Many moons ago, while working for the Groundwork Foundation in the mid-1980s, I coined the term ‘environmental entrepreneur’ – a consumate, if somewhat quirky, example of which died on 2 March. As his obituary in The Times today reports, Gerard Morgan-Grenville, an Old Etonian, co-created the Centre for Alternative Technology in a slate quarry near Machynlleth, Mid-Wales, to demonstrate a range of alternative technologies. Sadly, I have still to make the pilgrimage, though CAT today has a staff of 150 and attracts some 65,000 visitors a year.
This was at exactly the time, 1973, when I was at UCL and had been working briefly on alternative technology farms like BRAD (Biotechnic Research & Development), developed by Robin Clarke, and visiting other hot-spots of the counter-culture, among them Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti in Arizona. These visits were what basically switched me on to a very different set of rails, exploring how governments (when with TEST) and mainstream business (with ENDS and SustainAbility) could play a part in the drive towards more sustainable forms of development.
The picture of Gerard in The Times is almost exactly as I remember from the last time we met, at an event hosted by IMSA in Holland. Only met him a couple of times, but he was very much part of the older generation who gave my generation air cover, with others prominent in my memory including Max Nicholson, Peter Scott and Teddy Goldsmith. The older I get, the more I appreciate what they did – in times which were much less supportive.