First off was the idea of a carbon-neutral village. Ashton Hayes, by Chester, is aiming to be the first in England and has even turned the pub landlord's sceptical head by saving him £200 a month with low-energy lightbulbs. Reducing energy consumption is one part of the jigsaw, others are proving harder to achieve especially changing attitudes to car use (perhaps not so much of a problem in wards like mine with a third of homes without a car).
A huge amount of work is still to be done but the villagers have plans to create a local electricity supply and grid, which can feed into the wider grid but would mean cheaper energy for local residents.
The first village in Wales to take up the challenge could well be local - next Friday in Plas Pentwyn, Coedpoeth will be launching its bid to become the first Welsh community to go carbon neutral with "Canslo Carbon Coedpoeth". Good luck to the local campaigners behind that initiative. If they succeed in developing the same kind of community spirit as Ashton Hayes, it will be a real boost to the village.
The local energy theme was taken up by Michael Hughes of Llangollen, who's trying to harness the Dee's power for hydro-electricity. Not so much a case of reinventing the wheel as re-inventing the water wheel because there are at least four old schemes along that stretch of the river that could possibly be revived.
Again, the attraction is energy production that is renewable, clean and provides for the local community. Also present were practical demonstrations of how to reduce your electricity bills with smart meters from local firm PH Jones as well as a communal organic gardening project from the Ceiriog Valley.
There are lots of grassroots initiatives happening all over the area and it was a genuine surprise to see how many are developing independently.