacked into several stages and unfold during time: becoming aware of a project that is proposed in a locality, interpreting it, evaluating the proposal and responding to it in diverse ways.
- Contextual; the importance of situation in both broad policy and economic landscapes and in the characteristics of local places, communities, cultures and politics.
What we also have to keep in mind is that “the translation of generic rules into local, practical variations and the translation of local experiences back into general applicable lessons in a selected project do not emerge in a vacuum but build upon experiences from past and similar projects” (Raven et al, 2008). Examples of such rules are general organizational models, financing structures, technical standards, shared ideas about what users want, best-practice publications and can be obtained by further research or our own experience.