Transition Stroud

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

Monday, 28 April 2008

Sue & Greg Dance's views of Nailstock

Sue - Pre planned commitments to duty lists saw us catching the 93 bus amongst many young people and young families. Toddlers and teenagers in anticipation & excitement. We ended up stuck in a traffic jam for 20 mins & missed the procession. Arriving at the Nailstock festival site keen to sign in and participate.
The site was busy - finding a well organised gazebo & meeting fellow transitioners for the first time in person - putting faces to e mails. Others well known to us showing our Transition Town Stroud bright yellow jackets, new leaflets, and other useful tools of the day.

I was impressed by the young people's commitment to recycling. Tiny people being helped to put their bottles in the right bins. Archway school boys wanting to wear the fluorescent jackets sharing their knowledge of carbon footprints. A variety of folk wanted technical information in order to make practical changes to their homes. All wanting to do something for our future even though they had not heard of Peak Oil. I met potential new members encouraged some to leave their details and realised that Transition Town Stroud is mushrooming into a large dynamic umbrella group.....we all have so many ideas to share, practical ways to learn & it would be great to harvest the enthusiasm that we met.

I was very sad to see the field change as the afternoon progressed, alarmed about those who ere out of control & in need of first aid, the wearing of the yellow jackets drew people to us who asked for help & we were able to summon first aiders.

Greg - The day was a successful one, I spoke to many curious people who in the main wanted to discuss the practicalities of having solar panels of one sort or another. One chap wanted to make his driving school business low or zero carbon which certainly presents challenges!

I didn't meet any anti sorts (denialists), some who hadn't heard of peak oil/gas had a concerned look in their eyes when I said what the possible implications could be.
The site remained tidy throughout the day thanks to the hard work done by the teams, and also I think the tidy attitudes of the daytime festival goers.

The night time revelers, mostly young who arrived in large numbers from 8pm onwards were another type though. We went off site until around 9:30pm and on our return the site had become a waste land of rubbish. Was it the anonimity of the darkness that transformed people into wasters? Or was it that the families had gone and the "too cool to care" rabble were on duty?
The bus trip home was crowded and well natured, if a bit loud at times. Lots of cheering for no particular reason through which one young chap managed to sleep! Overall the day was well worth it, thanks to Simon Allen!

Thoughts for the 2009 event - Maybe the rubbish issue would be helped by illuminating the bins with low level lighting so they can be easily seem, and asking the organisers to put out reminders to the crowds over the entire day to use the bins correctly. Also reminders about the no glass on site rule would prevent the accidents that occurred.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Transition recycling at Nailstock

Nailstock is a community-run free music festival, celebrating local bands and musicians in Nailsworth - and a blooming good event!

Transition Stroud have been hard at work all day collecting 'rubbish' to recycle - and running a stall with info - talking to folk about climate change, peak oil and more.

For more details see:

Some photos from this year

Stroud Transition library

On Friday Philip, Molly and Helen R met with two members of the Stroud Library Staff, Trudy and Helen, to discuss the possibility of displaying books that were relevant to the Transition movement. Many of the books have been donated by Transition folk.

Photo: our meeting in library

Trudy and Helen were most helpful and suggested we use a "dump bin" - this infact turned out to be a neat, wooden free standing, display shelf and not as bad as it sounded! This could be used to display our books and lend them out using the normal library system. So from this June (hopefully) we will have a stand in the library not only with interesting and useful books but also with our logo, a brief description and how to contact us.

Photos: Stroud Library and "Dump bin"

If you have any books that you think would be relevant and are in good condition please take them into the library and leave them for Helen Foulkes or Trudy Henry. We will also be launching soon an appeal for DVDs.


I was reading "eGaia", a book by Gary Alexander (growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications) when I caught myself dreaming.
I had forgotten the power and pleasure of dreaming.
I have a book in which I write down my dreams from time to time. I call it my Vision Book. About once every 6 months I curl up with my book and a set of colourful pens and just think about what I want for my life. I might draw a picture or diagram or I might write a list or a short description. I include a lot of detail and make it look attractive. I then imagine the things that I have wished for happening in my life right now.
Dream on fellow transitioners. Have fun. Maybe we could get together and share some dreams sometime.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Transition Ambridge: Pat Archer comes to Stroud

In last night’s Archers, Pat Archer took another step towards setting up Transition Ambridge, as she prepared for a fact-finding trip to Stroud. The reference at the beginning to ‘King Cups’ is, I think, the name of one of their fields. Anyway, in this episode, she is talking to her husband Tony, about how her Transition research is going, and about her trip.

Pat. Do you want a hand with the milking Tony?

Tony. No, no. It’s useful having two of us coming down from King Cups (?), but I’m alright now….

Pat. OK, then I might sneak another look at the Net.

Tony. Oh yeah? Getting ready for your trip to Stroud?

Pat. Well, if I’m spending an afternoon discussing Transition networks, I ought to have some idea of what I’m talking about!

Tony. You seem pretty clued up to me Pat…

Pat. I’ve only scratched the surface. It’s fascinating though, I mean, when you look at what Totnes is doing…

Tony. Yes… I was more surprised by what they’re doing in Nottingham…

Pat. Oh yes… its not just little country towns…

Tony. It’ll be interesting to see it in action…

Pat. You don’t mind me taking a day off?

Tony. No, not at all, I’m all for it. The more we know the sooner we can get things moving in Ambridge.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Transition Network Conference, 11 – 13th April 2008

I have arrived home from the Transition Network Conference full of hope and comfort. Hope that there are so many people who are prepared to make a difference, and comfort that I don’t have to do anything alone.

We began with a talk by Caroline Lucas. I thought I wasn’t roused or inspired and yet I found myself constantly wanting to write down what she said because it was worth remembering. Things like “a low carbon lifestyle” (or any phrase with low in it) is not an inspiring phrase. We must use terms like “living lightly” and “we want streets to belong to people again”. “When things are closer together we will have more time to spend with friends.”
It was an excellent start to the conference.
Ben Brangwyn followed and stated that we are a movement to get unelectable policies electable.
Naresh and Sophy reminded us that the weekend was not all about thinking, it was also about feeling and led us in an exercise to connect with our heart and soul.

Workshop 1 for me was Story Telling.
We created a town in the present day and then dreamed improvements in the future. It was good fun and very imaginative. Hannah left us with a beautiful quote from Rilke, “The future enters into us in order to transform itself long before it happens.”

The next day my workshop was with herbalist Mandy Dean from Bro Ddyfi. We looked at modern ailments and tried to work out what were some of the main causes. It is possible that many people now have allergies because we are too clean so doctors are injecting children with soil from Africa to help their immune system! We ended the workshop by looking at local flowers and herbs and learning their uses. I will now think very differently about the common daisy which is such a brilliant little plant.

I took part in several other workshops including Dealing with Backlash (something we may need to have a strategy for) and Avoiding Activist Burnout. With the help of the wisdom of Joanna Macy we learned that to avoid burnout we turn to each other not from each other.

I came home with a note book full of ideas and wisdom and have made new contacts with Transitioners all over the world. A most enjoyable and hopeful experience.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Transition Towns Annual Conference

caroline_lucasStroud Transition folk are joining the conference taking place at the Royal Agricultural College near Cirencester from 11-13 April 2008. Green Party ‘eco hero’ will open the conference and warn of global food insecurity resulting from peak oil crisis.

The Green MEP for the South East will be visiting Cirencester tomorrow (Friday 11 April) to open the annual conference of one of the UK’s most revolutionary environmental movements and then will be in Stroud to talk at the Sub Rooms at 7.30pm on The Future of Food.

Dr Caroline Lucas, who sits on the European Parliament’s influential Environment Committee and was voted ‘Politician of the Year’ by the Observer newspaper in 2007, will tell visitors to the Transition Towns Annual Conference of the urgent need to address the increasing cost and scarcity of oil. She will say: “I truly believe that the Transition Town network is the most exciting, most hopeful, and most inspirational movement in Britain today. It is exciting because it's such a fast-growing, grassroots, direct response to an oil crisis which will affect us all.

“The Transition Town project proposes meaningful solutions to the two greatest challenges we face today - peak oil and climate change. It doesn't wait for government, politicians or corporations to act; it's about people in their communities taking action now, and joining together to create an alternative vision of how society could be.”

In the current system of globalised trade, food production is dangerously dependent upon oil – 95% of all the goods in shops involve the use of oil. Dr Lucas will warn that only by consuming more locally sourced food and services, and improving support for domestic producers, can we decrease our reliance upon unsustainable fossil fuels. Dr Lucas will highlight the positive message of the Transition Town network, which works to wean communities off oil, at a time when oil production may have already peaked and regularly surpasses the $100-a-barrel mark.

She says: “The Greens have been trying to get the subject of Peak Oil onto the political agenda for several years. But now, there's a new and growing awareness of the dramatic consequences of it becoming more costly and more scarce. Transition Town demonstrates that the changes we urgently need to make in order to address peak oil and climate change are positive changes in themselves. By making these changes, we can not only tackle the environmental crisis, we can also lead more fulfilling lives - through stronger local communities for example, better insulated homes, more vibrant local economies, more local production and consumption.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Life and death

Some of the peasant skills we need to learn during the Transition are pleasanter than others. This morning it was killing chickens. On the community farm we are trying out chickens for eggs, but inevitably we end up with cockerills that have no real use. They harrass the hens and need to be killed.

I was so nervous about this that I didn't have any breakfast to stop myself being sick. But as a meat-eater I feel it is necessary to take some responsibility for the death that is involved so I arrived at the farm early on a beautiful spring day to find out how it is done.

The expert chicken-slayer arrived in full leathers on a motorbike - which made me think of Alice Cooper and helped break the tension for me. He was actually a lovely man called Adrian who works at the Camphill Community at Thornbury near Bristol. Ute, who works part-time on the farm, also had experience of killing chickens.

The killing was distressing - mainly because the birds flap after their necks are broken and this can go on for some time. I wasn't able to do this myself but could cope with gutting and plucking the birds. I now have two stiffened bodies in my fridge and am wondering whether I am going to be able to eat them. They seem quite different in the kitchen from in the farmyard.

By a strange coincidence given my various writings on their £1.99 chicken, the bird I had plucked ended up in a Tesco carrier. I passed our local branch on the way home from the farm: shoppers were streaming out with their 'bags for life' packed full of plastic-wrapped goodies. What a difference between this and the life-and-death experience I had just been through.

The most curious thing is that the smell of the chickens after they were dead was just the same as the smell of my children when they were born. It isn't a smell of blood - something deeper than that. Perhaps a smell of life? I certainly learned something about life and death this morning and I wonder whether I will need to put the technique into practice in the future.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Personal Transition

I dropped in on a textile group meeting the other evening and met a group of wonderful people sitting around a table discussing possibilities for helping the transition process in Stroud and knitting, sewing and crocheting.
I was handed a pair of needles and some wool and encouraged to start knitting. I haven't knitted for a long time and wondered if I would remember. With encouragement I was able to design something and get started. Since that meeting I have created the beginning of a beautiful, multi-coloured jumper and as I knit I imagine designs for other clothes that I could wear for different seasons. I also wonder if I can encourage my daughter to make her own clothes and maybe start knitting or sewing.
This leads me to realising how important it is for people to get together to do things because it is inspiring and supportive.
I feel as though my own personal transformation has begun and I am not alone.
Thanks Textile Group.