Transition Stroud

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

Monday, 31 March 2008

Events galore

Take a look at this lot sent around Transition email lists by Simon extraordinary load of films, music and events....

The Nailstock Festival takes place from 26 April to 15 May. Transition Stroud is involved with two events. If you've not already been asked, it would be wonderful if you could come along and help, or participate, in something you see here that excites you!

1. 'Nailstock' Community Music Festival, 26 April 12.00noon – 11.15 pm.
At this one day live music festival Transition Stroud has a stand, and will also be 'marshalling' the recycling effort at the site. We need people to assist with the stand, and wander the site helping with recycling. It's a great opportunity for us to get 'out there' and chat to people about peak oil and climate change!
2. The Festival Exhibition – 'Transition', 26 April – 15 May.
This is a 3 week programme of collaborative creations, films, events and talks exploring the past, present and future of power in and around the Horsley Valley at Ruskin Mill. There are many opportunities to participate. This exciting programme has been collaboratively developed by Jonathan Code, Odilia Jarman and Dan Gooch under the watchful eye of Sue Smee and with the participation of Sam Mukumba, Emily Smith and Tara Downs.

Full details are given below.

'Nailstock' – 26 April 12.00noon to 11.15 pm What is it?
An all day festival of contemporary music on George V Playing Field in Nailsworth, that launches the 3 week Nailsworth Festival. 'Nailstock' provides great opportunities for local young people – and older ones - to perform on a decent stage, with good PA and lights etc. It attracts families and a great cross- section of people. 7,000 can pass though the gates during the day – and at headline performances there maybe 2,500- 3000 there. See

The organisers are keen to improve the environmental footprint of Nailstock and asked Transition Stroud could assist with 'marshalling' rubbish collection / encouraging people to put it in the correct re-cycling bins etc, both on the performance day Saturday 26th April, and the tidy up day Sunday 27th……and do what we can to raise 'environmental' awareness at the festival.....Transition Stroud will have a stand for our own displays, publicity and acknowledgement during the festival. Helpers get free entry, free food, high visibility TS jackets (Oooh!), and plenty of opportunities to interact with people about the issues of peak oil, climate change, and TS!

Each TS group has been asked to consider how we can represent ourselves, both in person and with some tangible item / representation of each group's work on the stand. If you would like to help with this opportunity please contact your group co-ordinator or Simon Allen.

Ruskin Mill invites you to Transition

A programme of collaborative creations, films, events and talks exploring the past, present and future of power in and around the Horsley Valley, centred around the Nailsworth Festival Exhibition 'The Last Resource?' in the Gallery at Ruskin Mill. From millponds to Concorde, oxen to Ecotricity: for four thousand years, the Five Valleys have prospered by harnessing the power of animals, wind, water and now fossil fuels. How will they respond to the end of the Oil Age?

Saturday 26th April - Thursday 15th May 10.00am - 5.00pm daily
We invite you to contribute to our exploration of TRANSITION. Take a moment....consider that everything you see has a story....a pathway from the past, a potential future...Everything is intimately linked to a material, a maker, and a source of energy...We have THREE WEEKS, and you have the fragments, the memories, the hopes, struggles, stories, the materials...
"Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves and you change the individuals and nations. If they tell themselves stories that face their own truths, they will free their histories for future flowerings."
Ben Okri
We would like you to bring...
Saturday 26 April
...your hands and feet to help us build a bread oven in NAILSWORTH (Nailsworth Festival Crafts in Action 10am – 4pm). Facilitated by Sam Mukumba
Thursday1 May– Saturday 3 May 1pm – 4pm
...a piece of CLOTH or clothing whose story of TRANSITION is captured in its texture, in a rip, stain, pattern, patch, wrinkle. Facilitated by Emily Smith
Thursday8May– Saturday 10 May 1pm – 4pm
...a FRAGMENT of stone, glass, tile, pot…..perhaps it was a wall, a floor, a vessel, a place to dwell, a SHELTER that once was or that could be…Facilitated by Tara Downs

Sunday 11 May –Tuesday14 May 1pm – 4pm
...a SEED. Facilitated by Sam Mukumba

SHARE your stories by contributing to collaborative creations in Substance and Word - For more information please phone 01453 837537

Transition Films at Ruskin Mill

Who Killed the Electric Car?
Thursday 1 May 7.30pm £3. Running solely on electricity, General Motors' EV-1 vehicles were so efficient they threatened to change the future of driving in America. So why were they all destroyed? Narrated by Martin Sheen, this film unravels the puzzling demise of a vehicle that challenged America's damaging addiction to foreign oil.
Also showing at The Space, Lansdown, Stroud on Saturday 3 May 7pm£4

Who's Counting?
Thursday 8 May 7.30pm £3. Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics
Directed with compelling beauty and humour by Oscar winner Terre Nash, this film contrasts the uncounted productivity of nature and women worldwide with conventional accounting systems rooted in military economics.
Also showing at The Space, Lansdown, Stroud on Sunday 11 May 6pm£4

The Real Dirt on Farmer John
Tuesday 13 May 7.30pm £3. An outcast from his community, Farmer John ploughs his unique furrow through a failing economy, vicious rumours and violence. By melding the traditions of family farming with the power of art, this story of transformation and renewal heralds a resurrection for agriculture.
Also showing at The Space, Lansdown, Stroud on Sunday 18 May 6pm£4

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Wonderful willow

I've just spent a fab day making a fruit basket from hedgrow plants. By selecting a variety of different plants you can have a striped red, yellow and green basket--made in a day but that will last for years and give you huge pleasure! Somerset is the home of willow crafts and we also used farmed willow which has been produced on the Somerset levels (where they are called 'withies') for thousands of years.

Basket-making is, of course, an ancient craft. One of our teachers, Sheila Wynter, explained that cavemen got tired of only being able to carry what they could hold in two hands and so invented the technique. To carry water they then lined the baskets with clay which is how pottery came into existence. Archaeologists have found example of pots with the imprint of woven baskets.

The ancient craft has its own lore and language. You begin with the 'slath'--a base made by binding 6 strong, stoutish sticks together firmly and then you carry on with a 'pairing weave', using fine rods to separate each base stick to form a spoked-wheel shape. Before inserting uprights to make the sides you have to 'slype' them--which means making a pointed end.

You can also tell that the craft comes from a time when we lived in harmony with nature. The techniques involve a relationship with the natural materials: the withies are humanised, being described as having a belly and a back. You work with the grain of the natural material - using the bend to create the shape you want in your work, just as you would in wood-working. This experience of fitting in with the rhythm of nature is a key part of the Transition process and something that all rural crafts can teach us.

Both teachers came with a basket full of well-used tools, including a horn of tallow (for more on this magical craftsman's material see this post to my Gaian Economics blog). If you'd like to make your own basket or seat a chair or stool with rushes book up for Sheila Wynter's courses on 19th-20th April and 3-4th May. (Send a cheque for £30 as a deposit to 4 Trinity Road, Stroud, GL5 2HX. The total cost is £95 including lunches and refreshments.)

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Ambridge talks Transition

Dave spotted this and had to add it to the blog:

Pat Archer, a dedicated organic farmer, raised the idea. She decided first to discuss it with her friend Cathy, who asked her what this Transition stuff is all about…

Pat. Well, it’s something the Soil Association has been talking about for a long time. Transition is a way of actually making a difference

Cathy. How?

P. Its a bit like we did with the school meals at Loxley Barratt, but on a far bigger scale, and it wouldn’t just be about food.

C. Hang on… you want everyone to eat local produce or grow their own or what? And if its not just food….

P. OK. I’ll start again. The Transition Movement says we’ve got to do something about climate change, and we’ve got to reduce our dependence on oil..

C. Everyone’s been saying that for ages

P. Yes, but Transition communities are actually doing it.

C. How?

P. Lots of ways. Food is just the start. Energy Descent Plans. Community orchards. Woodchip boilers. Economic localisation. The Totnes Pound…

C. The what?

P. Totnes, you know, Devon. They’ve created their own currency which you can only use locally.

C. Good grief! It all sounds pretty ambitious!

P. Well, it’s got to be.

C. And you’d be expecting the whole of Ambridge to get involved? P. Oh definitely the whole of Ambridge, and other villages, Borchester even…

C. Borchester?

P. Well, most of the places that are doing it already are Transition Towns, there are a few villages though…

C. You can see why if you’re trying to get people out of their cars, better public transport.

P. Yes but..

C. That’s the trouble though… if you give up your car, there’s no other option

P. Well you can cycle…

C. Like Nigel?

P. I think in Stroud they are setting up a shared bike scheme… bike shelters and community bikes all painted yellow or something, you just grab one to get where you’re going.

C. …and then if you can cadge a lift back…

P. Definitely. You’re not committed to the bike… And they do bike maintenance classes for people who’ve got their own.

C. Well, it sounds amazing!

P. Tony thinks it’s a good idea.

C. I think you might have a job selling it to the whole village…

P. Well, I’m going to carry on with it anyway, see how far I can get.

If you missed the episode you can hear it on BBC Radio 4’s Listen Again section for the next 6 days. I think it is hugely exciting, and will introduce Transition ideas to a huge audience.What next? The End of Suburbia in Ambridge Village Hall? The Ambridge Pound? Local Passivhauses popping up all over the village? Brian Aldridge turning home farm into a mixed use permaculture CSA project? Eddie Grundy setting up business installing knock off solar panels his friend’s Baggy and Snatch have nicked off roofs in Felpersham? Caroline deciding to make Grey Gables as self-reliant in food as possible, digging up the lawns and installing edible landscapes and a kitchen garden?

Perhaps Pat and Tony might become the communicators of The Great Reskilling, helping their neighbours move towards being organic as the price of fertilizer makes other approaches unfeasible. Maybe Richard Heinberg will speak at the Village Hall and the talk in the Bull will be about the strengths and weaknesses of the Oil Depletion Protocol. Who will be the first to bring their carbon footprint below 2 tons? What wisdom and insights can be gleaned from the village elders to support this work?

Monday, 24 March 2008

Alternative Textiles Day

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Mass cycle ride planned

A date for your diary from the Stroud Cycle Campaign – Sunday 15th June; Cycling event to show the demand / need for a safe cycle route between Stroud and Chalford leaving Subscription Rooms Forecourt Stroud, and bottom of Marle Hill Chalford anytime between 10am and 12 noon.

As you will know cyclists and potential cyclists find the A419 between Stroud and Chalford hazardous because of the volume and speed of traffic. We had hoped this problem would be partially resolved by the upgrading of the towpath, initially as far as Brimscombe Port. But this expectation now seems precarious due to British Waterways withdrawal from the canal project. We therefore think it an opportune time to highlight the need for a safe route.

On 15th June we are arranging a cycling event along the A419. Like a similar event in 2000 participants will cycle in groups of 10 or 12, normally with a leader and a backmarker. We have arranged for help from the Special Police at points where we are most likely to come into potential conflict with motorists, and we anticipate these will include crossing the road at Chalford. We would like to end the ride at the playing field in Chalford where we will arrange some bicycle events, probably including simple maintenance, other activities, and a picnic. Alternatively if participants are short of time they can cycle to Chalford, and straight back

Transition Logo winner

Here is the winner after totally up the votes:

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Some of the people involved in the Stroud transition process are concerned at the apparent centralisation and hierarchical approach emanating from Totnes and the Network. This has been encapsulated in their offer of 'training', implying a superior understanding of a process that is bound to be different in each location - and experimental. Here is what Mike Jones had to say on the subject:

I see TN as an enabler, connector, catalyst – and definitely not as a disseminator. It has felt to date that TN is the hub at the centre of the wheel with spokes going out to the different TT’s. What is needed is more of a web-like, virtual, loose type of infrastructure. Regional and on-line forums sounds like a great start.
My own experience, and that of others, is that it’s felt very difficult to get engagement with TN, that it’s very unresponsive, that ideas go in but very little comes back- that it’s a blocker rather than an enabler. And that it’s too Totnes-centric (and appears overly centralised).

These are potentially big challenges to overcome and I also recognise that the people involved are working hard, and committed, and really want to be of service. But for me, it’s not working – it might be necessary to revisit the core organising principles (akin to Visa / Chaordic organisations – Dee Hock, – how decisions get made, by whom, etc). Sorry if this sounds critical – its meant to be more in the spirit of information sharing’ (just one perspective among many that might help with the sense-making and finding a way forward). We’re also struggling in Stroud – I keep reminding people that the whole thing is very embryonic, that there isn’t a right’ way and that we need to just try stuff and learn as we go along.