Saturday, 14 November 2009

Bedford/Castle ward

County town/electoral ward: pop. 140,000/5000
Zero Carbon Castle started June ‘07,
Unleashed April ‘09,
Seeded Transition Bedford June ‘09.

Castle is an urban village within the town of Bedford and was already engaged in low-carbon community activities before becoming a Transition initiative. Zero Carbon Castle began on a similar time-line to Transition Town Totnes. Unusually they unleashed before becoming official (still to do so) by holding a Street Fair in the high street with stalls, a cycling event and children’s competitions (with Mr Zero). Their other very successful events have been a Garden Give Away with 30-40 gardens actively exchanging plants and produce in the neighbourhood, all-day clinics on energy, transport and waste, and several film showings. They have four very clearly defined food-growing areas within the neighbourhood - a herb-planted roundabout, a corporate space behind a restaurant, an allotment in a Christian Society and a guerrilla garden - and many of their present activities are based around the growing cycle in these gardens. Their recent Food Day at the roundabout attracted about 100 people with workshops and harvesting of herbs.

In June the ZCC Core group (about 6-7 people) moved to seed Bedford the town. Unusually for an Eastern town Bedford started within a neighbourhood first (Norwich, Ipswich and
Cambridge for example started as a hub and now are beginning to branch out into the suburbs and hinterlands). “We’re in the next phase, “ said organiser Shane Hughes. “Asking ourselves
how can we replicate and support both these groups? How can these two groups work together and evolve?”

After a successful and well-attended open meeting, Transition Bedford has grown quiet and reflective. It’s a certain stage of evolution many initiatives are experiencing at the moment. High activity followed by a period of dormancy (“Four months meditating in a corner,” laughs Hughes). The present Bedford core group is larger than ZCC (about 12-14) and has pro-actively
sought people with the right skills and knowledge base, so that all areas are covered, such as media, politics, well-being etc. They are therefore now at a planning stage and developing a
series of events in 12-13 segments, designed so each one will build on the success of the previous one with a follow-up mechanism afterwards (something Transition events tend not to
do). They have deliberately fended off the attractions of funding in favour of constructing a base with strong working partnerships, in order to find “creative ways of taking people over the threshold”.

Herb gathering day at the ZCC's roundabout gardens, Sept '09


Contact Person: Shane Hughes
Tel: 0207 193 5242

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