Transition Norwich's blog en So What is Permaculture Exactly? <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="213" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>Virtually all of us (some without knowing it) lead lifestyles only made possible by the ‘scorched earth’ policies of our growth-focused society. We are wildly out of sync with the ecological imperatives facing us. </p> <p>The Transition movement offers a methodology for building resilient communities at a local level, so where does permaculture fit in? </p> <p>Permaculture is a discipline which seeks to observe and apply the principles of natural self-sustaining systems. Originally an abbreviation of ‘permanent agriculture’ permaculture is far from confined to food-growing. </p> <p>Understanding the ecology of say soil or a freshwater lake from a holistic perspective allows the distillation of principles which can be reapplied to the design of human systems such as water harvesting, energy use and buildings construction.</p> <p>But the application of permaculture goes even further than this. As complex human beings we have our own personal ecology operating in our lives. Our relationships, our work, our finances, the way we raise our families and much else all function in a state of dynamic equilibrium; they are influenced by similar factors to any ecological system. </p> <p>Understanding how self-sustaining systems work allows us to design out potential weaknesses (such as high energy consumption or personal stress) and design in long term resilience.</p> <p>In August we are running Norwich’s first two-week residential Permaculture Design Course on 12 acres of land, 4 miles from the city centre. We will be using forest gardening, polytunnel design, ecological building design, woodland management and life-style case studies to learn and apply permaculture principles and to produce designs for sustainable living.</p> <p>The course will be led by Aranya, one of the UK’s foremost permaculture tutors with several specialist guest speakers.</p> <p>If you’d like to know more, including information about subsidised places, please visit:</p> <p><a href=""></a><br />&nbsp; <br /><i>Deepak Rughani is an ecologist and campaigner living in Norwich. He is a Co-Director of Biofuelwatch <a href=""></a></i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Sat, 06 Jul 2013 05:59:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 32927 at Where we are now - This Low Carbon Life Summer Update 2013 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="150" src="" width="200" /></a></div> <p>Midsummer 2013 and the new vegetable garden is flourishing. By the time the apples are ripe and the potatoes harvested this blog will be four years old. For three years we published posts daily along weekly themes with a crew of 8-12 people. Over time, as Transition Norwich shifted and changed its form, the team has dispersed and this year the blog has become occasional. This doesn't mean we are not still here doing stuff in our communities, living a low carbon life, just that our attention is not on writing blogs. Nor does it mean that you can't dip into our massive store of over a thousand posts, and find great and relevant gems there. Just check out our extensive topic list on the right hand column and have a good browse. It's an inspiring picture of what a downshifted future might look and feel and sound like.</p> <p>Meanwhile I thought I'd write an update. Where have we gone? Well, Transition Norwich is now mainly focused on three areas, and most of our ex-bloggers can be found there: John Heaser and Erik in Transition Hethersett, one of TN's Transition Circles (mostly active in the west of the city), Chris and Elena busy at <a href="">Norwich FarmShare,</a> and Helen with organising the <a href="">Magdalen-Augustine Celebration</a>. Jon Curran meanwhile is writing for the Norwich <a href="">Escalator programme</a>, and Simeon, who was elected as a Green Party councillor in the recent May elections, is active in the network, <a href="">Visions for Change</a>; Mark, still tracking wild and medicinal plants, is organising the distribution for Transition Free Press during its pilot year, and putting his attention on Wellbeing (principally with TN's country cousin, Sustainable Bungay).</p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="150" src="" width="200" /></a>And me? Well I'm helping edit a book with Lucy Neal about Transition and the collaborative Arts, called <i>Playing for Time - Making Art as if Life Matters</i>. She has been coming down almost every week this summer and we have been working out of her caravan in the garden. Other days I have been editing<a href=""> Transition Free Press</a> (now working on the third edition) and distributing books for the Dark Mountain Project.</p> <p>After writing 74 blogs last year (!) I found myself stepping back from these keys as the year turned and letting myself go fallow. Recently I emerged from the clover and wrote <a href="">a post on my own blog</a> inspired by <a href="">the cover for the new Dark Mountain book</a>. It wasn't about food or community, or transition initiatives. It was about the visionary English artist, Samuel Palmer. It was about belonging.</p> <p>When Transition Norwich unleashed almost five years ago, I sat down at the Arts, Culture and Wellbeing table and discussed with others how these subjects might influence the way we face a future without abundant resources and finances. It feels, after many explorations within Transition, mostly around communications and community activism, that I have come full circle. You might say I've come home. Maybe we all have.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="220" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p><a href="">Rob Hopkins' new book, <i>The Power of Just Doing Stuff,</i> </a>focuses almost entirely on practical projects and the revival of the High Street. It gives a clear simple picture of the Transition movement, as a way for local groups to come together and start community gardens, bakeries, energy projects and local currencies. But, for me, Transition has mostly been about a process, a going through: undergoing a radical restructuring of the self, to become an active agent within the collective, in order to live effectively in the future. To feel at home on the planet amongst my fellows.</p> <p>As a writer it has meant witnessing and reporting on that process, and the cultural moves we need to make to downshift in our ordinary lives. Intellectually, pragmatically, emotionally, imaginatively. It has meant making meaning and giving value to this low-carbon life, learning to open out and become articulate about subjects that are "outside my skillset" from zero waste to high finance. And most of all it has meant learning to work in a group. <i>This Low Carbon Life</i> began all that for me, and perhaps for all of us on this journey. Looking back, though it worked beautifully as a collaborative project and produced some great posts, I don't think it entirely broke the tyranny of the silo, that position of individual control that is the bane of all social enterprises. Me did not entirely become We, the connected Self, one amongst the Many.</p> <div class="separator"><a href=",67jOBDQ3ePajTSl7wiboW2YGq13wvb9H5fxq3tAksDc.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src=",67jOBDQ3ePajTSl7wiboW2YGq13wvb9H5fxq3tAksDc.jpg" width="239" /></a></div> <p>Some of that is due to this form of media, and some to our&nbsp; strong social conditioning and history. Our fear of letting go and taking charge. Blogging is, by its nature, insular and subjective. And maybe that's why eventually we dispersed. We needed to break out into other areas. However I do feel that a lack of dynamic inner work and group interaction will reduce any initiative to just doing stuff within a conventional set and setting. Digging the garden, putting on community events, marketing ourselves. There is no harm in any of those things. But to see a different world into existence takes other skills: depth, rigour, perception, intuition, courage and light-heartedness. In that territory the artist and the writer is a pioneer. So, right now, that's where I am headed . . . . Have a great summer all!<i>&nbsp;</i></p> <p><i>Images:tree spinach in the garden; delivering copies of Transition Free Press to May Day Fair in Chapelfield Gardens; cover of new Dark Mountain collection by Kit Boyd: (you can pre-order a copy or subscribe for </i>the year<a href=""> <b>here</b></a>);<i> community garden in Transtion Portalegre, from The Power of Just Doing Stuff by Rob Hopkins (you can order a copy <b><a href="/power-just-doing-stuff/buy-book">here</a></b>)</i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 27 Jun 2013 12:24:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 32800 at ARCHIVE: Herbs for Resilience - Yarrow <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5517850103877983666" src="" /></a><i>I wrote the post below almost three years ago in September 2010, but walking back home today I spotted the first yarrows coming into flower where I live near the Suffolk coast, and was reminded of it. Yarrow is truly a midsummer herb, and seeing it flowering in its right time in a year of such strange timings, I felt at once relieved and brought back into some sort of balance. Here's the original post with the</i><i>&nbsp;winter tea</i><i>&nbsp;recipe of elderflower (now also coming into flower here) and yarrow at the end:</i></p> <p>On the way to the&nbsp;<a href="">Greenpeace Celebration Gig</a>, I was struck by all the yarrow plants growing along the roadsides. There seem to be more than ever this year.</p> <p>Although you could mistake this handsome, sturdy plant for an umbellifer (carrot family) at first glance, it is in fact a bold member of the sunflower tribe, which springs up again and again when it's been cut down.</p> <p>The very first plant tincture I made was of Yarrow back in 1999 at Midsummer, from plants growing outside Christchurch College in Oxford. I still have one of the bottles.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5517849880079290146" src="" /></a>Making that first tincture was really exciting. I immersed myself in everything about it. From finding the plants and choosing the best time and place to pick them to tasting the leaves and smelling the flowers. Should I use vodka or brandy? Vodka. It's stronger with a cleaner taste. Okay. Now remember to shake the jar every other day. Two weeks later I proudly decanted my yarrow tincture into several brown medicine bottles.</p> <p>Throughout the ages Yarrow has been used to staunch wounds (its Latin name,&nbsp;<span>Achillea millefolium,</span>&nbsp;refers to the great warrior Achilles), stop nosebleeds, and in China to make divination sticks for the I-Ching. These days it also fights allergies, colds and flu and strengthens the immune system. It can also help with stress.</p> <p>Several years ago I went to the Indian Embassy in London to get a visa for what would turn out to be my last plane journey. After hours of driving at dawn, tubes, queuing and waiting in the packed and chaotic visa office I got back to Suffolk totally exhausted around ten at night.</p> <p>Those were pre-Transition days when I had less fossil-fuel awareness and more money and took more baths. I also had a bottle of Yarrow essential oil (not a fossil fuel but very expensive). Just one drop in the hot water got the azulenes going! Both Yarrow and Chamomile contain these compounds which turn their oils an extraordinary blue. The effect was immediate. All the stress left my body. I was restored.</p> <p>In these downshifted, downsized days of infrequent bathing Yarrow is still one of the main stalwarts of my herbal medicine cupboard, mostly the dried herb for tea (the azulenes are activated by hot water in infusions so you don't need the expensive oil!).</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5517849988552805346" src="" /></a>Recently I discovered a patch of ground at the back of the local community centre, full of pink and white yarrow. Joan told me no one had ever put any chemicals down there, so I collected some, dried it in a brown paper bag in the airing cupboard for three days, then chopped up the flowers, leaves and stalks and had my first cup. It was fresh and fragrant in a way you don't find even in the best teas bought from shops. I felt I was being strengthened from the inside out.</p> <p><span>For a resilient winter tea</span><br />Add equal amounts of dried elderflowers and yarrow to a pot with a pinch of peppermint. Infuse for at least five minutes. Drink. And be bold.</p> <p><span>Pics: pink yarrow flowers 2010; Midsummer yarrow tincture 1999 and dried yarrow herb 2010</span><span>; picking yarrow 2010</span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 18:43:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 32145 at Flight of the Butterflies <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="" /></a><i>As the IEA reports <a href="">ever-increasing carbon emissions</a>, and Britain's environment minister <a href="">denies any change in the climate </a>in the last 17 years, what is the response of the truly awake person in the current cultural dissonance? In the summer issue of the radical grassroots magazine,&nbsp;</i><i><a href=""> STIR.</a> I wrote a review of Barbara Kingsolver's novel, </i>Flight Behaviour<i>, the latest 'cli-fi' book that look squarely at our present crisis and whose main protagonist is one of the most extraordinary creatures on earth.&nbsp;</i></p> <p>In many ways dystopias are easier to write than a realist fiction that can look at the awesome forces that are out of kilter on the earth. Most books would rather put their imaginative attention on a post-collapse world, than face the gritty problems of a family or community living out the consequences of neo-liberalism and a globalised industrial culture. How can you create a plot when the conventional “bad guys” – those who wield corporate power - have become invisible? How can you find empathy for people who appear as ignorant victims of circumstance and stand in their home territories, witness to weird weather and species extinction. - subjects which seem better handled by the deeper and more metaphysical forms of poetry, or by non-fiction, unconstrained by a linear storyline?</p> <p>Although the heroine of <i>Flight Behaviour</i>, Dellarobbia Turnbow, is a far cry from Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, this is a classic tale of a trapped woman yearning to transform and break free from a near-impossible situation. What distinguishes it from these works and the thousands of romances built around the same theme is its mighty big subtext: climate change.</p> <p>Barbara Kingsolver is known to tackle big subjects in her novels — sometimes successfully, sometimes not: women in the Arizona mine strike of 1983 in<i> Holding the Line</i>, sustainable food production in <i>Animal, Vegetable, Mineral</i>, Native American rights in <i>Pigs in Heaven,</i> Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky and the Mexican revolution in<i> Lacuna</i>, and, most famously, the impact of colonialism in the Congo told through the eyes of a missionary family in <i>The Poisonwood Bible</i>. All these themes, however, belong to the human and political realm.</p> <p>Climate change is notoriously hard to talk about, belonging to what some call the 'supernarrative', the massive planetary shifts, that even though caused by human civilisation, we have limited capacity to control as individuals. Our sense of agency in our personal and social lives melts with the glaciers. History we can deal with, war, poverty, and even apocalypse, but eco-systems in feedback loops? These are non-human, non-linear realities normally assigned to science and to ecological campaigns. However human beings are not created from facts and figures, we are the creatures of story - the choices we make and the roads we take. Story is what makes meaning and gives value to our lives.&nbsp; </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="213" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <h3>&nbsp; Role of the Novel </h3> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><p>I don’t think it is a coincidence that the novel rose to prominence along with industrial civilisation, when people felt their lives to be largely shaped by human forces and therefore responsive to acts of individual will<i> <a href=""><span>(Askay Ahuja reviewing the short story collection,</span></a></i><a href=""><span> I’m with the Bears)</span></a></p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;In <i>Flight Behaviour</i> the central ecological dilemma takes place in a run-down sheep farm, in a run-down town where everyone has strange names, goes to church and every turn of the bad luck or weather is attributed to the Lord’s mysterious ways. The book is told from the point of view and in the language of 28 year-old Dellarobbia, who is stuck in a small house among the Southern Appalacian mountains with two small children and a husband she doesn’t love, dominated by harsh and judgemental in-laws. She has no money, no education and no prospects. Her neighbours’ son has cancer and all their peach trees and tomato plants have dissolved in the endless biblical rains. Small wonder you think she wants to throw it all away on an affair and run heedlessly up a mountain one day in ill-fitting boots.</p> <p>Somewhere, after many long descriptions, the book takes a small flight of its own: the revelatory lake of fire Dellarobbia discovers on the mountain instead of her lover turns out to be millions of displaced overwintering Monarch butterflies. The hero of the book, a dusky well-mannered scientist, arrives from the Outside World with his assistants to live in a trailer on the Turnbow farm and record their destiny. His passion for these insects, his intelligence and grace, affects the smart but unschooled Dellarobbia and Preston, her son, and their world begins to open up. Will this encounter manifest into a relationship? Will the wooded hillside be logged? Will the butterflies survive the on-coming winter? Will redemption come to Feathertown? Will she herself take flight, like the flame-coloured butterflies in Spring? And then? So the old-fashioned devices of story telling kick in and you have to find out the outcome, though the prose does not get any easier for all that.</p> <p>Kingsolver was originally a scientist and she applies her scientific eye not just to the insects undergoing numerous tests in Turnbow’s barn-laboratory —she puts their whole world under the microscope. Long drawn-out scenes in the local dollar and thrift stores tag every item on display; an exchange with an activist reveals that their “lifestyle” scores very low on the carbon ratings. Numerous rather creaky conversations between Ovid Byron, the entomologist, and his new assistant spell out the behaviour of this extraordinary butterfly and the ramifications of global warming. It’s a right-on subject and you cannot fault the author on facts, Yet this “left hemisphere” fixation on detail makes for a flat Puritanical prose-style, lacking lyricism or feeling. The beauty of the Appalachian mountains is absent and even Dellarobia, cast as a red-headed Venus by the local TV company, does not come across as beautiful. <br /> <h3><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="" width="213" /></a>Story of our times</h3> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><p>One reason we read, and need fiction is to understand how and why we are living now while imagining our way forward.<span><i> <a href=""><span>(Adrian Ayres Fisher reviewing the post-apocalyptic novels, </span></a></i><a href=""><span>Arcadia<i> and </i>The Dog Stars)</span></a></span></p></blockquote> </p><p>&nbsp;So this is a personal story and a story about our times. When I left my old city life I stopped reading novels; by the time I returned to England ten years later and joined the Transition movement I had stopped reading books almost completely, unless they were related to work. I realised reading books had become an escape, something that afforded a comfort at the end of the day. Novels belonged to a book club, literary festival culture, the books you took to the beach. They belonged to old ladies at the libraries who checked out ten thrillers at a time to occupy their minds and fill their days. They were not the challenging and inventive works I once studied.</p> <p>Like many of my contemporaries, when I returned to writing the form I chose was not fiction. We rediscovered the essay, the pamphlet (often in the forms of blogs), creative non-fiction and citizen journalism. In an era where becoming rooted in time and place has become an imperative, many of us sought out the older and vaster forms of myth and fairy tale, radical prose of the commons that challenged the history of the Empire. The impromptu speaker of words on the streets and at festivals took our attention, and fiction receded to a remote drawing room and Sunday newspaper world that seemed increasingly old-fashioned, conformist and slow. Used to squeezing plot into 140 characters or a pithy caption these 437 pages stuck in the Appalachian mud now seemed way too lengthy. Who had the time to read this stuff?</p> <p>The pursuit of a narrative that can speak of our collapsing times is a mantra of the day, and perhaps it’s worth asking: does this narrative belong to the people who see the future coming, or do we include, as Kingsolver does here, the people who deny it is happening and are most likely to lose out when it does? Who will log their voices and their experience? Can we step in each other’s shoes and imagine what is it like, how it could be different, without the fictive form?</p> <p>One of the major tensions in Flight Behaviour is the lack of awareness the outsiders (in their designer boots) have about the restrictive and humiliating nature of being dirt poor – of not having the right house, or education. Or indeed shoes.“Most of us have to walk around in our sleep, accepting our underprivileged position,” Dellarobbia tells Ovid: <br /> <blockquote class="tr_bq">I’d argue that the teams get picked and then the beliefs get handed-out. Team Camo get the right to bear arms, and John Deere and the canning jars and tough love and taking care of our own. The other side wears I don’t know what, something expensive. They understand recycling and population control and lattes and as many second changes as anybody wants. </blockquote></p> <p>&nbsp;I am not a climate denier and so cannot imagine what the doubters among Kingsolver’s readers might feel about <i>Flight Behaviour</i>. Looking out at equally waterlogged country (in East Anglia) I find myself thinking about that small imaginary house in Tennessee and realise that the book’s strength is linked to its ability to see what is, without any ought to be in the way. And that responding to nature in crisis might just bring things out of us we never thought were there.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="200" src="" width="141" /></a></div> <p>When I opened the book I felt I would rather spend two hours watching Jennifer Lawrence in similar bleak conditions in <i>Winter’s Bone</i>. But in the end the novel had greater staying power. Roots, and not screen stars, are what we need right now, wherever we are, if we want to hold ourselves in place on the earth.</p> <p><i>Images of monarch butterflies from 2012 documentary <a href="">The Flight of the Butterflies</a>; STIR is available at selected outlets and by subscription (see<a href=""> their website for details)</a></i> </p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" 0="a:3:{s:6:&quot;target&quot;;s:6:&quot;_blank&quot;;s:3:&quot;rel&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;s:5:&quot;class&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;}" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 11:27:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 32017 at FROM THE ARCHIVE: The Sea Kale Project <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="" /></a><i><i>Five years ago I began a project which had at its base a walk along the Eastern Seaboard. It was called The Sea Kale Project. </i>&nbsp;</i></p> <p><i>Originally it was going to be a springboard for a photographic exhibition and extend into Norfolk. In the end however the walk was the catalyst that drew me back into writing. First a small piece in a local magazine and then journalistic blogs, principally about the Transition movement, in the following three years. Sea Kale was also the subject of the final chapter in <a href="">52 Flowers That Shook My World.</a>&nbsp;</i><br /><i>&nbsp;</i><br /><i>Tomorrow, in another different time of shift, I will go with Mark to Sizewell beach, as we do each year, to pay visit the extraordinary community of wild and robust cabbages that flourish strangely and beautifully beside the nuclear power station. Here is a piece I wrote in 2011 in celebration:</i><br /><i>&nbsp;</i><br /><i>&nbsp;</i>Along the sandy dunes and shingle banks of the eastern seaboard there is a front line of wild plants, the ancestors of our allotments and fields - wild carrot, wild cabbage, sea beet, sea pea, sea kale, sea rocket, oraches, sorrel – and our medicine cabinets - wormwood and eyebright, sea buckthorn, sea holly, scurvy grass. Of all our ancient companions, the sea kale with its abundant flowers and rich detoxifying leaves is the largest and most impressive. Its tap root sinks deep into the shingle and holds fast in a rocky and uncertain time - the kind of plant that can weather a storm. </p> <p>The plant marks a territory that runs along the shoreline from Norfolk to Kent. It’s a geographical, ecological territory, but also a place you can map in time, in the ways that make meaning of our presence on the planet since our forebears first ate those salty iron-rich leaves. </p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5609843706851370530" src="" /></a>I came across the sea kale in Dungeness. I had gone there because of Derek Jarman. I had read his journals and noticed the flash of wild flowers in the text, as he struggled with the elements that howled through his shingle garden and to keep own tenuous thread to life. He had come in search of bluebells and found instead the bleak shore and the sea-kale that grew beside the nuclear power station. It was a singular territory that he made his own: wind-broken, austere, at the end of the line. </p> <p>We had, like the artist, driven out of the city at bluebell time and found the crambe's crinkly purple leaves pushing through the stones. We had been travelling and were looking for a place to live. We walked past the black fisherman’s hut and its now-deserted garden, sat amongst the flowering dwarf blackthorn and crab apple. As we drove away, I looked back and the familiar mosaic of marsh and sky and sea sparked something in me. It was the memory of somewhere I used to know. A certain strand of my life that began when I was a child in Sandwich Bay and Felixstowe. </p> <p>When we settled in Suffolk Mark and I began an open dialogue with the wild places along the coast, following a practice we had developed working with dreams and medicinal plants – visiting, holding a discourse within the territory, cohering our findings, keeping a creative log. It had become clear that for the future to happen we needed to be realigned with the natural systems and to recover our aboriginal ability to speak with the earth. How could we do this in our native land? </p> <p>The dialogue began with a question: <span>Who is this self in this territory? How can we communicate in an intelligent and vigorous way? What effect does the land, its moods, rhythms, creatures, weather, have on our imaginations, on our memories, on our realignment?</span></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5609829773114290898" src="" /></a>In 2008 we began a project that mapped the mosaic of eco-systems and their relationship with the human settlements along this shifting coastline. We named the project after the study seakale<span> </span>communities.<span> </span>Having this kind of dialogue means you don’t walk the track you choose. You encounter what is there. going out without a plan, meeting what crosses your path. Not just the beautiful, but also the difficult. We began just as the sea asters were setting seed n the marshes. On November 9 there was a massive storm surge. A powerful northeasterly wind ran against the high tide and the estuaries flooded their banks. We ran out of our houses and stood by the shore as the rivers merged with the sea and swamped the houses down at Blackshore harbour. </p> <p>After the flood people everywhere began speaking about how to protect the land. Small bands collected together, stacked sandbags against the river wall, spoke out for the birds and the spirit of the place. </p> <p>“Just a few cows”, we were told by the greysuited men from the Environment Agency in Reydon village hall. The agency were refusing to mend the broken banks of the Blyth as the government announced its retreat back to the metropolis. </p> <p>"What about the fishermen?" I asked. "Fishing is not economic", he replied. <br />"What about the tourism?" <br />"They will go elsewhere". </p> <p>The cows in the watermeadows didn’t count. The birds didn’t count. The land didn’t count. The people in the coastal seatowns didn’t count. Only the populations in the industrial towns would be secured. The oil prices began to rise. Suddenly I realised I was living in a different time. A time I did not know. </p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5609830874265196466" src="" /></a>This was the time I found myself talking to Charles Clover, environment editor of the Daily Telegraph, our paths crossing after 25 years. He was telling me about the fish in the ocean he has spent his life defending, and a book he had written called<span> <a href="">The End of the Line</a></span>. I told him what was happening down by the sea’s mouth. The agency was abandoning all the defences of the rivers and their harbours along the territory of the sea kale – the Blyth, the Ore, the Alde, the Deben. It was business as usual in the hotels in town, down at the pier, at the fish shop (<span>The show must go on!</span>) but some of us were beginning to ask why. </p> <p>"They are going to take everything!" he said. </p> <p><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5609964137029851186" src="" />We walked the coast line from the statue of Neptune at Lowestoft, towards the Martello tower of Aldeburgh, from November to the following late summer. We stood on the beaches with 1700 others making a human SOS protest at Walberswick, watched an adder slither by through the sea peas as the police and activists outwitted each other at Sizewell power station, watched the sky burn as the reeds caught fire at Easton Bavents. </p> <p>We swam in the ocean, with the seals, in the high waves, watched the sea become glass-green, pewter, azure, opal, bruised, mad with foam, tipped with fire. We swam in the wake of Roger Deakin, and walked in the footsteps of WG Sebald. Above us the sky raced with clouds, the wind blew sharp and salt, and warm, scented with heather, hail clattered on our heads. The sands shone silver, the cliffs flashed gold. The land pulsed with light, We pocketed treasures: sea coal, sea peat, a glass bead, a worn kitchen tile, an oyster shell, a deer skull from the tumulus at Dunwich at winter solstice. The sand martins departed their cliff dwellings, the barnacle geese arrived, the starlings rose like spectres over the marshes. Stags roared in the reeds. Seasons came and went. In the mornings standing at my window, I would see the sea like a shining band on the horizon, like a mirror. <span>It’s a good day</span>, I would say to Mark.<span> Let’s go out.</span></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5609829565244323138" src="" /></a>Today is such a day. And I’m writing about this project, about the resilient sea kale, because you notice in a droughted spring, it’s the plants with strong tap roots that flourish. It’s the tap root that keeps us alive. To belong you need a story, and to have a story you need a territory. You need a strong tap root to keep you anchored in a hard time. Sometimes the territory you find yourself in is not the place where you think you belong. It is not the lovely bluebell wood, or the rose garden where you sit alone with your thoughts. It’s not a tropical ocean or an Aegean island cove. It’s a windy English beach with people and houses and oil tankers on the horizon, where you encounter a thousand difficult questions about power and nature and exploitation. And the story you need now is not the story you were born with; it’s a story you have to discover, that you are challenged to go walkabout and find. </p> <p>Part of me when I began the project wanted to stay on that wild ecstatic shoreline with the flowers, with the birdsfoot trefoil and centaury and harebell, to put all my attention on birds and stones and light, to keep hold of the outsider position of the artist and dreamer, but that shoreline kept taking me to the people, to face those awkward questions: to the protesters at Sizewell, to the campaigners in the village halls. It took me back into journalism as I found myself writing an article on the project for a local community magazine, the first I had published in 2o years. It didn't take me to paradise, it took me straight into the heart of the struggle. </p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5609092916107090386" src="" /></a>It took me back into society, into Transition, to the place where we all meet, the place at the end of the line, at the edge of the narrow land, England, at a point in time where we need to come to certain decisions about the future. Decisions and meeting places I'll be writing about this week with some of the people who have crossed my path. <br /><span><br /><span>Among the seakale on Sizewell Beach, 2011; Derek Jarman in Dungeness, 1992 (by Howard Sooley); Greenpeace protest at Sizewell A, 2003; SOS protest at Walberswick, 2008: Sea Lale Project notebook, 2009; Mark, seakale and Sizewell B, 2011.</span></span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 20:00:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31951 at Give and Grow, Walk and Be Well <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 06 Beans and Peas to Give and Grow" class="size-medium wp-image-1544 alignright" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a>Sustainable Bungay's 4th annual Give and Grow event last Sunday (20th May) at the Bungay Community Library garden held a particular significance this year in the light of the recently passed EU "Plant Reproductive Material Law" aiming to regulate and restrict the sale, exchange or growth of all plants unless officially registered.</p> <p>This would have impacted severely upon our freedom to (legally) "Give and Grow" in the manner of even our humble SB events, had the law not been mitigated in the final hour due to pressure from growers, gardeners and lovers of plants and freedom from all over Europe. See <a href="">The Real Seed Catalogue's</a> page for more information and why we need to keep an eye on this law (and take a look at their great <a href="">vegetable seed list</a>, too).</p> <p>Our 2nd Well-Being walk took place after the Give and Grow with a group of six adults and three children setting off through town and the annual Bungay Garden Street Market, where we were joined by Sofia, recently moved to Norwich where she is studying midwifery. So here is a story in mostly pictures and some words of both the Give and Grow and the Well-being walk:</p> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 01 Lesley" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1538" height="286" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div class="separator">Lesley Hartley, who is curating this year's Edible Bed in the centre of the library garden. Note the crimson flowered broad bean to Lesley's left. After a slow post-cold-winter start, the garden is beginning to respond to Lesley's hard work.</div> <div class="separator"></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 02 Lesley and Mark" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1539" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <p>Plant Medicine 2012 meets Edible Bed 2013. Mark and Lesley trying not to hide behind flowering brussels. What was that about Brussels, seeds and plants..? Keep giving and growing!</p> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 03 Brussels, Sign, Van" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1540" height="300" src="" width="225" /></a></div> <p>Brussels, A-Board and the big old red Post Office van, which Eloise has picked up all the large Give and Take day furniture and garden donations in over the last three years and used to deliver items to people after the events. As well as couriering display boards for Bee group events and other talks and workshops.</p> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 03A Nick, Mark &amp; Lesley" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1541" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <p>&nbsp;Nick shows Mark how to construct a make-shift seed envelope. This turned out to be a double (flowered?) version.</p> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 04 Richard planting Primroses" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1542" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <p>Richard demonstrates how to divide primrose roots and replant them. Primroses respond well to root division and the best time to start is just as the flowers are going over. Here Richard explains that even a small section of root like the one in his hands will resprout, though a misting table is best for roots this size.</p> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 08 Richard planting Primroses 2" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1546" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div>&nbsp;<span>A new tray of primroses.</span></div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 05 Double-flowered feverfew" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1543" height="300" src="" width="225" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Double-flowered feverfew growing out of the cracks and just about to come into flower. Feverfew leaves are a well-known herbal remedy for migraine. I'd never heard of anyone who'd actually used it till last year. A lady from Beccles came to a Plants for Life session and told us she swore by feverfew and used it any time she felt the beginnings of a migraine lurking. "Do you put it in bread," I asked. I'd read countless times that bread helped it to be easier on the stomach. "Oh no, I just eat a couple of leaves raw. Always works!"</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 07 Tony Reading TFP" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1545" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>You can't go to a Give and Grow event anywhere these days without coming across someone reading the <a href=""><strong>Transition Free Press</strong></a>! Tony in &nbsp;deep concentration.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 09 Charlotte and Tony" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1547" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>And isn't that the TFP's editor sitting&nbsp;there with Tony? What a coincidence!</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 10 Paul and Rob and TFP in Pocket" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1548" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Goodness me! Is that ANOTHER copy of Transition Free Press sticking out of Paul's pocket?</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 11 Straw Bale Culture by Lesley" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1530" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Straw bale culture. Cucumber. nasturtiums and giant pumpkin planted by Lesley for EastFeast at the Street Garden Market.</div> <div></div> <div>We've now left the library and the Give and Grow and started our well-being walk. No one was in any rush to leave the courtyard garden though, it was so relaxing.</div> <div></div> <div>We mapped out the route between us deciding to go via the market to the bridge at the bottom of Earsham Street and then down Castle Lane which skirts round the castle ruins. A favourite walk for several people, some found the castle ruins romantic, some liked visiting the wildflowers and others found it an &nbsp;enjoyable route for walking the children to school.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 12 EastFeast at the Market" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1531" height="300" src="" width="225" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>A brief stop at the East Feast stall (love that hat, Dano!), to play a board game with the children, and then on to &nbsp;Orchard End Herbs: "I know you," I said to a young woman there. "You came to my Trade School class on rosemary and circulation at the Common Room in Norwich a few months back. Would you like to join us on our well-being walk?" "That'd be great," said Sofia. "And I'd like to bring some friends to Happy Mondays tomorrow. How do I book?" "You need to talk to Josiah," I said. "And he's coming on the walk, too."</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 13 Looking Over the Bridge" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1532" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Leaving the market (and the Punch and Judy show) and heading down to Earsham Street bridge and the River Waveney. This is one of Sally's favourite places to visit.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 14 Bridge Over the River" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1533" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Waterweeds in the Waveney.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 15 Occupying the Street" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1534" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Reuben leads us purposefully to Castle Lane.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 16 Down to the River" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1535" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Take Me To The River, but don't drop me in the water... at least not until August when we combine our annual picnic with a swim.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well Being Walk May 2013 18 Edge of Flowers" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1536" height="300" src="" width="225" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Back lanes full of wildflowers and garden escapes, from cow parsley and Babington's poppy to shining cranesbill and grape hyacinth. One of Bungay's delights.</div> <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Give&amp;Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 17 Sitting on the Bench" class="aligncenter wp-image-1549" height="219" src="" width="292" /></a></div> <div></div> <div>Sitting (and climbing) on the bench, before heading back to Sally's for a cup of tea. The whole walk was very relaxed and took about an hour and a quarter. To find out when our next Wellbeing walk is, check out the Sustainable Bungay <strong><a href="">Calendar</a>&nbsp;- </strong>all welcome!</div> <div></div> <div><em>Images (all by Mark Watson): Beans, peas and seeds; Lesley and the Edible Bed; Mark and Lesley behind the flowering broccoli - medicine plant bed 2012 meets edible plant bed 2013; brussels, board and red van; making seed envelopes; Richard demonstrates primrose division 1 &amp; 2; double-flowered feverfew growing through the concrete; Tony gets the lowdown with Transition Free Press; And again with TFP's editor Charlotte; Give and Grow and sit down for a chat; straw bale culture; garden street market with Dano; Earsham Street Bridge; waterweeds; follow the leader; &nbsp;down by the Waveney; plants along the wayside; on the bench</em><br /><em><br /></em><span>First published 27th May 2013 on <b><a href="">Sustainable Bungay's</a></b> website</span></div> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" 0="a:3:{s:6:&quot;target&quot;;s:6:&quot;_blank&quot;;s:3:&quot;rel&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;s:5:&quot;class&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;}" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 27 May 2013 19:48:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31794 at Crossing tracks - A Conversation with Jeppe Graugaard <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="98" src="" width="400" /></a></div> <p>Last winter I had a conversation with Jeppe Graugaard. We sat by the fire in my house and he switched on his tape recorder and though I felt bone-weary, bone-cold, exhausted by months of flu, I looked back at the track I had made over the last decades and found a kind of pattern there that made sense of things in a way I had not seen before. It sparked something alive. Although I have spent <a href="">a great deal of my life interviewing people</a> and hearing their stories, this was the first time anyone had sat down and asked me questions and was interested in the answers.This kind of attention is rare in our me-only, rush-rush world. About as rare as a ray of sun in that hard and difficult winter.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="200" src="" width="142" /></a></div> <p>When Jeppe published our conversation in his blog a month later, just as Spring came, it was a revelation. <i>In all honesty I can't remember saying any of this!</i> I told him. He was now in a summerhouse in his native Denmark, writing up his Phd thesis about grassroots innovation, based on the Dark Mountain Project. I was amazed at how he had transcribed our talk almost verbatim, as he had with many other Dark Mountaineers, the thinkers, artists and activists who have helped shape this cultural network. Because I know exactly how many long painstaking hours that takes to do. </p> <p>I had first met Jeppe briefly in 2009 at the first (and only) Arts and Culture meeting held by the Heart and Soul group upstairs at Take 5. We had decided to hold our first midsummer Transition party up at the Ranger's House on Mousehold Heath. He was about to research alternative currencies in Lewes and so never made it up there among the tents and trees.</p> <p>But somehow our tracks crossed again: we met two years later at the Uncivilisation Festival and decided to start our own Dark Mountain Norwich group. When Rob Hopkins came to Norwich Jeppe wrote a piece about Transition for This Low Carbon Life called <a href="">Reimagining the Future.</a> He had come that winter weekend with Vanessa (who I had originally met at Occupy Norwich and asked to write for<a href=""> OneWorldcolumn</a>) and we had all spoken at our Sustainable Bungay Give and Take Day about the Gift Economy. We had recently taught Trade classes - about time, about flowers, about communications and making - at the second prototype day for <a href="">The Common Room at St Lawrence's Church </a>(the third is happening today as I write). Tracks that were making a certain pattern in time and space.</p> <p>Recently I took part in an on-line conversation about grassroots groups and I found myself realising that what I valued about Transition, what I valued about Dark Mountain, and all the groups I have connected with or written about were the networks of people and the shape and sense they made of my own life. Not necessarily my personal life, but a communal passage through the world that is part of an invisible pattern we can't always see. Those seemed to be more powerful and interesting than any other connections I could think if. And what I was saying in the thread was that the desire to belong to community of people in the way it is commonly understood, was not really my own desire, which is always to contribute to a radical cultural shift on this planet.</p> <p>Sometimes the "communities" we think we are part of, those circles and clubs, don't necessarily make the meaningful shape that a network does. And some of the difficulties we encounter in such groups are caused by our wanting them to be our people, our family, our friends, when the kinds of people that are part of a network are not configured to provide that kind of emotional or material security. It's a freer and more dynamic exchange. We pop up in different places, in different guises over time. And when we meet, those meetings are treasured at a deep level, knowing they will not last for long. Those intense and focused conversations that happen at the edges in Transition are perhaps the most fruitful and enjoyable parts of our shared human experience. Certainly mine.</p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="" width="320" /></a>Today Jeppe is writing by a lake in Denmark and I am walking in a bluebell wood in England. We're meeting again in August at <a href="">the fourth (and final) Uncivilisation Festival</a> where Jeppe will be talking about Time Culture and I'll be talking about Rewilding the Self. I'm looking forward to that and all the conversations we'll be having around the fire under the stars. </p> <p>Anyway here is the opening of our winter conversation. You can read the whole thing <a href="">here.</a><br />&nbsp; <br /> <h3> <b>Medicine Stories, Liberation and Shifting Allegience </b></h3> </p><p>JDG: I thought maybe a place to start was with something which you say in the beginning of your book&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">52 Flowers That Shook My World</a>. Early on in the book you talk about ‘shifting allegiance’ away from civilisation towards the planet and this is something that has stuck with me. You say it happens on two levels: one is in the imagination, that’s the first step, and then it happens in the physical world when you start rearranging yourself in a way that can express that shift of allegiance. I thought maybe we could start with this, how that has turned out for you, going from living in London and being a fashion editor a long time ago to being here now. And I know that’s a very long journey and a big jump but maybe you can lay out what you think has been most important or what has been some of the most valuable stuff you learned from that process?</p> <p>CDC: I am not a very linear person and I live in a very linear culture of the beginning-middle-and-end kind of stories that one is brought up with. But the stories that would grab me when I was young were the fairytales and the myths. I learnt myths very early on, the classical myths and Greek-Roman myths, which are the ones I know the best. Right from the age of seven or eight those were the things that really profoundly affected my imagination. And they don’t operate in beginning-middle-and-end. Although in some ways they use that sequence that’s not the world they operate in. They operate in this mythic, archaic dreamtime imagination, which is where I feel very much at home and which is the guiding principle of everything I write . . . . </p> <p>This decade has been all about making myself at home in my own native land, which is a big practice and very hard to do in England. And part of that has been joining Transition where I’ve had to learn how to work with people and as a group in a different way. Talking about things we have been talking about today [in Sustainable Bungay] about the gift economy, about learning how to share, about learning how to give up individualism, which is a process in itself. Because even though you go travelling, you’re not necessarily working in a group. It’s still all about you. It could be about you and the great humanity or you and the great universe, you and the great planet, but it is not you and a bunch of people. Knowing the land as a people. That’s very different. That’s how we used to be.</p> <p>For example, in Mexico when the Huichols walk to the mountain, they walk with the people. They are not walking as little, individual people trying to get their moment of enlightenment before they go back to the city. It’s a totally different thing: they are <i>walking as a people</i>. And most tribal and archaic people do this as a people, they don’t do it as individuals. You know, you might go and have your vision quest to find your name but you are coming back to the tribe, you are coming back to be one of the people, to be an integral part of it. So we’ve lost that. We’re trying to relearn it, I think. It’s on quite a humble level. Like doing things like ‘give and take’ today, community meals for fifty, it’s trying to get back to understanding what that’s like. That’s a much harder practice, I think . . . . </p> <p>It has to be about heart. If you live a life governed by heart that is a different world to if you live a life governed by the rational mind. They are just different universes. So something that heart can feel and intuit, and intention being part of it, that has a currency and an agency that the rational doesn’t even recognise. It doesn’t know what you are talking about. </p> <p>So, of course, if you sit down and do something with good intent - and you know that in your heart whether you have good intent or not – that has a power and agency that you cannot see but it will make all the difference. You can sit down with no intent and tick all the boxes and nothing will happen because you’ve got no good intent. Because it is not locked into what I would call the fabric of this world which we can’t see. The fabric of the world which we can’t see understands intention. That’s why some people do these strategic acts because they’re learning how to work with intention, so it makes sense within the fabric of the world.</p> <p>So when they do one thing that echoes in all places… it’s like a hologram. You know, you do one thing in one tiny place and it goes in all places. That’s what I mean by making an intentional act. And that means everything, but the rational mind doesn’t understand that. It's a right [brain] hemisphere thing. We can’t even talk about it, really, but we know it. We understand it. We get a feeling for it. Transition sits down and goes “we need workshops, we need to get stats on that”. It’s all information. But that only goes so far. The point we are at is that we’ve got as far as facts and information can take us. And now something else has to kick in.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="119" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>You can tell people “the Earth is coming to an end unless you do something”, well yeah, ok, that’s a piece of information. That’s not awareness. If you were aware of it you’d be going: “Right OK, what needs to be done?" That’s awareness. At least you are there, you’re going “OK, so now I know. So now I live in a different place”. That’s where Dark Mountain is. Which is why I like it. It doesn’t go in all guns blazing to try and sort everybody out. It sits on that very uncomfortable edge. It’s enough to be aware right now. Then we’ll see."</p> <p><i></i><i>Text and photos from <a href="">Remembering - Pattern Which Connects</a>; Jeppe (left) at The Common Room, Norwich, February 2013; Dark Mountain Norwich crew in Kevin's camper van, Suffolk, July 2012; <a href="">Uncivilisation Festival </a>will take place on 15-18 August at the Sustainability Centre, Hampshire.</i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Sat, 18 May 2013 13:26:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31662 at The NR35 Dead-Hedgers Society <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img alt="Image3822 low res" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1518" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a>It just so happened that the five of us who turned up at Richard’s on Wednesday morning in Bungay to learn how to do dead-hedging with Paul were all over 50, and so the ad hoc name we came up with for that morning’s grouping was the NR35 Dead-Hedgers Society - the Over 50s Contingent!</p> <p>However, anyone of any age was welcome to join the <a href="">new Transition social enterprise, NR35</a> (NR = Natural Resources and NR35 is the local postcode) practical dead-hedge laying session.</p> <div class="separator"><a href=""><img alt="Image3823 low res" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1525" height="300" src="" width="225" /></a></div> <p>This involved laying out and hammering in stakes staggered along a boundary of about twenty-five feet, and then placing and roughly weaving in branches and twigs from recently coppiced trees between the stakes. Making a hedge in this way would not only provide Richard with a decent boundary, but create a refuge for wildlife. Birds like wrens will often build their nests in dead hedges. Tony found an old nest rather larger than a wren’s, which we placed in the hedge once we’d finished.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Image3845 low res" border="0" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1522" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a></div> <div>This was the first time dead-hedging for all of us except Paul,&nbsp;who is a professional tree surgeon, and who taught us with consummate calm and patience. I asked everyone how it had been for them:</div> <div></div> <div><b>Cathy:&nbsp;</b>Well, it uses up an amazing amount of material you might think would be difficult to dispose of. And it’s delightful doing it with others.</div> <p><b>Nick:</b> It’s hard work and it makes you sweat, but I’m surprised how easily we managed to get a good end-product (the hedge), in &nbsp;the space of 2 hours. And it’s brilliant we can go away and do it ourselves now.<br /><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Image3848 low res" border="0" class="aligncenter" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a><b><br /></b><b>Tony:</b> Working as a team is really good fun. And it’s satisfying to start off with all this dead material and end up with a hedge.</p> <p>I asked <b>Paul</b> how he found us as a group to teach: ”It’s been really satisfying. Everyone’s been very receptive and quick to learn the skills and techniques. The results speak for themselves: we have a very reasonable dead-hedge. I’ve seen a lot worse.”</p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Image3859 low res" border="0" class="aligncenter" height="225" src="" width="300" /></a><b>Me:&nbsp;</b>I found the whole morning instructive and really good fun. I noticed that being physically engaged in building the dead hedge you got into a kind of rhythm with everyone- I would find my hands often knew just what to do. It would have taken forever to do it from a book.</p> <p>Part of dead-hedging is jumping up and down on top of the laid branches when they’re at a certain height. Cathy and I held hands and pogo-ed up and down together. Later, I realised that over the years <a href="">I’ve frequently bounced up and down at our events!</a></p> <p>Just because you’re over 50 doesn’t mean you’ve got no bounce! Or that you can’t learn a new practical skill in the course of a morning in a congenial atmosphere with fellow reskilling dead-hedgers.</p> <p><img alt="Image3840 lowres" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1523" height="225" src="" width="300" /><br />For more information on Sustainable Bungay’s NR35 Natural Resources group, see <a href="">here</a>.<br /><i><br /></i><i>All images by Mark Watson: Hammering in the staggered stakes; building the hedge from the bottom up; bird’s nest; receptive and quick to learn; the finished dead-hedge; bouncing up and down on the hedge</i></p> <p><span><b>Originally posted on <a href="">Sustainable Bungay's website</a> 10th May 2013</b></span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 10 May 2013 23:01:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31562 at Welcome to the new summer edition! <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a data-mce-href="" href=""><img alt="TFP_Issue2_Summer2013_Frontcover" class="size-medium wp-image-1165 alignright" data-mce-src="" height="300" src="" width="227" /></a></div> <p>On Wednesday, May 1, the new national Transition Free Press published its <b><a data-mce-href="" href="">on-line summer edition</a>&nbsp; - </b>24 pages of full-on, full colour news and views. Great photographs, great articles, contributed by Transitioners and community activists working in the field.</p> <p>These are stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary stuff in all kinds of places: in the city, in the wild, in books, housing co-ops, small businesses, in the park, down the pub, on the (solar- panelled) roof, underwater, even on the netball court. We're in Greece, Spain, France and Portugal; we're in Sheffield, Louth, Crystal Palace and Lostwithiel. We're also in Norwich, on sale at The Greenhouse and at events and hubs including Norwich FarmShare and this weekend's <a href="">May Day Fair in Chapelfield Gardens.</a></p> <p><a data-mce-href="" href=""><img alt="twodamsels" class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-1210" data-mce-src="" height="113" src="" width="200" /></a>Our on-line version, of course, goes everywhere and anywhere, but we feel<b> there is nothing <i>quite</i> like the real thing</b>. So if you can't put your hands on the physical paper locally, you can always <b><a data-mce-href="" href="">subscribe for a year </a></b>and receive your copy through the post.</p> <div class="separator"><a data-mce-href="" href=""><img alt="???????????????????" class="wp-image-1203 alignleft" data-mce-src="" height="72" src="" width="200" /></a></div> <p>During the next few weeks we will be publishing some of this edition's highlights on theTransition Free Press website. Meanwhile here is the introduction to give you a taste.<br /> <h2>Welcome to issue two</h2> </p><p>Energy underpins everything we do in our industrialised societies. The high demand for gas, oil, coal or bio-fuels, as our front page story shows, is now costing the earth on which we depend for life. How we face this dilemma and reduce our need for power is the work of the Transition movement and thousands of community activists around the world.</p> <p>Most of us are invisible. But, like mycorrhizzal fungi in the living soil, we are connecting and communicating across the globe, <b>working to bring about a future where people can live fairly within ecological limits</b>. In our summer edition we publish stories you might not ordinarily see – actions communities undertake to bring back life into neighbourhoods, to activate soils that have been deadened and contaminated, to create new networks that can hold us together in challenging times. An infrastructure you can feel but not always see.</p> <p><a data-mce-href="" href=""><img alt="944493_648593525166742_1174153410_n" class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-1205" data-mce-src="" height="300" src="" width="241" /></a>The proposed Keystone XL pipeline threatens to bring toxic crude oil through the heartland of America. Ancient trees fall to make a by-pass in a peaceful valley in Sussex. In response people rise up and take on mighty corporations and rapacious stakeholders. Sometimes that might is challenged. <i>We won!</i> wrote TFP columnist, Shaun Chamberlin, as the Ecological Land Co-operative finally secured planning permission for a smallholding in Devon. For a Goliath culture whose top-down business-as-usual worldview requires everyone’s assent, this may appear a small victory. But&nbsp; each time we voice our dissent, each time we reclaim our fields, we realise we are not alone in our task.</p> <p><b>Why to do we tell these stories?</b> Because they are sparks that light a great fire inside us. Because another culture is being forged under our feet. In an abandoned warehouse in Doncaster people gather on a freezing night by a furnace to listen to a new narrative being told, along the River Dart&nbsp; a group of children and elders go on a story walk in search of the future. A sunflower garden appears in a neighbourhood in Portalegre. An artist plants 100 fruit trees in a university in Loughborough. In the cities everywhere, leaves appear through the cracks and are gathered by foragers. A dominant worldview does not mean we do not have agency.</p> <p><a data-mce-href="" href=""><img alt="girassol" class="wp-image-1208 alignright" data-mce-src="" height="189" src="" width="189" /></a>What we are not told is that <b>there is an emergent world inside us</b>. You can find it everywhere where there is warmth and generosity and a co-operative spirit: in community cafes, park libraries, pop-up shops, trade schools, abundance projects, repair cafes, people’s kitchens. It comes in all the colours of the rainbow, it sounds like the nightingale singing in the dark in May. For all people who sing in the dark, who stand by the land, the bird and the tree, who hold the fire until the dawn comes, this paper is for you.</p> <p><i>Charlotte Du Cann, Editor</i></p> <p><a data-mce-href="" href=""><img alt="936933_10151603564244935_833123159_n" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-1217" data-mce-src="" height="241" src="" width="156" /></a><b></b><i>Images:<i>&nbsp;artist and activist, Anne-Marie Culhane (People);</i> Bee-friendly plants from the <a data-mce-href="" href="">Honeyscribe project</a> by Amy Shelton (Living Earth);&nbsp;<a data-mce-href=";set=a.293872007305564.89304.138121286213971&amp;type=1&amp;theater" href=";set=a.293872007305564.89304.138121286213971&amp;type=1&amp;theater">Oil Change International poster</a> (News); sunflower from neighbourhood garden in Portalegre&nbsp; (Profile); <a data-mce-href="" href="">TFP button </a>by Trucie Mitchell and Chris Wells</i></p> <p><b><a data-mce-href="" href="">To subscribe for a year click here</a>&nbsp; </b><i>&nbsp;</i><br /><i><br /></i><b><a data-mce-href="" href="">To order a bundle of Transition Free Press</a> contact <a href=""></a> </b><b><br /> </b></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" 0="a:3:{s:6:&quot;target&quot;;s:6:&quot;_blank&quot;;s:3:&quot;rel&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;s:5:&quot;class&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;}" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Sat, 04 May 2013 08:53:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31452 at Let's Keep the Seeds Real... and introducing Huauzontle <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><i><b>UPDATE 7th May:</b> Due to hard lobbying and hundreds of thousand of people writing and sending emails in objection to the EU's "Plant Reproductive Material Law" (see below) some significant last-minute changes were written in the night before the law was presented yesterday (6th May).</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>These changes mitigated some of the law's more dire potential effects for seed savers and growers: "We must [however] remain vigilant to be sure it is not changed for the worse as it goes through the EU, and then is translated into UK laws."</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>Read The Real Seed Catalogue's update here:&nbsp;</i><i><a href=""><b></b></a></i></p> <p><a href=""><br /><img alt="Chenopodium_berlandieri_NPS-1" class="size-medium wp-image-1501 aligncenter" height="300" src="" width="225" /></a><br />Growing plants, particularly for food, and particularly in community, is a big part of the Transition experience and ethos. Many people in transition are active permaculturists. At the very least, most of us want to eat plants grown organically from good seed.</p> <p>There are Seedy Saturdays and CSAs, and there's the joy of our Give and Grow events, where we swap both flower and vegetable seeds and produce.</p> <p>Not only do we enjoy sowing it, saving it and exchanging it with each other, if we're to build any sort of resilience as we face an uncertain future, knowing how to grow our own food from a rich biodiversity will be vital.</p> <p>I love swapping plants with people, whether for flowers, food or medicine. And I consider the free exchange of plants as a birthright for anybody born on this planet. It's certainly not something we should be dictated to about by seed corporations.</p> <div class="western">So when I was checking out The Real Seed Catalogue's website for the <i>Huauzontle</i> seeds I'm writing about here, and I found this:</div> <div class="western"></div> <div class="western"><span><span><a href="">URGENT CALL FOR ACTION - NEW EU SEED LAW to ban all traditional vegetable varieties unless registered and licensed!</a></span></span><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span> <p>I felt I had to share it.</p></div> <div class="western"><span><span><br /></span></span></div> <div class="western"><span><span><i><span><span>The law will be presented at the EU&nbsp;</span></span></i><i><span><span><b>in one week&nbsp;</b></span></span></i><i><span><span>on&nbsp;</span></span></i><i><span><span><b>6th May</b></span></span></i><i><span><span>&nbsp;so do read and respond and let's make sure that great places like&nbsp;</span></span></i><i><a href=""><span><span><b>The Real Seed Catalogue</b></span></span></a></i></span><i><span><span><span>&nbsp;can continue their business. This is from their website</span>:</span></span></i></span></div> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><p>You'll find no F1 hybrids or genetically modified seed here - just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown by hand on a garden scale. The name of the catalogue reflects what we are working to provide:&nbsp;real&nbsp;seeds for&nbsp;real&nbsp;gardeners wanting to grow&nbsp;proper&nbsp;vegetables. Many are rare heirlooms, and because all are open-pollinated (non-hybrid) , you can save your own seed for future years, using the instructions we supply. There's no need to buy new seed every year!</p></blockquote> <div><b></b></div> <div>You can't get better than that! </div> <div><a href=""><img alt="Huauzontle" class=" wp-image-1500 alignright" height="173" src="" width="189" /></a><b>Introducing HUAUZONTLE.&nbsp;</b>I haven't grown this plant - yet. I hadn't heard of it until a few days ago when I spoke to Rose in Bungay and she offered me some seeds. Rose is an ex-farmer and experienced grower who was influential in the sowing of a bee-friendly wildflower meadow with Bungay Community Bees two years ago. When she told me she had some Aztec broccoli seeds from the Real Seed Catalogue, my ears pricked up! <p>I wondered whether there was an Aztec name for it and discovered it was <a href="">Huauzontle</a>, an ancient and domesticated crop in the Americas, still cultivated but, like Fat Hen here (another Chenopodium), mainly considered a weed.</p></div> <div></div> <p>I've been planning a 'Mexican garden' this year (not so difficult - many of our favourite plants, vegetables and grains are natives of Mexico from sunflowers to corn). Several seeds of <b><a href=""><i>Cempoalxochitl</i></a></b> have already sprouted, though I don't know if they will come true to the 'wild' Oaxaca form of <i>Tagetes erecta</i> I was carefully cultivating over the years, as at some point it got mixed with a yellow one from down the road, threatening to become a 'wildivated' Reydon form!</p> <p>I have some Mexican Cigar plant&nbsp;given to me from Jenni in Bungay, and Toronjil (<i>Agastache mexicana</i>) and I've sown purple sunflower seeds, too. As well as Wild&nbsp;and Jasmine Tobaccos.</p> <p>Then there''s&nbsp;<i>Epazote</i>&nbsp;(<i>epazotl</i>&nbsp;in Nahuatl, which translates as skunk sweat or filth, no less!), aka Mexican Tea or Wormseed. Skunk or no, Mexican bean dishes are just not the same without them.</p> <p>I got mine last year from <b><a href="">Dave Wrenn at Orchard End Organics in Kirstead</a></b>&nbsp;(who has GREAT organic and biodynamic herbs!) and saved the seeds. They just germinated this weekend. Oh, and I must remember the chilis and tomatoes (<i>tomatl</i>). Though of course no&nbsp;<i>chocolatl</i>! Too hard to grow here.</p> <p><span><a href="">This post on Huauzontle</a>&nbsp;</span>from Zester Daily based in Southern California, really made my mouth water! I must get those seeds from Rose...</p> <p>And don't forget to read and respond to the&nbsp;<i><a href="">URGENT CALL FOR ACTION - NEW EU SEED LAW to ban all traditional vegetable varieties unless registered and</a><a href="">&nbsp;licensed</a>. </i>Let's keep the seeds real. Let's keep supporting people like The Real Seed Catalogue and Orchard End Herbs. Let's keep growing and giving!</p> <p><i>STOP PRESS: Just saw on the Transition Bungay googlegroup</i><i>&nbsp;from Kris</i><i>&nbsp;that Avaaz have also set up a campaign objecting to the proposed EU seed legislation:&nbsp;</i><b><a href="">We don't accept this. Let us keep our seeds EU!</a></b></p> <p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="" width="240" /></a></div> </p><p><i>Images:</i><i>&nbsp;<a href="">Huauzontle by Jim Pisarowicz</a>&nbsp;(Wikipedia);</i><i>&nbsp;Ready to cook,&nbsp;<a href="">Huauzontle by&nbsp;Pabs004</a>&nbsp;(Wikipedia);&nbsp;Open source, open pollination, it's always a bit of a Mexican Garden here, incl. Epazote &amp; Sunflowers, late summer 2012 by Mark Watson</i><br /><i><br /></i><span>Post adapted from Huauzontle - Let's Grow from Real Seeds, first published&nbsp;on <a href="">Mark in Flowers</a>&nbsp;blog Fri 26th April 2013</span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 08:58:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31373 at doing the spring shift <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="" width="240" /></a></div> <p>There it goes again. Booooooooom! 4am, April 20. Bang on time. The bittern is back in the marshes. Gotta be spring out there, right? And yes, finally it is: bursting out of its cherry-plum celandine and alexander seams. I've been tracking it since we went to the woods down at Dunwich in March. First the honeysuckle, then the foxglove, then the odd blue veronica winking along the curb. We checked out wild daffodils on the tumulus and goat willow at East Hill and they were finally in their splendour. I saw my first bumblebee and first butterfly (tortoiseshell) and sat barefoot on the doorstep, prepping veg, face in the sun.</p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="200" src="" width="150" /></a>You think it means nothing a shift of season, but after this long, dark and bitter winter Spring feels like a reprieve. We're warm for the first time in months and a feeling of lightness and happiness is flooding the house. At our first Sustainable Bungay wellbeing walk a crew of us walked around Bungay on the first really great sunny day of the year, mapping the streets and green spaces. We met at the community garden and everyone shared their favourite places, the edges of carparks and rivers, the commons, certain streets, trees and&nbsp; houses.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>We set off to visit the now community-owned, Falcon Meadow and&nbsp; the wonky colourful Bridge Street, once the main thoroughfare and site of the Halloween pumpkin festival. We exchanged our experiences and memories, knowledge about birds, trees, history, delighted at the texture of place - brick, flint, faded wood - the river, alleyways, benches, footpaths, the pattern language of our town and finally ended up at Bungay Tea Rooms, everyone's favourite cafe, where we sat in the garden with tea and chips.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="150" src="" width="200" /></a></div> <p>The sun shone gloriously. We felt good. Not just in ourselves, but with each other. Life was harder for all of us, but treasuring the day and this town we share made it seem all right. We mapped out the walks we are going to do this summer too, including swimming down the river Waveney and holding our annual picnic by the shore. And then Mark and I did a <i>manita de gata</i> (cat's paw) tidy of the community garden and delighted in all the green shoots of the herbs and plants that made it through the dark and cold.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>Right now in the garden under the budding greengage tree, the coldwater champion of England and fearless Transitioner, Lucy Neal, has established her caravan. We have begun work on the book, <i>Playing for Time</i> and each week over the summer she is coming to stay for three days and we are hammering out the Work in the tiny crucible. Here I am sorting out the hexagonal sections that make up the centre of the book: contributions from the artists, writers and practitioners who gathered at Lumb Bank. Lucy recently wrote about our experiences on the Arts Council blog here:<br /><span><br /></span><span><span><span class="ecxApple-style-span"><a href="" target="_blank"><span class="ecxApple-style-span"></span></a></span><span class="ecxApple-style-span">&nbsp;</span></span> </span></p> <p>This week we are looking at each of those sections, starting with one that matters more than anything . . </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="300" src="" width="400" /></a></div> <p><i>Images: honeysuckle and foxglove in Dunwich Wood, March; arts, culture and wellbeing walk en route to Falcon Meadow, April; in Lucy's caravan; message to Mark at the wild daffodil tumulus!</i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" 0="a:3:{s:6:&quot;target&quot;;s:6:&quot;_blank&quot;;s:3:&quot;rel&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;s:5:&quot;class&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;}" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 06:55:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31291 at Happy Mondays through the Window <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sustainable Bungay's Happy Monday at the Community Kitchen has been preparing from scratch and serving up delicious meals for 50 people every month for almost two years now, with the focus on locally-sourced ingredients and community engagement. And there's also the flowers... </i></p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="" /></a>Nineteen degrees! That was the temperature on Monday (15th April) late afternoon in Bungay as I dropped Charlotte off at the Community Centre where she was co-cooking the April meal as part of <a href=""><b>Sustainable Bungay’s Happy Monday</b></a> crew. The highest in a very low temperature year so far. T-shirts? Outside? For months I’ve only known T-shirts as the bottom layer of several (and that’s been in bed!). </p> <p>I was down for meeting and greeting people as they came in for the meal and had a couple of hours to spare, so I wandered round the back of the building and found the remnants of a garden there. Packed with tansy (I must make that old recipe, tansy pudding, one spring) and the odd fennel and lamb’s ear, and loads of red deadnettle, it was the kind of place I love, a bit of a wasteground, a bit of a garden. </p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="" /></a>I moved some of the rubbish and cleaned up a few discarded plastic jugs and containers. They might come in handy sometime. </p> <p>Then I looked up, and through a window I saw the kitchen crew in the midst of preparation (it’s quite an intense experience in that Happy Monday’s kitchen, making a 2-course, multi-dish meal for 50 people from scratch in two and three quarter hours). </p> <p>The menu this month was: barley and beetroot risotto, black badger peas with sundried tomato and preserved lemons, grated carrot and mustard salad and stuffed portobello mushrooms with a nettle pesto. The dessert was a chocolate crunch base topped with soaked prunes, Greek yoghurt and garnished with a sweet violet. It was delicious! And all for a fiver! </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="212" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>Through the window in the picture at the top you can see Margaret. Though she didn’t see me at first! Each month for Happy Monday, Margaret makes sure the tables are decked with flowers and greenery and always puts on a lovely show along with the help of one or two other people. </p> <p>Yesterday she’d brought ivy, sweet violets (which also adorned the dessert), forsythias and daffodils to set the scene and we talked about everything being so late this year. </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="" /></a></div> <p>I told Margaret I’d planted some seeds from a cut flower I picked up from a roadside stall last September and they were the first to sprout of the ones I’d sown so far. The plant is a China aster called ‘Hulk’ (<i>Callistephus chinensis ‘Hulk’</i>) – I found that out by poring over the Chiltern Seeds 2012 catalogue from the beginning, looking at everything under <i>Asteraceae</i>). Luckily I only needed to go as far as ‘C’. </p> <p>Margaret said she’d like to find some spare land, maybe part of an allotment that’s not being used, to grow flowers specially for Happy Mondays. Do contact us if you know of any. Meanwhile I’ve promised her to plant some of those ‘Hulks’. </p> <p>“Do bees like them,” Margaret asked. “I’m trying to only sow bee-friendly plants.” </p> <p>“Funny you should say that,” I replied. “I just found <b><a href="">this picture</a></b> of the Hulk on Flickr by someone called Viveka in Sweden. There’s both a bee and a hoverfly on the flowers. The picture below is of the original roadside stall bunch from last September, with the Hulk on the bottom right accompanied by dahlias, chrysanths and perennial sunflowers. The green ‘ray florets’ are actually leaves. </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="" /></a></div> <p><i>Images and text by Mark Watson and Josiah Meldrum: Happy Mondays through the Window, April 2013 (MW); Washing discarded plastic jugs for reuse (MW); Chocolate crunch with prunes, yoghurt and violets (JM); Violets, Forsythia and Ivy – Margaret’s flower display for April’s Happy Monday (MW); Roadside stall flowers from Suffolk, September 2012 (MW)</i></p> <p>NB: All text and pics subject to Creative Commons with Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives license </p> <p><i>This (amended and expanded) post first appeared on <a href="">Mark in Flowers</a> on 16th April 2013</i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 12:38:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31256 at From the Mourning of the World to Happy Mondays <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="211" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <div class="MsoNormal"></div> <div class="western"><span><span lang="en-US">This year I'm co-curating one of the stages at the&nbsp;<a href="">Uncivilis</a><a href="">ation Festival</a>. All manner of poetry, prose and performance will take place on the Woodland Stage, as well as workshops in the woods (programme to appear soon!) When night falls and the fires are lit, the musicians will take over.&nbsp;Amongst them will be singer Marmaduke Dando, who this year has compiled an album</span></span><span>&nbsp;of some of&nbsp;</span><span><span lang="en-US">wild and uncivilised music associated with the Dark Mountain Project.</span></span></div> <div class="western"><span><br /><span lang="en-US"><i>From the Mourning</i></span><span lang="en-US">&nbsp;</span><span lang="en-US"><i>of the World</i></span><span lang="en-US">&nbsp;features an alternate version of&nbsp;</span><span lang="en-US"><i>Caesar</i></span><span lang="en-US">, recorded specially for the album&nbsp;by&nbsp;Chris Wood, as well as celebrated artists such as Jon Boden,&nbsp;Chris T-T&nbsp;and&nbsp;Bethia Beadman&nbsp;(whose track is a duet with&nbsp;REM’s Mike Mills).</span>&nbsp;</span></div> <div class="western"><span><br /><span lang="en-US">Like many creative grassroot projects,</span>&nbsp;Dark Mountain funds its&nbsp;annual anthology&nbsp;by crowdsourcing&nbsp;- a kind of&nbsp;community-supported publishing. You order a book (or in this case an LP) by&nbsp;pre-ording a copy, and this in turn pays for the production. Following the trend and in the spirit of celebrating the beautiful and the physicial, <i>From the Mourning of the World</i> will be a 12” double-gatefold vinyl album, with a cover by the wonderful Rima Staines. Check out the crowdfunding page here:</span></div> <div class="western"><span><br /><a href=""></a></span></div> <div class="western"><span><br />I'm planning to give a workshop on Earth Dreaming at Unciv this year, and there will be more&nbsp;about this and other creative Transition projects during 2013, from Playing for Time to the new Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group. But right now I've got to proof the upcoming&nbsp;<a href="">second issue of Transition Free Press</a>&nbsp;and go make nettle pesto and beetroot risotto for our&nbsp;<a href="">April Happy Mondays</a>&nbsp;at the Community Kitchen. Stay tuned!</span></div> <p></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 08:31:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31160 at Considering Transition community events as cultural and creative acts <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="150" src="" width="200" /></a></div> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"></a> <span><span><i>Last month as part of the Playing for Time project, a convergence of artists, theatre makers, writers and tutors met at Lumb Bank, the Arvon Foundation's centre in South Yorkshire.&nbsp;</i><span><i>We were collecting material that will form the core of the book - the practices and projects of community-led creative action. To help shape the week and to introduce Transition, I mapped out the following events in the light of the work.</i></span></span></span><b><span> </span></b><br /> <div class="MsoNormal"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><b><span><span><span>The invitation</span></span></span></b></div> <div class="MsoNormal"></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Dear contributors to <i>Playing for Time,</i></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>I am writing a few notes on three Transition events, so you might consider your own projects and practices in the light of <a href="">one very ordinary Transition initiative.</a></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>If you don’t know much about the Transition movement, this is one way of looking at it in action. Every initiative differs according to its town or bio-region, but all of us work from the same premise: to help create resilient communities that can adapt to the shocks of climate change, peak oil and economic downturn. In many ways we are working in preparation for hard times ahead - creating a low-energy future that people might want to live in, rather than fear. And one, for sure, where none of us feels on our own.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>I have included links to blog posts about these three events if you would like to check them out later (no pressure!)</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Looking forward to working with you all this week.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Best wishes,</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Charlotte</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><i><span>Editor</span></i></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><span><b>Who we are</b></span></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"> <div class="separator"><span><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="" width="320" /></a></span></div> <p><span><br /></span><span><span>Sustainable Bungay is based in a small market town in Suffolk, in the Waveney Valley. We are unfunded and without any formal links to any organisation, or public arts body. None of the people taking part in this initiative would consider themselves artists, or these events we put on as art forms; yet thinking about creative collaboration within the context of<i> Playing for Time,</i> everything we do has strong creative base. We are deliberately forging a new culture for a new time, a culture not made up of operas or fine wine or complex poetry. </span></span></p></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Our work comes from necessity, rather than theory: it’s grassroots, vernacular, based on gatherings, rooted in time and place. It doesn’t have a hero writer or diva centre stage, with an audience gazing passively upward, but takes place in a room full of participants, with an organising, often invisible, core. Everyone belongs in this space and time. Everyone has a voice.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>In Bungay we all bring something to share and we all take turns. Our events are organised by one to five people and everything else self-organises. We don’t do visionings or have strategies. Most of us learn on the job. None of us are rich or influential.&nbsp;</span></span></div></p> <p><span><span>We have a core group of 15-20 people with several sub-groups, who have been working together for five years, producing a regular monthly programme of talks, walks, workshops, film showings etc. that are open to all the community to attend. These include a twice-yearly Give and Take Day, monthly Green Drinks, and seasonal celebrations, such as summer picnics and seed, plant and produce swaps. Our activities are based around the local library where we built and maintain a community permaculture garden, and hold many of our meetings.</span></span> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>All these events were photographed and written up afterwards in a series of blogposts. Keeping a record is part of our communications work.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><span><b>The events</b></span></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="" width="240" /></a><a href=""><span>HAPPY MONDAYS at the COMMUNITY KITCHEN: Mexican Fiesta, September 2012</span></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span><span><span>Monthly meal for 50 people, cooked from scratch using local, seasonal and mostly organic produce. £5</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><b>Crew:</b>16 (5 cooks, 2 front of house, 3 servers, 3 set-up/flowers, 3 washers up)</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><b>Venue:</b> local community centre</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><br /></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>All of our meals have a theme and sometimes this is a country. Last September I directed a meal, based on Mexico (where I once lived) that took place just after Mexican Independence Day. Most of the food was locally sourced, including several kinds of chilli. Our maize, onions and runner beans were from a<span>&nbsp; </span>local allotment, blackberries from the common, Mexican sunflowers and cosmos from local gardens.&nbsp;</span></span><br /><span><br /></span><span><span>Our Abundance table was truly abundant, filled with Indian summer sweet corn and chilli plants, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, apples, garlic etc. Mexico is a great place for convivial gatherings, and this was the theme of my short talk between courses, as well as Beans and their place in a low-carbon diet. We also had a Spanish-singing Transition a capella crew, singing the mariachi standard, <i>Cielito Lindo.</i></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>All simple stuff. Yet it’s this attention to detail and celebration of ordinary and beautiful things at your feet and working alongside your fellows that makes such events joyful and satisfying in a way a Hollywood movie never can be.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><a href="">BUNGAY BEEHIVE DAY July 2012</a></span></span><br /><span><br /></span></div> <div class="separator"><span><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="" width="320" /></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><a href=""><span><br /></span></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>A daylong “celebration of the honeybee and the flowers they love”, as part of the town’s annual festival, held at Castle Meadow (one of the town commons). Free. </span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><b><span>Crew</span></b><span>: 16<span>&nbsp; </span>(one event manager, one stalls manager, 3 cafe organisers, 10 set up and breakdown/stall keepers, one grower of bee-friendly plants)</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><b><span>Activities:</span></b><span> stalls, workshops, plant walk, film, talks, cafe, children’s corner</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><b><span>Venue</span></b><span>: festival marquee, under the trees and around town</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><br /></span></span><span><span>The Bungay Beehive Day is organised by members of Bungay Community Bees - the first community-supported apiculture in the UK. The group keep community hives in different gardens and orchards around the town, teach children about bees, give talks about pollinators to local groups, work with a local nursery to promote bee-friendly plants, build their own top-bar hives, train beekeepers and have bee-related events.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Beehive Day invites several speakers, ranging from the professional (Heidi from the Natural Beekeeping Trust) and amateur<span>&nbsp;</span>(Philip, ex-surgeon and local bumblebee “expert”) to local beekeeping groups and the day includes discussions, a film and readings. The stalls sell honey and organic plants, have demonstration hives, info about pesticides etc. and there is a honey cake competition and a bee-flower walk around the town.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><br /></span></span><span><span>Beehive Day is visited by between 600-800 people, and like other SB events, is self-funded.</span></span><br /><span><span><br /></span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>BCB also grow their own stock of bee-loving plants and have planted a wild flower meadow, with a local landowner, as part of a “River of Flowers” project around the town. </span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="separator"><span><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="" width="240" /></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><a href=""><span>PLANTS FOR LIFE 2012</span></a></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>A series of knowledge. skill-share and reconnection with nature events, based around a Herbs for Resilience plant medicine bed at the local library. Donations.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><b><span>Crew:</span></b><span> 2 (organiser and event manager)</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><b><span>Venue</span></b><span>: community library and courtyard garden</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>Each year the Library community garden central bed has a different theme and is curated by a different member of the group. In 2010 this was Plants for Bees and Butterflies, this year The Edible Garden. In 2012 the bed was abundant with wild and garden medicine plants, from a huge burdock to stands of tiny thyme flowers.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span><br /></span></span><span><span>Each month between eight and forty people came for a talk, walk or workshop on the theme of plants as medicine. Each Plants for Life session featured a guest ‘plant person’ speaker and included medical and lay herbalists, authors, organic and biodynamic growers, and home winemakers.</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>“We looked at the medicine under the ground as we connected with our roots in January, learned growing tips in February, adopted a herb to focus on for the year in March, walked with weeds in April, heard about hedgerow medicine in May, made midsummer wildflower oils in June, went on a bee and flower walk in July, had our world shaken by 52 flowers in August, made autumn tonic tinctures in September, medicinal wines in October and French tisanes in November.” (Mark Watson)</span></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><br /></span></div> <div class="MsoNormal"><span><span>We tasted, talked, foraged, shared tips and teas and exchanged seeds. Transition medicine is as much about plant knowledge and maintaining well-being, as it is about getting in synch with the living systems - not as a solitary practice but as a communal one. <span>&nbsp;</span></span></span><br /><span><br /></span><span><span><span><i>Images: creatures made from clay behind our backs - workshop led by Julia Roundtree (Clayground) at Lumb Bank ; Sustainable Bungay crew with van, Give and Take Day, 2012;&nbsp; Abundance table at Mexican Fiesta, Happy Mondays, Sept 2012; bees in one of Bungay Community Bees top bar hives; poster for Plants for Life, Oct 2012</i></span></span></span></div> </p><div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 06:59:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 31068 at Workshops - From Sheds and Swarfega to Hot Beds and Gemütlichkeit <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"></div> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="" border="0" src="" title="Shed Made from 100% recovered materials in 2008 by my Dad, Richard Watson" /></a>When I was growing up workshop meant the shed out the back where <a href=""><b>my Dad repaired</b></a> wind instruments and fashioned our kitchen cupboards from scrap wood and old insulator crates from the railway. Where the tools were well-kept and tidy and there was a smell of swarfega.</p> <p>I wasn't terribly interested in kitchen cupboards or wind instruments. That was just what Dad did in the shed. This was the 70s and a whole generation of us were 'learning' that what you think you can do with your mind is far superior to what you might actually do with your hands. The theoretical had begun lording it over the practical big time. Of course I wouldn't have put it like that then. </p> <p>There are consequences. I wouldn't know where to begin to fashion any cupboard, kitchen or otherwise, though the ones my Dad made remain firm in my memory. The strange thing is, that I was probably in my thirties before I realised I was actually pretty practical. Had I paid some more attention I could have learned a few very useful tricks from my Dad. But the world was young and so was I and though we were by no means wealthy by UK standards, there was OIL, and CHEAP TRANSPORT and you could GET A GRANT and go to study languages. So I did.</p> <p>In the concept I have of workshops today the shed has given way to a room in a civic centre or hotel, the tools are far more abstract and you wash your hands with soap. In time the shed is years, the room is a weekend. </p> <p>And how many workshops now have anything to do with work? Mainstream culture is so focused on leisure and entertainment, we could really call a lot of them leisureshops. </p> <p>Yet there is much to be said for the weekend, day or even half-day 'workshop', where people teach and learn skills which could prove invaluable as the party really starts to be over and meeting up with one another may be more to do with necessity than entertainment. And this is something transition really encourages and makes space for. We learn to value the skills we have and how to share them with others, whether they be foodgrowing, repairing, communications, minute-taking, organising meetings or the ability to work with all sorts of different people. </p> <p>Throughout my five-year involvement in transition, I've attended workshops and classes and joined in with all sorts of things I'd never have imagined before, from Sustainable Bungay's <b><a href="">Introduction to Permaculture</a></b> (weekend) course with Graham Burnett, to the <b><a href="/stories/mark-watson/2012-09/humans-flying-walking-backwards-future-and-dipping-our-feet-lido">Transition Town Anywhere</a></b> group process at the 2012 Transition conference. </p> <p><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="" border="0" height="240" src="" title="Me teaching native plants and their medicine for Transition Belsize&#039;s new Permaculture garden at the Royal Free Hospital, North London, May 2012" width="320" /></a>I also do my share of teaching. My departure point is constant: learning to pay attention to and connect with the living systems of the earth. This I do by introducing people to the wild, native and other plants that grow in the local area and considering them in terms of food, medicine, pollination and as co-habitants of the planet along with ourselves.</p> <p>Throughout the whole of 2012 I organised a series of monthly talks, walks and yes, workshops on the theme of <b><a href="">plants as medicine with Sustainable Bungay</a></b>, as well as curating a plant medicine bed at our library community garden. We learned from guest speakers, authors, growers and herbalists about everything from biodynamic and organic herb growing to how to make (medicinal!) fruit wines. </p> <p>At the end of the year I handed the baton over to Lesley Hartley. An experienced and keen grower, Lesley's focus for the Library Courtyard garden throughout 2013 will be Edible Plants. She is also organising regular workshops from '<b><a href="">Hot Beds and Leafy Greens</a></b>' (who could resist that?) to Edible Bouquets. </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="" border="0" height="320" src="" title="Hot Beds and Leafy Greens workshop poster by Lesley Hartley (Sustainable Bungay) March 2013" width="220" /></a></div> <p>At a recent <b><a href="">Common Room</a></b> event in Norwich, I taught a <b><a href="">Trade School class</a></b> on resilient herbs. It was winter, it was cold, many people had been down with the flu or colds which were taking ages to clear up, and spring seemed a very long way off. We needed something heartwarming to cheer our spirits and keep the circulation going. I would teach the 45 minute workshop/class on rosemary. </p> <p>I also wanted everyone to take at least one thing away from the session they didn't know before they came. Something they would remember about the plant (not too difficult with rosemary as it helps improve memory)! You can read more about the class itself and <b><a href="">what Rosemary did here</a></b>. </p> <p>First though, a pot of rosemary, lavender and thyme tea. What we first needed to establish on that cold day was what in Germany is called <i><b><a href="">Gemütlichkeit</a></b></i>, a general sense of calm, social belonging and 'well-being'. </p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img alt="" border="0" height="240" src="" title="Teaching the properties of Rosemary at the Common Room in Norwich, February 2013" width="320" /></a></div> <p>I don't know if it's possible to teach that explicitly in a workshop. But the innate value of such a collective 'mood' or 'temper' seems just as important as the more obviously practical teachings, especially in times where there is less of everything and we need to work together, shop less and share more. </p> <p>Times that are not the 70s, where cheap oil is no longer plentiful, and education no longer free. </p> <p><i>Images: Shed Made with 100% recovered materials in 2008 by Richard Watson (my Dad);&nbsp;<b><a href="">Planting Medicine with Transition Belsize</a></b>, May 2012 (MW); Hot Beds and Leafy Greens poster by Lesley Hartley; Rosemary tea for Gemütlichkeit on such a winter's day, February 2012 (CDC)</i></p> <p><span>This post first appeared on the the Social Reporting project on the Transition Network site on Friday 29th March 2013</span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:09:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 30955 at We Can Work It Out <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="people baking at sunrise" border="0" class="float-right" src="/sites/" style=" right;" height="225" title="people baking at sunrise" width="300" /></a>“So, do you teach people to cook?” asked the journalist from Delicious magazine.</p> <p>“Not exactly." I said. “It’s more of an absorption thing, working as a crew and learning on the job.” She had come to interview Sustainable Bungay about<a data-mce-href="" href="">&nbsp;Happy Mondays and the Community Kitchen</a>&nbsp;for an article about community food projects alongside the Dunbar Bakery and Norwich FarmShare.</p> <p>So I tried to explain how it is in Transition that a lot of the learning and teaching we do is not that formal. As we sat by Nick’s fire with tea and hot cross buns, we talked about skill-share and seed-swaps, plant walks and bee talks, Trade Schools and Green Drinks, it struck me that there was a time when I didn’t know about any of this knowledge-sharing, workshop-giving world either. I didn’t know what a<i>&nbsp;facilitator&nbsp;</i>was, or a<i>&nbsp;go-round</i>, or people who said&nbsp;<i>it is not in my remit</i>, or wave their hands in the air and&nbsp;<i>bring lunch to share.</i>&nbsp;There was a time when&nbsp;<i>checking in</i>&nbsp;had to do with the hotel, rather than a circle of strangers in some dusty church hall.</p> <p>It struck me too that there were two types of class in Transition. One that took the shape of courses and trainings, where you paid money to sit in a room and an expert led you through your paces, often with power point presentations and organised exercises done in small groups. These structured professional events often had organisations behind them and came with workbooks and DVDs attached. The others were more amateur pop-up and hands-on affairs, which could happen anywhere, down at the local library, or at a Tent University in the middle of a city. Usually set up by individuals who were passionate about their subject, quirky, rough in style, but with some very useful hints and insights, that sometimes led to animated conversations afterwards.</p> <p>The Workshop as method exists in both these configurations, and it is the subject of this week on the Social Reporting Project. We’ll be looking at how effective these sessions can be, how they are a core part of Transition culture and what kind of form they take in different initiatives. This is mine.</p> <p>NOT IN MY SKILL SET<br /> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/"><img alt="tin village workshop" border="0" class="float-left" src="/sites/" style=" left;" height="320" title="tin village workshop" width="240" /></a></div> </p><p>A<a data-mce-href="" href="">t Tin Village everyone gives workshops.</a>These are short slots, maybe an hour long. Sometimes they are talk-based head and heart sessions (on politics or ecological campaigning); sometimes skills-based hands sessions (on massage or straw bale building). You talk about your subject and you do some exercises. No one books, no one pays. Your participants move in an out at will. The band is playing outside and there is always somewhere else to go. Holding people’s attention is, as you find out, a key skill you have to learn fast.</p> <p>When we were setting up the Social Reporting Project in 2011, Ed Mitchell and I gave some workshops on community blogging and reportage: one at the Sunrise Festival and another at the Transition Conference in Liverpool. Even though ostensibly you go to workshops to learn something, mostly you go to mix with other people, to experience a different social set-up, to hear a new narrative, to confirm your reality, and above all to enjoy yourself quasi-seriously.</p> <p>We’re social and inquisitive creatures, so we like hanging out with people without being interrogated in a cocktail party, let’s-put-you-in-a-pigeon-hole way: where do you come from, what do you do, where do you live etc. We like doing stuff together: digging gardens, bottling jam, walking around woods, dancing together, without feeling entangled in other people’s fields, or obliged. We like that pop-up, play-at-stuff community networky thing. Now you see me, now you don’t.</p> <p>However a lack of proper engagement can have its drawbacks when you are trying to share real and valuable skills: we are used to behaving like consumers and being entertained. You can't escape that fact at a festival where everyone has come for a good time. We’d hoped to inspire everyone at our Grassroots Media workshop to report on the events there and then. However I learned quickly that no-one wants to&nbsp;<i>work</i>&nbsp;at a festival and that the permaculture garden tours, pizza making and natural housekeeping products tend to do a brisker trade. So the following year in 2012 I wised up. I found that people like a bit of an entertaining talk and one or two practical exercises they can take away, or think about later. So in the spirt of skill share, here they are: <div></div> <div> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/"><img alt="workshop picture" border="0" class="float-right" src="/sites/" style=" right;" height="225" title="workshop picture" width="300" /></a></div> <p>FIVE MINUTE INTERVIEW (Social Reporting workshop, Sunrise Festival/<a data-mce-href="" href="">Liverpool conference 2011</a>) Interviewing people forms the backbone of great journalism. This is a very useful speaking exercise because it allows you to voice out loud and treasure an enterprise you care about and also make it clear for others to grasp (essential reporting/teaching technique). You are being paid full attention to by the interviewer, which is a rare commodity in this world. The interviewer at the same time, has to listen and be interested in what you are saying. Also a rare commodity. Both these acts ground the enterprise in the collective memory of place and time.</p></div> </p><p><b>Method</b>: Everyone turns to the person next to them in the circle, so the group is in pairs. You take turns in the role of the interviewer and the interviewee. The interviewer asks the question:&nbsp;<i>can you tell me about your most successful project?</i>&nbsp;The interviewer asks further questions if necessary, but most of all listens and pays full attention to what is being said. When the time is up (five minutes), you swap places. Finally you go round the circle and everyone feeds back what they have heard about their partner’s project. At Liverpool we extended this exercise to on-the-spot video interviews, which formed part of the media hub reporting.</p> <div> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/"><img alt="transition camp banner" border="0" class="float-left" src="/sites/" style=" left;" height="106" title="transition camp banner" width="300" /></a></div> <p>SPEED PAPER (Grassroots Media/Transition Free Press workshop,&nbsp;<a data-mce-href="" href="">Sunrise Festival 2012)</a>&nbsp;This was a workshop I gave with Venus, activist and poet from Occupy London, about citizen journalism and reporting from direct experience. People who come to comms workshops are often already involved in writing or campaigning in some way, so tend to be articulate about their skills. What we don’t always know is how to pool resources and work co-operatively together to produce something that is exciting and coherent. Speed paper is working quickly with a group to establish key areas of experience, knowledge or passion. And then practicing how to pull stories together and<i>&nbsp;think like an editor.</i>&nbsp;As this is a creative exercise, it has a lot of chaotic elements in it. That’s part of the fun.</p></div> <div><b><br /></b></div> <div><b>Method</b>: go round the circle and ask: if you were on a newspaper what kind of editor or reporter would you be and what key story do you feel should go in our next edition? Give everyone three or four minutes to talk about this. On a large sheet of paper draw out a rough flat plan (squares that signify the pages of a paper) for as many pages as there are subjects. Get everyone to decide which category they are in: news, opinions or features and group together. If people choose the same subject, they can work on the same story, or choose different ones. Start mapping the paper and deciding what stories go where. Open this out as far as you feel there is time and energy, encouraging discussion about stories, ethics, commissioning other people, ideas for photographs etc.</div> <p>One person, preferably the facilitator, should act as ‘editor-in-chief’ here and write the stories down. They should also be in charge of The Deadline (that’s the time in which this exercise takes place). Allow 5-10 minutes at the end for people to feed back on their experiences and to ask questions.</p> <p>IDEAL HOME EXHBITION (Gathering Together day, East Bergholt 2013). This was a workshop I gave as part of a day focussing on co-operative living and intentional communities in East Anglia. Essentially it was about starting up a group, and thinking about ways to establish working and collaborating together in harmony. I have shared houses and am now involved in setting up a coop with Transition Free Press, but have no formal experience in this area. However I have worked collaboratively all my life in the media and on creative projects, so I applied those principles to house-coops and they seemed to work just fine. People really got into those lists! The key thing in workshops is to grab people’s imagination and engagement. Even though you might not learn something academically, you have learned it in a hands-on, people-friendly way and that counts in ways we can’t always see. A lot of the discussion during the day was couched in airy, abstract terms – possibility, compassion, empathy etc – so the purpose behind this exercise was to ground people’s contributions and get a sense of what we held in common. <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/"><img alt="workshop picture" border="0" class="float-right" src="/sites/" height="225" title="workshop picture" width="300" /></a></div> <div><b>Method</b>: Imagine all the people in the group are about to share a house together. Ask for four ‘editors’ in the house to head up four main categories. These of course could be fluid but the ones I chose that day were: People Skills (those we have and lack); Practical Skills (those we have and those we lack); Stuff and Resources (those we bring with us and leave behind); Dealing with Social Pressures (that work for and against co-operation).</div> </p><p>Give the editors four sheets of large paper and a bunch of pens. Ask everyone else to visit each of their departments and help them build a list of what we have between us in the house and what we need/ need to let go of. As the facilitator go round and discuss the contents of the lists with everyone. Afterwards (about 30 minutes) ask the editors to feedback what they have on their list and share to the group.</p> <p>I made up all these exercises in response to the events and places and people present, usually just as I arrived. That’s my nature. I don’t do prep. I sometimes think about a blog days before I write it and then when I put my hands on the keyboard, it’s a completely different piece than the one I imagined. Talks and workshops are like that too. I like work on my feet and have a bit of an edge to the proceedings. Creativity needs uncertainty and throwing everything into play; its best structures come out of chaos. It doesn’t do well with control. These exercises are all based on real experience because, for me, experience is the gold we share with and receive from others. I don’t want to sit round sharing feel-good feelings, or shout out words like<i>&nbsp;hope</i>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<i>surprise</i>&nbsp;into a room. I want to learn how to bottle tomatoes for real, chop wood, dig a trench, listen to a story and run a newspaper. On that Gathering together day a group of 22 people shared over 35 practical skills between them. That’s why I prefer the second workshop approach. When the storm hits, we don't want to be milling around a room and playing games. We want to be all hands on deck and to know the ropes.</p> <p>MASTER TRANSITIONERS<br />At the beginning of Transition Norwich everyone wanted to give a workshop. You couldn’t go to a Heart and Soul meeting without someone announcing they had come to help us with a session (special prices for you Transitioners of course). Eco-psychology workshops, non-violent communication teach-ins, Joanna Macy sessions with wannabe shamans. To be honest it got on my nerves. Couldn’t we just get down to the business of doing Transition and finding out who we were first? We did run some sessions ourselves: on clowning, for example, and authentic movement, where the group offered their own skills and practice. These were mostly about sharing stuff with each other, and we were happy to pay small sums to cover expenses. <div></div> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/"><img alt="workshop picture" border="0" class="float-left" src="/sites/" style=" left;" height="240" title="workshop picture" width="320" /></a></div> <div>Meanwhile the grander and more expensive workshops from outside the city got whole weekends to themselves and a lot of fanfare. Dragon Dreaming! Be the Change! Roll up, roll up. What happened at these sessions? Was anyone outrageously successful? Did anyone change afterwards? None of us found out, as unlike our humbler experiments, the workshops were never reported on in our community blogs. What I did notice was the distinction held between theory and practice. Attending a Transition Training, for example, was considered more important than the experiential knowledge of an initiative. A weekend course carried more weight than two years of challenges, meetings and setting up projects. Looking back almost five years later however, you notice it’s the humbler, practical stuff that has lasted and kept the people together.</div> </p><p>We live in a world where mental abstraction is held to be more important that what happens on the ground. But real stuff and experience is what truly matters, what we need to learn right now, and there are a host of people out there with real skills who are happy to share them. We need in Transition to invite each other in and make each other welcome, whatever our ‘mastery’ is. Comms and media workshops were never really about writing My Perfect Blog. They were about paying attention and listening, reporting what was happening in the real world, making our experience valuable and beautiiful, collaborating with each other when all the world is pulling us apart, so we no longer stay stuck in our silos and control towers, silent, tractable and afraid.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/"><img alt="workshop picture" border="0" class="float-right" src="/sites/" style=" right;" height="67" title="workshop picture" width="320" /></a></div> <p>The grassroots media teachings were all about letting our voices be heard, so a different future could happen from the one commonly broadcast in the mainstream media. The workshops were part of the blueprint for future publications. So a bunch of people could manifest the Social Reporting Project, and Transition Free Press. Gotta manifest stuff for real on this earth, gotta get creating if you want to make a future worth living in. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.</p> <p><span><i>Images: Pizzamaking workshop, Sunrise Festival, 2011; no-dig garden workshop, Sunrise Festival, 2011; workshop on financial instability with Naresh Giangrande and Peter Lipman, Liverpool conference, 2011; talk about medicine plants at Transition Camp, 2011; Transition Free Press open space, Battersea conference, 2012; quick prep before a Plants for Life workshop, Bungay Library, 2012;<a data-mce-href="" href="">&nbsp;Transition Talk Training</a>&nbsp;at Colchester, 2010.</i></span></p> <p><span>First published on the <span><a href="/stories/charlotte-du-cann/2013-03/we-can-work-it-out">Soci</a><span><a href="/stories/charlotte-du-cann/2013-03/we-can-work-it-out">al Reporting project</a> 25th March 2013</span></span></span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" 0="a:3:{s:6:&quot;target&quot;;s:6:&quot;_blank&quot;;s:3:&quot;rel&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;s:5:&quot;class&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;}" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:27:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 30871 at the darkness around us is deep <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a class="colorbox initColorbox-processed cboxElement" href="/sites/" title="flower"><img alt="flower" class="float-right" height="150" src="/sites/" title="flower" width="200" /></a>I am walking towards the statue of Peter Pan. It is a cold grey winter's day in a winter that seems to go on forever. I have followed this path since I was six weeks old, when my parents brought me here to see the bronze statue of the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, the animals playing at his feet and the waterbirds on the Serpentine.</p> <p>I don’t live in London anymore and it must have been years now since I walked past these stone fountains at Lancaster Gate. My parents ashes are scattered among the horse chestnut trees at the water’s edge and I have come to touch base in a hard winter, when it seems my world has come to a grinding halt. Your parents can give you good reasons for being here, so long as you don’t get waylaid by happy family stories and too much psychology. My father was a lawyer but he dreamed of being a travelling writer, my mother was a secretary and a wife, but dreamed of being an artist and living in a community. I have lived out their dreams.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Charlotte in Daffodils" border="0" class="float-left" height="240" src="/sites/" title="Charlotte in Daffodils" width="320" /></a></div> <p>As a consequence I have also gone contrary to the bourgeois creed in which I was raised, betraying my Kensington Gardens upbringing, my class, education and everything about this city that was once my home. Sometimes you could think I had betrayed my parents too. But at a certain depth - the kind of depth that makes sense of everything, even a hard winter, when you lose the capacity to write and have three bouts of flu back to back - you&nbsp; know that following the party line is not what you are doing on the planet at this point in time. Walking away from the party and putting down roots in the real earth is what you are doing, living like a creator, even though it condemns you to skirt like a fox on the edges of everything.</p> <p>I can write this because when I walked down to the statue that day I saw a heron waiting on the dead poplar tree and I heard a mistle thrush singing in the undergrowth. The fishing bird that was my father and the singing bird that was my mother. It was one of those moments where the mystery of life touches you and shakes you to your core. And as I walked across the park I saw there were birds everywhere: parakeets in amongst the London planes, a bevy of swans down by the round pond being fed by children, a crow hopping warily at my feet. And underneath the sweet chestnut trees there were ghosts of wild flowers and long meadow grass that would never have been “allowed” when I was young. This was bird London, wild London. Something coming through the cracks you do not expect.</p> <p>Afterwards I went to join Lucy at the South Bank for a meeting about the book we are working on called<a href="/stories/charlotte-du-cann/2013-01/news-transition-arts-handbook-finds-its-literary-roots-calder"><i> Playing for Time</i></a>. We stood on Waterloo Bridge and Lucy told me how once she organised a huge pyrotechnic show on the river; how many officials behind those grey stern facades she had to negotiate with to allow this fiery theatre to take place. And then she took me to supper at a little Lebanese restaurant in Covent Garden before I caught my train home. Mezes and a glass of rose wine. I haven’t eaten a meal on white tablecloth for a long, long time. It was a big treat. It was a good day.<br /> <h5><span><span>Wellbeing</span></span></h5> </p><p>I am not sure about the word wellbeing. I know about treasuring the good days. I understand destiny, living true to your solar core, aligned with the earth that gives you life. I understand honouring your mother and father, and the hard work of creators, what it takes to bring the fire through and hold it in the dark times. I understand walking out this equinox morning to greet the sun down the frosty lane with Mark. I understand about having a warrior attitude and a medicine attention, about finding your material, undertaking the hard inner work, turning the bad karma of empire and the dross of materialism into some kind gold for the future. But well being as a measure of life?</p> <div class="separator"><a class="colorbox initColorbox-processed cboxElement" href="/sites/" title="On the beach"><img alt="On the beach" class="float-right" height="263" src="/sites/" title="On the beach" width="350" /></a></div> <p>Being at leisure, feeling comfortable, feeling OK about ourselves, like those well-serviced magazine women who do yoga, eat superfoods and find solace in novels? This feels like another kind of consumerism, a convenient barricading out of the hard facts, the reality that nothing we do in this industrialised culture is kind or good. Everything we touch or put in our mouths requires some other being’s suffering: from people, from forests, mountains, animals, fish, children, birds. How can you have wellbeing at the expense of others, without going into denial?</p> <p>I have experienced a state of happiness, a lightness and ease with the world, which comes sometimes out of the blue, like a butterfly: floating like a starfish in the sea, lying under the goat willow on a spring day and hearing the return of the bees, countless mornings in the desert when I&nbsp; lived there, a morning in Venezuela when we woke up and found ourselves in a tropical seatown with the whole day in front of us, a long long road in Arizona edged with sunflowers, a long long beach in California, with sealions in the surf and sanderlings running in and out.</p> <p>So many mornings full of space and light and beauty when I was on the road, when I had money in my pocket and knew nothing about peak oil.<br />How do you have wellbeing in Transition when the moments of white tablecloths are few and the road is no longer open, and 2013 looks unaccountably harder and colder and poorer than 2012? When it has been grey for months on a damp, crowded island, and you have been in bed for weeks? How can you live well in times of unravelling, your own unravelling and the dear earth’s on which all &nbsp;happiness depends?<br /><span><span></span></span><br /> <h5><span><span>Will you be there?</span></span></h5> </p><p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="flower" border="0" class="float-left" height="320" src="/sites/" title="flower" width="240" /></a>Here is a moment I had in Transition: One of the most successful meetings in Transition Norwich in fact in the early days when we were setting up the Heart and Soul, Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group. It was the one and only meeting we had on wellbeing.</p> <p>Among the ten people who came that evening five were working or had worked for the NHS, one was a chemist and two of us knew about medicine plants. Each of us had brought an object to introduce our medicine stories: Mark brought a horse-chestnut tincture, Richard brought a quote from <i>The Glass Bead Game</i> and a small volume on homoeopathy. Alex brought a daisy. He had been at a seminar in the Schumacher Institute when the deep ecologist Arne Naess, then in his eighties, had surprised everyone as he leapt through the window with a daisy in his hands. It was the medicine of vigour, Alex said.</p> <p>What made this meeting vigorous and deep was the reality we brought with us. Suddenly our discussions, which had been abstract workshop encounters, full of spiritual possibility and solace, had allowed our gritty experience of the world into the room. When some of us exchanged opinions about the modern medical system, Angie, who had been a nurse on intensive care for 19 years, said quietly:</p> <p>“I hope when I need to be turned some of you will be there to turn me.”</p> <p>And there was a silence in the small room. As we realised what it would mean for us to take our own health, our lives, into our own hands.<br /> <h5></h5> </p><p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Equinox Sun" border="0" class="float-right" height="150" src="/sites/" title="Equinox Sun" width="200" /></a>We don’t live in a never-never land. We live in a place where we are all going to die. And because all living things die on Earth, change is possible. We have physical limits and the reality of time, and against those limits and time, all our greatness and nobility is tested. As modern people we are no longer initiated into the mysteries of life, where this kind of limit has meaning, and so to get to a realisation of our true path, we need to tap into those moments that come out of nowhere. I understand this as making space to honour the ancestors – the ones who went before – our lineage and making time to greet the sun on an equinox day, to light a fire around which we can gather and listen to each other’s stories. The work of the artist and the writer is to remind the people of those moments, so we do not follow the wrong god home and miss our star. So we set our sails in the right direction. The measure we have is not our personal wellbeing, it is an alignment we hold inside us that can help put a crooked thing straight.</p> <p>We are the ones who carry the fire, even when it looks as if it has gone out. We know how to bury the dead, we know where the medicine plants grow, we know the meaning of dreams, we know how to speak to the officials, so a fiery show can happen on the River Thames, we recognise the bird when it sings, the warrior when he stands by the land. We honour the people who suffer themselves to undergo change, who give their gifts and do not give up. We are in all places, in all rooms. We are Transition. We live in the towns and cities and down the lane. We are here. We are not going anywhere. Because there is nowhere else to go. This is what we remember. This the moment that matters. Right now, right here.</p> <p><i>Photos: the memory of sweet violets; on the tumulus with daffodils; with Beth on the beach;<i> guerilla garden hellebore; equinox sun.</i></i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" 0="a:3:{s:6:&quot;target&quot;;s:6:&quot;_blank&quot;;s:3:&quot;rel&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;s:5:&quot;class&quot;;s:0:&quot;&quot;;}" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 22 Mar 2013 09:16:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 30826 at Well-being and the Community - a local perspective <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Plants for Life Weeds Walk April 2012" border="0" class="float-left" src="/sites/" style=" left;" height="243" width="240" /></a>What makes up community well-being in a time of financial constraints and climate uncertainty? This was the question twenty five people turned up to explore at <a data-mce-href="" href="">Sustainable Bungay</a>'s first&nbsp;<a data-mce-href="" href="">Green Drinks</a>&nbsp;of the new year at the Green Dragon in January. The evening also marked the start of our new&nbsp;Arts, Culture and Well-being sub-group</p> <div class="western">Well-being has been the subject of several recent studies, such as the New Economics Forum's '<a data-mce-href="" href="">Five Ways to Well-being</a>', as well as the focus for many Transition initiatives. We live in a culture based around a market economy, and money and material status (or the lack of it), have become the driving force of most people's lives. </div> <p>But what real good has this done ourselves or the planet? Apart from living in a badly degraded environment, we are as a collective suffering from ill health, depression, loss of identity and lack of connection to nature and other people. And it doesn't seem to be getting any better.</p> <p>For many people (including myself) this winter has felt particularly long, dark and cold, with uncharacteristic feelings of gloom and lowness. When I've spoken to people about it, many have said "Oh, it's not just me then." Then there are those colds and fevers which seem to take weeks to clear up. Something is clearly not okay.</p> <p>What would it mean if our lives, instead of being determined by GDP, were based on our mutual well-being and happiness – not just our personal well-being, but within the communities and neighbourhoods we all share? What would it mean if instead of striving for our own comfort and security, we valued sharing our resources and knowledge? How would our attitudes to each other change, and what kind of changes in the environment would that bring?</p> <p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Hot Beds &amp;amp; leafy Greens poster" border="0" class="float-right" src="/sites/" style=" right;" height="280" width="193" /></a>Much of the work Sustainable Bungay has been doing over the last five years has this co-operative learning at its base - from creating the Community Garden at the Library to hosting <a data-mce-href="" href="">Happy Monday</a> meals at the Community Centre, to organising bicycle rides, sewing circles, Give and Take Days, Bungay Community Bees and the Pig Club. Several of us attended the recent East Anglian <a data-mce-href="" href="">Living Together</a> day about co-ops and intentional communities in East Bergholt, where we found we had over 30 practical skills between us - just in one workshop! As well as sharing these skills, we've learned that working together brings a certain kind of happiness you just can't pay for.</p> <p>For example, you can go and forage for blackberries on the common on your own, but going out together, sharing a picnic and then taking some to the Abundance table or for a Happy Mondays pudding for others to enjoy, makes for a more&nbsp;open and shared&nbsp;experience. This simple activity has all those five ways in it: connection, action, learning, taking notice and giving. Most of all it involves the place we live in and includes the wild spaces we are surrounded by.</p> <p>At our Green Drinks we have focused on the many ways we can reconnect, from learning about <a data-mce-href="" href="">medicine plants</a> to the restoration of the River Waveney. In January the ideas were flowing, as people paired up and asked each other what community well-being meant to them and what creative or practical skills they had they would like to pass on to others.</p> <p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="kORU FITNESS SESSION POSTER" border="0" class="float-left" src="/sites/" style=" left;" height="280" width="201" /></a>A common thread emerged: well-being meant belonging to a place and not feeling on your own. So plans for a wide range of communal activities were mapped out, from walking and exploring the local countryside, river swimming and canoeing, to sharing skills such as food growing, cooking and meditation. Creative workshops were designed, including storytelling, theatre work and body percussion. What also became clear was that well-being is a major factor underlying and motivating Sustainable Bungay's activities.</p> <p>Giving ourselves more time and space to connect with people and the neighbourhood was something people thought was vital and in April we'll begin creating a well-being map of Bungay with a walk around town paying particular attention to what the various public spaces in town feel like to be in.</p> <p>Sustainable Bungay is a busy group. We have always been primarily events-focused and that seems set to continue. But a closer look shows that these events &nbsp;also often provide the space for people to come together for discussions that might not happen ordinarily.</p> <p>For our seventh Give and Take Day last Saturday (16th March).&nbsp;Charlotte set up and facilitated&nbsp;a conversation on the Gift Economy – sharing what we have with others in times of austerity. Over twenty people joined in.&nbsp; Nick spoke about some of the ideas in Charles Eisenstein's Sacred Economics and Jeppe and Vanessa talked about their involvement in setting up the&nbsp;<a data-mce-href="">Common Room in Norwich</a>. This project makes unused or underused public spaces (in this case an old church) available as a 'living room for the community', where people can swap and share skills, knowledge and company with no money exchange involved. </p> <p><a href="/sites/" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Gift Economy discussion at Give and Take Day" border="0" class="float-right" src="/sites/" height="210" width="280" /></a>What was striking about this discussion on a cold, dark, Saturday midday in March in Bungay's (slightly dilapidated) Community Centre, surrounded by the Give and Take tables of household goods, clothes and books, and accompanied by a bowl of Josiah's homemade fava bean and winter root veg soup and Christine's freshly baked bread, was that when time was called after 50 minutes, no one was in any hurry to leave. People were still discussing everything from how to receive a gift and should that leave you feeling obliged&nbsp;to give something back in some way, to how to begin to value ourselves and other people, places, skills and the living planet in a way that is not market-driven or utilitarian.</p> <p>Usually when we think of well-being, it's in terms of personal comfort, and often has medical associations. But what if well-being were really not just a personal matter? What if it also depends on our getting out of our personal enclosures and insistence on everything belonging to some private personal sphere? And into that '<a data-mce-href="" href="">living room for the community</a>' where a conversation can happen about sharing what we have, and we can start to forge different relationships with each other, the places we live in and the planet that gives us life.</p> <p>"I've never experienced such a discussion before," said one visitor. "I could have stayed much longer."</p> <p><i>Images: Plants for Life 2012 weed walk, Bungay; Hot Beds and Leafy Greens poster, March 2013; Koru body percussion poster, March 2013; Gift Economy conversation at SB's 7th Give and Take Day, March 2013</i></p> <p><span>First published on on the <a href="/stories/mark-watson/2013-03/well-being-and-community-local-perspective">Social Reporting project</a> 18th March 2013</span><i><span>.</span></i></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Tue, 19 Mar 2013 10:19:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 30757 at ARCHIVE: All Hail Great Spring! <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="200" src="" width="150" /></a></div> <p><i>I wrote this post two years ago at Spring Equinox at our local hotel (we were off-line in those days). Spring was late that year and may still well be in 2013. However when Mark and I made our annual pilgrimage to Dunwich Woods to sit among the snowdrops and the lilies were as lovely and vibrant as ever. Even though the day was cold and grey, as it had been all February, the new season was still round the corner. Woodpeckers are drumming out the trees, jackdaws eyeing up chimneys, Whatever the weather, the wild flowers are still emerging in their glory.&nbsp;</i></p> <p><i>Gotta remind ourselves of why we are here I said . . . .</i><br /><i>&nbsp;</i> <br /><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5450304340806216722" src="" /></a><br />It seemed like it would never come. For months the land was hard and sere and all my attention seemed to be focussed on getting from place to place, from day to day. Even Malcolm shook his head about the lateness of it, when we went to collect our vegetables. "There’s just no sun," he said. "Nothing is growing." Then today we got up at sunrise and walked down the lane and realised winter had released us. Spring was finally here. The air was soft and vibrant. The earth felt near, as if every branch had come alive, buds ready to burst. We sat beneath an oak and breathed in the morning – blackbird singing high in the boughs, hazels dripping with golden catkins. Tapping of woodpeckers, mew of a buzzard above our heads.</p> <p>After five months of watching the temperature gauge hover around freezing, it had suddenly risen six degrees. Six degrees makes a difference when you are living without central heating. Nine degrees means your bones stop aching, you no longer are terminally attached to your hot bottle, living in a cocoon of cardigans, kindling, soup and hot tea. You are no longer focussed inward, you are looking out towards the horizon, the room is full of unexpected light and air. Coming back from Norwich last week after a hard day’s work the sun burst through the clouds that had enclosed us in a grey helmet it seemed for weeks. The alders shone purple along the riverbanks and in the centre of each ploughed field there crouched a familiar form:</p> <p>"I wonder why are there so many hares", I said to Mark.<br />"It’s March", he replied sanguinely.</p> <p>Late Spring, cold spring. Is this climate change or just English weather?</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5450304109073172962" src="" /></a><br />One thing I know, we normally greet the snowdrops in Dunwich Wood at the beginning of February and this year it was the middle of March. We sat as we always do on a fallen trunk and listened to the soft inrolling sea against the cliffs and the birdsong amongst the yew trees, immersed in the quietude of white flowers.</p> <p>It’s one of those moments you take in with your whole body – eyes, hands, feet, ears. The scent of rain and salt and sweet nectar, the hairiness of bark, the stillness and high vibration of the flowers. Spokesman for the wild places, Edward Abbey once wrote to all the environmentalists who had been inspired by his radical texts (<i>Desert Solitaire</i>, <i>The Monkey Wrench Gang</i>) to take action on behalf of the earth. Take time, he said, to go up in to the mountains and remind yourself why you are putting yourself on the line.</p> <p>It’s good advice because with all the talking about feeding the world and energy reduction, about social change and behaviour change, all those hundreds of emails and newspaper headlines taking up your attention, you can forget why you are in Transition in the first place and what it means to be alive on the earth. In winter, summer or spring.</p> <p>Sometimes I dream of a world where we can walk nobly, without shame, on this planet. It’s a future I hold in my heart, ready, like a leaf, to unfurl:</p> <p><i>Happily with abundant plants may I walk.<br />Happily on a road of pollen may I walk<br />Being as it used to be long ago may I walk.</i></p> <p>May it be beautiful before me.<br />May it be beautiful behind me,<br />May it be beautiful below me.<br />May it be beauitful above me.<br />May it be beautiful all around me.<br />In beauty is it finished.<br />In beauty it is finished. </p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5450304588820051090" src="" /></a></p> <p><span><b>Words from a traditional Dine (Navajo) Chant; Snowdrops and Mark in Dunwich Wood, purple crocus outside my door</b></span></p> <div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 14:17:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 30596 at Toads talk Transport - No 3 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-importsource"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Transition Voices </div> </div> </div> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>The annual toad migration got off to a slow start this week and then the weather promptly went back to winter. However, whilst out with the local <a href="" target="_blank">Toadwatch </a>patrol, helping toads cross the road to their ancestral breeding pond, I was fortunate enough to find in my bucket the old female toad that I have helped during each of the <a href="" target="_blank">previous two years</a>. She is now 22 and she had started to&nbsp; tell me about how tasty the slugs and woodlice had been during the wet summer when a car stopped next to us. “I <b>like </b>to sauté frogs in white wine” said the driver. I suppose he thought it was funny to wind me up but I refrained from throwing one of the squashed bodies from the road through his window and politely explained that I was saving toads from extinction, not helping frogs who are much quicker at jumping across roads anyway. “I eat toads as well” came the reply. “More fool you then – we are <a href="" target="_blank">poisonous</a>” came the yell from my bucket. That shut him up and off he screeched.</p> <p>My passenger, who can be blunt even by toad standards, asked what the Parish Council had done since we last met in order to reduce the number of apes driving around in cars and squashing toads. “I’ve been to lots of meetings and written lots of emails” I replied. A muffled croak told me that she was not impressed. “But when is there going to be some action?” she asked. I explained that the councils have recently passed plans to build over 1200 houses and lots of new offices and that when most of them have been built then they hope to build a <a href="" target="_blank">cycle path</a> so people can bike to work. There was an explosion from the bucket – “DUCKS’ BEAKS!!” she croaked angrily (toads hate ducks because they pollute the water and eat their spawn). “Surely they should build the cycle path BEFORE the people move into the houses!?”. Which is pretty much what our MP said to me yesterday – though he did not use the same expletive. He has promised to lend his weight to the argument.</p> <div class="separator"><a href="" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="210" src="" width="320" /></a></div> <p>So I’m doing my best to make council planners see sense but it would help if more people put some pressure on their councillors as current cycle paths in the Hethersett area are only lightly used (for a variety of reasons) and at the moment there is scepticism about how many people are really prepared to get on their bikes.</p> <p>When/if it warms up, please keep an eye out for toads on the roads - there is more info about how you can help toads at<br /> <div class="separator"><a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="" /></a></div> </p><div class="field field-type-link field-field-original-url"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Original article:&nbsp;</div> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> Sat, 09 Mar 2013 22:03:00 +0000 Transition Norwich 30607 at