Thursday 31 March 2011

DIY Bike Power Workshops 2nd and 9th April

Every once in a while Transition Wivenhoe wheels out it's revolutionary pedal-powered cinema (you can come see it in action at the May Fair) and puts on a fun event, like when we teamed up with Moiving Image and screened Ghost Busters on Wivenhoe Quay for Halloween. We reckon we might have built the world's most efficient cinema, we do big screen and big sound to audiences of a few hundred and less using about 100 Watts of energy – about the same as one of those old fashioned light bulbs – so little that it can be powered by a bicycle and a simple renewable energy system. Bicycle Power is a great introduction to renewable energy, physics, bicycles, electricity, education, appropriate technology and lots more. Find out how to do it at one of our workshops at the Wivenhoe Bookshop Shed on the afternoons of the 2nd and the 9th of April. Courses are free (but space is limited) run from the 2pm 'till 5pm and will be followed by a fun activity in the evening. On the 2nd we'll show you how to build your own and on the 9th you'll find out how bicycle power can be used to make things (including brains) whizz and whirl at schools, community events and elsewhere.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Introduction to Permaculture course in Cambridge

Transition Cambridge are organising another Introduction to Permaculture weekend course on 16-17 April (09:30-17:30, Trumpington Pavilion). It's a great opportunity to learn design principles and practical approaches for sustainable living, land use and growing some of your own food. Permaculture principles are also an important foundation of the Transition movement. The teacher is Nicole Freris, from Naturewise in London, who's a very experienced permaculture teacher and facilitator. By all accounts she's great, and very inspiring! The cost of this course is £60 (£45 unwaged). For more info, see The last course was fully booked, so book your place soon!

Sunday 27 March 2011

Rob Hopkins is coming to Cambridge on 28th March!

We'd like to invite everyone to come to Cambridge on Monday 28th March to hear Rob Hopkins speak on "The Transition Journey: from oil dependency to local resilience" and to share in Transition Cambridge's 3rd birthday celebrations!

The talk will start at 7:30pm (doors open at 7), at Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RR. The talk is free, with a suggested donation of £3-5. After the event there will be drinks and cakes to celebrate Transition Cambridge's 3rd birthday, with stalls from local transition groups so that you can find out more about transition projects in and around Cambridge.

About the talk: We live in an oil-dependent world, and we have reached this level of oil dependency in a very short time. We have used up vast reserves of oil in the process, without thinking ahead to times when the supply of oil may not be so plentiful. In this talk, Rob Hopkins will show how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome, leading to the rebirth of local communities who grow more of their own food, generate their own energy, and use local materials to meet their needs.

When we are looking for responses to peak oil and climate change, rebuilding local communities matters, because of the power that emerges from working together and creating meaningful change through shared action. In a world where people’s sense of connection to their communities is in decline, taking practical action together enables us to rediscover meaningfulness and community.

Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. He has many years experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and is author of ‘The Transition Handbook: from oil dependence to local resilience’ and the forthcoming 'The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times". He publishes, lectures and writes widely on Transition, lives in Devon and is a keen gardener.

More info here: including a downloadable poster and some leaflets.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Stoneleigh Comes to Norwich - Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil - 25 March

Nicole Foss gave a gripping presentation to the Transition Network Conference last year and we are excited that she has agreed to come to Norwich to help us understand the challenges of climate change, economic recession, rising fuel and house prices. Under the pseudonym Stoneleigh, she is co-editor of the blog,The Automatic Earth. which has been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch and the economic climate that has allowed it to happen. She brings together finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it.

No tickets but donations welcome on the night. Please circulate this widely to all your networks as everyone is invited.

Contact: for further information. Christine Way

Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil - A Presentation by Nicole Foss will be at the United Reform Church, Princes Street, Norwich NR3 1AZ Time: 7.45pm

Monday 14 March 2011

Green Drinks - Zero Waste Bungay - 15 March

For this month's Green Drinks and in preparation for our Give and Take Day on Saturday we've invited Karen Atthey-Woods to talk to us about her community interest company Wombling which runs a sort of year-round give and take (augmented by training on repairing and reusing) in Norwich and Jules Shorrock of VC Cooke a Beccles based recycling company who are working towards creating a zero waste site and offer advice and incentives to encourage businesses and communities to do the same.

Give and Take
This Saturday Sustainable Bungay is holding its third Give and Take Day at the Chaucer Club. We'll be inviting people to bring along things they no longer want or need and if they see something else they want to take it home with them - all for free. So far we've seen pretty much everything except a kitchen sink come in through the door with one person and leave with another; from surf boards to sofas and books to bikes - we're never left with much more than a bit of tidying up to do at the end of the day.

Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle... (in that order!)
The Give and Take Days have far exceeded our expectations and so far we've ensured that almost 20 tonnes of potential landfill has found a new home. But this is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of waste generated by Bungay and the surrounding villages - according to the Office for National Statistics every one of us generates almost half a tonne of household waste every year - around 2,500 tonnes for Bungay alone (and that doesn't include trade waste, DiY and building waste and the waste public services generate on our behalf).

Cradle to Cradle thinking
Recycling is increasing and Waveney has a good record for increasing and improving recycling rates, but it still remains low by European standards. But recycling is about the end of a product's life and before we even consider it we should think about buying less in the first place and then extending the life of the things we do buy - repairing them, reusing and them passing them on to others. There is a lot that product designers could do to help us with this by, for example, creating things that need less packaging, last longer, are easy to repair and reuse; so called cradle to cradle thinking.

Zero Waste Bungay
It's pretty clear that we are still a long way from cradle to cradle approaches to consumer goods - we probably won't ever get there but a zero waste Bungay might just be possible if we start to redefine our waste - it's not rubbish, it's resources; our resources and we should think twice before throwing them away.

As ever Green Drinks will begin with short talks from our expert conversationalists Karen and Jules, there will then be time for more general questions and discussions. Anything could come up (it usually does) but the conversations might include:

What would a Zero Waste town look like?
Would Karen's Wombling business work in Bungay - is it the next step beyond the Give and Take?
How could we work with companies like VC Cooke to reduce waste in Bungay?
How does closing the Beccles recycling site (albeit reprieved for 6 months) fit in with Suffolk County Councils recycling targets and how might the site fit in with our future plans?

As ever we look forward to seeing you tomorrow night (Josiah Meldrum)

Thursday 3 March 2011

Transition Suffolk - Climate Change and Food Security - But What About Peak Oil?*

* Originally published as Peak Oil! Peak Oil! Oil! Oil! Oil! on Transition Norwich Blog 25th Feb 2010

Today I had planned to write about the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s Regional Conference on Climate Change and Food Security, which I attended last Friday at Trinity Park in Ipswich. But I’m finding it difficult.

There were probably 150 people at the conference, made up of farmers, lawyers, county councillors, politicians and transitioners. Although agriculture is not my subject, I am getting used to the flexibility that being in transition is requiring of me, so when I was invited to go and write about the conference I accepted immediately.

Professor Ian Crute of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board was clear and informative about climate change, although he ended his talk in what I thought was a very odd way. He showed us two pictures, one a detail of the Amazon rainforest before being cleared for agribusiness, and one after. He then said there was an argument for the second picture (a typical crop field which could be part of an industrial farm anywhere) being ‘better’ than the first. But didn’t tell us why.

The Agriculture Manager from Waitrose showed us how the company were going to increase their profits from £5 billion in the last year to £8 billion by 2016.

Then there was the unabashed and rampant display of pro-GM and biotech marketing by two speakers from the Conservative party.

But these are not the reasons I find it hard to write about the conference. I think it’s because the realities of Peak Oil were almost entirely absent from the proceedings. Representatives of several Transition groups in the region ( some of whom manage farms themselves) raised the subject.

The Waitrose man was unable to answer questions on oil price volatility, and how that would affect the supermarkets, it wasn’t his area. Other speakers just didn’t seem to hear the questions about Peak Resources. At least when (Lady) Caroline Cranbrook, who has worked closely with East Anglia Food Link, spoke out about phosphates already having peaked and asked “Is there a national larder in case of sudden food scarcity? ” she received the one direct reply I heard in the whole conference.

“No,” said chairmen John Gummer (former Secretary of State for the Environment), “is the simple answer to that question.”

Which means the just-in-time lorries serving the supermarkets are our only larder.

The conference was very much focused on the 'big picture' (the how will we feed the 9 billion people in the world by 2050? scenario), although one speaker, Lucy Wyatt, did tell us about her small mixed-farm, where she has set up an oilseed rape bio-fuel plant, providing her with electricity, and fuel for the farm machinery.

But there was no spokesperson for organic production and no representative of one of the community, small-scale projects that are happening all over Suffolk and East Anglia, like the Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm CSA, Joanne Brannan (Transition Ipswich) has set up. John Taylor, Suffolk's Climate Change officer, did ask about the small scale projects, but the question was not properly addressed.

And although I'm only a member of the mere hoi polloi, I'm inclined to say that a conference about climate change and food security that avoids the questions of Peak Fossil Fuels and small scale food projects is not really a conference about climate change and food security.

Well, I really didn't think I had anything to say about the conference, but there you are.

Just two more things for today. One is if you haven't read "The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century" by James Howard Kunstler, and you want a solid, readable, intelligent book which brings climate change, peak resources (especially oil) and the follies of economic globalism together in a coherent manner, then this is the book for you. Don't let his occasional coarseness put you off, it's just his manner.

Secondly, The Waveney Greenpeace Winter Fair is taking place in Southwold tomorrow - 11am - 11.30pm. Donations in the day and £5 in the evening. It's usually fun with good food and stalls. Maybe see you there.

Pic: Sprouts and Clover at Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm by Richard Mudhar