Watching the Signs
"It's a sign." I said to Josiah on the phone last week.
"It's a practical manifestation!" he replied. And we both roared with laughter.
Because of course the beautiful new A-board, handmade and painted by Roger, who has recently started coming to Sustainable Bungay events and meetings, is both those things. And in the Transition Companion, practical manifestations form the second ingredient in the Deepening stage (stage two) of Transition. So here I'd like to take a look at some of the other practical manifestations our wonderful new signs are pointing to.
They were first displayed outside the community centre and in town for our fifth Give and Take Day last month. When Roger presented them that day, the thrill in the group was tangible. No one could quite believe how he had managed to get the "Sustainable Bungay" heading so close to the formatting of the original we're used to seeing on all our printed and web literature.
"Well, it's not quite exact," he said. "And I am a signwriter by trade."
The next day we wiped the board clean and used it for our 4th Plants for Life event, Walking with Weeds. Charlotte chalked it up and we placed it outside the library just as Roger was passing by. We all waved in great excitement. It felt so joyful. It seems such a small, simple thing and maybe that's part of it. But then what other feeling would the practical manifestation of people working together and enjoying that work and each others' parts in it bring about?
"I'm erasing Walking with Weeds as we speak," said Nick a few weeks later on the phone.
"You're what?" I replied, a bit nonplussed.
"I'm wiping Walking with Weeds off the board...for the Give and Grow tomorrow."
"Oh, now I'm with you," I laughed. "For a minute there I thought you'd had an unpleasant encounter with nettles on the walk and you were trying to wipe it from your memory."
So our third May Give and Grow was last Monday. And despite last minute HORRORS because NO ONE HAD THE KEY TO THE LIBRARY and IT WAS BANK HOLIDAY and NONE of the librarians who live in Bungay were AT HOME and after frantic Sunday afternoon phone calls, Charlotte Clark at Southwold library provided us with the vital missing link – a phone call to Amanda who runs the Bungay library. Amanda called me. If someone could collect the key from her she'd be in in the morning. It was on Lesley's way. The Give and Grow could go on. Nick was very relieved.
And despite worries about tardy plant germination and growth this year due to the recent wet, cold and lack of sun, people came, saw, swapped, talked, drank tea, ate cake. And the sun came out.
Yesterday our ‘A’ board made its fourth appearance in just over three weeks, proudly helping us make visible the practical manifestation of the fifth Plants for Life event, Hedgerow Medicine: a talk by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, authors of the eponymous and excellent book on making herbal remedies at home from wild plants you forage yourself. The talk was packed, both with people and wonderful recipes and tips on making herbal syrups, succuses and even aphrodisiacs (these from a quite common garden plant... I say no more).
So that's something of the value of practical signs and what they're pointing to.
I just want to mention two more practical manifestations from Sustainable Bungay today. One is the Library Community Garden where the Give and Grow and Plants for Life events are based as well as midsummer gatherings, autumn Abundance swaps and some of the steering group meetings.
This garden, now in its third vibrant year, is an example of true transition spirit, the result of many local groups and individuals working together to create something of beauty and joy, a place where anyone can come to relax, to learn about plants, to meet up with others, to read, to give, to grow.
In this project, Sustainable Bungay works as the 'cohesive'* that brings it all together and allows it to happen. The cohesiveness itself comes about through the hard work of attention and commitment, organisation and action.
Last but absolutely not least, our quarterly printed newsletter (and let no one say that producing even a four-page A4 quarterly newsletter is peanuts, or even cobnuts!).
Now in its fourth year, this compact and bouncy publication reaches parts of the town and community that other media do not reach. Not everybody tweets, is on facebook or even has email or internet access and there's also just something about having a physical paper with text in your hands to read whilst you're on the... bus, or having a cup of tea. I'd recommend it to all transition initiatives. But be warned. It takes more than a couple of hours to produce.
* Cohesive is a noun I made up on the spur of the moment. I think it sounds more elegant than 'glue' or 'adhesive'.
Images: Give and Take day sign (Josiah Meldrum); April and May's Plants for Life events on the 'A' board (MW); Give and Grow May 2012 (SB); SB Newsletter Sep-Dec 2012 (SB)