The May sun finally decided to do what we expect from a May sun and I spend most of the day sunning myself in Marion’s beautiful wild garden. I catch up on e mails and rescue a frog from Marion’s living room, and she rescues a bee from her paperwork!
I muse on the type of garden I would like to have, Marion’s is the closest I have seen to what I imagine, and tell her about forest gardening, recommending Martin Crawford’s wonderful course held at his amazing agroforestry site at Dartington (http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/courses.html) . Cambridge is full of lovely wild flower havens, many sponsored by the council, such as this one in the very centre of the town in amongst all the shops.
In the evening we walk to the other side of town to the Elm Tree, the pub where I will tell transition tales and we will play the Quest. I do not know what to expect, we have played the Quest with many diverse groups but I haven’t run it in a pub before.
It is a small pub with a small carpeted triangular stage that we appropriate and settle into sitting on stools and on the floor, spreading out into bar stools brought close for a back row and more stools squashed into spare spaces as more and more people arrive. It is a lovely mixture of transitioners, storytellers, and others; I learn later that one young man, a regular at the pub, came along attracted by the pub’s advert of a travelling storyteller, he didn’t know such things existed and I assure they do and that more are encouraged! I give him the details of the flip flop company that produce my wonderful footwear (http://www.havaianasflipflops.co.uk/) – I really ought to be getting sponsored by them the amount of attention my flip flops have attracted. They are wonderful shoes though, practically indestructible, my pair came back from Brazil with me, I have worn them for 6 years and they are still going strong – transition footwear perhaps, they last for so long the amount of oil no doubt used in their manufacture along with rubber produces real value.
I tell the tale of transition and hear the tales of Cambridge, the group are mostly interested in telling me of how it all started here, all the diverse places from where they got to hear about it; from their 5 Rhythms class, from the Cambridge Storytellers, and the different groups some of them already belonged to doing environmental work and raising awareness about climate change.
I hear from co founder James Southwick how he got inspired after hearing Rob Hopkins speak at the Big Green Gathering and I hear how proud they are to already have 1200 people subscribing to the weekly bulletin. This bulletin is special not only because it comes out every single week but also because they make a point of including in it all other similar events happening in Cambridge not only transition happenings.
A key part of transition work, Transition Cambridge have learnt, has been to honour and recognise all the work that has already been taking place in the town long before transition came along. Many of their members are representatives of those groups and in bringing them all together they bring more people on board, and reach more different types of people. They, for example, work very well in collaboration with the Cambridge storytellers, as this jointly run and publicized event shows.
As I walk I have begun to get a sense that one of the very successful ways transition initiatives have to reach out to more people is to collaborate with the other groups working hard in their regions.
The project that many of the Transition Hub and the Cambridge Storytellers are currently working on is the Transition Tales competition –this was run at lots of schools in the area, children asked to write their story of how we made the transition. Marion is one of the markers, so I hope to get to read some stories before I leave. The transition tales group here led by Rowan Vine are going to run a session next week on positive visioning 2020.
We play the Quest and soon have 4 lively communities creating their stories of 2030 by living it out in the game. It all ends in a wonderful party, as often happens when people realise that the only way to be successful is to collaborate. They have traded their compost loo making skills, appreciated and welcomed in refugees who came bearing much needed seeds, and enjoyed the brewing skills of one of the communities. Alcohol, it seems, is the way to bring communities together, I wonder if this conclusion was reached due our lovely surroundings!
A taste of the story was recorded and may be available for listening in to at some point.
We finish at 10 but it is after last orders before our band finally disbands to wend their way home. Lots of making friends and more folk signed up for the transition newsletter. It has been a very enjoyable evening and as landlord Rob Wain comments it was lovely to see so many people out and having a laugh together instead of being stuck at home in front of the television.
I have had a great time; this is work I really enjoy. People come up and talk to me afterwards, some still very much still in the game, and eager to discuss who they were in the game, the skills they had , the resources they chose, the mistakes they made, and the solutions they found. They also want to talk about the game itself and other similar experiences they have had of games along similar lines but without the collaborative outcome, such as the one where different countries and their different amount of resources play out a game with similar outcomes to what happens in real life.
I find it fascinating that we act according to the system laid out; it is only when the system encourages competition that a win-lose situation emerges. If it is fundamentally based on positive outcomes for all, and with no rules, then no matter what the challenges, participants find a way to make it work for everyone.