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Transition Culture - an evolving exploration into the head, heart and hands of energy descent

Voices from the previews of ‘In Transition 2.0′: Moss Side

With last night’s launch of the wonderful new ‘In Transition 2.0′ website, here is the last of our short videos of feedback from the film’s previews.  Today’s is from Moss Side in Manchester, followed by a great piece Joel Prittie from the group wrote for the Social Reporters’ blog about the screening.

“There was silence. You could have heard a pin drop.

And then a sound, kind of like a pin dropping. There it is again. And again, many times in rapid succession. Then silence. Nothing.

It’s the In Transition 2.0. preview film night, Moss Side Fire Station, Manchester. I’m sitting in a room with 23 people. We are halfway through the film, and the DVD player is skipping. The picture is now motionless.

One of the stories in the documentary is about the door knocking I’ve done in Moss Side. There is footage of me knocking on the doors of people I don’t know, telling them about Transition. I did a lot of this “cold calling” during the initial stages of getting our Moss Side group started. I would literally pick a street, and work my way along, knocking on every door. This proved a great way of meeting lots of neighbours, building up a contact list, and I also met one of our core group members Ali Mohamed this way.

It’s not all fun and games of course. Some people are quite suspicious and won’t talk to me. Others are very prejudiced and will. But having built up a contact list whilst doing the cold calling, my door knocking can now take on a whole new lease of life when we are promoting events.

Instead of trying my luck knocking on doors which could be answered by anyone, I’m free to simply go back to the people who were interested in hearing more. This is a different experience altogether. With this type of door knocking, smiles and pleasant chats with positive people about community and food growing are the norm.

One of our core group members and I went out to promote the In Transition 2.0 preview one day when it started chucking down with rain. We only managed to knock on 3 doors before we were soaked, but two of them were opened by people who had great chats with us about their food growing and said they’d come to the film night.

Two years ago I hardly knew anyone in Moss Side, so being able to stroll round my neighbourhood, visiting loads of friendly people who recognise me and chat to them about our Transition events is an incredible experience.

Most of our work in Moss Side so far has been focussed on awareness raising through workshops and film nights, which we have held at various local venues. One venue we are pleased to have found is our local Fire Station who have been very supportive in letting us use their community room, and we decided this would be the best place for the In Transition 2.0 film preview as it’s a nice room with a projector and en suite kitchen.

Our core group is still quite small and only three of us were available to run the event, Ali Mohamed, Becca Kind and myself, but thankfully four other neighbours kindly agreed to get there early and help us set up.

The last time we’d used the Fire Station for a film night we’d had various problems getting the speakers working which delayed our start time. And we then ended up having to call someone from the fire service in every ten minutes to enter a password into the computer, as it kept going into sleep mode while playing the film.

Determined to avoid such problems this time, I had double checked that we could use their DVD player instead of the computer. I had made two visits to the Fire station specifically to check that I knew exactly how the equipment needed to be wired up and operated. And I’d played the first few minutes of the In Transition 2.0 DVD on their system twice. Everything worked fine.

Flick, jump, pause, click, click, whir.

What I hadn’t realised is that the Fire service always use the computer to play DVDs. Their separate DVD player hardly gets used at all. We’d made it half way through the documentary, but now here we were, sitting in the dark, in silence, with the entire success of our event firmly in the hands of this neglected gadget.

It could start playing fine again at any moment. But will it? Or do I need to do something? Should I tap it, pause it briefly, skip it back or forward a bit, take the disc out and polish it? Maybe it will sort itself out in a second. Then something breaks the tension. A loud voice. It’s a fireman, talking to another fireman. They are both driving round Manchester and a speaker in the room is broadcasting their conversation to us. And now the film is playing again… but the firemen are still talking. One of them asks the other a question. The film plays on. Then the answer comes back. He’s not quite sure. Everyone laughs. The fireman’s conversation stops. Thank goodness… but so does the DVD.

“I’ll just try wiping it”, I announce to the room, and then realise I can’t see the eject button in the dark so I turn the lights on. Everyone blinks. Becca suggests people take a break, get a drink etc. No one moves. Instead the room erupts into conversation, as people enthusiastically share their thoughts with each other about the film so far.

Having polished the DVD we realise it doesn’t have chapters on it, so a couple of minutes are spent skipping from the start of the DVD back to where we had got to. And this time… it’s working!

Except for a little bit more skipping near the end, we got through most of the second half of the DVD without further interruption, and made it to the end, at which point the room erupted once again, this time into applause. Ali then started capturing some people’s thoughts on camera, whilst others chatted. There were loads of positive comments. Someone from Transition City Manchester said they thought that Moss Side’s appearance in the documentary could really help to get more Transition groups started in other parts of the city. And a woman I’d met door knocking who’d not been to any of our events before came over to tell me that her and her 6 year old daughter who was with her had both really enjoyed the film and she’ll definitely come to our next event.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get all these comments on camera. It would have been nice to keep talking with everyone longer, but we were on a tight time schedule, so it was great when everyone pulled together to help clear up, and move tables and chairs back to where they needed to be, in time for when we had to leave the room. Thanks to everyone who was there, and to everyone involved in making the film. It’s been a really exciting experience.

Joel Prittie Transition Moss Side

Open Yardens event: gathering in the reclaimed square; Joel and Becca of Transition Moss Side.  All photographs by Hannah Beatrice.