I have recently thought about joining a Transition Town movement in my local area and thought I would publish a email I sent around to the people in that movement. Everything else is explained.
My name is Matt, I arrived for the meeting on Tuesday evening to see what the movement was about. I wanted to know whether it was worth my time to try and make a change in this specific movement, seen as I live in Basingstoke. This email turned out to be longer than I planned however I have been looking into some ideas which I believe you might be interested in. First of all I would like to give you my first impressions of the movement upon the short time I spent listening to the meeting.
I was surprised by the amount of people turning up, my first thoughts were “wow, we could do a lot with this size of a group”. The opportunity with the gazette looks like a huge stepping stone to this movement, however I feel as though everyone was missing some of the core issues in developing this community. Unfortunately I have to say I am a little concerned overall because I felt as though the groups idea of change isn’t dominant in your meetings as much as I would have liked to have seen.
What I mean by that is you never had a clear agenda for what you wanted to discuss that evening. The projects seem to revolve around solely raised awareness, that’s brilliant to a degree but I believe we could improve this movement dramatically. I was surprised you never set a target of some sort for what you wish to achieve this year in the movement, or at least it wasn’t clear enough.
At first glance I’m concerned about the amount of devotion, time and effort people are willing to put into this movement. I believe we need to be meeting more than once a month (only 12 times a year) to achieve anything substantial, it doesn’t have to be in a public space , maybe someones home or any other available location and doesn’t need to be the whole movement, just whoever is willing to attend that particular day. I don’t know if you have asked people how much time in their working week they are willing to put into this movement however I believe that would give some idea into what we can do with this movement. If only half the people are willing to go out on a Saturday trying to complete a project then we know what projects to take on.
All the negatives aside what I want to discuss is what I believe what this movement is or should be about, then where it should be heading in 2013. Along with some ideas which I believe could work if nurtured and agreed upon. You may not agree with me in all my opinions, however I wish for you to simply take my points into account and see if we can develop my ideas next time we meet.
The Transition movement in my eyes is a way from moving from one system to another. When I’m talking about a system I’m talking about how our infrastructures set up, and claiming responsibility for our own lifestyles.
In any infrastructure we have the education, utility management, health care, food production and distrobution, water management, energy management, maintanance of assets and facilites, building production, landscape management etc. You also have issues and ideas, issues that need to be solved like renewable energies and traffic conjestion; along with new inventive ideas which can change/shape the way we live in our local environment. There is a lot of jobs that need to be done in order to manage a town, no one person can oversee everything. A lot of the process of this movement is making people awake/aware, then get them active in the movement and what is happening in your local community. I believe a core piece of this movement is missing which is focusing on making the Basingstoke Borough completely sustainable to any other town. I believe we are living a 21st century lifestyle in a 19th century in the ideology of our system of our governance, economy and infrastructure management (I’ll explain this aspect in a further piece of writing I’m currently working along side this however lets just focus on this movement). We need to be focusing on making a system which insures the future lives and well being for the place where we can grow up, to be proud of our communities.
I believe the movement should be about creating a safe guard for our communities and families. At the moment children are not being educated into understanding their importance and role in their society, and it is the education which is letting us down. I feel we should be transitioning to a community that can support itself if a crisis such as a financial collapse was to occur, or if the state collaspes. That may seem like a odd statement however remember the state is only held up by people, if for whatever reason these people stop doing their job then we would need a way of management locally to make sure that our infrastructure doesn’t collapse.
This movement is about preparing for our future and making sure our communities aren’t neglected and there is the local infrastructure for a local economy. I believe we can act now by using what I have talked about to implement some of the ideas into practice. What you may or may not realize is if you want to make real change your going to have to take a risk, even if its simply creating clean, re-newable energy in your community, you will have to risk elements of your lifestyle in order to make the change.
This is one aspect of the movement which I feel has been left out, if we are trying to create a better world for the future then involving children in independent education programs to make them grow up understanding the values of what we are talking about. There are many ideas we could brainstorm which could seriously impact our children’s understanding of the environment. I hate buying from supermarkets, mainly because most of their food is just pre-packed processed crap which is full of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. Also we can’t control the prices of our food in the supermarkets; however we can control the price of food we grow locally. We don’t have a local food infrastructure which allows people we grow their own food and sell it on to local people who are doing the same thing. One of the most famous elements during the world wars in British culture was rationing and war time food. Across the nation women and children we asked to undergo many tasks to keep their infrastructure strong, much of their work I believe achieved a much better lifestyle of themselves because it changed their own values for what they consume.
I would love to create a campaign, to being back the world war two values of life and show that local is the new way of life. In this campaign we could create posters, flyers and even get to the streets or create radio adverts and get the people of Basingstoke to change their eating habits and ultimately their lifestyle.
The avenues to build this type of campaign will be limited to the imagination and our commitment.
These are classic war time posters which helped get the same types of messages I think we should be giving. I think we should learn from history and use it as a tool to progress forward. Ultimately what I would like to create in the movement is a network of people around Basingstoke who have unused gardens (mainly the elderly who can’t physically manage their garden’s any more) and create a team who ever weekend go around for a few hours in the morning and attend to their crops. Pair the households who don’t own a large enough garden with people who have unused gardens. In return for the use of their land they will get to keep a proportion of the crops and we will use these crops to sell, eat, share and the crops will be a great way to get more people involved which the scheme.
With any money we get in the transition movement we could use a proportion of it to then convert more gardens into mini farms; this way we are all benefiting. We’re all eating healthier, spending less, sharing more and creating an infrastructure which can last.
Garden’s in old people’s homes could just be the start, other private unused land spaces across Basingstoke could be an option as well as any other spaces which I have not thought about.
This campaign won’t just stop at food; it will also reduce a HUGE amount of waste from our supermarkets hitting those targets for lower waste in the Basingstoke borough. Many people and companies do recycle and cut back on resources such as paper usage.
This youtube video is Rob Hopkins from the Transition town movement in Totnes talking about the creation of their movement in a TEDx talk.
Around half way though this talk he comes up with the idea of getting a street-by-street scheme working where anyone in the transition movement knocks on their neighbours doors and tells them about the movement, about our plans etc. Asking people on a street-by-street level allows there to be a closer connection with in your street. This will give a closer connection with our neighbours and we might even start making new friends and find things in common.
The transition town totnes used this scheme, this video on youtube talks about the street-by-street scheme which focuses on saving money on their bills and reducing their carbon footprint.
Rob sums up that we make more of a change through our friendships than we do trying to change the problem without those connections, its just common sense. We could divide the movement into groups where they specialise their particular skill to tackle the various problems in our local community instead of asking someone to take on a task because they haven’t got a project to work on. That way each team can get together in the meetings every months and discuss what they propose to the group, what problems they are facing and which pieces are going successfully.
Rob also talks about a local entrepreneurs who have business ideas however have some sort of problem which they are facing, probably due to the lack of interest in their business. However an event which allows people to pitch their ideas to everyone will get people’s brains working in different directions and collectivally we could bring about something no one ever thought of when we first started organising it. Also we could invite the local gazette, other local business’s to look at financing their idea and working on their idea. Think of it as our local dragon’s den event however its not about making money, its about creating a sustainable local NEW economy.
Another idea I saw on the transition network site was to change the why do transition ‘recruitment’ reasons to join.
Why do Transition?
Because it feels way more fun than not doing it
Because of wanting a fairer world
Because of Peak Oil
Because it means people do the projects they’ve always dreamed of
Because of climate change
Because of fear
Because of the economic crisis
Because it feels like the most appropriate thing to be doing
Because it gives me hope
Why do Transition?
Because it means people have a connection and a sense of purpose to their local community.
Because we need to change our lifestyle’s, and improve our individual well being.
Because we have increasing levels of pollution, man-made threats to the ecology of our world (most importantly our local ecology) and the economical crisis.
Because we all need to start claiming responsibility for our children’s education, our own parenting roles, as an individual and a society.
Because our own community is being let down but government and it’s time I try to help as many people I can.
Although they are longer and not as catchy I just felt that these sounded like real reasons and something people can feel more connected with. The five pillars Jeremy Riifkin talked about and the five E’s I’ve come up with could also be changed to have a different view of where we are heading. It is important to create a transition plan, you will notice I haven’t been talking about global warming well that is because I feel that it shouldn’t been at the fore front of what this movement is about. I feel that if we change other aspects of our life we will change our environment along with our lifestyle. I’m not saying that this is right or wrong just simply my opinion, everything I have wrote about is my opinion.
You may be thinking at the moment that I’m trying to change this movement for my own agenda and I shouldn’t be involved because my opinions are too radical. Well I’m sorry if you feel that way however I understand that what I have been talking about it extremely hard to take in at a first glance. Remember all I’m asking you to do is create your own opinion over understanding what I have been talking about.
What I feel would be good for everyone to do is take a step back and look at the way you view this world, this movement and you level of commitment to change. I propose the idea that I create a questionnaire/survey which will allow everyone to evaluate ourselves. Its also so we know how committed we are as a movement to changing our local infrastructure. I thought about creating a questionnaire a posting it on here for everyone to fill out however I believe my questions would be slightly biased. What I feel would be much better doing is asking everyone to summit some questions to me which you feel aren’t being addressed either about this movement or about the issues we talk about. Or you might have a question which you would like answered because you don’t understand something that’s fine.
I could then talk about the results of the survey in next months meeting and hopefully people have come up with some new initiative ideas to push what the majority would like to see happening.
If you would like further information about what I talk about then just email me and ill explain if you don’t understand a concept or idea which I may have left some important information out.