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Sunrise in the morning

Early this morning there was a BIG event happening in the solar system: the Venus Transit of the Sun, which takes place only twice every hundred and fifty years. Famous through astronomical history, this celestial event is known to augur a revolutionary shift of world views. So hold on to your hats!

Meanwhile back on earth at Summer Solstice, the Sunrise Festival begins.This Somerset-based celebration (and its August cousin, Sunrise Off-Grid) is well-visited by Transitioners. One of their main destinations is The Tin Village: a custom-built space, situated around a no-dig permaculture garden, where a a full-on programme of workshops, bicycle cinema and talks takes place. Ian Westmoreland, this year's Village co-ordinator gives us some background:
 Transition Tin Village by Ian Westmoreland, Transition Heathrow

transition fence at sunrise

I first encountered the Tin Village around this time last year. I'd become involved in Transition Heathrow a few months previously, and one day I was asked if I wanted to go to the Sunrise to be part of the Tin Village crew. Some people from Heathrow had gone the year before, and an invitation had been extended once again. I liked the idea of spending some time in a field in Somerset, so I jumped at the opportunity, even though at the time I knew little of what it was all about.

The Tin Village started off as a vision created by two people – Kath Pasteur and Dan Britton, who were both involved in Transition Leamington. The first Tin Village was built in the Green Futures field at Glastonbury in 2009, and it proved to be a great success, going on to appear at many other events, including Sunrise Celebration, Sunrise Off-Grid, etc.

kids in washing drums at sunriseDescribing the Tin Village to people who've not seen it for themselves is sometimes a tricky exercise. Sure, you can describe the simple timber-frame buildings that are the obvious visual identity of the Village, or you can talk about the activities that go on within the village during a typical festival – making pizza, workshops, practical demonstrations, and so on – but you'd still be missing the core elements. Because it's the micro-community that is created over the whole process of building, running, and taking down the physical aspect of the village that gives the Tin Village its identity and purpose. The people who give their time come together in an empty field days before the start of a festival to create something positive are the heart of what we do. Each event is different, because the interaction between the Tin Village community and the guests who join us for a few minutes, an hour, a couple of days, is different every time, and it's from this mingling of viewpoints and ideas that the future shape of the Tin Village is sprung.

Because the Tin Village is a concept based on creating temporary communities within festivals, it is one that appeals to those of us who are attracted to a life of travel. Nomads and vagabonds, we enjoy taking advantage of the opportunity to experiment with ways to live sustainably. Everyone who passes through the Tin Village is presented with an alternative way of living, and everyone has the opportunity to learn from it. We offer the tools for transition, and we offer them freely, in venues where people have more freedom to consider alternatives than they might otherwise have.

sunrise posterBut this is about more than just making pizzas at festivals. Providing space for people to share the experience of experimenting with sustainable living inspires, excites and spreads these ideas between a multitude of different communities. All those who come into contact with the Tin Village, once they pack away their tent and pass back beyond the festival boundary, will take their experiences with them, and perhaps start a Tin Village of their own.

Occupy @ the TinVillage

This model of a sustainable micro-community is taking a new direction for 2012, playing host to the Campaigns space at Sunrise 2012. This means more frontline groups getting representation at the event - from Occupy to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade; Frack Off to South West Against Nuclear. We'll be bringing together a range of people on the front line of sustainable living to create a micro-community within the festival, where practical skills and vibrant workshops are served alongside organic freshly made pizza and chai. We want a positive and sustainable economic system that will sustain future generations as well as our own. We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.

Occupy is not a party, nor is it affiliated with one. It is a movement for the people regardless of race, gender, age, class, faiths, disabilities and everyone is welcome to partake.  

The main purpose of bringing Occupy to Sunrise is to be able to, 1. Bring people together and 2. To reach out to people further afield than London, so that they feel a part of Occupy and are aware that Occupy is about everyone. Occupy Together.

This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us!

At Tin Village we will be bringing workshops such as:

  • Direct Action workshops
  • Cob stove workshops
  • Poetry workshops
  • Q&A on Occupy, what is it and what does it mean to Occupy
  • Rizwaan Sabir giving talks on Policing and Transparency
  • Talks from the EEE (Energy, Equity and environmental) working group.
  • Occupy Radio – Where you can come and air your political views, play music, discuss
  • Banner and theatre workshops for children

We ARE THE 99%

More information on the Tin Village -  our facebook page is: and our wiki is at

Write up of last year's Tin Village and Social Reporting Project workshop is here