By Sarah Watson Jones, Transition Llambed and Catrina Pickering, Transition Network
Transition Llambed have sent a report on their activities following on from the Diversity workshops in July and September of 2010. Llambed (Lampeter) is a small town in South West Wales. Although the majority of the population are Welsh, Transition Llambed is largely made up of English incomers prompting anxiety in Transition Llambed about diversity and inclusion.
In December, they held a pre-Christmas lantern parade that did lantern making workshops in four local parishes during half term as well as sessions with the kids at four local schools prior to this about renewable energy. The kids did lots of artwork which they were able to use in the publicity for the workshops and the parade and also to make a Transition Llambed banner (see photo). Each child was given a flyer to take home to let their parents know about the workshops and parade. Sarah says “I think that going into schools really helped to get the interest of some new people. Also, running free workshops in half term was a bit of a winner too. Altogether, over the 4 workshops, we had about 120 people attending.”
Although quite a few people weren’t able to get out because of the weather, they had about 40-50 people carrying more than 30 lanterns between them. The Fayre also included a marching band, dance troupe, choirs, some fairground rides and food stalls, Santa’s grotto and late night Christmas shopping – so they had a ready audience.
The lantern parade was accompanied by a samba band which went down really well and there has been a suggestion that they try to get their own band going now! Sarah says “I think the music really made it and we were probably the most lively thing that evening.”
As for what they’ve learned about diversity and inclusion in Transition Llambed, Sarah says “we’ve learned to go to talk to people in other places, particularly schools, rather than expect them to come to you; offer fun, practical things to do – especially if they’re suitable for children during school holidays…; promote things using kid’s artwork – makes the kids pay more attention which makes their parents take more notice and generally gives a friendly feel to things; tie-in with an existing event (e.g. the Christmas Fayre); make it fun and sociable and, finally, bring in a loud samba band!”
Aside from the lantern parade, Transition Llambed are also organising regular clothes swaps (people bring clothes they no longer use to give away. People can rummage through and take any clothes they like the look of) which are proving popular with women at least and are helpful to people on low incomes. They had two quite close to each other last year, one a straightforward clothes swap, then about a month later, they organised what was called a “textiles extravaganza”. There were loads of clothes left after the first swap so they advertised a “clothes rummage” for the second one and managed to get rid of quite a lot of the surplus that way.
They also ran a couple of clothes recycling workshops alongside these events and their skill-share textiles group which has really crossed the English/Welsh divide put up displays of their work and did demonstrations. They advertised in the usual ways but also put up sandwich boards outside which attracted a fair bit of passing traffic – people were amazed that they could just take clothes for free and felt compelled to give donations! There were displays about the problems with the textiles industry and the value of recycling/reusing textiles, which made some people rethink their attitudes, especially when they saw some of the things you can do with old clothes! And there was lots of really positive feedback on the day. Transition Llambed are now looking at setting up other types of swaps – a kitchen equipment swap is perhaps the next item on the agenda.
Perhaps the best way to sum up their experiences of the last few months is as Sarah puts it “It’s easy to get despondent and discouraged about working with everyone in Transition Llambed and give it all up as a nice idea that will never go anywhere! But, I think there is a general feeling in the group, that perhaps we don’t beat ourselves up too much about the fact that we are still predominantly a group of incomers, with middle-class leanings, but that we keep trying to do activities that people can enjoy and that offer us some positive exposure, enabling us to communicate with and get input and participation from everyone in Llambed.”