Transition Stroud

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

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

TTS Local authority liaison group

Several of us have been meeting to discuss how best to liaise and work with local councils. We are at an early stage yet and would welcome ideas and thoughts.

Photo: Stroud District Council, Ebley Mill

One inspiring example is Portland, Oregon - they have just became the first governmental body in the US to not only acknowledge that imminent peak oil is a reality, but also to publish a plan as to what the city should be doing to cope. The Portland Peak Oil Task Force have produced a succinct, outstanding report that should be read by every local official everywhere. While there will naturally be many local variations, Portland’s approach to the problem contains much that seems universally applicable. Download here.

See also video of activists and local politicians talk about preparing for peak oil in Portland, Oregon here. In Sweden too there are plans to be free of oil dependence - read here.

Another useful resource is Rob Hopkins being interviewed on the 2 degrees radio show - he discusses the Transition Towns project here - and his excellent blog 'Transition Culture' can be found here. One of his key steps for the Transition Town initiative is about how to build bridges with local Government - see more here. One example in this country is the endorsement of the TT Totnes project by their local Town Council.

We are fortunate in that Richard Heinberg is coming to Stroud at the end of May/early June - he is already booked in to talk to councillors on the District Council at Ebley Mill and a public meeting is also planned. This will be a great boost to getting the message across.

Transition Town water group?

Talk: The Nature of Water

The Ruscombe Brook Action Group are inviting people to join them to hear local water expert Simon Charter talk on 'The Nature of Water' and Julian Jones from Water 21 talk about plans for improving the local brook.

Details: 7.30 pm Wednesday 25th April 2007 at Randwick Village Hall by the playing fields in Randwick. Further details from Philip Booth on 01453 755451.

This should be an interesting talk - I am also hoping that we might get a Transition Town Stroud water group together? Anyone interested?

Some figures below might be of interest - it seems to me that even among many environmental groups and organisations water is not being given enough attention - it was only through trying to remove sewage from our local brook and setting up the Ruscombe Brook Action Group that I have become more aware of the issues - RBAG is now trying to implement the solutions we need so that we do not add to the problems of climate change and peak oil...

- power station cooling accounting for 39% of national water consumption
- £313 m spent each year dealing with pesticides, nitrates and other contaminants ie 10% of costs of drinking water

- clean-up of water supplies uses chemicals and energy intensive ultra-violet treatment: the water industry emits 2.6% of UK carbon emissions

- most of us flush 50 litres of water down the loo everyday

See background and progress re Ruscombe Brook in my article on my blog on 5th January 2007 - the article also appears in the latest edition of The Edge.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

How Stroud Survived Peak Film Ticket Sales

Last Friday (16th April) was the first big event of the Stroud Transition process. StroudSown--Jessica Standing and Odila Jarman--got together a fantastic event around a showing of the film The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. There was a real buzz in the town and people rushing around trying to buy tickets. Unlike most Stroud events turning up on the night was not an option since tickets sold out at least a week before the event.
I wasn't able to be at the event, not because I am disorganised but because I nobly gave my ticket to somebody more deserving than myself. Feedback I have received as an interested bystander has been extremely positive. More than 150 people in a room talking about peak oil is a great way to start a community response.

More than that people felt there was a lot of love and optimism flowing. It was like a 60s revolution rather than a place of doom and gloom. The food was universally praised; opinions on the music varied, but that seems fairly inevitable.

We're looking forward to the follow-up event next Friday when there will be a Freshers' Fair at Star Anise cafe, with each working group trying to rustle up support for its activities. People will also be asked to fill in questionnaires detailing their skills and to join Carbon Reduction Action Groups (CRAGS).

Positive, optimistic community energy is what we are aiming for. Let Cuba be our example! And remember my slogan: If I can't dance, I don't want to part of your transition.




Thursday, 15 March 2007

Fab Refurbishment

Five of us from the textile group met last night (14th March) to share our ideas and skills in remaking and embellishing clothes. Therese and Claire have both been doing this for a while and selling the proceeds. Clare and Rosemary have both been making their own clothes beautiful for a long time. Molly had been adventurous in her youth but has since lost confidence. Clare had brought a book called New from Old which was full of creative ideas and inspirations. We were particularly impressed by the suggestion to turn old felted jumpers into bolero jackets, although nobody gave that a go last night.

We had really great fun--and lots of cake and wine, although not enough to impair our skills or mess up the clothes. Therese was working on a wedding dress in satin that she had been given. She was adding net to the outside to enhance its flow. Claire added felt flowers to a tired T-shirt which she had already dyed bright red. Molly was helped to cut down a burgundy velvet jacket she had picked up at a charity shop and rework it with constrasting orange thread and matching buttons Claire had in her button box. Clare was very busy and revived three of her own garments with pretty ribbons and buttons. Rosemary spent the evening adding contrasting colourful wools to a well-loved jacket which had been left in the sun and had faded.

The gift economy found an opportunity to flourish. Clare gave Therese a much-prized tailor's dummy which she saved from the dump and has been storing in her loft. Molly gave Clare some face cream she has been experimenting with using local beeswax and olive oil. Claire gave Molly some buttons just perfect for her jacket. Molly had received a sewing machine and a faded ball gown from the freecycling--modelled by Rosa for the evening. Therese took on the project of the ball gown and will make it gorgeous for the fashion show in October.

Over the sewing and cake we came up with several further bright ideas and exchanged details of suppliers and techniques. Therese showed some wool she had spun and will send around information about the local spinners and weavers group. The Stroud hemporium was officially launched with a formal constitution and officers elected.

We'll be meeting again soon, so if you would like to join in just email Molly: molly@gaianeconomics.org

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Pruning Party

As climate change makes local production more important it is vital that we all learn new skills, especially skills related to growing our own food. In Stroud we are lucky to have the community farm, where we can all feel a part of the food production process and watch and learn from our esteemed farmers.

The Gloucestershire Orchard Group is also doing good service, both preserving locally bred varieties of apples such as the Lodgemore Non Pareil (Stroud's own), revitalising abandoned orchards, sharing skills connected to caring for the apple trees, and celebrating the fertility of orchards.

The Stroud community farm has a connection with the orchard at the Resthaven care home near Edge. On March 3rd a group of about 10 people co-ordinated by Gary Morter of the farm's orchard group headed to the orchard together with pruning shears and secateurs. Three people were already skilled in pruning and showed the rest of us how it is done. Between us we devised the following outline rules:

We aim to encourage the tree into a goblet shape
We aim to remove branches that are crossing other branches
We discourage vertical branches and encourage horizontal ones
When pruning you should leave one fruiting spur
Pruning cuts should be clean and diagonal

It shounds a bit technical and some of us were rather daunted at first, but the amazing thing is that after a while you eye gets caught up in the tree and you can easily see which branches to prune. And then you stand back and see that the tree has become a different and beautiful shape. It was much more art than science and far more creative than I expected. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and so good to be outside.

Pruning the trees is just one part of the cycle of the year in the orchard. Last autumn there was a very succesful juicing day and in January we held a wassail there. We produced a mass of dead wood on Saturday and the plan is to wait until the trees are in blossom and then hold an event to celebrate this, along with a bonfire burning the wood.

I feel something of a connection with the grail legend here and have to just point out that a grail is a goblet and that the apple is the tree of immortality in Celtic religion (hence Avalon is the apple grove of everlasting life). Our relationship with the apple is a deep and ancient one. [Molly]

Friday, 2 March 2007

Welcome to the Transition Town Stroud blog

We hope that this blog will become living history. We are involved in a major social change, responding as a community to the challenges of peak oil and climate change. This blog gives us the chance to record that process as it happens. We hope to keep it as a record rather than a forum for debate, which is available elsewhere (see the links).

The Transition Town Stroud process began in autumn 2006 when Dave Judd circulated Rob Hopkins's Energy Descent Action Plan. I [Molly] felt very excited about this because it felt like a framework which could bring together, support and share many of the various positive things that already happen in Stroud. For me, the crisis we are in offers huge opportunities for moving towards a better way of living, not only ecologically but socially too. That is why I became a green economist.

Dave held an initial meeting that included Dave Cockcroft, Martin Whiteside (not sure who else was there: help me out guys?). This led to a public meeting held at Star Anise in January where we set up the working groups. Most of these are now up and running and their co-ordinators can post here to say what is happening.