Nearly 40 people piled into the lovely Fusion Cafe for our May event, with transition initiatives and other local groups meeting to swap stories, discuss successes and challenges, and learn about what others were doing.
Each group had its own story, but some challenges had everyone in the room nodding in agreement…
How to bring new people in?
Often people will come to events, but then not become regular members of a group. While it’s good to have a small group of committed people, we need to be realistic about the amount of energy needed for projects. Overcommitted people are not happy people! In dispersed communities, like those in the Hope Valley, individual communities might not be big enough to run projects alone.
Transition is about bringing communities together. Regular meetings are important, and several groups emphasised how good it was to socialise with each other as well as working on projects. Green drinks evenings are held in a Buxton and Chesterfield, and are a good chance to meet outside of project meetings.
How to work with the local council?
Some projects had initial support from their local council, but found this support withdrawn later. Some groups found councillors were receptive to ideas, but officers were not.
Transition Glossopdale is developing a transition resolution for their council to adopt which will express general support for transition projects, especially those that will save the council money. Transition Chesterfield encourage awareness in their community by attending meetings at the town hall, then emailing members a summary of what’s going on, and who to contact if they want to comment or get involved.
How to deliver something tangible for sustainability?
Transition Hope Valley is working to create practical cycle networks for local people in the valley. Transition Chesterfield got £7000 funding to train three people in bike maintenance, who now train others to fix their own bikes. Sheffield’s new Repair Cafe teaches people to fix broken objects, with the tagline ‘better than new!’ Empty shops have been filled with Grow Sheffield’s art projects and fruit exchange, and Transition Chesterfield’s hugely successful annual Potato Day.
The energy in the room was overwhelming, and we left with promises to keep in touch, to forward information about projects, and even to lend an apple press.
As someone asked – ‘if we don’t do it, who will?’
Story contributor: Jenni Brooks