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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