Transition town initiative
The transition network is an international phenomenon that has its roots in Totnes in Devon. It is focused on a community response to the challenges of climate change, peak oil and social inequality. It includes seeking to harness local skills, encourage local trade and enterprise, build a more sustainable community and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. For more information, see www.transitionnetwork.org
In Hythe, it was felt that there was a lot of good work within existing local initiatives but that there was plenty more that could be done, as reflected in the proactive initiatives in other local communities such as Elham.
We held a first public meeting, with around 60 in attendance, including local MP, in September 2010. One speaker was Steve Plater, explaining the Transition theory and the experiences from Sevenoaks, a speaker from Elham, Chris Jelly, and another from Hougham, Andrew Finnis, with lots of tips on how to reduce energy consumption in the home (turn off your microwave when not in use and save on average £70 per year, for instance!).
The driving force for the initiative in Hythe has been the Shepway branch of the Green Party but this has been a case of ‘giving birth’ to the scheme and we recognise that the transition scheme is not political (although Green Party members remain prominent among the increasing numbers of people involved).
A steering group was set up in early December.
Our next meeting was on Monday 17th January when we set up the first sub-groups and identified our first projects. The kick-off activities included contacting local schools, setting up this website and planning schemes for a community allotment, a bug hotel project for schools, tree and hedgerow planting, a garden swap initiative, eco bags, and potentially a card scheme to support local retailers.
A first hedge planting session took place on Friday 18th February. Since then, we’ve set up an online directory for local retailers, have carried out a thermal imaging project to allow residents to see heat loss from their homes, had a series of beach clean-ups, built and launched a transition float in the Hythe Venetian Fete, constructed several bug hotels, drawn up and agreed a constitution and composed a proposal to the council for the community allotment.
We have good contacts with local groups in ‘green’ areas, and have attracted good local press coverage. A number of courses are in the offing (there is a strong ‘re-skilling’ aspect to the Transition movement), on vertical gardening, baking with sour dough and spinning and felt making.
The Transition scheme is all about involvement, it is the Big Society without the political spin. Individuals can take the scheme in whatever direction they want to go, so long as the projects meet the fundamental goals of the movement. There are loads of inspiring ideas on the main transition town website, showing what has been achieved elsewhere. So if you are not yet involved, come along to our meetings or make contact. Is there something you feel particularly strongly about, are you interested in one or more of the existing projects, do you bring particular skills to the group? We want to hear from you!
We would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to become involved in existing projects or would like to instigate others. Hythe officially became a transition town on 1st March 2011.