Monday 7 December 2009

Blue Saturday, Green Saturday

  • Some weekends you just can’t stay at home and dig the garden. You have to go out and find your people. And sometimes those people don’t live in the community in which you have rooted yourself. Sometimes you find yourself travelling across the region because you need to know you’re not on your own. Charlotte Du Cann reports on two away weekends.

    : This Saturday (5 December) Sustainable Bungay travelled from East Anglia down to The Wave in London and I went with them. We had come to take part in the biggest climate march in history, bringing attention to the planetary crisis that is being discussed this week by the nations of the world at Copenhagen.

    It was a big march with 50,ooo people dressed in all shades of blue: royal blue dragons, turquoise wigs, indigo-striped faces. While MPs and campaigners spoke eloquently and passionately at Speakers' Corner, thousands gathered in Grosvenor Square before moving through the great shopping and political highways of the West End towards Parliament. Placards supplied by political and religious organisations declared an end to climate chaos, poverty and capitalism, brightly coloured homemade ones (including our own) from all round the UK declared Climate Emergency, Cardiff is Ready and There is No Planet B. Along the way and as we circled the Houses of Parliament both sides of the Thames I met fellow Transitioners - from Ipswich and Norwich at Speakers' Corner, from Berkhamsted by the Houses of Parliament, from Brixton, who were carrying a banner over Westminster Bridge. At three o’clock Big Ben sounded and a great cheer went up from us all. Was anyone listening? Is this the time when ordinary people get to speak out about the 101 issues that climate change brings to light, rather than give the authorial voice to the scientists and politicians and the corporations who pay for them behind the scenes? It was a beginning. Our voices were quiet, but we were there nevertheless.

    You can find a full report on the day on and check out the big blue pictures taken by Josiah Meldrum on flickr (

    Green: How do we get from those fossil-fuelled buildings of our past to these solar and wind powered dwellings of the future? Last Saturday (28 November) I went to Framlingham for a day organised by Greener Fram in a local primary school. While downstairs stalls were busily demonstrating everything from cycle-powered smoothies to free insulation, upstairs in a classroom we learned about greening a listed building, buying a wind turbine for a school, the ins and outs of apple heritage, the ethics behind permaculture. In between these short talks and Transition films there was a presentation by Kate Edwards about cob building, an ancient method of building houses that needs only natural materials and the earth it is rooted in to make and the sun to warm it. I once lived in the desert in Arizona in an adobe roundhouse and know it’s the best way to live on this earth. One day I’m going to live in one again I said to myself.

    If you told me a year ago I would have sat riveted listening to the finer details about insulation materials (crude oil, wood chip and sheeps wool) I would not have believed you and yet here I was. Here we all were, Transition towns from all over Suffolk – Halesworth, Saxmundham, Ipswich, Bungay, Debenham. Meeting up and exchanging our stories. Creating a network, making our presence felt, quietly, invisibly, asking questions (about the silica in solar panels), noting down statistics (£76, ooo a year to power a school). Dreaming of living one day in a cob house, built with our own hands, or, if not ourselves, forging a way in our imaginations and our hearts for those who follow in our wake.

    Greener Fram: town of the future. Illustration by Jem Seeley

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Wednesday 2 December 2009

Transition takes to the Streets

STOP PRESS! The notes of our Second Regional Gathering are up on the Transition East website and this blog has now gone officially regional! You can find notes on the day, plus individual reports of our open space and Transition Troubleshooting sessions on (see post and list below)

Meanwhile everything is hotting up (as it were) for the world's biggest Climate Action march, The Wave in London next Saturday. Coaches from all over the region are heading down to the city, and initatives from all over East Anglia are on board waving banners and wearing blue!

On Saturday 21 as part of the build up to Copenhagen, Transition Norwich and Sustainable Bungay took part of a lively and colourful demonstration and rally in the central streets of Norwich. Christine Way, core member of TN reports: "On Saturday 21st November several transitioners gathered in Chapelfield Gardens to join the biggest ever Norwich Climate March while Tom (Harper) set up the TN stall on Millennium Plain ready for the Climate Emergency rally. There was a buzz in the air as the organisers and police negotiated the route which had already been agreed. At last the Samba Band with its drums and colourful dancers started and we were on the move, but not for long as the traffic ahead of us came to a standstill on St Stephen’s Street. This gave us lots more time to hand out leaflets and get the message across to the fascinated shoppers that climate change is real and we need to act now. The Transition Norwich banner was up there near the front and was clearly visible on the TV News bulletins that went out over the weekend.

Then hundreds of people gathered outside the Forum for the Climate Emergency Rally where speakers including Dr Ian Gibson warned of the dangers of runaway climate change and of this being the “biggest issue of our time”. County Councillor Andrew Boswell said: "Gordon Brown should declare a National Climate Emergency and tell it like it is” and our very own Tully and Kate spoke about some of the solutions and all the positive things that are already happening in Transition Norwich and Bungay."

Meanwhile Maria Price and Mark Crutchley from Transition Norwich (Buildings and Energy) and Kate Jackson of Sustainable Bungay were interviewed by the Politics Show (East). TN were filmed conducting a light audit in various city centre shops, whilst Kate was hard at work on her allotment! The report is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday 6th December in a programme on Climate Change which will also include an interview with Professor Kevin Anderson, head of the Tyndall Centre at UEA.

Watch this space for reports on The Wave and all other news and reviews of the region (including a report from last Sat's Greener Fram event!)

Notes from the Gathering

Over the last week the Transition East Support Group have been compiling notes taken at our Second Regional Gathering in Diss on November 14. They have just been uploaded onto the Transition East website if you would like to have a closer look.

There is still work to do and we're missing notes from a couple of the sessions and don't yet have the transcripts of the Transition Troubleshooting post-it notes. Over the next week or so, as well as adding these missing sessions and notes, pictures and a more complete introduction will be up-loaded.

To whet your appetite the titles of the sessions are listed below!

Meanwhile news of our activities has gone nationwide. On Nov 17 a glowing report of the regional document was posted by Rob Hopkins on his Transition Culture blog entitled A Brilliant Look at What’s Rising in the East of England (that’s all 29 of us!).

Open Space session

Transition East Talks: attract speakers from outside a specific Transition Town, to give Transition a wider appeal. (John Webb - Letchworth)
Making the Most of Food:
exploring initiatives similar to the Fife diet, raising awareness about where our food comes from; supermarket waste; schools initiatives; Abundance schemes, foraging (James Lockley and Pippa Vine - Diss and Cambridge)
Complexity of insulation schemes:
this was about making sense of the bureaucracy surrounding lots of well-meaning council initiatives. (Glenn - Debenham)
Moving from core group to community involvement: what actions need to be taken?
(David Greenacre - Framlingham)
Making the most of renewable energy
(John Taylor – Ipswich)
Converting talk into action
(Nick Watts - Bungay) notes in
Scope of Transition groups
(James Thomas – Cambridge)
How many people are enough?
(Carol Hunter – Downham Market and Villages)
On-line Communications
(Gary Alexander- Diss)
How best to tell the story of Transition thorugh the present media/culture
(Charlotte Du Cann– Norwich)

Transition Troubleshooting

Run by the Transition East Support Group

Burn out and fall out
(Nigel McKean - Woodbridge)
Group Dynamics
(Gary Alexander - Diss)
Facing Difficult Lifestyle Challenges
(Mark Watson – Norwich/Bungay)
Engaging with Local Councils
(Jane Chittenden – Norwich)
Communications between groups and the media
(Charlotte Du Cann – Norwich/Bungay)