Saturday 14 November 2009

Saffron Walden, Essex

Market town: pop. 16,000
Timeline: started October ’08

Walden in Transition began when a group went to visit Adrienne
Campbell of Transition Lewes and were inspired to start their
own initiative. They have run a series of ambitious and
successful talks, ranging from Jeremy Leggett, talking about The
Triple Crunch, David Strahan, author of The Last Oil Shock,
talking about Peak Oil, and Joe Smith, social and political scientist
at the OU. At the end of May they had an open meeting to discuss
the different information gleaned from the speakers and decide
how to deal with the issues raised in the community. Part of this
meeting was an open space discussion around the question, how
do we see Saffron Walden in 10, 20, 30 and 50 years time?

In a second open meeting they decided what they were going to
do. “Transition is about doing stuff”, said Stephen Willoughby
one of the six core group members. They formed several theme
groups as a result, including the Walden Pound, Skills Shares,
Trees and Open Spaces, and Values (educating people to
question assumptions, to ask questions such as what do we
mean by choice/economy/progress/development?). They have
now decided to abandon the open meetings and concentrate on
the projects organised by these groups.

WIT have two food community interest companies, a food
market and a community-run sheep farm with ancient woodland
on the outskirts of the town that is in conversion to organic
husbandry. There are plans to coppice some of the wood.
The Walden pound group meanwhile is supporting the local
business forum’s loyalty scheme and hopes to launch the pound
in the near future. The local Lets scheme and very active
Freecycle in the area mean there is already an engagement in
swapping and recycling, ways of doing things which the Skills
group can build on for future activities.

In spite of a “rather difficult” relationship with local councils, recently the Sustainable Uttlesford group (formerly LA21, Energy and Waste), which includes some of the Walden core group, went to speak to the District Council regarding the EERA plans for massive development in the area by 2031. “This is not going to happen,” Willoughby told them, “We just have to powerdown.”

Website: www.walden-intransition.
Contact Person:
Stephen Willoughby
Tel: (01799) 501 456

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