Transition Stroud

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

Saturday, 28 June 2008

A Day in Stroud

I began by borrowing another little Molly for an hour. Jenni, her mother, is my landlady and is selling the flat so I took Molly to the Farmers' Market which she loves. First we visited the tomato stall for a vine of delicious Sunstream organic plum tomatoes. They always sell out first. After buying a tub of heavenly double cream, some ham and olives we were ready for our pain au chocolats which we ate while listening to a busker playing Annie Laurie on her flute. We must have met at least half a dozen friends during this half hour.

Next stop was Hawkwood - a half hour walk via the woods - for farmday at Stroud Community Agriculture. Today around 12 of us were weeding the rows of onions and carrots and mucking out the pigs. The muck was mixed with weeds for rotting down over the next six months and improving the soil fertility next year.

Then is it was back to Springhill for work-share at Pete and Helen's wood-fired bread oven. The puddling had already been done - mixing clay with straw and making it into bricks - and the sand form that the oven was to be built around was in place. Under Sam Makumba's excellent supervision we slapped on clay and moulded it into place 'with love' - the key ingredient for a succesful oven it seems.

Meanwhile Sam explained the dependence of the global weather system on the equatorial belt and how the African fig can save the human species. Helen provided excellent cakes and Sylvia and Clare sorted tiles for creating the mosaic on the finished oven.

Tonight it's off to see Patsy Gamble at the Trinity Rooms - a fund-raiser for the Green Party. With a day like that who would want a foreign holiday?!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery

Lovely to see Helen's pictures of the Stroud Communiversity launch. Please come forward and offer your skills and knowledge - it's your university. We already have offers of visioning the future, keeping chickens, a sixties-style teach-in and death rituals. Now how Transition is that!

Here's a bit of what I had to say about why we need the Communiversity:

Our universities are not free. In this late phase of global capitalism our institutions are being captured by the market and the university has not escaped. Our academics are trapped between seeking politically motivated research funding and achieving market-driven targets. I won’t go into the arcane lore of journal rating agencies or the metrics that are used to assess what should be creative and inspiring intellectual work. It is clear enough to those who work in universities that we are now a wing of the capitalist state, whose duty is to produce minimally skilled and maximally compliant economic production units.

The role of the universities in questioning and in inspiring a critical attitude in young people is now actively discouraged. This would be serious at any time, but in an era when we are facing such serious problems it is a disaster that the very places where creative solutions should be developed are so neutered and contained. This is why we need alternative structures where intellectual creativity can flourish.

Since we’ve made the idea of the Communiversity public many people have asked me: what is it? The answer is: whatever we want it to be! It is a collaborative educational project to help us develop the knowledge and skills we need to make our transition to a sustainable future. It will be a living example of how higher education should be in the future we want to live in. Our learning and teaching will be based around co-operation. Our goal will be sustainability. Other than this we are open to ideas. We wouldn’t be much of a Communiversity if we weren’t!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Stroud Communiversity Launch

Well over 60 people came to The Space to the Stroud Communiversity launch on Friday evening. Molly Scott Cato introduced the idea of the Communiversity and Martin Large came with his spade to help us plant the roots of the venture (see what I did there?). Professor Hugh Barton arrived on his fold up bike and gave a splendid talk on Creating Healthy, Sustainable Towns and Neighbourhoods. His humour and insight left us with a real vision of what could be in Stroud and gave the Communiversity an excellent launch.

After the talks people were invited to look at the exhibitions that had been put up about the areas that will be available at the Communiversity in September.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Positive Vision

I was reading Rob's Transition book again and was struck by how important it is to have a positive vision. Since then I have heard several people talking about how they are feeling depressed or unhappy about the way things are and by what we are doing to our world and how we are behaving in our society. As Rob acknowledges and honours this and understands that we need to tell the story of how things are going wrong so that we start to do something about it he asks, "what would happen if we came at this the other way round, painting a picture of the future so enticing that people instinctively feel drawn towards it?"
While we recognise the negative, it is important to hold on to a dream. It is important to share that dream with others. It is important to make that possible future so bright, so real that we begin to believe it and live as if it were happening now. In that way we not only bring about that change but we become that change.
Let me leave you with something I have hanging in my room as a reminder. It is 'The Secret' by Christian D Larson (modified by The Secret 2007)

"I promise myself
To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.
To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.

Enjoy the dream. Happy transitioning....

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Change The Dream

It's Sunday evening and I have just got home from a most wonderful day.

We spent our time looking at what was happening in the world and then dreaming up what we could and are doing about it.

Most of the 23 people there knew that we are living off our eco-credit card, "as if we are living inside of a dream, sleepwalking toward oblivion, while self-serving, shortsighted interests encourage our slumber with managed news, celebrity culture and other weapons of mass distraction".
But throughout the day the aim of the symposium was gently and persistantly made clear - "bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on the planet as the guiding principle of our time."

Indigenous people of South America who still live in their traditional Earth-honoring ways refer to our modern worldview as our "dream" and have urged us, for the sake of all life, to "change the dream of the North".

By watching not only what was going wrong but what courageous people all over the world are trying to do to help we were inspired to work out our own dream and our own plan to help the bigger picture.

It was an inspiring and uplifting day. If you get the chance to go to a Change The Dream Symposium ( take a chance and go. It will certainly change your dream and it may just change the world.
"Never doubt that a small band of committed people can change the world. Indeed, nothing else ever has." Margaret Mead

Wild Flower Walk

On Thursday 5 of us set out for a walk on the wild (flower) side led by Helen Pitel. We walked from Cainscross Road, down into Frome Gardens and across the bridge to the Ebley by-pass. Helen pointed out many wild flowers, trees and grasses and we were amazed at how abundant the small amount of green was. Helen and Andrew Treacher were very well informed about the types and nature of the plants. As it started to rain we all went in doors for a cup of tea and a look through the flower books to see what the names for all the flowers were. A most enjoyable and informative evening. Thanks to Helen for getting it organised.