David Payne opened the packed meeting and emphasised that Transition is about positive responses to climate change, about vision rather than protest. He explained that the focus was on thinking about what kind of a community we will be if we want to live more sustainably. Speakers Mike Grenville from Transition Forest Row and Ruth Valerio from Transition Chichester then each addressed the meeting, sharing their experiences of Transition in their towns.
What is Transition?
Mike Grenville described how Transition Forest Row had grown over the last few years in response to concerns over climate change and peak oil. Our society is dependent on oil and yet the reality is that the world has consumed more oil than we have discovered over the past thirty years.He explained it is not a question of if the oil runs out, but when: oil is finite and our consumption of it has an impact on the planet “business as usual is not an option”.
The purpose of Transition is to support community-led responses to peak oil and climate change, building resilience and happiness. Resilience is the ability of the community to withstand shocks: if one day you wake up and there is no food in the supermarket, what would you do? Rather than worrying about stories of doom and apocalypse, there are steps we can take to engage with our communities. We need to think about what we can do in our communities and what our local legislators can do.
Ruth Valerio described the assumptions on which the Transition movement is based:
Transition Initiative in Forest Row: Mike Grenville
Transition Forest Row had engaged in a process of positive visioning: thinking about what their town might look like in 2020 and working out how, by changing the way they live now, they can make a difference. Ideas they’ve already taken up included a seed swap day; a local food guide listing all food producers in the area and “honouring the elders” hearing stories about how, in previous generations, people managed without fridges and central heating and made their own food. Mike described Transition as “more a party than a protest”.
The Chichester Experience of Transition: Ruth Valerio
Transition Chichester was only a year old but had set up a wide range of activities from a monthly “green drinks” night (an open pub night to talk about green things) to films; awareness-raising with visiting speakers; walks and picnics. Ruth was particularly involved in the Food Group which had held “local food dinners” with locally sourced food and wine and a garden trail – a vegetable version of Wadhurst Open Gardens.
Ruth Valerio also emphasised the need to involve business leaders, council leaders and other local organisations in the initiative. Rather than simply focusing on what the individual can do Transition is community focused and friendship focused; Whilst recognising that campaigning is important, Transition emphasises that we can’t wait, we have to get on and do things ourselves and begin to make that difference.
Wadhurst: world café
Following these inspirational presentations and a chance to ask questions, the audience then rose to the challenge of thinking about our own community in Wadhurst, what changes we’d like to see and what skills we have to share. Seated in café style, they were encouraged by facilitator Anita Konrad to share ideas and discuss possibilities from the practical to the bizarre. During lively discussions, a multitude of suggestions were shared on tables including: grants for green roofs and solar panels; micro generation projects; garden sharing; limiting traffic; a plastic bag ban in Wadhurst; a Wadhurst version of “Green Drinks”; the return of the Wad (Wadhurst local currency); doorstep recycling; family learning around growing and cooking food; vegetables on the verges; cycle lanes and a community orchard. Common areas of concern focused on heavy, speeding traffic and alternative transport to the station. Jayne Wallace’s response to the evening was typical of others in the audience: “it was encouraging for the future and helped us to realise that community action could be taken which would result in positive outcomes".
Wadhurst Parish Council
Local councillors including Wadhurst Parish Council Chair, Tom Doyle and the Wadhurst member of Wealden District Council, Bob Standley attended the meeting as did representatives from Wadhurst Business Association and many local Wadhurst organisations; members of Transition groups in Mayfield and Tunbridge Wells were also there to offer support. Tom Doyle, Chair of Wadhurst Parish Council said “It was great to see such enthusiasm for so worthwhile a project. Councils can only do so much to address the problem of climate change; what individuals and communities do is considerably more important. I look forward to seeing what practical ideas emerge from the meeting; I'm sure Transition Wadhurst and the Parish Council will have similar objectives and I look forward to us all working together."
The next meeting will be on Thursday 22 October at Uplands School Hall at 7.30 – a chance to see the brand new Transition Movie followed by an informal discussion with refreshments. If you’d like more information on Transition Wadhurst or are keen to share skills and ideas, please contact David Payne Tel 783731) or Beth Martin. We will soon set up a wiki on the Wadhurst website to share ideas.
Wealden Wholefoods (whose founder Shirley Rothera was the inaugural member of the Wadhurst Transition Steering Group) supported the event with a range of organic wines, beers and snacks. We would like to thank Uplands Community Technology College for use of the hall.
Wealden Wholefoods (whose founder Shirley Rothera was the inaugural member of the Wadhurst Transition Steering Group) supported the event with a range of organic wines, beers and snacks. we would like to thank Uplands Community Technology College for use of the hall.
only by getting involved will we make anything different