Transition Stroud

This is a shared history blog. Together we can write the history of our process of transition as it happens.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Encouraging Developments!

New and exciting things may be on our radar at last!

Firstly Dave Cockroft sent us all emails that theres a newly formed All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas (APPGOPO) which held its inaugural AGM on Tuesday 26th June. They may not have teeth yet but at least they are a mixture of MP's across the parties and also some lords too!

Nines drinks Night
Last night there was an uplifting and informal meeting at Nines Bar in Stroud where many new faces arrived to chat, listen and offer their ideas and questions on transition.
We enjoyed their company and wish to welcome them and hope they join one or more of our groups soon. (

National Campaigning Groups
Last week I decided to look for any references to peak oil/gas on some well known NGO websites to see their perspectives on it, namely Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
Neither had any mention of it, (though the DONATE link does appear on every page of both of their UK websites).
So I emailed them to ask why they didn't mention it and sent them the link to the Irish RTE programme on Irelands vulnerability to peak oil, and our links to the blog and WIKI sites. (

Greenpeace's respondent needed me to explain it and after I pointed out that it was nothing to do with climate change she again replied and said that she would forward my emails to the campaigns team. I will be watching their website ...........

Friends of the Earth's initial response was not clear on peak oil/gas. They referred to the "IPCC IPCC as being the definitive source for estimates on the range and scale of threats faced by climate change". They also suggested I try Greenpeace because Greenpeace are "are campaigning specifically on decentralised power" They then asked for more information on TS
(read this blog and the WIKI!). I may not bother watching theirs until they wake up a bit!

I had a more encouraging responce from the BBC whom I contacted previously to bemoan their lack of accuracy in the "It ain't Easy being Green programme. As an aside to the communication I sent the same email as Greenpeace /FOE has received and chased it up with a phone call to the producer. He seemed interested and forwarded it on to his development team.

One thing in particular that I wish to say is that although some of us "originals" have been involved for a little bit longer than the newbies we are very open to their ideas and input. Nothing is set in concrete in our approach to a sustainable living way of life so please do get stuck in and be as active as you can be and encourage others of all ages to participate.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Stirring up change

We spent last night camping at the community farm at Brookthorpe. Nature was not at her most compassionate but we staved off the temptation to walk a few hundred yards to the ceilidh at Day's Orchard--supplier of local apple and pear juices, and ciders and perries. We stayed on our own land and loved it in all its many moods.

We had visits from Laurence, resident farmer, and his girlfriend Katje, as well as Richie and Elena, who live in a caravan on the farm. Richie is the biodynamic apprentice--a wonderful occupation for the new age. He is learning his craft before returning to Africa to build self-sufficient farming communities based on biodynamic principles.

Richie was spraying a nourishing preparation on the farmland and was helped by some of the older kids and their dads. It should have been sprayed again at dawn this morning, and by the time we woke up to heavy and continuous rain there was evidence that Laurence and Richie had been out already.

Dave had cleared a turf pit for our fire, and by the time the turf was replaced there was no sign that we had been there. We agreed that this was the best way to do camping, and in fact to do living. Our culture creates an obsessive need in the individual to make his or her mark, to grasp the promised 15 minutes of fame. In Nature's timeframe this attitude seems absurd, and if people were truly connected with their land that would give them a far superior sense of identity and meaning.

Monday, 18 June 2007

On your bike--or one belonging to the community

To celebrate National Bike Week, Imogen and James organised an evening of bike-related films at the cafe in the Sub Rooms. The room was packed with 30+ cyclists, who enjoyed finding out about the Amsterdam white bike scheme and other community bike projects.

James and Imogen are bike nuts. Last time I saw them was on Stroud station on their way to a Bicycology meeting in Lancaster. They had a carrier bag with mallets for bike polo and a box with three chocolate cakes to make the planning meeting go with a swing! The essence of my view of how the Transition should be!

James and Imogen plan to organise the community to set up some community bike schemes including loan and gift of bikes, probably using the Freecycling network, as well a teaching people to learn bike mending skills. They are also launching bike polo in the town on Saturday--I wonder if we can convert Prince Charles!

The film ‘The Humble Magnificent’ (30 mins) explains a little about the group Bicycology: “The bike is a humble yet magnificent form of transport, and it symbolises a way of life that can be both fulfilling and sustainable. Bicycology is a grassroots collective who promote cycling as both a form of transport and a source of joy. This film follows their 2006 Roadshow, in which the group pedalled across England, teaching people how to fix their bikes, and discussing the things we can all do to help fix the planet”.

The headline film, ‘World Naked Bike Ride’ (45 minutes) is a bit of fun. Narrated by Channel 4’s Jon Snow, it delves into a worldwide annual phenomenon, focussing on an event in London in 2005 “Hundreds of cyclists get naked and ride en masse through the streets, simultaneous with rides around the world. This is a film celebrating both the bike and the human body, protesting against oil dependency and climate change, and illustrating the vulnerability of cyclists on city-streets”

The evening was also a chance to launch Stroud bicycology. It looked like a great keen bunch of people so I'm sure we'll be hearing more soon.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Pictures from Stroud Slad Farm

Hello all
This is my first go at this so I hope the pictures upload and look reasonable. They were taken on my mobile phone so apologies if they aren't that sharp.
Well done to the organisers!
Local production rules!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Food for Free

Just had a great walk in the woodland and hills behind Slad Farm looking for opportunities to nibble nature's bounty. The walk was guided by Stroud's improvement on Ray Mears, Dan Gordon-Lee, an ecologist who is part of the Transition Food Group.

The walk was part of the Stroud Slad Farm open day. This is Stroud's second CSA and something to be really proud of. The ceilidh is yet to come, with plenty of Greg's excellent brew available.

The food walk was a real inspiration. We were thinking our way back to the Neolithic as we searched trees and hedges for edible tidbits. This can help to link us back to the land, as well as making walks more interesting.

We found that Jack-in-the-Hedge is excellent for making a meat source--prepared just like mint sauce. There were lots of possibilities for salads, including sorrel and dandelion, and plenty of leaves that can substitute for spinach, including plantain and nettle.

Dan told us that the grey squirrels take most of the hazelnuts before we get a chance to these days, but there will be lots of other fruits available in autumn time. I'm planning to make rowanberry jelly, as well as rose-hip syrup. Gin can be flavoured with sloes or with young beech leaves.

There are lots of uses for elderflowers, including wine, tea, and a sponge cake. For the cake you need to put the head of the flower into the cake tin and put the mixture around it before cooking. For fritters, just dip the heads in batter and fry; then eat holding the stalk, which isn't worth eating itself. Other options for teas include the many types of mint that are around at this time of year, as well as lime flowers.

In yet another reference to the Second World War, Dan told us about the Hedgrow Harvest scheme that had been part of the focus on food production during our last national crisis. Dan explained how this knowledge of nature's larder has been lost since then as a result of changes to farming, but also, I suspect, the national education system, focused around training workers and city types.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Speaking Circle training

Saturday saw a group of 8 Transition Stroud folk including myself attending a day's 'Speaking Circle' training.

Photo: coffee break

This is all about standing up in front of an audience and delivering a speech....ugh! Some love this - I do it and do it quite often in relation to other stuff but it is not really my cup of tea - nerves, anxiety etc - yet I want to share ideas about Transition Stroud, about green politics and more.....So this course seemed a good way to try and get over some of those fears..

However it's not about techniques to present speeches better - but rather about being authentic and focusing on the most important — the connection between speaker and listeners. This relationship-based approach is about inviting connection rather than trying to connect. It was wonderfully refreshing with speaking exercises all day. One of the websites says of this technique that it "rapidly dissolves speaking anxiety and allows you to reach hearts, minds and souls from a natural place of ease and power."

Certainly by the end of the day it was very wonderful to be able to listen to others talking - and really talking in a compelling way - and also to get up without so much fear - practice is now what I need!

If you are interested in speaking Circles locally call Nicola on 751419.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Zero Beer Miles

Dave, Ali, Sam, Hannah and myself have just enjoyed a very pleasant and planetarily satisfying lunch at our local, the Waggon and Horses in Thrupp. This is renowned as offering the best Sunday roast in the Five Valleys and today it came complete with five vegetables, a Yorkshire pudding and rounded off with a chocolate mousse.

We can't be sure about the food miles but the distance travelled by the beer is measured in yards, since Stroud Brewery is on the nearby Hope Mill estate.

Shared food is going to be an increasing feature of our lives in the future, and what could be nicer than sharing lunch with friends as part of a relaxed Sunday. You are welcome to join us in Thrupp, and perhaps see whether you local matches up?

Friday, 8 June 2007

Local Government Liaison Group meeting

Transition Stroud (TS) Local Government Liaison Group meeting on 8 June 2007 at Star Anise cafe (see photo).

The Heinberg visit has considerably raised awareness amongst some local people and has also given much impetus to the project - Heinbergs' presentation to the Cabinet will also hopefully bear fruit as more people start to take this issue seriously. The Sub Rooms meeting led to over 150 emails being left behind of people interested in learning more.

Anyhow this Local Government Liaison Group has met several times as a group - the last time mostly to look at publicity around the Heinberg event - we're now up to 5 members - and spent the first part of the meeting looking at our role - there was a general consensus around a role of interpreting, linking, enabling and shaping relations between Transition Stroud and the external environment. This requires knowing more about the levers of power and change and identifying these for the wider TS movement. Much of the actual action to achieve the change will need to be taken by the wider movement. A new name reflecting this role will be discussed at the next meeting.

As part of improving our understanding of the levers of change we are looking at a meeting with some local experts to explore areas like the ‘Strategic Partnerships’ operating at District and County level. We also looked at ways TS could build links with the District Council - Fi will follow up on this and hopefully results of these meetings will feed into the TS Core Group day (7 July).

We also acknowledged we need to build the capacity of this ‘Enabling Group’ and a provisional workshop is planned for 12 July 9.00-12.30 (venue to be arranged). Those people who signed up to be involved with TS to be invited. Also an evening meeting on Mon 30 July 7.30pm.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Conference notes available

Reports from the Transition Network conference are now available to download from the Wiki website here.These include write ups of Heinbergs talks and other sessions.

Updated 18th June: Open Space notes from the conference are now available here.

Photo: Participants at Ruskin Mill

Friday, 1 June 2007

Transition Network conference success

The inaugural conference of the Transition Town network was yesterday, 31-May-07.

Photo: getting ready for 'Whoosh' at end of day.

I've enclosed the programme below with some brief comments added - a full report will be coming soon but wanted to get at least something out to share this exciting day - over 80 of us squeezed into Ruskin Mill from 15 Transition Towns and another 15 or so in the making...

Photos: Aonghus Gordon opens the days, a sub-group explores more about moving forward Transition Towns, Oddie from Transition Stroud outlines where Stroud has got to and Rob Hopkins, from Transition Network makes the opening address.

There was a huge buzz and I feel very privileged to have been part of it - it was particularly good to hear Rob Hopkins speak - see his excellent blog here.

Another highlight was meeting and hearing Professor Richard Heinberg.

I've done various blogs about Heinbergs talk, about some of the groups that took place and more - see here for much more detailed reports (scroll to todays date or use archives in right hand column) - there is also info about Heinberg' presentation to Stroud District Council.

Photo: slide from Rob Hopkins talk

Of course best of all (apart from the cakes) was meeting all those people from around the country - Isle of Man, Cheshire, Bristol, Totnes, Isle of Wight, Brixton, Oxford and more - wonderful to hear their stories - am now brimming full of ideas but also wondering about how best to proceed to ensure activities are sustainable!

9.00 Coffee, tea and mingling Great opportunity to start getting to know some of the 80 plus others present - some 15 Transition Towns represented and a further 15 or more due to be 'unleashed'.
9.30-9.40 Welcome to Ruskin Mill – Aonghus Gordon Aonghus, founder of Ruskin Mill Educational Trust (and Glasshouse and Freeman Colleges in Stourbridge and Sheffield) was our host on the day. Aonghus was instrumental in bringing Richard Heinberg over and "donating" him to this conference.
9.40 - 9.55 Opening address – Rob Hopkins An introduction to Transition Towns.
9.55 - 10.30 Getting to know each other
Each Transition Town, city, hamlet, island and penisula gave a brief account of where they were at.
10.30 – 11.00 Break and refreshments Wow are the cakes good at Ruskin Mill cafe!
11.00 – 12.40 2 Open Space Sessions In Open Space for this and the next item 24 topics/questions were picked by anybody present and then that person would lead a discussion on that topic - anybody could join any one of those tables and participate or move onto another table.
12.40 – 1.00 Recap on Open Space The two topics I got involved in were involving people who appear disinterested in these issues and then the question I asked was about how can we sustain the groups and avoid burnout - I'll add a blog later about these but also there will be full notes available from the day.
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch in the canteen: buy it or bring your own The canteen is organic and very scrummy - soup, a huge roll and more cake!
2.00 – 2.45 Workshop 1 – Peak Oil briefing (Heinberg) A chance to equip ourselves with the facts, figures and irrefutable arguments that'll convince even hardened sceptics that Peak Oil is a reality
Workshop 2 – Post peak Healthcare Running at the same time which I missed was Dr Pamela Gray, from Transition Penwith "health & medicine" group: industrialised healthcare and oil addiction; tips on how to build the health group in your own community; options for an efficacious post peak healthcare system. Also includes Dr Vav Simon, Isle of Wight, discussing resilient healthcare systems for the animals we breed for food, for working (shire horses, oxen) and for company (pets). Again write-ups will be available from TT Network soon.
2.45 – 3.30 Workshop 3 – CSA and food Stroud is leading the country in sustainable (and profitable!) integrated community food systems. Could it work for your community...? Nick Weir led this workshop which I missed as I was at the Heinberg one at the same time.
Workshop 4 – Relocalisation initiatives worldwide (Heinberg) The topic was what can we learn from other communities around the world that are taking their own imaginative steps into the unknown to design a lower energy and more resilient future?
3.30 – 4.00 Break and refreshments More cake! But first TT Oxford wanted to grab a 5 min video of my experiences and thoughts of Transition Stroud - feeling exhausted by now so hope my enthusiasm still came across!
4.00 – 5.00 The "12 First Steps" for a Transition Initiative Rob Hopkins and TT Totnes gave an inspiring talk with many stories about the process - plus the 12 steps they have devised to help others- again these will be available soon - here are the earlier 10 steps.
5.00 – 5.20 Transition Network A discussion on how the Network can support us and we can support each other.
5.20 – 5.30 Wrap up and closing WHOOSH! All outside for a 'whoosh' and photos and more - the whoosh being a large circle and a load whoooooooosh - all filmed - infact a film is being put together of the day.