www.transitionfreepress.org | Issue No. 5 | Spring 2014
people Ugo Vallauri Tech in our hands
practical Bin Doctors Talking rubbish
Our watershed moment
Photo by PA / Press Association Images
by Alexis Rowell
Onlookers take in the storm at Porthcawl harbour, South Wales in January
Totnes Pound gets a face lift by Ben Brangwyn
Local currencies have long been heralded as a financial innovation that will strengthen local economies – they’re a very simple way of increasing the amount of money people spend locally, and of keeping that money circulating in the community. There are several successful pro- digital currency, which could be But this spring sees the welcome jects running across the country, taking the idea in a new direction. relaunch of one of the original notably in Bristol, Brixton south Modelled partly on the Bitcoin, it local currency schemes, the Totnes London, and Lewes in East Sussex. would pay digital tokens to people Pound. Originally set up in 2007, There’s even the new HullCoin, on low incomes who undertake vol- the Totnes Transition team hopes thought to be the f irst local untary work. the relaunch will reinvigorate the
physical The people’s pools Lidos make a comeback Page 23
“Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.” Coleridge’s words have a prophetic ring to them. We humans need water for life, we love it for leisure, we make art out of it; yet we also waste it, dirty it, privatise it, use it as a weapon and, most dangerously, stir it up brutally in the form of manmade climate change. The recent Climate Impacts Report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is dripping with references to water. Shrinking glaciers, struggling marine species, reduced crop yields, increased f looding, melting Arctic sea ice, drought – the list of water-related climate issues is long. There was no new science in the report, but the language was different – it was more dramatic, especially in terms of consequences for humans. “Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, f loods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems,” it warned. Or, in the words of Dr Patricia Romero Lankao, one of the report’s authors, “The polar bear is us.” Some chose to decry the report’s “alarmist” language, but most climate experts see the IPCC as ultracautious. “It has to be,” says Rob Hopkins, a founder of the Transition movement. “It’s a synthesis of research papers and its output has to be agreed by governments. It is, by definition, the lowest common denominator in climate science. That’s why, time and time again, the reality has been worse than the IPCC predictions.” debate about money and local economies, heighten the sense of local distinctiveness in the town and encourage local traders to engage more closely with the Transition movement. This time around the Totnes Pound team are working hard to make a big and immediate impact on the community and are hoping the whole project will ref lect the town’s renowned independent streak. “I love this scheme and how it highlights what’s so special continued on 6
Britain has just experienced its wettest winter since records began. Adrian Tait, a psychotherapist and member of Transition Athelney, which is situated in the catastrophically flooded Somerset Levels, says:
“Water’s long-term availability raises questions about the sustainability of growth itself” “People aren’t talking much about climate change explicitly, but they’re palpably fearful of future events. My interpretation is that they’ve taken something on board about changing weather patterns and the threats these pose to the Somerset Levels.” There’s no shortage of solutions for the Somerset Levels in the recent Blueprint for Water Coalition report: “Restoring wetlands, planting wet woodlands, encouraging rivers to meander over the floodplain and creating ‘upstream’ holding areas and buffer strips are just some of the ‘slow water’ techniques which allow time for underground reserves to fill and prevent flash flood peaks racing downstream,” it says. continued on 2
Photo by Emilio Mula
news End of the oil road? Breaking the car taboo
Buying a round with a Totnes pound at the Bay Horse Inn, Totnes
NEWS 2–5 RECONOMY 7 ENERGY 8 PEOPLE 12 ARTS 16 FOOD 18–19 WELLBEING 21 PRACTICAL 22 SPORT 24
welcome Welcome to our new Spring edition! We’re stepping out into our second year of Transition Free Press, after a successful pilot during 2013, and hope you will keep following our tracks as we cross into uncharted territory.
Technology13 Talkback14–15 Arts16 Community17 How we reap what we sow
Food18–19 Introducing The Veg Men
Walking20 Wellbeing21 Practical22 Physical23 Sport24 Editor Charlotte Du Cann Managing Editor Alexis Rowell News & Sport Amy Hall News & Sport subeditor Nick Tigg Energy Gareth Simkins Education and Assistant Features Michaela Woollatt Food and Drink Tess Riley, Eva Schonveld Design Chris Wells Proofreaders Marion McCartney, Nick Tigg, Sheila Rowell Distribution Mark Watson Subscriptions Mike Grenville Contributors James Baker, Dan Barnard, Michelle Bastian, Emma Bishton, Joseph Blake, Ben Brangwyn, Rachel Briscoe, Vanessa Buth, Karen Cannard, Eve Carnell, Damien Clarkson, Andy Cummins, Warren Draper, Philip French, Simon French, Jonny Gordon-Farleigh, Nick Hunt, Thomas Kirchmayer, Dorothea Leber, Manuel Casal Lodeiro, Peter Macfadyen, Helen Moore, Gregory Norminton, Lauren Parry, Lucy Purdy, Rupert Read, Dougie Strang, Ilana Taub, Tracey Todhunter, Biff Vernon, Suzie Webb, Mark Williams
Photo by Ruth Corney
gone as far as data and facts Welcome2 “We’ve can take us, now something else has News3–5 to kick in,” food consultant Geoff told a group of artists who Money6 Tansey had gathered to collaborate on a book REconomy7 about Transition and the arts called for Time. Energy8 Playing Transition Free Press is a paper Democracy9 reporting on that ‘something else’: the people who are shifting from a Education10 growth-at-all-costs culture to one that Transition Elsewhere 11 will get us and the Earth we love back track. People12 on Like all great artists, this new culUgo Vallauri
ture works as an intervention into ‘normal’ life, reminding everyone how Swimmers cross the street in SWIM by Amy Sharrocks – where 50 people swam across the pools and ponds of London during one summer’s day www.musuemofwater.co.uk earthly life is unpredictable, funny, Most of all it’s about notic- themselves – with a little help much about how we work together risky, inventive, beautiful; how regen- ing what kind of life we wish for, from others in the neighbour- in small and often invisible ways eration can happen on every street given a chance to work it out: get- hood. It demonstrates the magic as it is about the direction we take. corner and that the everyday world ting a deep sense of time, that is of experiential life. How things For 2014 our aim is to keep is rich. not the time of the clock; a change can turn around just by getting celebrating those collaborations Facts about climate change and of mood, that is not anxious or engaged. Like all great Transition and give you glimpses into that peak resources are necessary to know, mean; paying attention to the projects it says: we can take this possible world. In these spring that’s clear – but what makes for a seasons like foragers and poets. into our own hands: we can revi- and summer pages we’re welcomsea-change is when you sense another So though the data may predict talise democracy, sort out the ing initiatives and campaigns kind of world is out there. That’s a the same outcomes, we realise our waste crisis, start our own cur- that run alongside the Transition world where you find yourself walk- feeling about things has radically rency, run our own paper! Right movement and a brand new editoing across the street in a swimsuit, changed. here, right now. rial team. Come on in! The water sowing beans under the Fenland sky, At the heart of this May-July Because this not an individual is lovely. taking part in a play about apples on issue is a story about The Restart shift. The Earth has come about Tooting Bec Common. Taking a long Project that inspires people to via extraordinary and unlikely Charlotte, Alexis, Mark, Amy, Chris, walk across the nation with strangers pick up their broken technol- collaborations between beings you Michaela, Gavin, Marion, Mike, Eva who feel like kin. ogy and learn how to mend it might not ordinarily see. It’s as and Tess Continued from page 1
Our watershed moment
Cities are just as much at risk of flooding as was shown in London this winter. Germany is a leader in urban flood management. German councils have the right to introduce charges for hard surfaces or even to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach. Thomas Kirchmayer of Transition Ingolstadt in Bavaria says: “When we built our house we had to prove
that all rainwater would drain away within our grounds. Not even a litre could go into the sewers!” On other parts of the planet the problem is lack of water. California has been enduring its worst drought for 500 years. Its largest city, Los Angeles, imports 89% of its water. Pumping it to end users costs around $1bn a year
How shale gas extraction works A beginners guide to the future of energy
Flames from bathroom taps Dead horse
Well Water table Injected into the well are: Water, Sand, Hydrochloric Acid, Glutaraldehyde, Ammonium Persulfate, Sodium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Mild Cheddar, Mango Chutney, Toothpaste, Hummus and Lilt Shale layer
Fissures through shale layer, poking their poison tendrils of filth into the water table
Fissures into shale
No.04 By Simon French www.simonfrench.com
– which, crazily, is roughly the same amount the city spends on f lood management. Andy Lipkis of the environmental group, Tree People, is trying to persuade Los Angeles to capture the rain rather than push it down the sewers. “The water that does fall here is estimated at today’s usage to provide potentially 30%– 33% of the water we need in Los Angeles,” he says. “But if we were to capture it and use it really efficiently – let’s say we were to double our efficiency – that would be 60% of the water we need.” At the edges of these debates about too little or too much water is perhaps the beginning of a new narrative. Tim Palmer, author of landscape book Rivers of California, says: “Water’s long-term availability raises questions about the sustainability of growth itself.” The UK government’s former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, believes “GDP rise in the face of the impact of extreme weather events is very unrealistic.” Joanne Poyourow of Californian Transition group, Environmental
Change-Makers, notes: “Local organisations which weren’t founded for environmental or climate-based issues are now folding these topics into their descriptions of why they do what they do.” Amid the manmade chaos, says British water artist, Amy Sharrocks, we need to remind ourselves of the inherent wonder of water: “It fulfils our most basic need and offers us some of our greatest joys,” she enthuses. “A cool glass of water, the comfort of a cup of tea, the consolation of a hot bath, a water fight in a summer garden, the soothing rhythm of a mountain waterfall, the power of a wave crashing on the shore. “Next time it rains, instead of defending against it with an umbrella, stick your tongue out and invite it in,” she playfully suggests. “Beautiful, extraordinary water, without which the performance of everyday life would be utterly impossible – celebrate it, respect it and never underestimate it.” Alexis Rowellis Managing Editor of Transition Free Press.
news From waste to taste by Tess Riley
The cafe now opens four days a week in the centre of Fishguard, on the southwest tip of Wales. The thriving Transition Cafe makes lowcost, healthy meals and preserves from products with a short shelf-life, including fruit, vegetables, dairy, bakery goods and a small amount of meat.
“A food system characterised by high levels of waste and low social benefit is most certainly not our only option”
Photo by Brian Jackson
“I always find it hard to believe that what comes out on the plate is made from gluts and surplus from the community,” says local resident Paul. “The food here is worthy of any high-class restaurant!” As the waste food can’t be predicted, the menu changes daily. The typical ingredients the cafe receives means that most of the meals served are vegetarian, such
Like Transition Bro Gwaun’s other major projects – renewable community energy and skill sharing – the cafe focuses on carbon reduction. Turning food waste into delicious meals means no methane emissions from rotting food, and surplus food is collected within a four mile radius of the cafe to keep fossil fuel emissions down. “We have an energy monitor in the kitchen to monitor how much electricity we’re using, and we try to reduce it wherever possible,” says co-organiser Chris Samra. “We also monitor our storage systems – there’s no point in rescuing food from landfill if we then use lots of energy keeping it frozen for ages.” Local support has been key to sustaining Fishguard’s Transition Cafe. The enthusiasm of the local Co-operative shop manager led to the cafe’s installation rent-free in an empty building next door. The property was then renovated thanks to the generosity of local businesses and volunteers, plus several grants. The cafe team say that it has been particularly successful in attracting volunteers from a much
Sarah Purbrick, Rosi Jones and Fay Ford turning unwanted food into hearty meals
as quiche, vegetable gratin and curry, and they try to have at least one gluten-free option available each day. Popular puddings include fruit crumbles, sponges and pies. With prices from £2.00-£4.00 for a main course, and £1.50-£2.50 for a pudding, the cafe’s customers aren’t complaining. “Bendigedig! [fantastic in Welsh] And so reasonable – long may it last!” says happy customer Carys. According to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, Wales produces an estimated 400,000 tonnes of household food and drink waste every year, the majority of which is sent to landfill. That’s £700 per household thrown in the bin.
wider cross-section of the community than ‘traditional’ Transitioners. It provides a meeting place for local groups, addresses food poverty, promotes ideas for sustainable living and offers valuable work experience for local people. In the words of Chris Samra: “The Transition Community Cafe demonstrates that a food system characterised by waste, food miles and low social benefit isn’t our only option.” Tess Rileyis a freelance journalist who writes about food, the environment and communities, and co-edits the Food pages of Transition Free Press. www.tessriley.wordpress.com @tess_riley
Photo by eni historical archives, Rome, Italy
As Transition Bro Gwaun member Ann Bushell was trawling local businesses for waste vegetables to feed her chickens, it dawned on her just how much edible food was going to landfill. It was this realisation which eventually led to the birth of the Transition Community Cafe in Fishguard in June 2013.
Construction of the Central European Oil pipeline from Genoa to Ingolstadt, 1961. Three pipelines, previously ran to Ingolstadt, starting at Marseille, Genoa and Trieste.
The end of the oil road by Thomas Kirchmayer
Ingolstadt in Bavaria sits at the end of the ‘Oil Road’ which, like the Silk Road of times gone by, runs from Central Asia to Central Europe. The silks went long ago; the hydrocarbons arrived in the 1960s, when Ingolstadt became the oil-fuelled pinnacle of Germany’s post-war ‘economic miracle’. As a child, I loved the car journeys from my relatives in Munich back home to ‘Stinkoilstadt’, as Ingolstadt came to be known. My father drove, my mother at his side, my brother and I in the back – all of us watching the sun setting over the valley, to be replaced by industrial lights and gas flares stretching up to the horizon. We were the picture of a thriving German ‘Wirtschaftswunder’ (‘economic miracle’) family. Starting in 1963, four multinational oil companies (Shell, BP, Esso/Exxon and ENI) worked step by step to achieve the master plan of the Bavarian state government. Ingolstadt and the neighbouring municipalities to the east were to become the major oil hub for southern Germany. Three pipelines, starting at Marseille, Genoa and Trieste, pumped crude oil into the backbone of Germany’s hydrocarbon-fuelled, post-war miracle. In their 2012 book, The Oil Road, James Marriott and Mika MinioPaluello explored some of the darker aspects of the fossil fuel industry as they travelled from the
oil fields of the Caspian through to Central Europe. They wrote about the motorway on which my family regularly travelled: “Standing on an autobahn bridge above six lanes of traffic… here we are in the midst of a great experiment, a piece of social market engineering… the vision of the city as a model of harmony, with the machine as an essential
to mobilise at a local level, by organising better public transport and car-sharing,” says Beate Noe, one of the co-founders of Transition Ingolstadt. Maybe things are changing. Cars no longer seem to be such a status symbol among younger buyers. According to the national car-sharing association, 200,000 Germans decided to share a vehicle 2013. “The vision of a city as on Traffic on the ‘Oil Road’ is also a model of harmony, slowing down. Where once there were three incoming oil pipelines with the machine as and five oil refineries, now there is essential assistant only one of each. My wife and I sold our car long to the citizen” ago, but I still love the night-time assistant to the citizen.” journeys back from Munich. My The car industry is an impor- parents, my family and my brother’s tant part of Ingolstadt. Audi has family: three generations travelling more than 35,000 employees here. home to Ingolstadt by train, all peerAlthough transport-related energy ing out of the window, watching the consumption has fallen by 8% in sun go down on the ‘Oil Road’. Germany since 1999, the number of cars is still predicted to rise from 1 Thomas Kirchmayeris a member billion in 2010 to 1.12bn in 2015. of the Steering Group of Transition A ke y goa l of Transition Ingolstadt, which he co-founded Ingolstadt is to help people out of in 2012. He teaches at a vocational their cars. “It’s up to us, the people, business school in Ingolstadt.
Photo by Moira McDade via Lock the Gate Alliance, under a CC BY 2.0 License
news Behind the fracking headlines by Biff Vernon
According to the British Geological Survey, fracking could release considerable fossil fuel resources contained in shale rock formations around the UK. It’s a controversial method of extraction and even the government accepts it won’t reduce the price of gas.
climate change consequences of opening up access to additional fossil fuels. “We need to move as The Tara Gasfield in Queensland, Australia where thousands of coal close as we can to a carbon neubed methane wells have been drilled over the past few years. tral economy, characterised by renewable energy and by greatly improved energy efficiency at all levels. “I don’t have much hope that prof its from fracking will be used for serious investment for a carbon neutral economy,” he adds. Some of the other communities earmarked to host frack“It is currently by Eva Schonveld ing projects have begun to form possible to make a their own alternative solutions. A battle over the future of energy production in this country Residents of Balcombe in West is being fought in Scotland’s Forth Valley, and it features two lot of money not by Sussex have formed a co-opera- firsts for the UK: Dart Energy’s coal bed methane extraction producing gas, but by tive solar energy project called project would be the first commercial scheme of its kind, Balcombe, which aims but it’s being opposed by locals using a unique method – a convincing investors” REPOWER to start by supplying 7.5% of the Community Charter. to welcome the plan. Egdon’s village’s power demand. This is the sort of grassroots The Charter has been inspired by peace of mind.” shares went up to about 30 pence. pro-active solution we need if numerous Bills of Rights that protesThe themes were discussed at a Egdon directors and anyone else we’re to take power, literally, tors are using throughout America public meeting where it was decided holding a lot of the company’s shares became very rich over- into our own hands. It’s only by to fight energy companies by assert- that central to the Charter should be night, though not a single cubic seizing the initiative back from ing the rights of residents to clean the right of local people to have decifoot of gas had been produced. In unconventional fossil fuels like air and water and local self-govern- sion-making powers over things that other words, it’s currently possi- shale gas that we will avert cata- ment, and uphold the rights of natu- are fundamental to their health and ral communities and ecosystems. well-being. ble to make a lot of money in the strophic climate change. If the Scottish government McKenzie Hamilton said that industry, not by producing gas, approves plans for coal bed meth- although those involved were not but by convincing investors that Biff Vernon is a geologist ane extraction, it is thought that a all politically experienced, engagthere’s money to be made in the who started environmental precedent would be set for similar ing with the process brought imporfuture. Financial analyst Deborah campaigning in the early 1970s, projects elsewhere in the UK. tant insights: “There was a lovely Rogers ha s ma d e t he sa me stood for the Green Party in The community was spurred into moment where people started to point about Wall Street’s over- 1979, and spent the next three action by hearing of the devastation say, ‘Gosh, the needs of people elseblown valuations of US fracking decades teaching. He now of huge areas of Australia by similar where are resulting in this threat to companies. grows vegetables and f lowers in drilling, and started to raise aware- us – we need to remain mindful of Geoff Stratford of Transition Lincolnshire, and worries about ness locally through public meetings. how our needs could be a threat to Lincoln is concerned about the his granddaughter’s future. They then began writing thousands communities elsewhere.’ It seems of letters of objection and raising you only have to set the context Frack Free Upton make a stand against unconventional gas in March. In April the group set up a ‘protection camp’ near Chester to protest against fracking. funds for a legal fight. right and everything becomes about One contributor, local midwife common values and aspirations Alison Doyle, said the Charter out- quite naturally.” lines, “the things which create pride The Australian company behind in our community and respect for the scheme, Dart, has access to milourselves and each other. They lions of pounds-worth of legal help, cannot always be described but are, but the local community has raised rather, felt and cherished by the an impressive £50,000 for the fight people and allow growth, harmony, ahead. They’ve also persuaded well-being and a thriving commu- expert witnesses to give their time nity. It is through the Charter that for free and have a legal team workour community demands the right ing for close to the minimum wage. to protect itself from any developThe Charter created by the West ment which threatens these precious Lothian and Stirlingshire commuthings”. nities is a passionate expression of Jamie McKenzie Hamilton, a their love and respect for the place founder member of the Concerned in which they live. Communities of Falkirk group, They top a growing list of UK helped facilitate many of the public communities coming in for unwelmeetings and described how the come attention from fossil fuel comcommunity constructed their panies – and fighting back. Charter: “We started gathering information and out of that we saw Eva Schonveldis a Food and themes which came up again and Drink editor for Transition Free again: cultural continuity, protec- Press and a member of Portobello tion of nature, protection of health, Transition Town in Edinburgh. small company, Egdon Resources, holds the Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) for part of this area. Last year their shares were trading at around 10 pence. In January 2014, energy compa ny Tot a l a nnou nced t he y would invest in Egdon – fracking is banned in their native France. T he pr i me m i n i s ter, Dav id Cameron, went to Gainsborough
Whose land is it anyway?
Photo by Martin Boothman
But much of the debate around fracking has centred on local pollution, which the industry seems happy to discuss. It argues the risks are manageable with appropriate regulation. However, one issue the fracking industry doesn’t seem to want to talk about is climate change. Most scientists believe that we cannot burn all our remaining fossil fuel reserves if we are to prevent runaway climate change. According to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which aims to identify how much unburnable carbon is currently listed on global stock markets, “only 20% of the total reserves can be burned.” T h e Ho u s e of C o m m o n s Environmental Audit Committee’s recent Green Finance report said: “The transition to a low-carbon economy will require investors to take account of the reality of a carbon-constrained world. This shift is happening, but there are obstacles to overcome – stock markets are currently over-valuing companies that produce and use carbon.” Why then is fracking being pursued? “Follow the money ” seems an appropriate response. For example, here in the East Midlands there’s a geological basin called the Gainsborough Trough that contains a lot of shale rock. It’s likely to contain gas that might be released by fracking. A
Social change at three miles an hour by Jonny Gordon-Farleigh
Walking can be an intensely political act. From 89-year-old Doris Haddock’s 3,200-mile walk across the US to demand election campaign finance reform, to Schumacher College founder Satish Kumar’s 8,000-mile peace walk to the capitals of nuclear-armed countries, walking has a special place in the history of social change. Inspired by rambling rebels like with high quality, environmentally these, a small group of companions friendly food and hosts sustainable and I will set off on a new journey horticultural courses. – The Tolpuddle Pilgrimage – to celLaura Creen is one of the allebrate the history of working class woman team. “We’re inspired by heroes the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and to the vision of creating a food system connect with new farming and food that’s fair for the workers and fair enterprises in South West England. for those who are dependent on it,” In 1834, farm workers from Tolpuddle joined others in west “Centralised, modern Dorset to campaign against their worsening conditions and pay cuts. unions can seem Six trade union leaders were arrested irrelevant to local and transported to Australia. Centralised, modern unions politics but the Martyrs can seem irrelevant to local politics, embodied a different but the Martyrs embodied a different way of organising to achieve way of organising” common goals. Our walk will begin on the steps she explains. Those who support the of Plymouth Harbour, where the farm can join as members, volunMartyrs returned with pardons teers, students, or donors. after a three year campaign which “We’re creating an alternative to included mass protest and an conventional farming which can 800,000 signature petition delivered still sit within our present economic to Parliament. Our final destination system by giving our community the will be this year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs’ opportunity to support the farm that Festival on 19th July in Dorset. feeds them,” she adds. The walk will stop at many of Another pilgrimage collaborator the new alternative projects that is the Dorset-based micro-brewery are making our food system more Gyle 59. Head Brewer Jon Hosking resilient, such as School Farm has unearthed a Tolpuddle MartyrsCommunity Supported Agriculture era recipe and is using it to create at Dartington in Devon. The UK’s a bespoke beer to celebrate the only no-dig organic-certified farm walk, adding Australian hops to aims to provide the local community represent the Martyrs’ deportation.
Photo by Mak Gilchrist / www.theediblebusstop.org (@EdibleBusStop)
Landor Road, SW9, part of the London Edible Bus Stop project which transforms neglected green areas into community growing spaces
Time for a transport revolution
The brewing day is set for Friday 23rd May and a share of the profit will go towards our ‘pilgrim’s pot’ to help cover the costs of the walk. An important part of the pilgrimage is bringing the history into the public realm and into our by Rupert Read civic spaces. As one of the symbols of the Tolpuddle Martyrs was their If this winter’s extraordinary storms and associated floods have meetings under a sycamore tree, helped people to understand the risks of human-influenced we will be planting tree saplings climate change, then there may now be an opportunity for (or ‘organiser trees’) along the environmental campaigners to effect real change. route. During the pilgrimage, we want Few issues are more critical than the East Coast franchise, the only to support relevant initiatives and transport, where we need to transi- nationally owned one. What better local campaigns, like new farms tion beyond dangerous fossil fuels advert could there be for renationthat need a volunteer work day, a altogether. alisation of the railways? Poll after living wage campaign or fund “We’re told that the British don’t poll shows 70% of the public want raising for a community kitchen. do revolution,” says John Stewart, the railways to be returned to the We’re inviting local trade union the Chair of Airport Watch. “That’s public sector yet the coalition govbranches, co-operatives, Transition a pity because we need a transport ernment seems determined to reInitiatives, church groups and revolution in the UK.” privatise the East Coast line. anyone who wants to support these Greenhouse gas emissions from According to the National Travel new communities to join us on the the travel sector have continued to Survey, car journeys accounted trail because, as writer and walker rise in recent years, while the recent for 64% of all trips in Britain in Robert Macfarlane says: “It’s hard storms and flooding have demon- 2012. The major road-building proto create a footpath on your own.” strated the lack of resilience in our gramme currently planned by the transport system. The destruction government is only likely to encourJonny Gordon-Farleighis Editor of the line at Dawlish in Devon pro- age more car travel. By contrast, a of STIR, a quarterly magazine of voked calls for alternative rail routes more intensive promotion throughco-operative and community-led down to Cornwall. out the UK and the European Union alternatives (www.stirtoaction.com). There are also questions over of safer streets – better provision Find out more about the Tolpuddle whether a new high-speed, pas- for walkers, cyclists and local public Pilgrimage and how you can host senger-only railway (HS2) could transport users – could make our be part of any genuine transport roads more accessible for all users, them in your community on Facebook revolution. In March 2014, a letter including people with disabilities or by email: email@example.com and children. Lowering speed limits The Tolpuddle Martyrs and other farm labourers would often meet under a sycamore tree. It has become an icon of their struggle in residential areas could also help Image courtesy of Clifford Harper / Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum “We are told that reduce carbon emissions. The EU does fund transport the British don’t do infrastructure, but most of the revolution. A pity! money is being ploughed into We need a transport the Trans-European Transport Networks, a spider’s web of massive revolution” air, rail, road and waterway schemes, to The Times with high profile signa- which has a budget of €26 bn up to tories from a range of sectors, said 2020. This funding could instead of the damage to the Dawlish track: be focused on supporting radical “This underlines the stark choice in change to affordable public transdetermining priorities for invest- port, resilient infrastructure and ment in Britain’s transport network safer streets. – between investment in increasIn the words of John Stewart, ing resilience, developing regional who recently co-edited a book called transport connections and relieving The Green Transport Revolution for the the plight of the thousands forced to 21st Century: “Campaign groups will stand on trains each day, or plough- simply be sucked into subservience ing ahead with a London-centric to the status quo unless they are high speed line with a dreadful prepared to go out on a limb and call business case which connects just for revolutionary change.” four cities.” The rail franchise which costs Rupert Readis the lead Green Party Network Rail the least, has some candidate in Eastern England for the of the lowest rail fares and has the European Parliament elections and highest customer satisfaction is a member of Transition Norwich.
Putting people back into finance
by Amy Hall
The creation of money is their biggest focus: they want the state to have more power and the private banks, who currently create 97% of the money supply in the form of loans, to have less. Building on work by economists like Irving Fisher in the 1930s, Positive Money argue that full reserve banking, where banks aren’t able to lend more money than they actually have, would help to stabilise the economy. “Since almost all of our money is ‘on loan’ from banks, someone must pay interest on nearly every pound in the UK,” says Dyson. “This interest redistributes money from the bottom 90% of the population to the top 10%. The money which banks create also pushes up house prices, and inf lates bubbles in financial markets – making the very rich even richer.” Other more conventional voices, such as the former Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, and Martin Wolf of the Financial
Times, have also started to ask the system works and can move questions about how money works. on to talking about how we can In February, the former Chairman change it.” But there are some within proof the Financial Services Authority, Lord Adair Turner, said: “Over sev- gressive politics who are not coneral decades prior to 2008, private vinced by Positive Money’s ideas. credit grew faster than GDP in Tim Jones of the Jubilee Debt Foundation thinks full reserve banking would make the finan“We no longer have cial system inflexible. “It could be really problematic in reducing the to debate how the ability of people and governments system works and to invest in infrastructure and things for the future,” he argues. can talk about how Jones thinks that Positive we can change it” Money’s idea of a ‘Money Creation most advanced economies and… Committee’ to oversee how money that was a major cause of the is created is too technocratic. “We don’t need more bureaucrats crisis.” In March 2014, Positive Money taking economic decisions away claimed a victory when the Bank from people,” he says. Daniel Webb is part of the team of England released two papers which said that modern money at goodmoney, a new social enterwas indeed created by private prise aiming to help business to banks creating debt. “It’s a mas- exchange goods and services in sive step forward,” says Dyson. the Brighton area. He wants to “We no longer have to debate how see more bottom-up reforms. “At
“Change will happen when expert opinion and public opinion coincide”
Photo: still from a Positive Money video
Tapping into the deep discontent about the financial system, which erupted on to the streets in movements like Occupy and UK Uncut, the Positive Money campaign has put forward radical proposals for monetary reform. Director Ben Dyson says these changes would “democratise money and banking so that it works for society and not against it.”
Fran Boait of Positive Money speaks about the campaign’s potential at 2014’s supporter conference
the moment, local economies it. From Positive Money to goodare overly dependent on bank money; from ‘moneyless’ expericredit,” he says. “Starting with ments to the local currencies of business-to-business transac- Lewes, Brixton and Bristol; from tions, goodmoney want to match credit unions to time banks: these up buyers and sellers to process are interesting times. Can money transactions within a system of be remade into something more local credit.” socially useful? What’s clear is that the current system isn’t working and there Amy Hallis News Editor of is a buzz of ideas for improving Transition Free Press.
Continued from page 1
Totnes Pound gets a face lift
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about this place,” said Alan Carter attractive nor enough like ‘real’ who runs local Totnes clothes shop money. Fusion. As with other schemes, the The notes for the relaunched exchange rate is 1 Totnes Pound to currency have been designed to £1 sterling, and anyone can buy the highlight local attributes, includ- notes at one of five issuing points in ing a picture of a householder the town. Traders can use the notes celebrating the solar array on her to buy local goods, hand them back roof with the words “powered in as change to shoppers, pay their Totnes”. A vegbox full of mouth- staff with them, or exchange them watering produce on the one for sterling at the Transition Town offices. Another new feature on the notes “I love this scheme is a Quick Response (QR) code, which and how it highlights can be scanned by a smartphone and will take users directly to a special what’s so special offers page on the Totnes Pound website. Another improvement for about this place” Totnes Pound 2.0 is a greater level of pound note shows what is “grown engagement with traders, including in Totnes”. And the town’s legacy of craftspeople is celebrated by a local leatherworker accompanied by the words “crafted in Totnes”. The less well-known but equally important hi-tech industries are illustrated by a circuit board and the words “engineered in Totnes”. When the currency was first launched in 2007 the designs were thought to be neither particularly
regular visits to get their input into any further improvements. The Chamber of Commerce is also involved this time, with one of their officers on the Totnes Pound team. The local economy will not be transformed by the Totnes Pound alone, but it will certainly help people understand what is great about the place, perhaps prevent it from becoming a dreaded clonetown, and continue this groundbreaking and inspiring experiment in Transition living. Ben Brangwynis International Co-ordinator at Transition Network which he co-founded. He is part of the Totnes Pound group of Transition Town Totnes.
Ready, steady, make
by James Baker
We live in a disposable society, but where can we learn to make and repair things? Where can we go to acquire new skills that will help keep our communities running, and ultimately make them stronger and more resilient? Herefordshire has a good repuA bigger problem with a project like this, though, is long-term sus- tation for artisan goods, such as tainability – unproven and risky glass and metal work, and offers projects are difficult to fund. So, internationally recognised courses as with all businesses, it’s essential in various crafts and creative to research your idea thoroughly industries, including jewellery before you start. Specif ically, design, textiles and blacksmithing. you need to be able to answer So we have young people coming this question: what do people in into the county to learn a trade the local area need and for what who then leave as they struggle to make a career here using the skills purpose? they’ve acquired. To try to stop this trend, we built “My work required the a business plan focused on high use of equipment far volume use and low profit margins, Hereford Make supporter, Nick Sherwood cuts wood using the bandsaw at the Hereford Make workshop Ben Qu ick, a 23-year-old problems we currently face as a larger and noisier than designed to help improve the skills of the population and also retain Hereford Make user, said the work- society. We are now raising money I could accommodate skilled young people, who can then shop had been invaluable: “It’s ena- to begin a second facility and want in my landlady’s shed” become self-employed or move into bled me to establish a stable base to continue to prove this is a soluon which to build my potential tion that works. education or further training. Our workshop has proved to be a future as a blacksmith… I am able We started by looking at the social problems of Herefordshire: community asset and we have now to do the job I love and get myself James Bakeris Managing Director an under-skilled population, net been approached by ceramicists, set up without having to fork out of Hereford Make CIC. Donate emigration of young adults, and a textile and media artists asking massive capital for my own forge.” towards the new workshop facility ‘Open for all’ workshops are a and find out more about the high level of people not in employ- us to set up something similar for flexible solution to a multitude of project at www.makecic.co.uk ment, education or training. them. Photo by James Baker
Shared ‘open for all’ workshop spaces could be the answer. They offer access to equipment unaffordable to individuals, and at the same time create a community of makers who can support and advise each other. Since February 2013, I have been running Hereford Make CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise and metal, wood and forging workshop. I set up the project when I realised that my own work, as a designer working with wood and metal, required the use of equipment far larger and noisier than I could sensibly accommodate in my landlady’s shed. An early hurdle was finding suitable premises. What we needed had to be affordable, big, have permission for industrial use, and be within easy walking distance for most people. I visited several of Hereford’s industrial sites until we settled on our current plot in the north of the city.
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energy Photo by © Westmill Solar Co-operative
Whitehall’s community power–up by Gareth Simkins
Locally-owned energy projects have received a refreshing injection of cash with the launch of the government’s first ever community energy strategy, supported by several million pounds in extra funding. Westmill Solar Co-operative operates the first community-owned solar farm in the UK, on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border
But to produce this would need Community energy organisations a 45-fold increase in capacity, curhave welcomed the government rently a modest 66 megawatts, with money, which could affect around another 200 megawatts either 5,000 groups across the UK that are planned or being built. already working to transform local In March, the government energy use, by switching energy granted 12 well-established comsuppliers collectively, running munity groups up to £50,000 each energy-efficiency advice schemes and building wind farms. It could also boost local ownership of commercially-driven renewable energy “The new DECC strategy projects. is potentially a really The new strategy was published in January by the Department of revolutionary approach” Energy & Climate Change (DECC). It predicted that locally-owned to spread their knowledge more solar, onshore wind and hydro- widely. Among those to benefit from the power projects could generate up Community Energy Peer Mentoring to three gigawatts of electricity by fund was the Ouse Valley Energy 2020, enough to power more than Services Company (Ovesco), an 1m homes.
offshoot of Transition Town Lewes. the government had largely failed locally-driven energy-efficiency It plans to help ten Sussex groups to address the difficulty of gaining projects. There will also be £100,000 to set up their own energy co- planning permission for projects. to go towards helping communities Andrews’ group has raised save energy and money – and even operative and has already used the rural fund to plan a district heating hundreds of thousands of pounds a cash prize for the community that to install solar power, mostly on demonstrates the greatest reducscheme. The new DECC strategy is school roofs. It is also developing tion in energy consumption. “potentially a really revolutionary two micro-hydro projects on the Andrews from Bath & West approach,” said Emma Pinchbeck of River Avon. Community Energy said the new One of the new measures in government strategy, could help the Sustainable Energy Association, which represents small-scale renew- DECC’s 107-page document is a transform community energy from able energy developers. “Policy £10m fund to help urban commu- a ‘Cinderella’ concept into a realmakers have [become aware] that nities develop renewable and other ity: “We’ve got the shoes – we’re just there might be more solutions than energy projects. waiting for the ball gown.” The measure complements an just building a big power station.” Peter Andrews, from Bath & existing £15m fund for rural areas Gareth Simkinsis an environmental West Community Energy, added of England. Wales and Scotland journalist and consultant. He has that “somebody [in government] already have similar schemes. worked for environmental publishers is trying to take [community In addition to money for ENDS for eight years. He was treasurer energy] at least fractionally seri- schemes that generate energy, mil- of Transition Town Wimbledon and ously,” though he pointed out that lions more will be available for a trustee of Sustainable Merton.
Test run for Poole Harbour heat project by Gareth Simkins
Poole Tidal Energy Partnership has big plans for Poole Harbour
The 36 square kilometre bay acts like warm a café and art gallery at Upton they consume. If all goes to plan, the system, a “massive solar heater,” says John Country Park, just to the north of entirely funded by the council, the harbour. This is intended to be Gillingham, a carpenter and one of should be operational next winter. a proof-of-concept scheme, a public the leaders of the Poole Tidal Energy The scheme could increase public demonstration of heat pump techPartnership (PTEP). use of the park and will certainly cut nology prior to the bigger plan – As the name suggests, PTEP’s electricity bills, probably by some using the bay itself as a heat source original plan was to build the £5,000 a year. It will also educate for council buildings and local UK’s first ever community-owned the public, and save 20 tonnes of businesses. tidal power project. The commucarbon dioxide being tipped into The tea rooms in the park are nity interest company emerged three years ago, as a collaboration notoriously poorly heated and have the atmosphere – all of which will between Transition Town Poole, even had to be shut in the winter help the council meet its objective of Bournemouth University and the because of the cold. They’re a listed a 20% reduction in carbon emissions building, so demolition or major by 2020. borough of Poole. Gillingham said the advantages refurbishment is not an option. To But the tidal power proposal has are clear: “It will save quite a lot of solve this, PTEP is installing an proved too ambitious, at least at premoney, cut carbon... and the public underf loor heating system, consent. The harbour’s average depth nected to a heat pump, fed by water can see a working system.” is only 48 centimetres and there flowing through pipes in the pond. He admits heat pumps have a would be many competing interests Heat pumps are an old and estabdownside; although they are a lowto satisfy. lished heat-exchange technology, carbon source of heat, “we could be “It’s not viable to put a fairly large turbine there,” Gillingham explains, most commonly used to keep fridges accused of using dirty energy” from though harnessing the power of the and freezers cold. However, they are the grid to power them. increasingly being used, effectively “It’s not all sweetness and light. bay’s tides is still on the cards. For the moment, PTEP is under- in reverse, as heaters. Unlike normal Sometimes you have to walk taking a more modest project: electric heaters, they can produce far before you can run – but we’re not extracting heat from a pond to more heat energy than the electricity disheartened.”
“For the moment, PTEP is undertaking a more modest project: extracting heat from a pond to warm a café and art gallery”
Photo by Petr Kratochvil
Wind turbines, micro-hydro schemes and solar panels are not the only way for community groups to generate their own energy. One scheme in Dorset has rather different plans – to produce heat and power from Poole Harbour.
democracy People’s Parliament by Joseph Blake
Independents pave the way
by Peter Macfadyen
Photo by Katy Duke
The People’s Parliament is a new discussion series, hosted by rebel Labour MP John McDonnell in Parliament, with the aim of livening up and providing political depth to the debate in the run up to the next election. John explains: “With 12 months Derek Wall commented: “Ecology to go before the next election, we is not on the agenda; we live on should be entering a period of inten- Planet Money”. However, there was sive debate about the state of the some enthusiasm amongst the audicountry and the politics we want ence in the House of Commons comfor the future. This hasn’t taken off mittee room that the winter weather yet and usually the last place to look may change this. As one audience for this is in Parliament itself, with member put it: “Flooding must be its often sterile knockabout politics. seen as an opportunity for rallying “However, the meeting rooms around climate action”. are there and we are going to use Frank Hewetson from Greenthem to bring some real politics peace told the story of his impristo Parliament. You never know, it onment in a freezing cold Russian might even infect the Commons cell after their protest against chamber itself.” Arctic drilling at the end of last year. An exciting schedule of discus- Despite the harsh conditions and sions has been taking shape, with punishment it was inspiring to hear high-prof ile speakers such as him restate his commitment to “pro-
Councillor Dave Anderson (Dave the builder) replacing slabs, as part of Frome Independents’ protest against the tarmacking of a stone-paved street
All this has led to 100 new allotments; a massive ‘refurb’ of the town’s main hall; new town ownership of land and key buildings; a buzz of positivity around the town; and a Neighbourhood Plan nearing completion with One “What we are Planet Living right in its core. attempting is to If the political system is broken we must change it to make democcreate a new, inclusive racy a tool to create a better and democracy, starting more equitable society, or we invite social breakdown. In the from the grassroots up” short term the ‘Frome Experiment’ different views is seen as positive; is attempting to see what can be and where community leadership salvaged from the wreckage – Journalist Owen Jones: “The idea of a people’s parliament subverts the idea of Parliament itself.” which is about making bold, local demonstrating that local politics decisions is worked towards. What can be relevant, effective and fun. In the process we are adding to Caroline Lucas MP, journalist Owen test and civil disobedience”. we are attempting is to create a The response to the overall ininew, inclusive democracy, starting the models of joined up local com- Jones and academic David Graeber munities that are better prepared already taking part. In February, tiative has been very positive so far, from the grassroots up. We’ve found things can be frus- for an increasingly challenging a key discussion on the environ- and has been gaining momentum ment took place which included with large numbers of the public. tratingly slow as we bump into period of human history. Gu ardian columnist George Students, academics, authors, jourthe District Council, often and hard. But we have only just begun Flatpack Democracy: A DIY Guide to Monbiot, Greenpeace activist Frank nalists, campaigners, activists, union Hewetson, Derek Wall (interna- branch members, politicians and and we have succeeded in some Creating an Independent Politics by tional co-ordinator of the Green many others have expressed interest key areas. We’ve not been afraid Peter Macfadyen (eco-logic books) Party) and Jane Burston (Centre for and signed up to attend the talks on to spend and borrow and have is a history based on Frome’s subjects that include prisons, justice, brought significant private fund- experience and a guide for others Carbon Measurement). to learn from. Available from all The title for the discussion was foreign policy, tax, democracy and ing to the town. good local bookshops, it will be ‘The Earth Cannot Wait’, which cuts to disabled services. launched alongside walks and a was an urgently clear take-home With an unprecedented majority different kind of pub conversamessage by the end of the even- of voters alienated and disenfrantion in Totnes on Friday 2nd May ing. Monbiot turned up in his wel- chised from party politics as never and in Bath on Sunday 4th May. lies straight from the f loods in before, The People’s Parliament Details are available from Somerset and talked about how provides a much needed platform breadprintandroses.org and the government and establishment for other voices and is a vital step flatpackdemocracy.org media don’t know what they are towards establishing real democracy. doing regarding flooding or climate To find out more and sign up Peter Macfadyenis a change. for talks (free entry) please visit: horticulturalist, international “The right wing press doesn’t www.thepeoplesparliament.me.uk development consultant know what it’s saying… move towns and undertaker. Founder of up hills?!” Joseph Blakeis a freelance journalist, Sustainable Frome and a Director He said: “The only climate change co-founder of Transition Heathrow of Frome’s new Renewable solution is to keep fossil fuels in the and campaigner with Plane Stupid, Energy Co-op, he initiated ground but the Coalition are giving Edge Fund, SQUASH Campaign Independents for Frome in 2011. incentives to drill and frack”. and The People’s Parliament. not another political party. We’ve created a council where ‘Yes’ is more often heard than ‘No’; where the possibility of making mistakes is encouraged; where a diversity of
Photo by Joseph Blake
“Aren’t you bored, aren’t you more bored than anyone? Listening to their [politicians’] lies, their nonsense... Why are we going to continue to contribute to that facade?” So said Russell Brand speaking to Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight – with more than ten million people watching the interview later. While I agree with Brand at a national level I don’t think he is correct about lower levels of government. In 2011 in Frome we decided to stir things up a bit and get more people engaged in local politics. This led to the formation of Independents for Frome (IfF). And in the local elections we took control of the council, winning 10 out of 17 seats with 75% more people voting than previously. I am still surprised to be one of the elected councillors. I came to this through Sustainable Frome – an early version of a Transition Initiative that I set up seven years ago. In attempting to liaise with the Town Council, Sustainable Frome found the sum total of their relevant policy was: ‘We manage the park’. I then met others who were clear that party politics was getting in the way of council decision making, and key opportunities were being missed, especially as ‘localism’ emerged. We subscribed to Albert Einstein’s view that, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” and started IfF to create real change. Fou r yea rs l ater If F ha s designed and refined a ‘Way of Working’ which means we can act as a group of independents and
Teaching a new narrative by Michaela Woollatt
Photo by Paul Seville
Social enterprises, businesses that Participants are given first-hand work primarily to make a positive experience of setting up and difference by tackling social prob- managing their own community lems or protecting the environment, projects and, wherever possible, could provide a way for young are encouraged to engage with a adults to harness their energy, Transition group. knowledge and skills to create a It is through one such comfulfilling livelihood. Getting to the munity project that Lisa has been point of turning their ideas into able to realise her dream of workreality, however, requires some ing with young children. Lisa has practical experience, encourage- collaborated with a community ment and confidence. garden group in Bristol, giving One Year in Transition (1YT) disadvantaged young children the offers young people an alternative opportunity to experience nature to the business-as-usual routes first-hand. “Many of the children to employment. A collaborative had never picked fresh fruit from learning programme run by the a tree before,” she relates. “Things Transition Network, 1YT supports many of us take for granted, these young adults in creating their liveli- children had missed out on.” hoods, whilst empowering them to The strong support Lisa has received from 1YT and her community has allowed her to extend her ideas about reconnecting children with nature. Using the community gardens, Lisa now takes groups of children on interactive storytelling exercises in which the children play characters and express themselves using myths, poetry and dance. Most of these children are from deprived areas where poverty, crime and gangs are commonplace. Lisa’s Children’s Quest’ project 1YT partner Lisa Tozer – creative inspiraoffers them a safe environment to tion behind Children’s Quest in Bristol explore, both physically and emocreate positive, sustainable change tionally, their place in the world. for their communities. Since it Through 1YT, Lisa has achieved began in 2012, nine participants a fulfilling and sustainable career. have taken part and found new live- Most importantly, she has been able lihoods from woodcraft in Devon to do it on her own terms, without and food growing in Grimsby to compromising her values. She storytelling in Bristol. says: “We are creating the story; we “I did two years of paid intern- shouldn’t have the story dictated to ships,” explains one of the 2013 us.” group, Lisa Tozer, “but it was really tough trying to sustain myself Next 1YT begins 22nd September. whilst maintaining my values. One Cost: £1500 plus food and lodgings. Year in Transition struck me as a 1YT taster day takes place on 12th way of trying to achieve that.” July in Bristol (£20). Robert Holtom adds: “It’s an For further information: adventure and I relish having 1YT isabelcarlisle@transitionnetwork. as a support structure, with quar- org www.oneyearintransition.org terly meet-ups and regular Skypes For more information about Lisa with the rest of the group. I couldn’t Tozer’s Children’s Quest email do this alone. It’s an action-ori- email@example.com ented learning journey that comes through experience.” Michaela Woollattis Assistant On the course ‘partners’ learn Features and Education Editor for a diverse range of practical skills Transition Free Press. Michaela from permaculture to bushcraft, in is in her final year of a BSc in addition to life skills such as peer Environmental Science and is an mentoring or leadership training. active member of Transition Nayland.
Photo by Michaela Woollatt
Between October and December 2013 almost one million 16–24 year olds were unemployed. Coupled with a six per cent decline in undergraduate enrolments at UK universities, young adults are increasingly looking for alternative ways to find meaningful and sustainable employment.
Tree knowledge: children at Nayland Primary School learn directly from nature in their school woodland
Hottest subject at school by Emma Bishton
In 2013, the Department for Education (DfE) released draft guidelines for a new National Curriculum from September 2014. In the new guidance, all references to climate change were removed from the geography curriculum for children under the age of 14. Following a public consultation ‘Eco-schools’ is an education which attracted an unprecedented programme designed to encour17,000 responses from teachers, age pupils to link what they are parents, students, academics and taught about sustainability in the scientists, a revised framework was classroom to everyday behaviour later released, which included an seen in their broader environexplicit reference to climate change. ment. Behaviour change in school Transition Nayland was among and the wider community is prothose who responded to the con- moted by the pupils; they write sultation. We have an active work- an eco-newsletter each month in ing relationship with our local the village newspaper and help at school, Nayland Primary, who were the local farmers market, demonrecently voted Suffolk’s Greenest strating rechargeable batteries and School. It’s no coincidence that this renewable energy kits. pioneering ‘green’ school has the Yet of the 24,328 schools in support and active engagement of a England, only 1,752 hold the EcoTransition group. The work we have Schools Green Flag award. Why? been involved in, alongside the staff The fact is that ‘green’ schools are and pupils, has been instrumen- the exception, not the norm, and tal in the school gaining its strong primary schools are much more environmental credentials. likely to adopt environmentally Four years ago, Transition friendly practices than secondary Nayland formed Green Energy schools. Primary school pupils Nayland (GEN), a community will readily recycle paper, compost energy company. GEN installed 84 their lunchtime waste, turn lights off or spend time outside building bug houses, counting butterflies or “The work we have been feeding the birds. The pupils’ days involved in, alongside are less structured and outdoor is more commonplace. the staff and pupils, has learning Some environmental aspects of been instrumental in school life are, of course, difficult to inf luence without increased the school gaining its funding or changes in public opinstrong environmental ion. School food, for instance, is chosen on price, not food miles credentials” and schools are often based in solar PV panels on the school roof, buildings which are ill-suited to funded by a community share issue. conserving energy – and schools The Initiative helps run the school do use lots of energy. They provide eco-team and after school nature food, water, heating and lighting club. Most recently we helped the every day for many people. Doors school achieve its much coveted open constantly; computers and ‘Eco-Schools’ Green Flag status – a interactive whiteboards are concomprehensive, externally assessed, stantly running, taps are switched environmental review. on and off repeatedly.
But why are secondary schools generally harder to engage? Perhaps because pupils and staff have less influence on how energy is used in their larger school build-
“Of the 24,328 schools in England, only 1,752 hold the Eco-Schools Green Flag award” ings. Also, there is less f lexibility in the curriculum and extra-curricular activities are more likely to focus on sport or creativity than nature. So instilling good habits during primary school years is vital. This is why our Transition Initiative originally responded to the DfE consultation. Having worked alongside Nayland Primary staff, we have seen what a difference it can make when environmental issues are taught creatively. Head teacher, Reagan Delaney agrees: “Each pupil will be able to take away some degree of satisfaction knowing that their actions have significantly altered their local environment.” The cha l lenge now is to empower schools across the country to follow in Nayland’s footsteps. Or we could leave a generation of children without any understanding of their community’s responsibility to the Earth. Emma Bishtonis a member of Transition Nayland. She works in both music and public health, and is interested in exploring links between health, education, wellbeing and the environment.
transition elsewhere Galicia sows seeds of the post-oil revolution by Manuel Casal Lodeiro
Galicia, the Celtic country at the north west of the Iberian Peninsula and the land of St James’ Way (Camiño de Santiago) is rapidly starting its own post-oil revolution. Oil response plan which was also communities, councils and even backed by Partido da Terra, a small companies. The text also small party for local direct democ- includes a detailed look at the situation in Cuba (where many racy and a return to the land. The crowdfunded Guide for Galicians emigrated) and even a Energy Descent – Preparing a Post- fictional tale that imagines what Oil Galicia, published by Vespera living in Galicia could be like in de Nada, aims to seed awareness the future. Many interesting projects have and prompt community action The crowdfunded Guide for Energy Descent published by Véspera de Nada with practical and strategic tips already begun to f lourish here, to start Transition-like projects, rooted both in traditional knowlprincipally in rural areas but also edge and in new methods like per- communal organic farm; Chozas aware of the richness of their in the cities and towns of the fer- maculture. Local food and crafts ecovillage; Pousadoira Center for under-industrialised and rural markets are being actively pre- Resilience and others, often with territory. tile Galician countryside. The book has received much served, urban food gardens, seed a strong political ethos. Several of As we haven’t ascended very far attention, even from non-Galician networks and direct producer- these projects helping to strength towards the unsustainable peak, speaking areas of Spain, and will consumer relations started. You Galician resilience were founded descent should be easier for us. be presented in a series of events can even find transition-style pro- by eco-immigrants in this land, like the British founders of Manuel Casal Lodeirois during the year around the coun- jects at Santiago University. try. It introduces the ‘Peak Oil’ Consumer co-operatives and Cernunnos ‘ecosocialist’ farm. founder of Véspera de Nada and Galicia used to be known as one of the main activists on Peak problem for the general reader local community-living projects and then explains a wide range are also consolidating, based on one of the most underdeveloped Oil, transition, degrowth and of actions which can be taken these new urban-rural networks, regions in Spain, but through this resilience matters in Galicia. He by individuals, families, local for example the Millo & Landras book Galicians might well become blogs at www.casdeiro.info/textos Photo by Martiño Picallo
Galician people are starting to learn what the ‘End of Fossil Fuels’ will mean for them, for their way of life and for their economies, and that their still f lourishing rural society could be an optimal foundation for this transition. Former director of the Energy Institute of Galicia, Xoán Doldán, began to sound the alarm in 2008. Soon afterwards the organisation Véspera de Nada (from the Galician saying ‘Day of Much, Eve of Nothing’) was created, and through its work awareness started to spread among the area’s social movements looking at degrowth, food sovereignity and social environmentalism. In 2 012 a lef t-nationa list coalition (Alternativa Galega de Esquerdas), became a third political force in the Galician Parliament. Its programme included a Peak
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Ugo Vallauri and The Restart Project
Interview by Charlotte Du Cann
Photo by El Fabrika
What’s the best thing that has come out of Transition? High on the list of everyone’s answers must be the sharing and learning of hands-on skills.
We can fix it: the first Restart Party in Tunisia took place this April
One of the most innovative skillshare enterprises to have emerged, The Restart Project, brings ‘the great reskilling’ to a whole new level. Tackling the tricky area of electronic repair, co-founders Ugo Vallauri and Janet Gunter have put the solution to high consumer waste – literally – into the hands of the people. Their London-based Restart Parties began in 2012 as a way for communities to repair their own electrical goods and are now springing up around the UK and in other countries, from Tunisia to the US. I asked Ugo what made the project so dynamic: “ There is something tru ly u n iqu e a nd m a g ic a l a b ou t
experiential projects where the concept comes alive as soon as you walk into the room. Restart is about people deciding for themselves how we resist this insane culture of planned obsolescence
“Why is it that we have so many gadgets around us? Are they actually contributing to our wellbeing? Are they actually making us more able to fulfil our goals?” and start to provide a true alternative. Although campaigning about waste is important there is something transformative when you take responsibility and become part of the solution.“ Restart Parties team up local people with expert volunteers, known as Restarters, and together they work out how to mend their broken kettles, iPads, digital radios and phones. But can everyone do it? “There are two taboos at play within the small electrical and consumer electronics field. The
first is about opening products problem, without even realising project received seed funding, up because of their design and a that the problem exists. which has allowed the team to fear of handling electrical stuff – a “Both Janet and I had worked in launch a new arm of the entertaboo we aim to break by showing the global South in international prise – their work with companies. a safe way to approach the problem development, where there is a This service brings pop-up repair and learn about the key tools to do much more sustainable approach half-day events or two hour lunch this work. to technology: an efficient repair breaks to workplaces and offers “The second taboo is to do with economy and appreciation for one-to-one sessions bet ween perceiving something as waste still-valuable resources. You would employees and Restart repair rather than as a resource. We are never find people there throwing coaches. blind to the reality that we throw away a functional computer just “Here, people who might not away so much stuff that could be because it had become a bit slow. get a chance to come to our comreused by other individuals in the “When we came across the work munity events can bring their MP3 community. We try to hide it by that was happening in the Repair player or their laptop, their digital discarding it into recycling centres Cafe world, it inspired us to start radio or toaster and have a chance and avoid looking at the massive our own repair pop-up events, as to troubleshoot, take apart and cost and pollution involved in its a way to get people interested in often repair them. disposal and transformation into what we wanted to discuss. “If you look at waste as a other products.” “These events were instantly resource it can jump-start some Rather than being appalled by much more successful than we other conversations in the way the consequences of our ‘recycling’ had originally anticipated. We see your own company does business, in places like Ghana (where much repair and maintenance as crucial, and we are all up for using these of Europe’s electronic waste is but our message also involves a exchanges as opportunities to burned), Restart approaches the strong critique of how products inspire companies to think differissue from a different angle: are made and the economic incen- ently about the way they operate. “We wanted to come up with tives that companies have around For us it’s a great way to be able to something self-empowering with continuing to produce new and reach out to this part of the public a positive message that was a that we would not necessarily have hopeful, action-oriented answer a chance to meet.” “A practical hands-on to these problems. If we don’t chalThe Project hinges completely lenge the current system here in act opens up thinking on finding people who are willing our own communities we are never to share their skills. Where do the in a much more going to come up with any practiRestart repairers come from? cal solution. “The Restarters are the biggest effective way than “At the Parties we always ask: and the best surprise that we’ve any campaign” ‘Have you had a situation where somecome across. There are a lot of thing is broken, you don’t know what people upset about how consumer to do and you put it aside because you more gadgets with incremental society has been shaped so that are at a loss?’ upgrades, and promoting them repair skills are disregarded; or “Some people might under- with massive marketing cam- that it has been disincentivised by stand the ultimate implications paigns. Instead we’re trying to rec- a market structure that has pushed of electronic waste, polluting the reate a culture and a practice in our many professional repairers out of outskirts of Accra, but everyone communities where we fix not just their jobs (not helped by the cost of understands the frustrations when equipment but also our own rela- spare parts and difficult-to-access something goes wrong in their tionship with these products.” repair manuals). own household. So by providing a For the first 18 months Restart “And so a lot of both professionvery easy-to-explain solution, you operated entirely as a volunteer ally and informally trained repaircan have an impact on the wider collective. At the end of 2013 the ers have come to us. That’s when
technology Photo by Warren Draper
you realise there are many people million in the process. Being ‘Open in our communities who have Source’ (meaning the source code is plenty of wonderful – and often open for anyone to use and, if necesmarginalised – skills.” sary, change) this software is readily The Restart team is happy to available for other local authorities support community groups and throughout the world – something local associations to run their own Transition Initiatives might like to Parties, but how do you start one up? point out to their own local councils. “We recommend that an initial Initiatives that are running a organiser finds a couple of repairer food hub with Stroudco’s Food Hub types to help them with the first software, or who are looking for event. The skills don’t need to be the an improved system, may be very ability to take apart a microwave interested to learn about Open Food and fix it, which is a fairly compliNetwork UK, a UK version of the open cated thing, but could be the help source Open Food Network software needed to reinstall the operating developed in Australia by the Open system in a computer. Food Foundation. “No one is going to be shocked The system enables anyone if somebody brings in something to set up their own food hub to that can’t be matched with the relprovide consumers with healthy, evant skill. You start getting people locally-grown produce. The softtogether and the momentum builds ware is open source so is available from there.” free of charge to anyone commitLast summer The Restart Project ted to relocalising food producby Warren Draper was featured by the BBC and the tion and distribution systems. If show went all around the world. you’re interested why not use some A vision of post-transition IT? Warren Draper’s Downtime, as featured in the 2013 show ‘FLIGHT’ at Church View, Doncaster How much has that contributed to of your own tech to get in touch? Restart’s success and furthered its www.openfoodnetwork.org.uk/ aims? It cannot be denied that the ecologically aware have something of a love/hate relationship with contact-us “Well what might appear as technology. Transition solutions are often accused, rightly or wrongly, of having a ‘low-tech good, successful or a good idea doesn’t hi-tech bad’ attitude. Warren Draperis a contributor to necessarily mean that it receives treThe Idler magazine and the Dark mendous support in terms of fund- In 2009 Alex Steffen of World- of corporately inclined software alone since 2010” – anyone who has Mountain journal. He is involved with a ing, or gets local authorities or waste changing attacked the Transition licences. Firstly GNU/Linux works received an unopenable DOCX file number of projects in Doncaster which are dedicated to promoting self-reliance, management companies on board – movement saying: “All over the world, well on older ‘end-of-life’ computers, will attest to the folly of this. which is what I would call a success! groups of people with graduate effectively doubling the lifespan of Munich has gone a stage fur- resilience and rewilding. He is currently “We don’t just aim to create a degrees, affluence, decades of work equipment which would otherwise ther and migrated their entire roaming South Yorkshire with seeds cute, community-based alternative experience, varieties of advanced find its way into landfill (or worse). computer system to their very own in his pockets and mud on his mind. to the loss of economic opportuni- training and technological capacities Also the rise of low-power ARM Ubuntu Linux-based LiMux operat- You can follow some of his activities ties around repair. We want to see beyond the imagining of our great- computing (think Raspberry Pi – the ing system, saving themselves €11.7 via warrendraper.wordpress.com this thrive as a self-sustaining set of grandparents are coming together, cheap, credit-card sized computer services, to create new businesses that encourages everyone learn to “Initiatives running that bring repair closer to the comwrite computer code) means that munities we live in and ultimately highly capable computers can be a food hub with run with exceptionally low energy create an alternative to our massive a different type of learning Stroudco’s software consumption; again these computthrowaway, recycle society. a different kind of activism ers require a resource-efficient OS, “And we also want to create a may be interested to which is why most Raspberry Pis run much wider movement of people learn about Open the Raspbian – a derivative of Debian globally that demands a different Join us this year for residential Linux. relationship between the manufacFood Network UK” POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMMES Raspberry Pi has already been turing companies and the products looking into the face of apocalypse... credited with the recent rise of IT that they unleash on us. • Holistic Science (MSc, PG Cert) “We’re not trying to advocate a and deciding to start a seed exchange and coding literacy in the UK; as with everything else, the better you underworld without technology or with- or a kids clothing swap.” - starts September 2014 In the end the Transition move- stand how something works the out technological innovation – quite the opposite. But we want this to ment appears to have weathered the more you can do to make it work in • Economics for Transition (MA, be negotiated in terms that make economic storm better than Steffen’s your favour. And these little computPG Cert) - starts September 2014 sense to human beings. So our ulti- Worldchanging and it can reasonably ers are not limited to web-browsers mate goal is to fix our relationship be argued that, in ‘the face of apoca- and media centres. Raspberry Pis lie • Ecological Design Thinking with technology, and that involves lypse’, a seed exchange is probably at the heart of an incredibly diverse companies becoming more open going to be a lot more useful than a range of projects – everything from (MA, PG Cert) - starts January about their practices, creating and data exchange. But we also have to environmental monitoring systems 2015 NEW sharing the resources to make prod- live in the present moment and we to an FM Radio transmitter (local ucts more repairable and in the end cannot get away from the fact that Transition Radio anyone?). • Sustainable Horticulture and the vast majority of Transitioners With regard to software licences, long-lasting.” Food Production (MSc, PG Dip, currently use technology to an exten- even the UK government have realsive degree in their everyday lives; ised that it’s probably a bad idea to www.therestartproject.org PG Cert) - starts January 2015 indeed where would the movement tie your IT requirements into a conbe without the internet? tract with a single vendor and are Charlotte Du Cannuses her hands Free Open Source Software planning to use open document forto chop veg, split logs and write on the (FOSS) in combination with the mats such as ODF to help break what culture of downshift. Alongside editing GNU/Linux operating system (OS) paymaster general Francis Maude Transition Free Press, she is Art Editor Tel: +44 (0)1803 865934 has the potential to lessen your calls the “oligopoly” of IT suppliers. for Dark Mountain books and Life in www.schumachercollege.org.uk environmental impact and give you According to The Guardian: “Some Transition columnist for EarthLines greater technological control while £200m has been spent by the public magazine. freeing you from the constraints sector on Microsoft’s Office suite www.charlotteducann.blogspot.com
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Change your world
talkback Photo by @Kezia Tan, www.keziatan.com
and the five stages of grief
by Gregory Norminton
tweet of February 20th that there
Spring may be in full swing, but few of us will forget the angriest winter in living memory. is “no respectable evidence” that Violent weather, whipped up by a dysfunctional jet stream, flooded huge swathes of England, the “wild winter” was caused by buckled train lines, washed topsoil into the sea and reduced coastal cliffs to briny rubble. manmade climate change “in spite Even for those of us fortunate enough to live at home without requiring waders, it was a trying season. Yet while we suffered with those f looded out of their homes, which of us spared a thought for the mental angst endured by the few who bravely resist the science of climate change? Until the winter storms, life had been easy for contrarians with public profiles. Peter Lilley (MP for Hitchin, Harpenden and Tethys Petroleum) had been elected to the Commons Select Committee on Climate Change; Matt Ridley, the man who understands risk
so well he used to be chairman of Northern Rock, was writing for The Times and The Spectator about the ‘overall positive effects’ of climate change; and Ridley had the ear of his brother-in-law, environment secretary Owen Paterson, who was so unconcerned about the issue at the top of his agenda that he refused to read any briefing that put the words ‘climate’ and ‘change’ in close proximity. Opinion polls showed that environmental anxiety had receded year-on-year since the start of the Great Recession; politicians of all major parties shunned the
New stories for the age of endings ‘When the cities lie at the monster’s feet, there are left the mountains.’ The Dark Mountain Project is a network of writers, artists and thinkers in search of new stories for troubled times. We promote and curate writing, art, music and culture rooted in place, time and nature. Dark Mountain: issue 5 – our latest book of Uncivilised writing and art – is out now. Find out more, and subscribe to this and future books, through our website.
issue; and scarcely a day passed in tabloid land without an article dismissing climate science as the preserve of alarmists, hoaxers and
“All it took for a shift in the cultural weather was a shift in the physical weather” watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside – geddit?). Alas, public opinion is a fickle beast. All it took for a shift in the cultural weather was a shift in the physical weather unprecedented in recorded history and suddenly Paterson’s obscurantism was a political embarrassment, opinion polls showed an uptick in environmental awareness and farmers on The Archers were muttering darkly about global warming. David Cameron, the huskie pelt long ago hung up in his metaphorical wardrobe, felt compelled at Prime Minister’s Questions to restate his long dormant conviction that “manmade climate change is one of the most serious threats that this country and the world faces.” This weakening of the national backbone was too much for the contrarians, who denounced it with all the indignation they can muster. In his infamous BBC ‘debate’ with climatologist Sir Brian Hoskins, Lord Lawson did not limit himself to the customary attack on predictive models: actual data on actual weather patterns was “extreme speculation”. Lawson badmouthed the Met Office chief scientist as “just this Julia Slingo woman” (that’s Dame to you, Nige), but did at least acknowledge that the floods were a “wake-up call” to abandon investment in “useless wind turbines”. Similar discomposure lay behind Rupert Murdoch’s angry
of blindly ignorant politicians.” Elsewhere in the echo chamber, Christopher Booker took to the Mail, Telegraph and Spectator to blame the Somerset f loods on “green ideology” that prevented dredging, and Melanie Phillips, valiantly denouncing the “magical theory” of the “AGW (anthropocentric global warming) scam”, explained the deluge as “Galileo, Newton and Einstein weeping uncontrollably from above”. Perhaps these outbursts represent business as usual from the usual suspects, but I detect in them a new kind of anger. To put it simply, the contrarians know that their work is going to get harder with every warped season, every toppled record and broken precedent. They know it because, as Gary Oldman’s George Smiley says of his Soviet counterpart, “the fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt”. Nor is it the prospect of public ridicule that most frightens our media cranks. It is, rather, the fear that they will have to feel, at last, the grief that comes with the shedding of illusions. There is evidence, in the less sociopathic regions of contrarianism, of a shift from outright denial to the second and third stages on the Kübler-Ross model of grief: anger and bargaining. We have seen plenty of the former, and the latter will come in the form of ‘go-slow’ rhetoric, blaming of other parties for the problem, and the tactic already taken by Conservative peer, Matt Ridley of cherry-picking data to secure best-case scenarios. One thing is certain: laissez faire ideologues will find it impossible to maintain outright denial. The process of adaptation will be slow, dishonest and grudging, but at least, a therapist might say, it has begun. Env ironmenta lists, watching these contortions, will imagine that they are infinitely more
rational than their bêtes noires in the Tory press. But I wonder: could it be that we are undergoing the five stages of grief in reverse? We began with acceptance – of the science, and of what the science means for us. Then came depression, since the future is a place we would not wish to bequeath to our worst enemies let alone our children. In defence against depression, we entered the bargaining stage: surely with enough treaties, tax incentives and political will we can avoid the worst. Yet the political will is lacking and every week the evidence mounts that we are hurtling towards the abyss. This makes us angry with ourselves and our elites for failing the greatest test our species has ever faced. And where do we go from anger if not
“The process of adaptation will be slow, dishonest and grudging, but at least, a therapist might say, it has begun.” into denial – a soft-focused, openhearted denial without which we would have to abandon all efforts to forestall the apocalypse? Now this conceit may be nothing more than a provocation. Yet which of us, awake in the early hours, has not had similar misgivings? Recently I heard Jonathan Porritt wonder aloud if there was intellectual integrity in his resistance to the ‘too-late brigade’. He thinks so – just about. We can only wonder how much better our chances would be, had we not wasted so many years resisting the merchants of doubt. Gregory Normintonhas published four novels and several other books. He is the editor of Beacons – stories for our not so distant future, a collection of original fiction by British authors for the benefit of Stop Climate Chaos.
talkback Grassroots approach to influencing EU policy by Vanessa Buth
The Citizens Pact is an exciting novel approach to transnational democracy in Europe. It combines a pact between citizens across national borders and a pact of the citizens with the only democratically elected institution of the EU – the European Parliament. It was initiated by European politics, social injustice and increasAlternatives (EuroAlter) – a transna- ing inequality. As a 2013 report by tional grassroots NGO with city net- the Red Cross highlighted, while works, affiliated citizens’ initiatives other continents are successand individual members spread fully reducing poverty, the divide across Europe. between the rich and the poor in The Citizens Pact aims not to Europe, between dominant and represent, but to echo citizens’ unheard voices, is increasing. demands and create citizen-led OxfamUK recently reported in proposals for a radically different Europe. It is understood as a “Today, the five richest process towards the formation of families in the UK are demands by citizens for citizens, creating an ever growing manifesto wealthier than the of EU policy proposals. bottom 20 per cent of In this way the Citizens Pact is forming a deeper connection the entire population.” between people across Europe who face similar struggles, regardless of its Tale of Two Britains: “Today, the their nationality, or even their offi- five richest families in the UK are cial citizenship. When the European wealthier than the bottom 20 per elections come up between 22nd cent of the entire population. That’s and 25th May, the hope is that just five households with more those who do decide to vote think money than 12.6 million people.” of their European companions and It took three years of organisthe struggles of their communities ing 60 citizens’ panels, 12 transnabefore casting the ballot. tional forums, two hearings at the The Citizens Pact needs to be European Parliament, online panels seen in the context of the despair and a widespread presence on the many people feel towards EU streets and squares of Europe to
develop the manifesto. After transforming their own demands into concrete policy proposals with the help of experts in the field, thousands of citizens then voted on their proposals, 50 of which made it into the manifesto. It was then presented to MEPs and candidates for them to endorse in the next governance period. The Citizens Pact so far covers 12 issue areas: these range from work, welfare and financial reforms to legality, democracy and media pluralism, from the Commons, environment and migration to women’s rights and gender equality, LGBT and Roma rights. The manifesto includes: the demand to adhere to the 20% renewable energy share by 2010 and 100% by 2050, in combination with the creation of a European super grid to carry renewable and home-generated electricity across Europe; the prohibition of the use of pesticides with proven harmful consequences and an establishment of tax cuts for those cultivating without chemicals, as well as the demand for a ban on all operations which use hydraulic fracturing for shale gas and tight oil. Citizens have also demanded EU legislation implementing the definition of a European Charter of
the Commons protecting water and other fundamental services from privatisation, while guaranteeing an equal right of access for all. During 24th April to 9th May, six caravans will travel to destinations across Europe. On board the caravans are activists, writers, video makers, cartoonists and generally people passionate for a Europe designed by its citizens. The Transeuropa caravans will map and visit local struggles and initiatives to create the network of an alternative Europe in the making. They will bring the process of the Citizens Pact on to the next level of engagement, connecting activists and initiatives and identifying local strategies, as well as voicing demands for better policy-making in Brussels. For example on its route through Spain and Portugal, the Iberian caravan will visit a photovoltaic cooperative of small producers fighting against the cuts in the renewable sector and the resulting unjust debts. The North-Eastern caravan will map initiatives on the issue of coal mining and degrowth and visit a detention centre in Germany. Touring Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, the Eastern caravan covers areas such as gold mining, the commons, anti-fracking, inter-religious
and inter-cultural dialogue, refugees, youth and democracy. In the UK, the North-Western caravan will visit FutureShift in Birmingham, The Common Room Norwich, Waiting Room in Colchester and People United in Canterbury. To find out more, visit: www.citizenspact.eu or follow the caravans on Twitter. Vanessa Buthis a political scientist (PhD) and the Communication officer for the Iberian Transeuropa caravan. She co-founded The Common Room and Visions for Change in Norwich and is a researcher on NGO organisation, new media, EU politics and environmental policy http://vanessabuth.wordpress.com
Opening up the radical imagination by Helen Moore
“Just imagine the world without… [insert a brand]!” Today, our capacity to imagine is frequently co-opted: corporate advertising endlessly fuelling our sense of ourselves as consumers, rather than citizens of this Earth community. Modern industrial growth society systematically reinforces the ‘monoculture of the mind’, marginalising dissenting voices and burying histories of resistance. And with the inevitability of capitalism entrenched, apocalypse is widely projected as our collective future (influenced by Hollywood’s
disaster scenarios), while fictions Significantly, however, it’s the are already engaged in co-creating elaborating ‘magic bullet’ solutions imagination, embodied as Los, the alternatives. Simultaneously, the of colonising outer space alternately prophet/blacksmith, and Jerusalem, global anti-austerity movement the feminine embodiment of for- is experimenting with forms feed the popular imagination. giveness, who resist, and finally of direct democracy, critiquing Where the effects of capitalist power and privilege, and organissecure humanity’s redemption. globalisation on ourselves and our ing ‘horizontal’ spaces for collective Although Blake’s mythology planet are acknowledged, indusdecision-making. is complex (codified to conceal trial growth culture promotes the In The Democracy Project, anthrobelief that we can consume our the revolutionary implications of pologist and activist David Graeber his worldview), his work points way to social and ecological change. talks about “the opening up of the to the power of the imagination However as Einstein pointed out: radical imagination that Occupy in addressing the crisis we face. no problem can be solved from the allowed,” and how participation Blake’s vision of our four rebalanced same level of consciousness that zoas reminds us that the imagina- introduces “the skills, habits and created it. In witnessing the beginning of tion is embodied, connected with experience that would make an the industrial revolution, William the heart and able to get to the root entirely new conception of politics Blake saw how Reason – what we of systemic problems, i.e. radical. In come to life.” Central to the successful develmight now call scientific material- this way, fear and limited thinking opment of life-sustaining sociecan fall away, opening up liminal ism – had come to dominate conties are the stories we tell, which spaces where our love of freedom sciousness. Personifying this as counter the dominant narratives can flourish and collectively we can ‘Urizen’, a patriarchal figure wieldof capitalism. When we consider sense the evolving futures we most ing his compass, Blake’s epic poem, human history, we usually do so desire. Jerusalem, explores the near anniin isolation from other species, Accommodating the work of hilation that occurs when Albion (‘universal humanity’) is subject heart and soul (Inner Transition), and rarely considering our evoluto urizenic tyranny. The remain- and deploying imaginative strate- tion in the context of the universe. ing ‘zoas’ – Tharmas (the body), gies such as ‘back-casting’ (imagi- As a counter to this, cosmologist Luvah (the heart) and Urthona (the natively working back from a Brian Swimme’s ‘Universe Story’, imagination), which constitute the projected future to explore how to developed with ecotheologian human being – are nearly destroyed. achieve it), Transition communities Thomas Berry, brings a meaningful
narrative to our understanding of the 13.7 billion year trajectory of the universe, and our industrial growth society as a blip in time. A deep-time perspective can also reveal that human development originally unfolded in interconnection with the natural world, within an anarchistic ‘organic society’, based on natural laws, co-operation and the self-organising capacity of ecosystems. Most powerfully, this insight can assist us in visioning a new ecological or ecozoic age, where we live in harmony “with the Earth as our community.” But this demands our collective labour and, as Berry once encouraged, “we must will into being.” Helen Mooreis an award-winning ecopoet and community artist/ activist, engaged in Sustainable Frome. Her debut collection, Hedge Fund, and Other Living Margins, was published by Shearsman Books in 2012; her second, ECOZOA, is forthcoming. www.natures-words.co.uk
arts Rewilding the arts by Dougie Strang
In 2012 at the ‘Kandinsky in Govan’ conference, organiser Alastair McIntosh cited Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God as an example of the excess to be found in the contemporary art scene. The piece, a cast of a human skull require a large supply of electricity encrusted with 8000 diamonds, to ‘light up the night’. These kinds of empty spectacle cost £14 million to produce and dominate the mainstream cultural presents a stark contrast to underlandscape. They also prompt the funded community arts projects in question: what kind of art might places like Govan. McIntosh called instead for “art as service” that “can speak in places of poverty.” “What kind of art might Meanwhile The Star of Caledonia, which is to be built in Dumfriesshire best suit this era of will cost around £5 million and will transition? What kind is be twice the size of Gateshead’s Angel of the North. Supporters insist necessary – serving the this will be money well spent – with needs of the community increased tourism and revenue from international image rights. It’s – and sustainable?” also claimed that ‘the Star’ will help promote the region as a centre for best suit this era of transition? environmental art, despite the fact What kind is necessary – serving that it will be built using vast quan- the needs of the community – and tities of concrete and steel and will sustainable?
Thankfully there are now many artists asking this question, and creating work that demonstrates a clear sense of social and ecological awareness. A growing number of artists and collectives are also engaging in ideas that explore wildness and the numinous, belonging and place, and a regenerative relationship between humans and animals. One is Scottish artist MacGillivray who walked in a straight line with a dead wolf on her shoulders through Vegas into the Nevada desert. Another is Nic Green, whose performance Slowlo recounts a year living in the Scottish wilds in words, dance, song and the cleaning of bones. This work seems timely. Our culture has been pushed to such an extreme of materialism and alienation, perhaps it was inevitable that the pendulum would begin the long swing back. Perhaps, instead of the ‘shock and awe’ of the contemporary scene, we’ll begin to value art that celebrates community and connectedness, that seeks to enchant rather than impress. I’m involved with the Dark Mountain Project, a group of writers and artists who, in our different ways, work and debate from this perspective. This spring we’ll be hosting an event called ‘Carrying the Fire’ at Wiston Lodge in the Scottish Borders (May 16th-18th). The focus will be on the notion of ‘rewilding’ – rewilding the land, the self and the arts. Speakers will include Alistair McIntosh, Lesley Riddoch, and Alan Watson Featherstone of Trees for Life. There will be music, poetry and performance, and a chance to gather round a fire in the woods, to share our stories, to listen and be listened to. If you’d like to join us, please visit our website www.carryingthefire.co.uk
Upsetting the apple cart Theatre company fanSHEN are collaborating with Transition Town Tooting to create an event called The Apple Cart at their May Day celebration on Monday 5th May. The day also includes a story walk, Sir Owain and the Lady of the Well, organised by Story Stream and Tap Arts. Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe explain the workings behind their new show. fanSHEN work through theatre to help people imagine what they haven’t thought of yet. We create projects which raise awareness of social and environmental justice; we combine big ideas with fun, accessible formats; invite audiences to be part of the action, reflection and gestation of their projects – and believe that no space should be ‘safe’ from theatre. In the fourth of his Reith Lectures, artist Grayson Perry t a l k e d a b o u t a pr o j e c t i n Whitechapel where the children taking part were asked: “What do artists do?”. “They notice things,” was the reply. This struck a chord with us. Perhaps by inviting audiences to take a more active role within a piece of art, artists can create spaces where people can also notice things. The way we see it, awareness is the foundation on which everything can be built. If you aren’t aware of the choices you make, then you won’t be aware that there are other options. If you don’t realise that your house leaks lots of heat through its noninsulated roof, you won’t take action to stop that happening. If you don’t notice that your apples are imported from South Africa in October, you won’t ask yourself why you aren’t eating apples from down the road. We feel that if art has any role to play in the transition to living differently, it’s about creating gentle
interventions and subversions that help people see things sideways, or give them the time to notice something they’d have otherwise missed: to imagine something different and take action to create it. In the process of creating The Apple Cart, we considered how the experience of the show could model behaviour. In traditional theatres, you’re asked to sit passively, in the dark, and then to leave, equally quietly, without any opportunity to engage in dialogue about what you have just seen. fanSHEN’s aim with The Apple Cart is that the form of the show will create spaces for people to notice things and to have agency over what happens next – and for this to be an enjoyable, rather than terrifying, thing. It will be a theatre/game hybrid, a compendium of interactive experiences, themed around apples, with the aim that each experience will be fun, surprising and, in some small way, make things better. The Apple Cart will have its first outing at the Transition Town Tooting May Day event on 5th May, before venturing further afield… For details about Transition Town Tooting’s Story Walk and workshops www.sproutarts.com Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe are the co-founders of fanSHEN theatre www. fanshen.org.uk @fanshentheatre
Beryl offers an apple, but is it magic or poisoned?’ from The Apple Cart
Class 4 windmill cross, 2013 by Thomas Keyes – one of a “series of pictish style pieces, based on Class 2 stones when the new faith of Christianity was taking over but the older traditions were still holding on. Status, faith and continuity, the same propaganda as today.” The Highlandsbased artist creates striking images from locally foraged materials, here with oak gall ink, birch smoke and roe deer parchment. Thomas Keyes is a member of Transition Black Isle and his work can be found in the current Dark Mountain journal. www.thomaskeyes.co.uk
Photo by Rachel Briscoe
Dougie Stranglives by the River Ae in SW Scotland and makes artwork and performances, mostly outside and often collaborative. He is one of the core contributors to the book about Transitional arts practice, Playing for Time – Making Art as if the World Matters. www.dougiestrang.wordpress.org
community How we reap what we sow by Suzie Webb
Photo by Alex Minet
When three members of Transition Cambridge’s Food Group visited Waterland Organics in 2010, they found Paul and Doreen Robinson working alone, farming as much as they could of their 65 acres.
CropSharers take part in the autumn sowing of broad beans from tractor-mounted planter
Prior to 2002 the Robinsons had 2013 there were over 60 differ- example har vesting and juic- to share stories from their families passing through late middle age, been selling organic vegetables to ent volunteers. The scheme helps ing an orchard full of apples. It’s and lives. the group’s involvement keeps our People have the option to sign up spirits young.” arguably Transition Cambridge’s supermarkets via prepackers. The most successful project, mostly for the morning, afternoon or all of last deal involved a clause that As a CropSharer, I sometimes “While planting, because there is an equal energy Saturday. There is a shared lunch, have to wrestle with my four year stipulated their potatoes could not be sold to anyone else. When weeding or cropping, exchange between farmers and often the best meal of the week. In old while trying to work on the ‘CropSharers’. It gives everyone reward farm volunteers are offered farm. But I want to get out of bed the buyer was unable to find outhelpers move along the a chance to be productive while any crops or produce that are abun- on a Saturday morning and wreslets, the potatoes had to be left enjoying the peace and quiet of dant, from potatoes to blackcur- tle with her there, not at the superto rot in the fields and Paul and rows… heads bowed the countryside under the mas- rants, eggs to herbs. Doreen had to lay off their three market. She doesn’t get it yet – but in concentration” Helen Holmes, one of the organ- she will. I love helping grow organic sive Fenland sky. ‘Townies’ love a employees. They were now sellchance to experience farming on isers, enthuses: “Initially I imag- food in quantities that can feed ing vegetables to local independa larger scale than allotments and ined that fruit and veg would be the more than my pocket hanky garden keep Waterland Organics viable ent businesses and through their gardens allow. main yield, but I’ve been amazed ever will, keeping fit in body and by providing a work force that box scheme (the longest running While planting, weeding or by the social benefits for both the mind while rooted in the earth. they would normally be unable in Cambridge). They quickly cropping, helpers move along the farmers and the members, and to afford, so they can farm more embraced the idea of working rows, at times silently with heads really enjoy being a part of a fruit- To find out more visit of their land. It also gives them alongside transitioners. bowed in concentration, at others ful partnership.” big teams to work on projects CropShare is now a smallcambridge.cropshare.org.uk Paul, the farmer, reports: “The scale community-supported agri- like polytunnel and windmill chatting with fellow hoers. The conversation may be simply getting to CropSharers make us feel part of Suzie Webb(Eiloart) is an culture (CSA) scheme, creating construction. know your co-workers, but some- a community. Their enthusiasm environmentalist, teacher and CropShare now links up with opportunities for farm-community collaboration. Ten to thirty other Cambridge-based food times is as rich and absorbing as a is infectious and helps to keep us writer. She is a founder member people volunteer per session. In enterprises and local farms, for radio play, when people are moved positive. Although our bodies are of Transition Cambridge.
Time to clock off
they been co-opted by big business. Why worry about upgrading to a by Michelle Bastian new phone when you can recycle The pressure to do everything faster, to produce, consume and discard with greater frequency your old one? The long-term was and with less thought for the future, has become central to affluent Western lifestyles. Whereas important, but we didn’t see any the clock once represented all that was wrong with early capitalism, in its current form this is seven-generation business plans. represented by speed. Instead what we did find pushed us to dig deeper into what each of The Sustaining Time research project Australia to see how past and cur- Slow Cities, Slow Technology and these sustainable times might be has been looking into this connec- rent attempts to develop alterna- Slow Science. Other possibilities standing in for. So while people tion between economies and time tives to capitalism come up against include moving from linear time weren’t slowing down, they were and particularly what it might mean the question of time. Enterprises to a more cyclical time, developing developing a wider sense of what for developing sustainable economic ranged from Lammas Eco Village a longer sense of time (looking for- the ‘right time’ for a task might systems. Would a shift towards of nine smallholdings in Wales, ward seven generations), or simply be. For example, the continuous more sustainable ways of life bring IT co-operative Webarchitects in more focus on a better work/life time of industrially produced food a shift in how we experience and Sheffield to Open Shed’s ‘collabo- balance. (where everything is available 24/7) understand time? If so what would rative consumption’ start-up in Real life is always more complex became the intermittent time of a ‘sustainable time’ look like? Sydney. however, and we found that the seasonal food. The well-planned Working with the REconomy There were already a few can- ways people were negotiating their out time of the ‘good worker’ made project, new economics foundation, didates for what a sustainable time didn’t fit neatly into these pos- room for the unpredictable time of Co-operatives UK and Permaculture time might be. The most obvious sibilities. Most continued to feel community-building, and ‘wasted UK, the research team visited ten is the Slow Movement, which has pressured and overworked. Others time’ became the time of learning. sustainable businesses and four expanded beyond its original pro- had strong criticisms of cyclical Importantly each of these kinds archive collections in the UK and test against fast food, to embrace models of time because of the way of time are thought to have little
value within mainstream economic models. However, just as the idea of a sustainable economy challenges a narrow focus on profit and the limited way in which ‘economy’ is understood, our research suggests that perhaps a sustainable approach to time would throw open the ways we value time and allow it too to become a site of experimentation and creativity. Find out more about the project at www.sustainingtime.org Michelle Bastianis a researcher at the University of Edinburgh and a co-ordinator of the Transition Research Network. She previously led an Honouring the Elders project called Memories of Mr Seel’s Garden, as part of her work with Transition Liverpool
food Coastal foraging by Mark Williams
Mark Williams and foragers off on a low spring tide razor clam hunt
Most wild habitats are crammed with tasty foods if you know what to look for. But they are found in greatest abundance around our coast. Our shores take the brunt of biting, salty winds, but the hostility of the habitat has forced coastal plants into some ingenious – and tasty – adaptations. Sea beet, a coastal spinach, produces succulent , glossy leaves all year. It is the genetic origin of many cultivated crops including beetroot and chard, only with a better taste and higher nutritional content. Unlike cultivated spinach, sea beet retains its texture and a rich salty tang when cooked. Look for it above the strand line on shingle beaches and coastal defences, and take a few leaves from well established plants.
Veg Men Sam Cooper, Tom Whitley and Matt Smee, surrounded by their salads in Ashton-Hayes, Cheshire, aka Veg Men HQ
Left hand basket: spoot clams, orache (coastal spinach), hairy bittercress, lady’s smock,wood sorrel, sweet cicely. Right hand basket: ground elder, sea kale (shoots, f lorets, f lowers), sea beet, wild garlic, sea sandwort, garlic mustard
Another tasty coastal succulent is marsh samphire. Looking like a mini cactus, it can be found in muddy estuaries, where it can be responsibly harvested to pickle, eat steamed like asparagus, or to go with lamb or fish. Other delicacies of the salt marsh include sea aster (a member of the daisy family) and sea arrowgrass, which has a surprising kick of coriander. by Tracey Todhunter Below the high tide line, seaweed is our single largest relatively untapped food resource. Sea lettuce makes a vibrant addition to stir-fries Meet Sam Cooper, one of three former Chester University students whose mutual love of good and laver is synonymous with the nori that you find wrapped around sushi. food, sustainability and positive social change led them to set up The Natural Veg Men, a small If all this weren’t enticing enough, the warming effect of the sea means Cheshire-based business growing produce to sell to local restaurants and farm shops. even plants that aren’t adapted for the coast can thrive there. For the earliOne of the trio’s core aims is One school working closely colleagues Tom Whitley and Matt est, biggest, juiciest, tastiest blackberries and sloes – head for the coast! to educate the next generation with the Veg Men is Sandymoor Smee are therefore now in the proabout the benef its of locally- Secondary School in Runcorn. cess of producing a set of guideWild plant note: Be 100% sure of any plant’s identity and edibility before grown produce. To achieve this, Keen to move beyond ‘growing for lines so that their model can be gathering. they run education programmes fun’, headteacher Andrew Green- replicated by other groups across Foraging tutor and chef, Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods runs tailored to meet the needs of the Howard believes the Veg Men the UK. Meanwhile, the three are regular guided forays. To learn more about how to forage sustainably, visit schools they work with, from help his students grow with pur- expanding the number of schools one-off cookery workshops to pose. By selling seasonal produce they work with in Cheshire, and www.gallowaywildfoods.com work closely with local Transition helping pupils build and manage Wild sushi, made with plants and seaweed gathered around the coast Kingsley. They can even someworking market gardens. These “Ultimately, it’s about times be found volunteering in the projects are entirely scalable, Ashton Hayes community shop, meaning they can work with difputting food at the which sells their popular mixed ferent schools and their available heart of education” salad bags and seasonal vegetables. budgets. As a co–founder of the Low “The kids all have roles within to teachers and parents, the chilCarbon Communities Network, the enterprise,” says Sam. “They dren involved made £90 profit in are the accountants and the the first year of operating, helping I’ve had the opportunity to visit maintenance crew, they oversee pay for seeds and tools the follow- many Transition Initiatives across the UK, witnessing f irst-hand what’s grown and how it’s sold – ing year. the volunteers and local busiIn everything that they do we’re just there to help deliver it. nesses working together to proUltimately, it’s about putting food the Veg Men are working to mote resilience and community at the heart of education.” share good practice. Sam and his
by Ilana Taub
About 15 million tonnes of the food we grow in the UK ends up in landfill and anaerobic digestors, or – less often – being converted into animal feed.
Photo by © Andrea Ellison Photography
ducers, especially in their monthly food market. Their focus on promoting healthy school meals has led to an involvement in the national Food for Life Partnership, through which lottery funding
Photo by Ilana Taub
“In everything they do, the Veg Men are working to share good practice”
Dorothea Leber amongst the purple sprouting broccoli in the walled garden at Michael Hall School.
It was this uncomfortable truth and nourishing, they too are a that prompted my friend Michael resource. That’s why we’re lookMinch-Dixon and me to co-found ing into using fruit pulp left Snact last year, turning some of over from the juicing process as TFP gardening columnist that surplus into healthy fruit an ingredient in future Snact Dorothea Leber gets ready for jerky snacks – or ‘snacts’. products. the summer crop In our rented Hackney kitchen, Innovative uses of food waste we make these by blending and aside, the past nine months have Writing is a little like gardening: then dehydrating ingredients taught us a lot about the social sowing seeds for the future. So this such as apples, bananas and blue- side to the food waste story. Our columm is all about what to expect as berries sourced from London’s next step is to work with some of summer comes in. wholesale markets. We then packMay is a busy time for seed age and sell the snacts at markets sowing and planting out, and “The past nine months begins here with tomatoes, cucumand in a couple of independent shops in Brixton, South London. have taught us a lot bers and French bean seedlings So why are we wasting so much going into the greenhouse. There’s about the social side to still enough space in between the food in the first place? Some of the answers are simple, such the food waste story” plants before they fill out to also as ‘wonky’ produce not meeting grow coriander, chervil and rocket. strict supermarket standards, or the five million people in the UK Sowings in the propagation house choosy consumer habits mean- affected by food poverty to help and outside are still in full swing: ing slightly spotty bananas are us make and sell our snacts. successions of salad greens, carrots, thrown away. Ultimately, our vision is to beetroot, chicory roots for forcing, But it’s also because the global create a network of stalls in high chard, spinach, squash, sweetcorn, food system is complex and traffic areas where our staff can beans, and annual flowers. Also sow requires produce to go through sell snacts directly, keeping the sucessions of green manures like the supply chain at a particular margins that would traditionally phacelia (which also provides wonstage of ripeness to guarantee go to retailers and distributors. derful bee forage). Frosts should be over from 15th retailers a sellable product. The issue of food waste is a May (in Sussex at least), so this is It doesn’t have to be this way. tricky one. However, if we colthe time to plant out celeriac, courIf a supermarket discards kilos of lectively put more effort into getgettes, squash, beans and basil in the carrots because they’re past their ting apparently unusable food to open, as well as dahlias, zinnias and sell-by date, they’re not waste, where it can be used creatively, cosmos. they’re ingredients ready for soup we can stop talking about food Meanwhile hoeing and weeding kitchens and community centres. waste. Instead, we’ll simply call it begins among the root vegetables If apples get rejected because what it really is: food. that were sown earlier in the year. they’re not the right size, they’re Hoeing does three great things: it not waste, they’re ingredients Ilana Taub is co-founder of stops weeds from outgrowing your ready for turning into products Snact and has previously worked plants; it also aerates the soil, and, like Rejuce juices or Chutney in alternative finance and together with the nitrogen from your for Change. A nd when food sustainability. Snact has just manufacturers are left with by- launched a crowdfunding campaign, hoed-out weeds and the warmth of summer, it nourishes the soil life (bilproducts that are still edible www.crowdfunder.co.uk/snact lions of micro-organisms) which in 100% fruit snacts made with apples, bananas and strawberries that would otherwise be discarded has been made available to help turn will open up nutrients for plants. schools afford the kinds of invaluSupport that life by spraying able ‘whole school approach’ seraerated compost teas. Make some vices that organisations like the by hanging net-bags of really good Veg Men provide. compost, nettles, comfrey and the Above all, what stands out is biodynamic compost preparations in the value of co-operation. These a barrel of water. Aerate with a flowexamples are important proof that form, or stir by hand (at least three small-scale businesses can be built times a day) or use an aquarium on the principles of Transition, air device. It only takes 48 hours to and that by creating partnerships make this if the water is about 25-30 – where volunteers, businesses and degrees celsius. government agencies combine Gardener’s wisdom is that one their skills to benefit the commuhoeing is better than three waterings, nity – we can be optimistic about because hoeing creates a crumbly top the future. layer which acts like a mulch, stopping moisture rising to the surface Tracey Todhunteris a freelance to evaporate. writer. She organised the first conference of Low Carbon Dorothea Leberis head gardener Communities in 2007 and now makes of the biodynamic garden at Michael a living as a knitwear designer. Hall Steiner School in Sussex.
Men cohesion. Many Transition groups promote local, sustainably grown, seasonal produce, and are now branching out to work with schools too. Transition Lewes, for example, has a long-standing commitment to promote local growers and pro-
The abundant garden Photo by Mike Grenville
Lessons from a food waste entrepreneur
walking Walking in deep time by Lucy Purdy
Photo by Lucy Purdy
How often do we really consider the places deep below our feet? Not the carpet or tarmac, but the planet which has existed for 4.5 billion years. If Earth were a 46-year-old woman, she was 45 when dinosaurs roamed, and human civilisation began just two hours ago in her life: the whole of history passing in a blink of an eye – world wars, science, literature and philosophy within a flutter of her lashes.
Ancient time: walkers follow in the footsteps of ecologist Stephan Harding along the Devon cliffs
carbohydrates from photosynthesis. is the walk of our lives. Eventually, we reach the sea And it resonates with the and the group crouches down on Transition movement because it is the slipway in the fading light to only the journey so far. The act of peer at a ruler. One fifth of a mil- walking – meditative yet active – limetre (200 years) ago, we hear, prompts consideration of the next the Industrial Revolution kicked steps, the future. What do the next and sputtered into life, launch- few millimetres hold? ing smoke skyward and sparking We’re taught to see protons, changes to our planet’s climate and neutrons and electrons as inert biodiversity which meant it would building blocks and ourselves as never be the same again. innately separate beasts: selfish It is insightful, absurd, surpris- and competing for scarce resources. ing and overwhelming: a bodily Rivalry and fear are all around, the experience which connects us clamouring messages ring out. This, deeply to the natural world and as we are slowly realising, is a damreminds us that we are all of the aging myth. The Deep Time Walk land, connected not only to other reminds us how hard all previous creatures but to rocks, water and life has had to work, to graft at the trees, even viruses, fungi and coalface of implausibility, simply to spores. All that is good. All that is allow us to be here. We’ve known bad. Life and death. Put simply, it each other since we were the slime
Following the track past the woods and the water
slănină, cured fat melted on willow switches over the f lames and dripped on bread, a Romanian version of marshmallows. The țuicăfuelled conversation turned to the EU, which Paul, Alexandra and their friends regarded with deep misgiving. This was a notable difference from Hungary, where leftleaning people I’d met generally saw the EU as a counterbalance to nationalism, but it was rooted in pride in Romania’s peasant culture. These young, modern, urban people were intensely proud of the fact that country-dwellers still raised their own crops, ploughed with horses, made their own wine, butchered their own pigs, produced their own cheese, and retained some knowledge of how to harvest traditional medicines from the forest; this culture was threatened by EU regulation, and the freemarket ideology espoused by their government. “Every year on St. Ignatius Day, each family sacrifices their own pig,” said Paul, his face lit up by the flames. “It brings everyone together, and every bit of the animal is used: the meat, the blood, the bone. We make slănină out of the fat. It feeds
by Nick Hunt
In 1933, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out in a pair of hobnailed boots to chance and charm his way across Europe, “like a tramp, a pilgrim or a wandering scholar”, from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. The books he later wrote about this walk – A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water and the posthumous The Broken Road – are a half-remembered, half-reimagined journey through cultures now extinct, landscapes irrevocably altered by the traumas of the twentieth century. Seventy-eight years later, I followed in his footsteps. My own book recounts a seven-month, 2,500-mile walk through Holland, Germany, Au stria, Slova k ia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey on a quest to discover what
remains of hospitality, kindness to strangers, freedom, wildness, adventure and the deeper currents of myth and story that still f low beneath Europe’s surface. Transylvania, Romania
(an extract from Walking the Woods and the Water, published by Nicholas Brealey, £10.99) On one of these long, loose afternoons we built a fire by the Mureș, upriver from a Gypsy family camped with dogs and horses. A feast was prepared of pork and
in ancient seas, it reminds us with every step. Trust in the planet: everything you need is here. ‘Wild Economics’ was a week-long course at Schumacher College in November 2013 which explored the philosophies and practice of gift and nature-based economics. It was led by Mark Boyle, an author who has lived for three years without money, and wild food forager Fergus Drennan. Charles Eisenstein was a guest speaker. www.schumachercollege.org.uk Lucy Purdyis a freelance journalist specialising in environmental and ethical issues. She has written for, among others, Positive News, Permaculture magazine and Green Futures magazine.
Photo by Nick Hunt
In a bid to connect people to the 500 million years, is when Earth vast expanse of geological time, formed a solid crust and a thin layer Stephan Harding, resident ecolo- of water. We learn when the first gist at Schumacher College in single-celled organisms appeared Devon, devised the Deep Time and when the first animals, worms Walk. Meandering over a stretch and jellyfish, came along. of the Devonshire coastline where Along the way are moments the legacy of geological milestones of profound realisation. What is lies in stark and beautiful evidence, striking is the sheer improbability it covers 4.6 kilometres – every of life’s existence: that scientifimillimetre representing one thou- cally unlikely and mathematically sand years. In just a few hours, the near-impossible miracles had to Earth’s history is recreated. occur in order for it to evolve as I take the walk along with fellow it did. Stephan describes what a students on the college’s recent fellow walker recalls to me as “epic ‘Wild Economics’ short course, in stories of co-operation”: cells which the footsteps of hundreds of others instead of consuming each other from around the world who have decided to co-operate, and early already experienced it. Led by plants which formed symbiotic Stephan, we stop at relevant points relationships, one feeding the other to consider landmark events in the with water and nutrients and one Earth’s history. Half a kilometre, or providing both with energy and
Bulgarian woods, from the Strandza mountains near the Turkish border (just before an encounter with a wild boar)
the family all winter. Now people it’s backward, primitive. They’re in Brussels are saying these pigs trying to force peasants off the should be sent to an abattoir, where land so foreign multinationals like they can be killed by electricity. Monsanto can grow modified crops What’s the point of that? Is it better here. No capitalist government for the pig? And the peasants must wants its people to be self-sufficient pasteurise their milk, buy a licence – self-sufficient people don’t go to sell it to their neighbours; they shopping. They are trying to make won’t be allowed to sell țuică from us dependent, to take away our the cherry tree in their own garden. freedom, so we can be controlled.” They want to turn us into Western Europe…” Nick Huntis a writer, journalist “Our government is embarrassed and storyteller. He edits the by the fact we still have peasants Dark Mountain blog and co-edits here,” said Alexandra. ‘They think the bi-annual journals.
Mind Full, or Mindful? by Lauren Parry
Teas in Transition go walkabout by Mark Watson
“Can you guess what’s in this tea?” I am standing in the community library garden in early April, introducing the first Sustainable Bungay wellbeing walk of the year. The liquid I’m pouring from the large white teapot is a light golden green in colour – ‘pale sunshine,’ someone calls it, though no one recognises its fresh, mild taste.
In today’s busy world our minds are always working. Most of the time we’re hardly aware of what we’re actually doing in the present, or how our actions might affect the environment, let alone how we deal with urgent planetary issues around climate change and carbon reduction.
Photo by David Thorne
In response to this, Transition HeriotWatt holds mindfulness sessions as a way of opening staff and students up to a different mindset whilst at work or studying. A community The route is decided collectively organisation funded by the Climate on the day by everyone who turns Challenge Fund, Transition Heriotup. As we walk people show each Watt supports staff and students at other the meadows and alleyways Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh that have resonance for them, as in reducing their carbon footprint. well as swapping local knowledge We have found that learning how and stories. One month we may to be more mindful can help you hear about about the history of manage a busy schedule more effeclocal trade and shops, and another tively, enhance your wellbeing and discuss how the relationship live a more simple (and sustainable!) between human society and the life. Mindfulness is an integrated River Waveney has changed over mind-body based approach that helps time (and take a swim!). It’s also people change the way they think and about engaging with the people feel about their experiences. (and plants and places) you meet It focuses on living fully in the along the way. present moment, paying attention to The walks I organise focus what we are doing, as we are doing it. strongly on plants and trees and Mindfulness is something that evenlearning to see them as multi- tually becomes integral to everyday faceted fellow inhabitants of the life, but new ways of being take pracEarth with their own reasons for tice, and so, like anything new, our being here, as well as their medici- weekly drop-in sessions start simply, nal qualities. And there is always a by either just sitting, or taking a gentle pot of tea! mindful walk. Birch leaf tea: 5 fresh or dried Jon Kabat Zinn of the Mindfulness birch leaves per person (picked Stress Reduction programme in the spring/early summer), infused US explains: “This kind of awareness Picture of health: Mark Watson with a teapotful of wild and community garden 5-10 minutes in just-boiled water. nurtures greater clarity and acceptf lowers and leaves at Transition Town Tooting’s foodival, September 2013 No harmful side effects. Drink ance of the reality of the present The tea is from the leaves of a These monthly walks are about freely. moment. It wakes us to the fact that nearby birch tree. I’m talking paying attention to where we are our lives unfold only in moments.” about its spring tonic qualities – and discovering what makes us Mark Watsonteaches people how We hope that by being more the theme of this walk. Birch leaf belong in a place. They began last to connect with the living world mindful and less distracted by other tea helps cleanse the system and year after a Green Drinks discus- through plants (and his everstresses, people will be open to susreduce uric acid. Several people sion about wellbeing and com- present teapot!). He also manages tainability, health and wellbeing. As here have told me recently that munity, where we decided to walk distribution for Transition Free people become more aware of their they suffer from rheumatism, together and map the places and Press and chairs Sustainable habits, they may start to think about arthritis, even gout. Time to get green spaces around town that we Bungay in northeast Suffolk. how they interact with others and the acquainted with birch! valued and made us feel at home. markinflowers.wordpress.com natural environment.
Making a beeline across the UK
In this way, mindfulness could serve as a wake-up call to become more conscious of how we live our lives, helping us to recognise what we need to do to look after our bodies, minds and the Earth. For example, our minds have a habit of drifting off into the future or the past and are usually full of chatter and anxious thoughts, meaning that we don’t notice the tension we feel in our bodies. Lorraine Corbett, a development officer with Transition Heriot-Watt, adds, “Some people think that they might forget to do things if they are not worrying about them. In fact, mindfulness can boost creativity and problem solving – we have all had times when better solutions appear when we become more relaxed.” The sessions are so far proving very successful. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” says Ann Richards, mindfulness teacher, “a coming together of people who all have an interest in their health and wellbeing, developing a sense of togetherness and trust in the process.” Does mindfulness make us more responsible citizens because we are more conscious of what we are doing? Possibly. Being mindful is about living with choice, not habits, and therefore not avoiding responsibility for the choices we make. Through practice, mindfulness can restore a sense of awareness of ourselves, of others, and of the wider world. For more information: www.mindfullybeing.co.uk Lauren Parryis a support officer at Transition Heriot-Watt www.transitionheriot-watt.org.uk
Urban Meadow at London Fields – a River of Flowers project to provide habitat for bees
by Eve Carnell
Walkers will visit inspiring people and projects, from permaculture farms to divestment campaigns, WI groups to Transition Initiatives, with opportunities for skill-sharing in the form of a ‘walking university’. We will be discovering and sharing ideas and stories from elders, children, and communities along the way. Melanie Strickland, who will be joining the tour for a month, says: “It will prompt people to imagine a future without fossil fuels, give them the courage they need and help them develop the skills which will be essential in a world of declining resources.” We’ll also learn about human
impacts on native flora and fauna. Since the 1940s, 97% of England’s wildf lower areas have been destroyed, damaging vital wildlife habitats. Getting a personal and historical perspective on our changing countryside can help reduce normalisation – where each generation thinks their experience is normal. Small losses are accepted because they are not seen as part of a larger whole – which is that our lives depend on thriving healthy habitats and species diversity. A key part of the Buzz Tour is sharing the journey with others. By walking together, people will
have a chance to connect, support and encourage each other on their personal journeys to change. Organiser Miranda Shaw explains: “Behavioural psychology shows us that when it comes to personal and cultural change, intention alone is not enough.” So if you feel like stepping out with the bees this summer, join the Buzz Tour. Everyone is welcome – we are all part of the same journey! Eve Carnelldevotes her time to climate change projects. You can find out more about her and The Buzz Tour at buzztour.org
Photo by © Eloise Batterbee
This spring sees the launch of the Buzz Tour, an epic four month collaborative walk from the south coast of England to the Scottish Borders. Its intent is to help pollinate the flowers of change that are blooming all over the country, in preparation for an energy-lean future.
Zero wasters The UK’s first slimming club for bins by Karen Cannard
With a full wheelie-bin of landfill enterprise, Cwm Harry, we have waste each fortnight, I was on a piloted campaigns through BBC mission to reduce it in time for local radio, Transition Initiatives Zero Waste Week. I set up a blog, and faith groups. The idea is simple, no matter The Rubbish Diet, as a diary to what your starting point. The share the hurdles and successes. underlying task is to work out the We recycled and composted more top five things that fill your rubthan ever and reduced what we bish bin, and then find ways to couldn’t recycle or compost. When eliminate them in preparation for Zero Waste Week came, all we your own Zero Waste Week. threw out was a plaster. Dieters who subscribe to our I was so surprised by how much challenge online receive weekly control a family like ours had over emails in the run-up to their Zero its waste that I continued to blog Waste Week, helping them to maxand share new discoveries, invitimise recycling, make the most of ing others to take the challenge too. their food and switch from disposFast forward to 2014 and The able products in favour of reuse. Rubbish Diet has developed from It’s been fantastic to see how most a personal blog into a brand new people reduce their waste by half website, supported by a team which and others by much more. is skilled in bringing the challenge But it’s not just a challenge to local communities, creating the UK’s first slimming club for bins. for indiv idu als. Shrewsbur y Working with zero waste social Transition Town trialled it last year
and found it was a great way to get people who hadn’t thought about waste before to tackle their bins. Ashley Street took the Challenge together, meeting on alternate Sundays for tea and cake and to talk rubbish. They enjoyed getting to know their neighbours and found themselves thinking differently about ‘waste’. They now hold street swap-shops and share trips to the household recycling centre This year, funded by West London Waste, our team launched The Rubbish Diet Challenge with a local ‘Bin Doctor’ in Harrow, sharing advice with fellow residents and helping them sign up to the challenge. The campaign is also expanding into another borough soon, with online support for those who live in the rest of West London. Meanwhile our local Bin Doctors, i.e. Rubbish Diet experts,
Photo by Karen Cannard
Have you ever done something that has exceeded your expectations? It happened to me, in 2008, when I signed up for a Zero Waste Week, a local campaign organised by my council.
Rolling it out: Debra Alexis, one of The Rubbish Diet’s bin doctors at work in Harrow
continue to help in our other pro- that the size of my rubbish bags ject areas of Suffolk, Shropshire would put a smile on my face.” and Powys. Graham Heap, who took the More information about The challenge for the ITV Tonight Rubbish Diet, and how you or your documentary, ‘Throwaway Britain’ group can sign up sums it up wonderfully, when www.therubbishdiet.org.uk describing how much his family reduced their waste from two full Karen Cannardis the creator of wheelie-bins of rubbish. The Rubbish Diet and regularly “When you lift it up to see such a appears on BBC Radio Suffolk as little bag after two weeks, it’s abso- the county’s Bin Doctor. She is Chair lutely a joy. I never ever thought of Trustees for Sustainable Bury.
Central London family-run B&B
Aiming to be the capital’s first Permaculture hotel. Simple, cheap and friendly. In the heart of London – walking distance from British Museum, Russell Square, Euston, King’s Cross & St.Pancras stations. With vibrant Bloomsbury Coffeehouse in basement for breakfast & lunch. Tel: 0207 837 9140 www.StAthansHotel.com email: info@StAthansHotel.com
Grow Your Own Gourmet Mushrooms
RESURGENCE IN ACTION Annual Summer Camp, 31 July – 3 August 2014
Be inspired, learn, discuss, explore ideas, recharge, rest and enjoy sustainable living in action, in a small corner of paradise near Malvern. Join us for a weekend of talks, music, workshops, poetry, walks and crafts.
“Spending time at Green & Away is an utter joy. Try it!” – Kirstin Irving
Image: Hawthorn Edge, Rebecca Vincent www.horsleyprintmakers.co.uk A fundraiser for The Resurgence Trust, registered charity no. 1120414
www.resurgence.org/summercamp • firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to get a great gift and support an award-winning social enterprise? Grown from waste coffee grounds at our Urban Mushroom Farm in Exeter, our GroCycle Mushroom Kits are great for those who love growing. Come check it out and find out more about what we do at: www.grocycle.com
Understanding Transition – can you help?
Can you give 15 minutes to contribute to research on Transition? Jade Cawthray, a Masters student at Imperial College London, is exploring the ways people engage with Transition and is asking as many Transitioners as possible to fill in her questionnaire. If you can spare the time, please visit http://understandingtransition.wordpress.com
Photo by GoodGym
physical GoodGym’s combination of community good deeds and exercise helped Damien Clarkson keep running
Marathon running the vegan way
The people’s pools: lidos make a comeback by Amy Hall
Leisure centres, libraries, public spaces of all kinds have suffered under the brutal cutbacks that followed the financial crisis. Those most vulnerable to the axe were any that could be portrayed as expensive relics of the past, like the UK’s lidos.
Photo by Andrew Florides
But they’re not going down without a fight – communities around the country are coming together by Damien Clarkson to save their open-air pools. Clarity. Running always creates it, whether I’m pounding along One such is Portishead Lido, the Thames Embankment dodging tourists, or winding my west of Bristol. “The wider comway through a woodland trail. And I think it’s this clarity of munity is proud of the fact that thought, created through running, which gave me the courage people-power saved the pool to join the growing community of vegan runners. from closing,” explains Barbara Thatcher from Portishead Pool About 18 months ago I noticed more in one session. Also fea- Community Trust, which took people had started to say things tured is American ultra-runner over the pool after council budget like: “I bet you were really good Scott Jurek, who runs ‘ultra-mar- cuts threatened to close it in 2008. looking when you were younger,” athons’ of anything from 50 to There are around 100 lidos hardly the kind of thing you want 150 miles or more. across the UK, including Tooting to hear before you’ve hit 30. It was Jurek travels to Copper Canyon Bec in South London, which enjoys clear that I had to start taking my to race against the Tarahumara, a community relationship with fitness seriously, so in February but what really piqued my inter- Transition Town Tooting. 2013 I started running. est was that he was not just an “The lido is a natural resource But thanks to the encourage- elite athlete, he was also a vegan. and a communal space, and maniment of a friend and the discovery fests a quality of living which Transition is get ting people of volunteering project GoodGym, excited about,” said Lucy Neal I started to run regularly and – “The carbon-intensive slowly – to improve. rearing of livestock has from the Initiative. “People play here, feel well here; the pleasures GoodGym is a great way to help a significant impact are shared.” your community while also keepPells Pool, in Lewes, East ing fit. Digging, shovelling, lifton the environment” Sussex is the oldest documented ing, painting, every week teams of runners come together to work Ju r e k ’s o w n f a s c i n a t i n g fresh-water public pool in the on a huge range of projects in their memoir Eat & Run f inally conlocal community. Alternatively, vinced me to follow my instincts some runners plan a route that and become a vegan myself. takes them near older people in I’ve received a lot of support isolated locations, so they can drop from the vegan running commuin, check everything’s OK and give nity – I’m part of a great Facebook them some companionship. group called Vegan Runners and I was already a vegetarian when there are also clubs, like Vegan I started running, but the more I Runners UK, that have training learned about animal welfare, cli- sessions, socials and take part mate change and the global hunger in races together around the crisis the less I felt my diet aligned country. with my outlook on the world. Has my new regime worked? The carbon-intensive rearing of Undoubtedly. I’ve transformed livestock has a significant impact myself, physically and mentally: on the environment, in terms of I’ve lost weight, and feel more greenhouse gas emissions and soil alert, more alive than ever – and and water degradation. my running friends are amazed But it was an unexpected dis- with how quickly I’ve improved aster that finally led me to change my fitness since switching from my diet. In May 2013, I injured my a vegetarian to a vegan diet. Achilles tendon. And on 25th May, just a couple I desperately didn’t want to lose of months short of my 30th birthmy connection with running, but day, I’ll do something that a little I couldn’t train, so to keep myself over a year ago seemed impossimotivated I bought some running ble – I’ll run my first marathon. books, including Born To Run, the Fuelled entirely by plants. so-called barefoot runner’s bible, by Christopher McDougall. Damien Clarkson writes about In the book, McDougall meets running on his blog Vegan Runner the reclusive Tarahumara tribe, (www.veganrunneruk.wordpress. known as “the running people”, com). He is also a director of the indigenous to the Copper Canyon environmental campaign group region of Chihuahua, northern Climate Rush Mexico, who regularly run an (www.climaterush.co.uk). incredible 200 to 250 miles or @damienclarkson
country. Each year, the local community comes together to prepare the pool for the summer season, weeding, painting and cleaning. A little way along the south coast, Saltdean Lido, with its spectacular modernist design, is set to join the ranks of the communityrun pools. Bridget Fishleigh is a director of the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company (SLCIC), which has been granted a 60-year lease on the building. She is convinced that the pool can be a valuable community space: “It was always supposed to be the hub of Saltdean, and in the early days it was. There were dances, there was music – we want to bring them back.” In January, SLCIC secured its first grant towards the renovations – £61,330 from the Social Investment Business. One of the UK’s most successful community-run lidos is in Beccles, Suffolk. Situated on the picturesque banks of the River Waveney, the award-winning outdoor pool
was first opened in 1959. Closed by Waveney District Council in 2008, it was bought by Beccles Lido Limited, a charity formed out of the initial campaign to save the pool, and re-opened in 2010. Shaun Crowley is a director. “I thought it was important to send a message out to the district council, who favour the big towns in the area, that they couldn’t come and close our stuff down just because they thought it didn’t make commercial sense,” he said. The charity was advised that the pool would never make money, but since they took it over it has made a profit every year. During 2013’s 15-week season 45,000 people visited, and the lido now regularly hosts events such as a beer festival and a triathlon. The charity has recently taken over the 300-year-old Beccles Public Hall and Theatre. Crowley is more than satisfied with the community’s achievements: “I think we’ve really put Beccles on the map.”
Focusing on fun: Since taking over the pool, Beccles Lido Limited have installed a new diving board, a giant inf latable and a slide. There’s also an all-weather shelter for those rainy days.
“The lido is a natural resource and a communal space. People play here, feel well here; the pleasures are shared”
Photo by Andy Taylor: amtaylorphotography.com / email@example.com
Surfers on a mission to protect our waves by Andy Cummins
Every surfer knows, if you want a good wave, you need a good sandbank. Knowing where they are can mean the difference between the ride of your life and a wasted surf session of paddling through disappointing ‘close outs’.
Looking for a wave on the north coast of Cornwall, the home of UK surfing
Cornwall has had surfing in its remove and process millions of blood for over 50 years. Surfers tonnes of sediment before dumpAgainst Sewage (SAS) is an envi- ing the waste back on the sea floor. ronmental campaign group formed SAS has submitted a nine-page in 1990 in the heart of that com- response to the first part of this munity. Our strong connection application, raising significant with the sea is a key motivator for concerns. our continuing Protect Our Waves campaign. “SAS’s 2013 economic But the waves close to the hearts of surfers and communities along study identified the the north Cornish coast are facing value of surfing to a new threat – a potentially devastating proposal to dredge the the UK as £1.8bn” area, part of a project to recover tin reserves in the sea bed that were The dredging proposal is washed out by the mining industry. focused on the beaches around The company behind t he St Ives Bay, Porthtowan and scheme, Marine Minerals, have Perranporth. I’ve surfed on this applied to the Marine Management coast for over 15 years. You’ll find Organisation for permission to waves here as good as anywhere
in the world – surfers come all year round, preferring the cold Celtic Sea to f lying to sunny Hawaii or South Africa. These beaches are home to SAS’s HQ, but they’re also designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. As well as producing great surfing waves, sandbanks are also integral to the way the coast protects us all. A lot of the phenomenal wave energy generated by this winter’s powerful storm swells was dissipated out at sea by sandbanks acting as natural buffers. Biodiversity could also be threatened; disrupting the sediment could release heavy metals and other chemicals left by the mining industry. Species potentially at risk from
the process include seals, dolphins and crustaceans, all of which play important roles in regulating the marine environment. Another disturbing issue buried within this worrying proposal is the potential for restrictions on using the sea for recreation. Marine Minerals wants their ship to be able to access sediment from as close in as 200 metres from the shore. This could result in a ban not just on surfing but on all types of recreational water use. We think that taking away this community resource for the benefit of a few company directors is unjust. These waves have a powerful intrinsic value to many people living in coastal communities. Surfing and using the sea is a great way to stay fit, happy and healthy, as well as
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being an important part of the UK’s heritage, but these surfing waves also have an astonishing economic value. SAS’s 2013 economic study identified the value of surfing to the UK as £1.8bn, with Cornwall providing the majority of that revenue. Our movement will continue to represent water users, coastal communities and the marine environment throughout the application process. Andy Cumminsis campaigns director with environmental campaigners, Surfers Against Sewage in Cornwall. Find out more about the Protect Our Waves campaign at www.sas.org.uk/campaigns/ protect-our-waves (@AndyC_SAS)
“Transition is a network of positive local community responses to climate change and the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, as well as an alternative to failing global economic systems” Transition Free Press is printed on 100% recycled non-chlorine bleached paper using non-toxic inks. Please recycle or compost. All content © 2014 Transition Free Press unless otherwise stated. Every effort has been made to contact the copyright holders for permission to use their work.
Transition Free Press Issue 5 Spring 2014