First things first

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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Westcombe's first Transition event - part 2

This is part 2 of the report of our first public meeting. Click here for part 1.

So the next exercise was for people to write on their post-its what they thought the community, rather than individuals alone, could do.

There were plenty of suggestions about sharing skills and knowledge around:

“Skill-sharing – eg. bike fixing.” “Sharing skills – making everyone feel they have a useful role to play in the solving of problems.” “Have a food group sharing knowledge and skills.” “A ‘think pool’, something like Freecycle.” “Skill sharing, eg gardening and seeds.” “Map local skills.” “Have a skills register, each of us could list 3 skills and we could devise a database of local skills.” “Share info on agriculture, energy and so on.”

Food came up again and again:

“Land mapping and food growing.” “Fruit picking, brambles.” “Beekeeping.” “Bulk buying of food.” “Capital Growth.” “Lobby the council to force developers to make development land available for growing veg even if just in large growbags.” “Lobby for use of wasted spaces.” “School vegetable gardens.” “Herb exchange.” “Gardening projects.” “Bramble planting.” “Sharing food / community food scheme.” “Lobby council to manage wild spaces to make brambles for blackberries.” “Community composting.” “Fruit and veg exchange co-op.” “Check what other people are growing.” “Create a local one day a week market for goods and food in St George’s.” “Community foodplots (Mycenae House).” “Local foraging maps.” “Land share (Capital Growth).” “Finding unused land to use.” “Better use of outside spaces.”

Energy was also an interest for plenty of people:

“Community insulation groups.” “Conscious effort to use less energy, maybe starting with a “low energy day” or a low energy week” publicised throughout the borough via Council /involving local schools.” “Bulk purchase of solar panels.” “Buying in bulk -solar etc.” “Hire thermal imaging equipment and go street by street.” “Get together , buy appropriate insulation in bulk, get together to see how to fit it.”


There was enthusiasm for make do and mend and waste reduction ideas:

“Swapping fayres.” “Mending.” “Waste from skips.” “Clothes swapping.” “Recycle more / conserve waste (water also).” “Advertise locally unwanted items to swap or give away.” “More repair work / swap shops.” “Train up local groups and repair electrical items (LRCN may help?) //swap shops like a free car boot sale.” “Freecycle.”

Freecycle came up again and again. For those who don’t know, this is an email group where people can post messages either offering belongings for free, which they might otherwise throw away, or appealing for specific items they need which others might not be using. The Greenwich Freecycle group can be found by clicking here.

There were practical suggestions for Transition Westcombe:

“Access grants.” “Transition meetings.” “Raising awareness meetings.” “Plan of action to be published in the Westcombe News.”

Thanks for those. Accessing grants is certainly a possibility as we develop - it would be great to be able to distribute cash to local projects that fit in with transition principles. There will certainly be more transition meetings - click here for the next one. And we are trying to keep the fantastic Westcombe News up to date with everything we are doing. The idea above about developing a skills database of local transitioners is also worth doing - but requires some thought and planning about how to go about it and make best use of it.

And to get the council involved:

“Ask local councillors if they have plans of action.” This is an interesting one – if people feel strongly enough that the council should be aware of peak oil and acting to prepare for it, would it be worth arranging a co-ordinated lobbying of councillors and pointing them to examples of local government elsewhere that are doing so? Something to consider. Unfortunately our local ward councillors weren't able to come along - week nights are probably not great for them with other meetings to attend - but we hope to see them at future events if possible.

Transport came up:

“Make life easier for cyclists – eg employers making it normal to provide access / cycle parking.” “Car lifts and bike groups.” “Breed more horses.” “Bicycle scheme for sharing.” “Car sharing.” “Find out what facilities are needed to encourage more cycling.”

And then there were comments that touched on building community, echoing one of the closing sentiments (and the title) of the film we’d shown: that it was not just the growing projects, the transport revolution and the use of renewables that rescued Cuba – it was the spirit of co-operation. Here’s what you said on that theme:

“Get to know each other.” “Build community co-ops.” “Do together and involve everyone.” “Share activities and habitats.” “Get to know your neighbour better.” “Support local shops.” “Use shared spaces.” “Support local businesses.” “Engage in local groups, sense of community, eg choir.” “Plug into existing community – churches, projects, etc.” “Community together, more meetings.”

Talking of which… Feel free to come along to our next public event (also free), on Wednesday 8 April in Mycenae House, Mycenae Road. We’re calling it a Brainwave Bazaar, and it’s a chance for some of the kernels of project ideas above – or completely different ones we haven’t heard yet – start to take shape. There’s more information by clicking here. Do spread the word to friends, neighbours or organizations or existing projects and groups you think would be interested.

To finish, here are some of your comments about our film screening event. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for taking part so enthusiastically. There were a couple of questions posed, too, which we’ll try to answer soon.

“Thank you organizers & participants for making tonight creative ,inspiring and fun – just what we want for a transition movement. See you again.”

“Thanks – interesting evening & I look forward to further discussion, getting to know people.”

“A very inspirational evening! Thank you!”

“Well organized and interesting. Thanks”

“A great initiative.”

“Thank you for the starter.”

“Amazement at the Cuban situation-staggering.”

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