First things first


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Donnachadh McCarthy and Energy Saving in Period Homes

Donnachadh McCarthy on ‘Energy Saving in Period Homes’ on 27 November 2009 at Mycenae House

Donnachadh began by describing the speed with which the polar ice is melting, and the potentially disastrous consequences to everyone from global warming. He asked how many people in the audience know their carbon footprint, and emphasised that this is the basis for changing habits and reducing energy consumption, saying ‘We only take notice of the measurable’. Many of his friends and clients take care to save energy in small ways but then expend a large amount of energy by flying log distances. The first requirement, therefore, is to make a meaningful impact by considering a person’s total carbon footprint, and this involves more than just the energy efficiency of their home.

Donnachadh explained that he lives in a typical period house with solid brick walls. It is carbon negative as the solar photovoltaic panels on the roof (the first house in London to have them) generate more electricity than he needs, and he exports the rest to the national grid. To save electricity, he has recently changed all his lighting from low energy bulbs to LEDs (light emitting diodes) which have a rating of about 1 to 2 watts each. He only uses gas for cooking. Solar thermal panels on his roof produce hot water in the summer months, and in winter his high temperature wood burning stove with back boiler generates hot water and also warms his house with the aid of an ‘eco-fan’ that sits on top of the stove and blows warm air away from it. He burns waste wood, but it is possible to buy wood that is grown as a bio-fuel.

He has not added wall insulation because external insulation is not be possible in a conservation area and is expensive, while internal insulation slightly reduces the room and may create a damp problem. Donnachadh also saw no merit in either wind turbines on roofs or ground / air source heat pumps, and was critical of Aga cookers, which are lit all year round.

Donnachadh emphasised the need to draught-proof as much as possible (letterboxes, keyholes, around doors and windows and anywhere that could be a source of air leakage. In older properties this includes sealing the chimneys with chimney balloons.

Alistair Smit from iGenSolar, a local solar design and installation company, described the benefits of solar PV roof panels (generating electricity) and solar thermal roof panels to provide hot water. The cost of installing such systems is paid for by the ‘free’ energy provided, particularly as energy costs are likely to rise significantly in the future, and because of the government’s proposed Feed In Tarrif system that is due to begin on 1st April 2010. This might produce an income of a few hundred pounds per year and would reduce the time it will take to recover the capital cost of the installation.

James Barratt of French & Sashey, a local draught-proofing and timber window restoration company, spoke about his own company’s experience of timber windows. Although they can replace timber windows most of their work is draught-proofing, which is much cheaper at a rate of about £300 per window. Even windows with rotten timber in them can often be saved by replacing the bad wood. James also believes that draught-proofing timber windows is much better than secondary glazing, which is mostly made of PVC or aluminium and costs more to install and is less effective. Double-glazing is only worthwhile if the whole windows need replacing. PVC windows were criticised as being environmentally unfriendly.

Pippa Hack, Strategic Development Manager, described Greenwich Council’s energy-saving policies, including demonstration houses and grants, and explained that the Borough has signed-up to the 10/10 carbon saving initiative, though this does not apply to the buildings of their own tenants and schools.

The packed meeting of some 70 people applauded the speakers for an evening that had been extremely informative and enjoyable.

Transition Westcombe: Average Carbon Savings & Costs Chart for Energy Savings Measures (Short)

Savings measure / Annual saving Kgs CO2 / Source / Cost / Saving per Year / Payback

1. Loft Insulation 0 – 270mm / 800 / EST / £230 / £200 / 2 Years
2. Loft Insulation 50-270mm / 400 / EST / £240 / £55 k/ 5 Years
3. Floor Insulation / 270 / EST / £100 / £45 / 2 Years
4. Cavity Wall Insulation / 1050 / EST / £260 / £145 / 2 Years
5. Solid Wall Insulation, Int’l / 2400 / EST / £7000 / £380 / 18 Years
6. Solid Wall Insulation, Ext’l / 2500 / EST / £12000 / £400 / 30 Years
7. Double glazing (new) / 720 / FC / £6000 / £135 / 45 Years
8. Solar thermal hot water / 390 / BRE / £5900 / £560 / 10 Years
9. Draughtproofing / 150 / EST / £75 / £45 / 2 Years
10. Temp controls, boiler & rads / 840 / EST / £200 / £65 / 3 Years
11. Wood-burning stove-boiler / 6000 / EST / £9000 / £600 / 15 Years
12. Wood-burning stove / 600 / EST / £3000 / £200 / 15 Years
13. Reduce temp. 1 degree / 200 / FC/ £55 /
14. Heat one less room / 100 / CG /
15. Low pressure shower, not bath / 100 / CG /
16. Hot water tank insulation / 150 / EST / £10 / £20 / 6 mths
17. Ground source heat pump / 0 / DECC / £10000 / £190 / 36 Years
18. New condensing boiler , if / 1300 / EST / £1500 / £235 / 6 Years
existing one is 10 yrs old

Sources :
BRE = Building Research Establishment. Changing Spaces.
CG = Chris Goodall, Guardian
DECC = Low Carbon Buildings Programme, Dept of Energy & Climate Change
EST = Energy Savings Trust
FC = Felicity Carus, Guardian
IGS = iGenSolar
Note. The full Carbon Savings Chart and Carbon Calculator for your individual footprint is available in table form by emailing


A. Contact the Energy Saving Trust on and key in your postcode and requirements for information on national grant schemes. 0800 512012

B. Utility Company Grants for Insulation
Try your utility supplier (gas or electricity) for their CERT offers. Look at their web sites or telephone them for insulation offers. You can take up offers from any of the energy companies, regardless of who supplies your gas and electricity.

C. Government grants for insulation
Warm Front.. Up to £3,500 to households on certain benefits and over 60, to improve their heating and energy efficiency.
D. Greenwich Council Grants
Grants are help are available for insulation and heating improvement for people on certain benefits

E. National Grants for generating energy & solar hot water through the Low Carbon Buildings Programme:
Solar thermal hot water: Overall maximum of £400 or 30 per cent of cost
Ground source heat pumps: Overall maximum of £1,200 or 30 per cent of cost
Wood heaters/stoves: Overall maximum of £600 or 20 per cent of costs
Wood fuelled boiler systems: Overall maximum of £1,500 or 30 per cent of cost
Solar photovoltaics (solar panels): Maximum of £2,500 or 50 per cent of costs
Wind turbines: Maximum of £2,500 or 30 per cent of the relevant eligible costs.
Small hydro: Overall maximum of £2,500 or 30 per cent of the relevant eligible costs.

This scheme ends on 30th April 2011. Applications for power generation (electricity) can only be accepted up to March 2010 when Feed-in Tariffs will be introduced. Heating only applications can be made up to April 2011 but applicants should take into account that projects must be completed before this date.
The Feed-in Tariff is due to come into force in April 2010, when parts of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme are phased out. Residents can at the moment still gain the benefit of the Gov Grant ahead of this date next year when the up-front grants will cease and the Feed-in Tariff will take over as the incentive. The addition of the Feed-in Tariff or Clean Energy Cashback scheme due to come into legislation in April 2010 this then makes Solar PV one of the best solutions to meet this requirement as it can also start to generate a site income.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A community orchard for Westcombe Park?

We need your suggestions - urgently! - for identifying possible sites for a community orchard.

We have been approached by an organisation promoting community orchards in London, and they would like us to register our interest in taking part so they can apply for funding to help us set up an orchard in our area.

To make their funding bid they need to hear from us in the next couple of days, and our confirmation of interest should include any ideas we have on potential sites.

That's where we need your ideas.

Don't worry too much about the practical aspects, including ownership - that can be looked into and negotiated on later. You may think it needs to be a very big site, but in fact an orchard could be small or large. You might know of land in your street, or in a disused local nook, or on a local housing estate.

Please have a think and email any ideas you have for sites to, with the subject line 'Orchard sites'.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Setting up your 10:10 group for 2010




We are writing to let you know of our experience of starting 10:10 groups in our street, hoping that you may feel like doing something similar in your immediate neighbourhood.  10:10 is an initiative started by Franny Armstrong for us all as individuals and organizations to voluntarily reduce our energy consumption by 10% during 2010.  The most important ways we can save are on our home fuel consumption, our travel and our choice of food. Making it into a New Year’s Resolution (an idea brought by one of our group) could give it a real boost.


All you need is to involve up to 7 people or so who live in your street & organize a periodic get-together (once every 2 months through 2010) in which you share ideas on reducing energy consumption.  You monitor your progress by meter readings and other simple calculations by getting the Transition Carbon Calculator (email us to ask for this).  We found that it’s more fun & effective because of the shared information and a sense of community.


This method of working in small groups has been proved by Global Action Plan, and we have already successfully started it with groups in Foyle Road.  Please contact us if you want any help, and in any case let us know you have a group running so you can share your good ideas on the blog.


We are sure that you are already doing many things to live more sustainably, and indeed in that case it will be particularly valuable if you do form a group of neighbours since you will have experience to pass on.  Please start asking people now to be part of your 10:10 group so that you can have your first get together early in the New Year. Let’s make 2010 a turning point.


Very best wishes  ….Edward and Irena

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Tips from TV star on cutting your fuel bill

Thanks are due to the Mercury for a great preview in today's paper of the home energy event coming up on 27 November.

Monday, 16 November 2009

There is such a thing as a free lunch

Transition Westcombe has launched its latest food project, an online urban foraging map detailing the free larder of edible plants growing around us.

So far the map – which you can find at - lists fruits and other foods including elder, rosehip, firethorn, cherries, chestnuts, Swedish whitebeam, and blackberries.

Anyone can edit the map, like a Wikipedia page, and we hope local people will contribute to it so it becomes a bank of community intelligence about local wild food locations.

There really is such a thing as a free lunch, or at least a free pudding or preserve, and it’s all around us - like the syrup and topping used in this firethorn berry cheesecake.

Of course we’ll never meet all our food needs by urban foraging, but that’s not the point. It’s a great way of learning about what we can make use of, and reconnecting with traditional recipes and foodstuffs, and this food definitely has zero food miles. Foraging makes you see your neighbourhood as a potential treasure trove - a new pie ingredient might be growing on the next bush.

At the moment the food map is a bit autumn-centric, because we’ve marked what we’ve spied and picked in the last month or two, but we want everyone to share their local knowledge so it becomes a year-round resource. Eventually we could turn it into a booklet or calendar and use it to raise a few pennies for the transition effort.

We’re taking a small risk by allowing anyone and everyone to edit it, but we've suggested a few guidelines on the site and we reckon people will enter into the spirit of it.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Greenwich Council has chosen Transition Westcombe as one of five groups to bid for the Government’s £500,000 Low Carbon Communities Challenge.

The money is capital funding which could be spent on energy saving measures such as insulation, draughtproofing, solar thermal panels or double glazing.
We are currently working out the most effective ways to spend the money in terms of reducing carbon emissions. At this stage we are asking all private home-owners, private tenants and private landlords to contact Transition Westcombe if they are interested in receiving 50% match funding for these projects. Please email us now on

Will Transition Westcombe become the first carbon neutral transition town? If Transition Westcombe should win this funding to kick-start capital spending on energy-saving measures then this could be an enormous help in getting the whole of Westcombe Park moving towards becoming carbon neutral.

Come to the open meeting to hear eco-auditing expert Donnachadh McCarthy talking on ‘Energy saving measures in period homes’ at 7.30pm on Friday 27th November, in Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3. There will be a panel to answer questions of Alistair Smit from iGenSolar, James Barratt from French and Sashey (timber sash double glazing), and Pippa Hack from LB Greenwich.

Please forward this email to anyone in the Westcombe Park area who you think may be interested.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Donnachadh McCarthy talking on Home Energy Saving


November 27th  7.30pm, Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, SE3


Special Home Energy Saving Event.


A good place to start looking at ways to save energy is in your own home.  On November 27th at 7.30pm in Mycenae House, Mycenae Road SE3, TV expert eco-auditor Donnachadh McCarthy will be speaking on home energy saving in period houses.  You may have seen him on BBC 2’s ‘Its Not Easy Being Green’, ITV’s ‘How Green is Your Home’ and Sky’s ‘Green Britain Week’.  He is the creator of London’s first carbon-negative home.  At the meeting will also be Alistair Smit from Gen Solar and Pippa Hack from L.B. Greenwich.  If you are interested in solar thermal panels or in extra home insulation then this is your chance to hear and ask questions of experts.  Transition Westcombe is combining with Transition Ashburnham Triangle on the other side of Greenwich Park to get group discounts on solar panels, radiator insulation panels and other energy-saving products.


Sunday, 18 October 2009

Transition Westcombe Energy Meeting

In preparation for our next event (on November 27th), Transition Westcombe is meeting on Wednesday October 21st, 7:30 pm at Mycenae House on the 1st floor(or from 6:30 in the bar!).

Transition Westcombe is helping to create small groups of friends and neighbours in each street who want to achieve a 10% target reduction in your energy footprint during 2010. You may develop other street projects such as trip sharing to supermarkets or schools, or getting together for bulk buying.
What has happened so far? The first groups have met in Foyle Road / Lyndale Close, and will be spreading the idea by word of mouth and flyers.

What can you do?
1. Come to the next Transition Westcombe meeting to discuss ways of making your 10% reductions and of forming a group. It is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21st October in Mycenae House. If you want then meet in the bar from 6.30pm as usual for a 3rd Wednesday of the month.
2. Invite some friends and neighbours in your street to coffee and cake, when you can have fun and also discuss the idea of their signing up to energy reductions. The key steps are to measure your gas and electric use and your car and air travel. You can arrange to meet every month or so to discuss progress, and how best to achieve reductions.
3. Sign up to the 10:10 campaign at
4. Keep us informed. Email us Transition Westcombe can help with tips, information and advice.
5. Come to a meeting at 7.30 on November 27th in Mycenae House, at which eco-auditor Donnachadh McCarthy will be talking about ways to reduce your home energy bills. More details will be posted on www.transitionwestcombe.blogspot, as well as in the Westcombe News. We would welcome your help to publicise this event, too!

Find Transition Westcombe online: which you already know and

Saturday, 17 October 2009

November 27th meeting on home energy saving

Donnachadh McCarthy to speak on home energy saving

Transition Westcombe will be holding a meeting on Friday November 27th at 7.30pm in Mycenae House, and the speaker will be Donnachadh McCarthy. His topic will be 'High priority energy-saving measures in a Conservation Area and how individuals, businesses and our local council can act to achieve them.” This is a chance to find out from an expert how to improve your home’s energy efficiency, especially if you are part of the 10:10 initiative.

Donnachadh McCarthy is an environmental journalist with his work published in The Guardian, Sunday Times, Independent, Time Out etc.
He is the author of "Saving the Planet without Costing The Earth" and "Easy Eco-auditing". He appeared as the expert eco-auditor on BBC 2's Its Not Easy Being Green, ITVs How Green is Your Home and Sky's Green Britain Week. His home in Camberwell was London's first retro carbon-negative home, with solar electric, solar hot water, wind-turbine (useless!), wood-burning stove and rain-harvester.
He also runs the consultancy 3 Acorns Eco-audits, which has one a number of national environmental awards and he is the founder of , a free carbon footprint reminder and personal meter-reading data storage service.

October progress report

Transition Westcombe Meeting
10:10 Initiative to save energy on
Wednesday 21st October, 7.30pm Mycenae House

Each person in the U.K. is on average responsible for the production of 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Two thirds of that amount are things we can do something about ourselves. The 10:10 initiative is a voluntary attempt by individuals and groups at a 10% reduction during 2010. This means finding a saving of about 1.5 tonnes each per year. Figures are from Chris Goodall’s article in the Guardian of 1st September 2009.

Transition Westcombe is helping to create small groups of friends and neighbours in each street who want to achieve a 10% target reduction in your energy footprint during 2010. You may develop other street projects such as trip sharing to supermarkets or schools, or getting together for bulk buying.
What has happened so far? The first groups have met in Foyle Road / Lyndale Close, and will be spreading the idea by word of mouth and flyers.

What can you do?
1. Come to the next Transition Westcombe meeting to discuss ways of making your 10% reductions and of forming a group. It is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21st October in Mycenae House. If you want then meet in the bar from 6.30pm as usual for a 3rd Wednesday of the month.
2. Invite some friends and neighbours in your street to coffee and cake, when you can have fun and also discuss the idea of their signing up to energy reductions. The key steps are to measure your gas and electric use and your car and air travel. You can arrange to meet every month or so to discuss progress, and how best to achieve reductions.
3. Sign up to the 10:10 campaign at
4. Keep us informed. Email us Transition Westcombe can help with tips, information and advice.
5. Come to a meeting at 7.30 on November 27th in Mycenae House, at which eco-auditor Donnachadh McCarthy will be talking about ways to reduce your home energy bills. More details will be posted on www.transitionwestcombe.blogspot, as well as in the Westcombe News.

By sector, the average potential reductions to be made are by using less gas (2 tonnes) and electricity (1 tonne), cutting your car use (1.5 tonnes) or air travel (1.2 tonnes), by various food savings (1.5 tonnes), using less water (0.3 tonnes) and using less paper (0.3 tonnes)

Some examples of the average annual impact of these reductions are:
Major improvement in your home’s insulation: 0.4 tonnes saving
New boiler if yours is more than 10 years old 0.3 tonnes saving
Reducing your thermostat temperature by 1 degree: 0.2 tonnes saving
Not using a tumble drier: 0.1 tonnes saving
Cutting your car’s annual mileage in half 0.7 tonnes saving
Cutting one return shorthaul flight to Mediterranean 1.2 tonnes saving
Cutting one return longhaul flight to Sydney 14.3 tonnes saving
Change to a largely vegetarian diet 0.5 tonnes saving
Cycling instead of public transport 0.3 tonnes saving

Edward and Irena Hill

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Progress Report, September

Following on from the ‘Hard Rain’ photographic presentation by Mark Edwards, this is a progress report on the Transition Westcombe subgroups.


Energy Subgroup.

Contact Edward Hill to be on this email list:

Next meeting:  To be announced

Progress: The Energy Subgroup has met to discuss ways in which we can influence the planning policy of Greenwich Council.  We are looking at using a planning provision already pioneered by another council to stipulate that 10% of any house refurbishment should be spent on ‘green’ measures such as insulation. Also we are looking to use Local Development Orders to allow the installation of solar thermal panels on the front roof slopes of houses in a Conservation Area. We have met with Peter Savage, the council officer who is the Greener Greenwich Co-ordinator, and he is organizing for us to meet with the relevant officers to discuss the technicalities.  After that we have been promised a meeting with Councillor Alex Grant, the Chair of Planning.

The energy sub-group is also co-ordinating a joint meeting with the Westcombe Society at which eco-auditor Donnachadh McCarthy will talk on refurbishing older properties.   This meeting will be in late October or November.


Food Subgroup. 

Contact Zoe Davis to be on this email list:

Next meeting:   To be announced

Progress:  Positive contacts with Network Rail about the use of waste ground by Westcombe Park Station.  The mapping of fruit trees in the area has also been undertaken, with the distribution of fruit to commuters.


Inner Transition Subgroup.

Contact Andy Chapman to be on the email list:

Next meeting: Friday 25th  September, Mycenae House Bar. 7.30pm


Transition Street.   A group has formed out of Inner Transition to back street projects in Foyle Road. In support of the Guardian-backed 10:10  initiative, this small group of friends and neighbours in Foyle Road will commit to a 10% reduction in energy, car and water use by 2010.  Each house notes down their current reading for gas & electric & water meters, plus car mileage, and then measures them, meeting monthly to discuss methods and see progress. We have set up a Yahoo Group called  ‘Foyle Road (Transition Westcombe)’ as a street community forum. This can be fun to do, and can lead on to other street projects such as sharing cars to the supermarket or a ‘Big Lunch’ next July. If you have already got a group going in your street, want help with setting one up,  or want to be kept informed then contact

Next meeting Friday 25th September, Mycenae House Bar. 7.30pm

Meeting on the 3rd Wednesday of every Month. From 6.30 to 8pm at the bar in Mycenae House.  Come and discuss your ideas


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Motivation for Inner Transition

“As the planet is poised at the tipping point of irreversible climate change, we struggle to conceptualise this potential catastrophe and its consequences. Too awful, perhaps, to deeply contemplate the consequences of inaction, we bury this awareness in order to re-establish the emotional comfort zone of denial. Believing, perhaps, that we are individually helpless to impact on this terrifying escalation, this helplessness is often felt as despair and moral confusion. Could an enriched sensibility to our place in nature enable us to shift from passive anguish to psychologically-healthy problem solving and greater emotional health?  Can we creatively harness our awareness of our relationship with nature – rather than suppress it?”

This theme for a conference at the Eden Project in Cornwall challenges our inertia in the face of the global threats to the environment. How can we motivate ourselves to change our habits? We know that there is an economic motivation for living more energy efficiently, wasting less and recycling more. There is also satisfaction as well as good health and fun in growing some of our food, in walking more, and in getting to know our neighbours. These things require us to slow down, maybe for an hour each day, a day each week, and are part of a richer lifestyle that we should be teaching our children. We need to have more confidence that small steps taken by many people in a community can really change things, and to start them ourselves. One mitigating action we can take is to donate money to tree-planting organizations to offset some of the damage we are doing with our high-carbon lifestyles.  Two such organizations are  and The tiny remnants of our ancient forests remind us of the countless generations of ancestors who have gone before, and forest replanting would be a tangible sign that we mean to pass on the environment in better shape to all our grandchildren.

Edward and Irena Hill


Friday, 7 August 2009

Inner Transition Subgroup - Initial Meeting

The initial meeting of the TW Inner Transition subgroup will be held on Monday 17th August at 7.30pm in the bar at Mycenae House, Mycenae Rd, London SE3. Everyone is welcome!

What does "Inner Transition " mean? For me, it means the process of changing attitudes, at both an individual and community level, to how we live in relation to one another and in relation to nature. In part, this is needed to enable the practical aspects of moving to low-carbon, sustainable ways of living to be accomplished more easily, quickly and effectively; and in part, I think, because the mass consumption lifestyle that has been fostered by cheap energy has not in any event been accompanied by greater overall levels of human happiness and fulfilment.

So, as one way of starting to look at these issues, I've drawn up the following list of questions which I shall be giving some thought to before the meeting. Feel free to do the same or suggest your own questions/ issues if you feel they are more relevant!...
  1. What aspects of my life as it is now do I value the most?
  2. What aspects of my life as it is now would I most like to change?
  3. What aspects of my community as it is now do I value the most?
  4. What asepcts of my community as it is now would I most like to change?
  5. What do I find exciting about the idea of society moving to a low-carbon economy?
  6. What do I fear the idea of society moving to a low-carbon economy?
Look forward to seeing you on 17th.

Andy Chapman

Monday, 3 August 2009

TW Subgroup Meetings

Monday 3rd August

There were 3 subgroups set up at the TW meeting last Wednesday, and they have arranged to meet in the Bar of Mycenae House, Mycenae Road at the following times:

Food   8pm Tuesday 11th August
Inner Transition  7.30pm Monday 17th August
Energy  7.30 Wednesday 19th August

All welcome!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Hornbeam Centre and barbecue

Hi all

There is a community place in Waltham Forest which I think is really worth visiting, as they are already doing so many of the things that we have been discussing and that we would like to start, such as a community cafe, a local veg food stall every Saturday, skill sharing and lots of other initiatives.

The place is called the Hornbeam Centre and they are holding a (vegetarian) barbecue in the cafe on Saturday 15th August. Also, on Saturdays between 2:30 and 4:00 there are people involved in the local Transition Town who meet there.

I think it would be ideal if a group of us could visit, share some nice veggie barbie food and then make contact with the local TT, also to ask the centre what they did to start this amazing community set-up.

If anyone thinks it is appropriate for us to contact them in advance and say that a TT group would like to visit and exchange ideas etc, please let me know and I shall contact them.

Here is the link for the Hornbeam Centre:


Saturday, 25 July 2009

TW Sub-Groups meeting 29th July

Our next public meeting will be on Wednesday 29th July at 7.30pm at Mycenae House, Mycenae Rd, London SE3.

The meeting is for everyone who is interested in rolling up their sleeves and
helping to get the process of transition to a low carbon future under way in
Westcombe. We aim to establish a number of sub-groups, each of which will focus
on a particular area of interest: energy, transport, food production etc. The
sub-groups will then each create an action plan for their particular area and
will be responsible for putting that plan into effect.

However, which sub-groups get established and the content of the action plans
that are created is down to! So do come along armed with your ideas and

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Transition Westcombe's Next Event

Transition Westcombe is proud to present this compelling exploration in photographs, drawing on Bob Dylan’s iconic song, of the state of our planet and its people at this critical time. Presented by Mark Edwards, a leading photographer of environmental issues, Hard Rain has touched the lives of millions.

July 16th at 7:30 pm

John Roan School

Maze Hill entrance

Westcombe Park, London SE3

Donations welcome

Transport: by train, Maze Hill station. By bus, 386 from Greenwich or Blackheath; 54 from Woolwich or Lewisham; 53 from Deptford or Charlton. Parking available.

For a map of the area, click on the link below:

And please do pass this invitation along to others

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Get energetic

A useful course for those of you interested in community energy projects:

Making it Happen

The Community Action for Energy (part of Energy Savings Trust) is holding a FREE training course called 'Making it happen' designed for those wishing to create energy projects in their communities. These might be a designed towards awareness, reducing emissions, increasing carbon literacy - anything that could be useful.

The course will examine the challenges of running a community based sustainable energy project, learn new project planning skills and refresh existing skills.

This is a great opportunity to meet others thinking the same way and find partners and support for your initiative. Here is a taster on what you will learn on the day:

- What makes a successful community based energy project
- How to get started, idea development, research and planning required
- Factors influencing success and failure, and how to keep your project going
- How to raise interest in your project
- Ways of working with potential project partners
- Tips and ideas for applying for funding

When : Thursday 18th June, 2009, 10am - 4pm
Where : Islington Ecology Centre, close to Arsenal tube
Booking : via the link below

Monday, 1 June 2009

Put out the Bunting

An enthusiastic endorsement of the Transition movement in today's Guardian:

If you want to catch a glimpse of the kinds of places outside the political mainstream where that new politics might be incubated, take a look at the Transition movement. Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary, was one of the first to spot its potential when he described this young and fast-growing movement as "absolutely essential". Other politicians have been similarly intrigued, and last year The Transition Handbook came fifth in MPs' list of summer reading. It isn't hard to see why politicians are so interested. The Transition movement is engaging people in a way that conventional politics is failing to do. It generates emotions that have not been seen in political life for a long time: enthusiasm, idealism and passionate commitment.

Within three years it has gone from an idea to having 170 towns, villages and cities signed up as transition communities, working in 30 countries, and thousands more all over the world using the transition model. It is viral, catching on faster than its founder, Rob Hopkins, can track. Its message is that peak oil and climate change demand dramatic changes in the way people live, and, given that no one has the answer, communities themselves must start working out how that change might come about. It offers no answers, no solutions, only some tips in a handbook for how to get started. Transition lays the challenge squarely at the door of everyone. This is too big and difficult for government alone to tackle, too overwhelming and depressing for individuals to face alone.

Transition is rooted in a new politics of place: geography matters again as people look to the community immediately around them to devise the solutions for sustainability and resilience. At one level it works as a way of regenerating social capital, building up relationships with neighbours, working out how to collaborate again on common interests – community gardens, recycling, waste and strengthening the local economy. At another level it is about educating people about the challenges of peak oil and climate change, but the mobilisation and consciousness-raising is directed towards optimism and hope, not despair: how can this community use its skills and imagination to build its future?

The result is a proliferation of experiments, all of which are charted on their wiki websites: the collaboration is both local and global. Communities in Somerset can swap ideas and get inspiration from Brazil, Australia or the US. It's a world away from the smooth presentation of party politics, and transitioners are quick to point to the disclaimer on their site – they have no idea if the movement will work. They're organising local food festivals now, but tomorrow it could be community renewable energy. The emphasis is always on conviviality and enjoyment; on learning skills that have been lost over the last few decades – how to cook, grow food, repair and make things. Scotland has funded several transition organisers to work across the country. This is an unusual thing: local grassroots environmentalism that is full of hope for the future.

Their meetings don't have agendas or presentations – Miliband came to their annual conference ­recently as a keynote ­listener. They use what's called open space technology, in which everyone brings their ideas and everyone participates. Humble, self-organising, the movement owes much to the idealistic thinking of the early 70s. This is a time for revisiting those alternatives, which have been so contemptuously dismissed for a quarter of a century.

Part of its growing success is how it meets several needs simultaneously. It tackles social recession – the sense of disconnection and fragmentation of community – at the same time as it ­collaborates on the huge behavioural change that will be required for a low-carbon society. The latter is far more likely to come about in the context of personal relationships than as a result of discredited politicians dictating change. It is fulfilling an unexpected appetite for political engagement at a time of widespread disillusionment with the conventional political processes.

Hopkins is emphatic that transition groups refuse all political affiliation; they must build alliances to work across all parts of their community. But it is intriguing to see how the movement is experimenting with the sorts of ideas those in conventional politics are talking about – localism, decentralisation of power to communities, an environmental politics that is utopian and hopeful rather than gloomy. Of course detractors can point out its wholemeal worthiness, but it is stubbornly swimming against the tide of pervasive political pessimism, and given the unpredictability of the times, who knows where it will end up?

Click here for the full article.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Wild Food Walk - 14 June

We've got a great event lined up for Sunday 14 June, so do put it in your diaries. There was a lot of enthusiasm at our Brainwave Bazaar event for learning about what wild food is growing under our noses, even in an urban setting.

So on 14 June at 2pm join us for a wild food foraging walk led by Roy Vickery of the South London Botanical Institute.

The walk begins at 2pm at Mycenae House and is free, with donations invited. Numbers are limited for practical reasons, so please email Dave at davesh AT to reserve a place.

Roy is a mine of knowledge on the uses and folklore of plants, having worked as curator of flowering plants at the Natural History Museum, so it should be a fascinating afternoon. Please email (replace the AT with @) to register your interest, and we'll let you know details of the walk's meeting point soon. There will be a collection to cover costs, the amount up to you.

The 12 steps to Transition

TW is aiming for official 'transition status' - it would mean being given a wiki site hosted by the Transition Network, as well as other benefits such as big names from the movement being prepared to come and give talks here.

One of the criteria is that we as a group are well aware of the '12 steps to transition', which might sound a bit prescriptive but probably are common sense guidance based on the trials and errors of other, more established transition towns.

So here's the link to those 12 Steps for those interested. Feel free to comment here if you've got any thoughts on them.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

London Yields: Urban Agriculture

More info on urban food-growing - an exhibition which might be worth a visit, focusing on London's food supply, at the Building Centre near Goodge Street. If you go, why not get in touch and tell us what you thought of it? As well as the usual exhibition blurb, the website has a recording of Rosie Boycott talking at the launch.

Fill your brain

The national transition conference taking place next month in Battersea is now fully booked, but there are plenty of training courses being offered to people around conference time, whether or not they have a conference place.

You can see a list by clicking here. Have a look - there might be something that tickles your fancy. The list includes training in talks on transition, as well as a chance to hear about 'Community Supported Agriculture' for those of you interested in food-growing, or a course for teachers on how to get kids thinking about and planning the future in a positive way. For those who feel they want to understand the economic crisis and how it relates to peak oil, there is a course based on Chris Martenson's 'Crash Course', which you can also watch online by clicking here.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Calling all Transition Towns

One of our TW members, Edward Hill, is making a great offer to other Transition Towns.

Edward is the artistic brain/hands/talent behind our beautiful 'photosphere' Transition Westcombe logo - those who live in Greenwich, especially, may have seen a number of them in galleries, shops and elsewhere. Click here for Edward's website.

These beautiful 360 degree photographs appear to take a landscape or streetscape and turn them into circular panoramas - see the selection on this page.

Edward's offer is to make a photosphere for any transition town which requests one, depicting their own area - either for use as a TT logo or, if you already have a logo or have plans for one, simply as a beautiful depiction of your neighbourhood.

Edward has already had interest from other TTs and his offer is that, if he is travelling through your area and you have expressed an interest, he will stop off and work his magic for you. It's turning out to be a great way of making contact with other transition people.

What a wonderful art project it could be to have dozens of TTs represented in photospheres and collected together, every community depicted as a miniature planet emphasising the unique nature of each.

Edward says:

I am happy to donate photospheres for logos at no charge to other Transition Towns, and hope that at some point you are in a position to make some equally tempting offer to the Transition Towns in Greenwich!

If your transition town is interested, do get in touch with Edward at (replace 'AT' with '@').

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Transition makes it into the Sunday Times

Kelly W has been in touch to flag up a long feature in the Sunday Times about transition towns and urban food-growing, by John-Paul Flintoff. Thanks, Kelly. Click here to read the article. It's very positive, but also realistic, cautionary and sober in its attempts to look hard at how and whether we can feed ourselves.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Future of our Food

A quick plug for Transition Town Brixton - they've got a public event next Thursday about 'The Future of our Food', which should be very interesting. Click on the image to see the details. TTB have a great programme of urban food-related events for the coming months.

Here's the blurb for next week's event:

Our current food system invests 10 calories of fossil energy to get 1 calorie of food energy out. We import more than 40% of our food. As oil and gas supplies dwindle this will present problems. In the city we are reliant on supermarket distribution chains, but supermarkets only hold enough food to feed us all for three days, leaving us "nine meals away from anarchy" should our imports be interrupted.

But there are ways we can help to change our food system to make ourselves more self-reliant - even in London!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Brainwave Bazaar - The Report part 3

If you missed Part 1 of our report from the Brainwave Bazaar, click here. For part 2, click here.


This table looked at how we could address our domestic energy usage, both to cut energy use to help deal with climate change, and to make us more resilient to rising fuel prices or fossil fuel scarcity.

Grants for householders - For individual households, it was thought that there are home improvement and energy grants available to those on some sort of benefit, for the purpose of doing energy efficiency work. Jon thought it was about £2,700, and would look into it further.

It was also suggested that we could collectively approach energy companies, which need to do energy efficiency work on people's homes in order to meet government-imposed obligations, and ask about the possibility of doing efficiency work on a large number of local homes, cutting the cost to company and residents through economies of scale.

Heat loss - One idea was that we could find a way of measuring the energy efficiency of local properties on a mass scale - providing information on where in the community we most need to make improvements. One method might be to hire a thermal imaging camera and take pictures of whole streets - perhaps from above, perhaps from ground level - to show where the worst heat leakage is - and those would be the properties targeted with energy advice and prioritised for having work done.

TT section in the local library - If we did persuade the local library to carry a Transition Towns section, the resources could include information for householders on the hows, whys and whats of energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency directory - TW could produce an easy-reference directory of local firms which can do energy efficiency work, including quick-win, lower-cost solutions. The National Energy Foundation apparently has a database of installers.

Eco-house - There is a demonstration eco-home in Plumstead, run by Greenwich Council - not a new-build but a retrofit of an existing property to show what can be done with existing housing stock. It was thought that there were plans to close the house down, however. Chris agreed to look into this and provide information, and to look into whether a trip to see the house could be arranged for TW members.

Renewable energy - There was some discussion about what renewable energy installations could be suitable - ground source heat pumps, solar photo voltaics, solar water heating, Combined Heat & Power and wood chip boilers all came up. The range and various pros and cons can be confusing - perhaps a talk could be arranged for local people on the options? Can anyone suggest a great speaker who might be prepared to come and talk on this?

Spare bulb swap - Some of us seem to be awash with low-energy bulbs now, with some energy companies sending freebies to their customers. If you've got more than you can use, why not offer them up for free on our Yahoo group, on Freecycle or to your neighbours? Or bring them along to Transition Drinks and swap them for a pint?


We've saved some of the best for last. When we came to reporting back at the end of the bazaar, there was obviously great enthusiasm for some of the ideas that came up at this table, with audibly gleeful little ripples of interest throughout the room.

Co-operative cafe and library - So many of the ideas that came up at the bazaar would benefit from TW having a premises of its own, and this idea was for a co-operatively run cafe-cum-library. It could cook locally produced food at a weekly event, it could stock transition-related reference material, provide a social hub, put on cooking lessons and more. An ambitious idea, but one that got people really excited. Is anyone willing to step up and start exploring how it might work and be funded in practice? (We notice there's a shop to let near Westcombe Park station, where The Cutting Room has been gutted...)

Storytelling projects - This one also seemed to generate a lot of excitement. One idea was for an intergenerational project, provisionally titled 'Sound of Westcombe' (I see Julie Andrews warbling in the gravel pits!), perhaps with the support and involvement of the fantastic Age Exchange / Reminiscence Centre in Blackheath village, tapping local older people's stories of life in the area, touching on how things were with less oil or at other times of 'austerity' and self-reliance as in the Dig for Victory days. Children and young people could get involved in collecting these stories. A sense of the area's history and community would be brought to life, and perhaps it could provide material for a play or for musical or art projects. Lucy was the ringleader for these ideas, it seemed - so, Lucy, do let us know what you think the first step could be, and do use the Yahoo group or the blog to appeal for helpers.

Garden safari - This could equally have come up at the food-growing table, or the skills swap table, but it's a lovely idea for helping people get to know others in the neighbourhood, so it fits here, too. The idea is that we have an 'open gardens' or 'open veg patch' day or 'garden safari' along the lines of the 'Open Studios' weekend, where local artists open up their studios to the public. It would be a chance for novice - or even experienced - gardeners to get inspiration and advice, it would be a great sensory experience for anyone, it could be a chance to swap seeds and cuttings, and would generally be a fantastic way to get to know your near neighbours.

Westcombe News - This idea was simply to remember to use the fantastic Westcombe News to spread the word about what we're doing and to keep up to date with what others in the community are doing. We're really grateful to Neville and the News for giving us space thus far and for showing such support. Hat off.

The Big Lunch - A rather lovely idea encouraging as many people as possible to hold a street party on the same day - 19 July this year - just for the sake of it. If you're prepared to organise one, do let us know - you find more detail at

This table managed to jot down what their overall aims were:

Objective: Community sharing and FUN

Outcomes: Feeling more comfortable between generations, increasing understanding / interaction, sharing skills and helping each other -> cohesion

First Steps: Email ideas to others within TW at first; utilizing contacts in schools, at Age Exchange etc. Lucy to action ‘Sound of Westcombe?


And that is the full report of the Brainwave Bazaar. Phew. Apologies for the delay in getting it all out here, but we can blame the number of ideas that came spilling out.

Some of the ideas that emerged have pretty clear paths to being implemented and could happen pretty quickly.

Some have names attached (thanks to those who raised hands). Others are clearly longer-term, require some good organisation and perhaps funding.

Some would benefit from us having a good, flexible website for sharing information better than a blog can, which we're working on.

Many of the ideas are up for grabs who anyone who wants to volunteer to lead on them - if you're interested in doing so, contact us here so we can help you appeal for helpers, or use the Yahoo group.

We've got some real plans to announce very soon on at least one of the ideas that came up, so keep checking back.

And thanks again to everyone who came along and contributed so enthusiastically and made the evening such fun.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Brainwave Bazaar - The Report part 2

OK, welcome to part 2 of the report of our 8 April Brainwave Bazaar. If you missed part 1, click here.


This was a very busy table and there was huge enthusiasm for finding any which way to encourage people to grow more of their own food locally and to purchase more local food.

Research pollution concerns - However, there were questions about the health impacts of consuming food grown in urban areas and whether air and runoff water pollution were something we should be concerned about. Jakki G agreed to look into this, including whether there are ways to test the suitability of soil.

Community food growing - One idea was to arrange a visit to a good example of a community market garden so we could learn more about how it works and how to set one up, and Hackney's 'Growing Communities' site was suggested. The benefit to the community? Zero food miles, spreading knowledge, community cohesion through working together and greater food security. First steps? Already under way: Caterina C has kindly getting in touch with Growing Communities to get more detail, and reports that people far and wide are seeking to replicate what is happening there - and there is the chance of workshops being run there later this year. Caterina will keep us informed about whether we can arrange an outing.

Food-mapping - This would be about creating a food map of the area which marks out local sources of food, such as fruit, nuts and berries, so that we know what we do have and we don't let it go to waste. It could be done online through Google Maps or some other application, but it would be great to produce some kind of hard copy or booklet too. It could be arranged seasonally to make a year-round guide. First steps would, we suppose, include appealing to local people to share their knowledge of where the goodies are growing and when, so perhaps we will use the Yahoo group or email to start gathering local intelligence. If anyone wants to lead on this, it's up for grabs.

Food surplus events - The mapping could simply cover food growing wild in common areas, but another version might include those trees in private gardens where the fruit goes unpicked and rots on the ground - one idea was that, with the owners' consent of course, a harvesting group could be formed to get together and pick surplus fruit, perhaps culminating in something of a harvest festival or communal baking or jam-making day.

Still on the subject of using food surpluses, some thought that enough allotment holders and kitchen gardeners tend to end up with surplus - perhaps more potatoes than they can eat themselves - and events could be held to give away or swap or sell that surplus. Other events might include seed swaps, so we don't have to fork out for seeds, or seedling swaps when we grow too many to plant out, or herb cuttings swaps.

Foraging - This was a popular idea. Suggestions included a course in recognising wild edible plants, which would allow us to add to our food map - we all know a bramble when we see one, but there is other food available for free which we might not know about. This book is good for those interested in this theme, and we should soon be able to announce a guided foraging walk led by an expert - we'll let you know as soon as we have details.

Sharing gardening skills - Many of us are new to food-growing, and there can be a lot to learn, so one idea was to explore ways in which that knowledge could be shared - for example, through a local 'Gardeners' Question Time' event, perhaps at Mycenae House or St George's, where the more experienced among us could volunteer to answer novices' queries. An 'Open Gardens' day, like Open Studios in which artists open their doors to the public, could be a way to share ideas and knowledge too.

Food market - There was enthusiasm for having a local food market of some kind, whether a stall for selling, swapping or giving away surplus from allotments and gardens, or for farmers from near London. Imogene R volunteered to enquire about using the grounds of Mycenae House. One idea was to have it at Westcombe Park railway station, perhaps as commuters arrive home at rush hour, allowing them to pick up ultra-fresh produce on their way - obviously something that would need to be explored with whichever company is responsible for the station. Leon volunteered to begin by approaching the station manager.

Community garden at Westcombe Park rail station - Thinking about what nooks of land are going unused and have potential for community food-growing, a sizeable patch of land beyond the fence of the north platform came up again and again. Cathy G agreed to look into how this might be done, first step probably to approach Network Rail.

Preserving - Crucial to the community genuinely increasing its food security and its resilience is to relearn the various methods of preserving food, so we have access to food in the lean times and the cold months. So workshops in cooking, preserving, canning, drying and pickling got the thumbs-up, with some reservation that any canning would need to have an experienced overseer to avoid any hygiene pitfalls.


A truly resilient community needs to have the skills to look after and provide for itself - not to isolate itself but to ensure that it can withstand any external shocks or supply problems. This seems to be a very topical subject at the moment, with even a Location Location Location presenter embracing 'Make Do and Mend' - how fast things have changed in 12 months.

Classes! - This was a no-brainer, really - to relearn those skills we could do with some classes. Subjects suggested included:

- Joinery / carpentry / furniture repair
- Plumbing
- Bee keeping (love it or hate it)
- Permaculture
- Repairing electrical goods / phones / PCs
- Cooking
- Redecorating and painting
- Sewing and knitting
- Repairing shoes
- Gardening
- Fund-raising / budget management

How to arrange this? One idea was to develop a 'skills map' or skills database of the area, to see what knowledge and resources we already have collectively, and to identify who is prepared to share and teach what they know with others. We can do this through the blog, through the Yahoo group, perhaps through the Westcombe News, and of course we have some great community venues here to host any skills-swap events.

Someone mentioned that Greenwich Community College has an offer of free courses at the moment, and their syllabus is packed with make do and mend subjects, so do go and explore their website

Another idea as for a LETS scheme - or Timebanking - and there was some debate about their relative merits. Some think Timebanking has ironed out some problems with LETS schemes which had put some people off. Jakki G points everyone to an interview between C4 News presenter Jon Snow and Timebank founder Edgar Cahn - click here or just google Edgar Cahn. Jakki adds: "There are several Timebanks in SE London, but they are very area/community specific, so there would definitely be room for another one, if the group wanted it. I already sent off for all the bumph if anyone would like to have a look." Thanks, Jakki.

One first step identified for all this was for Andy C to review the list and come up with some priorities, so Andy is your go-to man if you would like to get involved with anything skills-swap related.

For part 3, click here.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Free this weekend?

There is a chance, if you are free this weekend, to attend a Transition Towns training weekend in a truly stunning location - a low-impact settlement nestled in north Wales (look at these pictures and try saying you're not tempted).

You may have attended one of our Transition Westcombe events and decided you would like to get more involved in helping to propel TW along. Or you may want some guidance and pointers in setting up your own transition group elsewhere in Greenwich or beyond.

If so, that's great - and these training weekends are aimed specifically at you. They're run by the official Transition Network, and are an intense but very rewarding experience designed to equip you and support you in getting involved.

Hal, one of the trainers, writes:

We are running a course at a fantastic looking place in North Wales called Cae Mabon and some last minute places have come up. It will be residential so should be a magic experience. Please contact them directly for enquiries and bookings via their website

Please let us know at if you do decide to go on the course.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Brainwave Bazaar - The Report part 1

Thanks to all who made it to Transition Westcombe's 'Brainwave Bazaar' on 8 April. We had a turnout of about 25 people, though the hubbub that was generated might have fooled passers-by into thinking we were double that number.

I want to start off with a great comment from one of those who took part:

"I was really knocked-out by the energy & enthusiasm in that room & I believe that we have the makings of a strong, committed community. I wish that there had been more time to 'circulate, but the round-up at the end gave us a good overview of the wide interests and skills represented.I am really looking forward to being part of this developing community."

Beautifully put, and I think the feeling was widespread.

It's a tough call to organise a large and diverse group in a way that allows everyone to have their say and actually produce results, so we used the 'open space' technique. There were six tables, each with a theme or subject (based on the areas of interest you told us you wanted to pursue at our March film screening), and each with a note-taker. Participants could roam from table to table according to their interests, and move whenever they felt like it.

It sounds chaotic but it usually works surprisingly well. The notion behind it is that people at conferences and meetings tend to get more out of the coffee break nattering than from the formal business - so why not try to replicate the interest-driven, organic networking of a coffee break?

The mission was to brainstorm ideas for practical projects, to be clear about how the ideas would benefit our community if implemented and to identify, if possible, what the first step would be to making it a reality.

One development that is very important: We have a Yahoo group for Transition Westcombe now. We'd urge everyone who's interested to sign up, as it's a great way to communicate - and if you are wanting to find others willing to help you with a particular project or event, you can use the group to seek them out, as well as using it for general transition debate, planning, etc. You can join up by clicking here, and if you want to avoid inbox overload you can go to the settings and choose to receive a daily digest instead of individual emails.

So, what did we come up with? There's a lot of information, so we'll take two tables per blog post:


The objectives that were mentioned for this table were:

"Use less stuff, encourage others to re-think & change behaviour"

And the benefits to the community:

"Giving and receiving / cohesion"

Some of the ideas that came up at this table included:

Clothes-swap / swishing events along the lines of the recent one hosted at Greenwich Community College. The idea is that it is like a jumble sale but no money changes hands - and you don't bring along any old tat, but rather nice things you don't think you'll use (wrong size, perhaps) but which you'd be proud to give away. A social event that also cuts our consumption of new stuff: two dead birds.

Book exchange - This wasn't elaborated on, but it might be a localised version of book-crossing, where books are left around for anyone to pick up and then pass on after reading. Or perhaps it would be based around events, swishing style, with people passing on books they'd finished with. It might be that it is for sharing books, magazines and resources that are particularly transition-focused: the Transition Handbook, permaculture guides, make-do-and-mend titles and so on.

Repairs directory - Too often, probably, we chuck things away because we don't know how to fix them, can't think who might and it doesn't seem worth paying a tradesman when you can buy a new replacement. So this idea was for a register of local people who are good fix-its, whether in carpentry, furniture, electricals, clothes or anything else. The forum suggested for this was the TW website - and once we've evolved beyond simple blogging, this does seem like something we could do.

Freecycle - Always a popular recommendation: use Freecycle more. If you don't know of it, this is an email list where you can advertise belongings you are happy to give away. It's a huge and very active community, and you can also browse it for things others are giving away.The Greenwich group is here.

Emmaus - I hadn't heard of this, but it's a great idea: It says 'Emmaus Communities offer homeless people a home, work and the chance to rebuild their lives in a supportive environment. There are currently 19 Communities around the UK and several more in development. We rely on donations of good quality furniture and household goods from the public, which are sold in Emmaus shops.' The more we spread the word about schemes like this and Freecycle, the less excuse there is for people to chuck away and buy new, so do make a point of gossiping over the fence to your neighbour about schemes like these, particularly if you see them throwing out perfectly good or repairable stuff. Click here for the Emmaus website.

Skip-sharing - Who was at this table and can fill in what was meant by this? It sounds intriguing, but is rather enigmatic... Email and talk it up.

Age Exchange - make do and mend - This was an idea to tap the knowledge of members of the Age Exchange at the magical Reminiscence Centre in Blackheath Village (check out their tea garden if you're passing and thirsty). It would be a great way to make use of the knowledge and skills that were passed down to our older neighbours but which many younger people have never had, or not kept.

Recycle craft ideas - Presumably an idea for a group that might meet regularly, or a web forum for swapping tips.

Mors bags – otherwise known as 'guerilla bagging': this is a great idea for cutting people's use of plastic bags - and much more fun, surprising and sociable than other fabric bag schemes. The idea was for a group of people to get together with random scraps of spare fabrics and a fleet of sewing machines, have fun running up these fabric shopping bags and then hitting the streets to give them away to gobsmacked shoppers. If we could get the TW logos on each one somewhere, too, it would also be a great awareness-raising exercise. Will we see Old Dover Road awash with Mors bags? More info here.

‘Eco-fair’ - another idea for a swap shop event, perhaps monthly and this time for anything and everything.

First steps identified for this list of ideas were:

"Pool info for web-site / ideas forum / Westcombe News / posters"

That first action is done - you're reading it. An ideas forum will have to wait for our website to be developed, hopefully not too long now. Westcombe News and posters are of course essential for publicising any of these ideas. But clearly we need people to take a lead and say 'I'll organise that'.

The best way to do that at present is either:

A. Join our Transition Westcombe Yahoo group email list and use it to seek others who can help you

B. Email us so we can appeal for helpers through the blog and help with publicity


The objectives that were mentioned for this table were:

"Fresher air / Safer children & adults"

And the benefits to the community, or the desired outcome:

"Fewer cars on road; 'play street'"

Some of the ideas that came up at this table included:

- Bike and trailer sharing scheme
- Cycle maintenance - with help or involvement of Greenwich Cyclists?
- Bike routes showing safety, hills etc
- Proficiency training
- Car-sharing / shopping buddies
- Map of good cycling routes
- 'Walking school buses'
- Station safety

First steps identified were:

"Proficiency training for adults and children > Zoe Davies to investigate / Dave Sharman to contact Greenwich Cyclists"

As for the other ideas, do head to the Yahoo group or email us if you want to take one of these on and are seeking others to help.

It's important to remember a sound transition / permaculture principle, though: don't waste energy and resources on replicating things that are already being done. So if 'Dr Bike' sessions are already running, perhaps we only need to persuade them to hold an event local to us. Or perhaps there are bike maps out there already. So if you've had a great idea, first have a look around and see if anyone else has had it too.

Click here for Part 2, and here for part 3.