Hosszúhetény is the most populous village in Baranya county, in the south of Hungary, with 3400 inhabitants. It’s situated in beautiful natural surroundings at the foot of the Zengő peak of the Mecsek hills. People who live here are traditionally very proud of their natural environment, one famous example of which was in 2004, when fierce resistance from locals and green groups made the Hungarian government abandon a plan to build a NATO radar on the peak. While this event made Hosszúhetény somewhat famous, sustainability did not become a priority in everyday life of the inhabitants afterwards.
Things began to pick up in 2007, when the local government became a founding member of the Hungarian Climate-friendly Association. Around this time a civilian climate-friendly club also started in the village, which after a few years led to various initiatives to promote local and sustainable consumption and living. A group of around 20 people worked on various projects. A local marketplace was created with weekly market days from local producers and in 2012 a Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) started. We have annual seed swap events and we have organized various informative programs such as movie screenings and talks about sustainability and climate awareness, gardening workshops and lectures, health days, among others.
In December 2012 we held a screening of In Transition 2.0 (see photo below). The realization that there was a whole movement out there with the same objectives and ideas that we had was a heart-warming and encouraging experience. By this time we also knew that the real challenge is to keep the great ideas and projects running (the local market and the LETS had both become non-functional), and we wanted to learn how to achieve this.
Eventually, a group of dedicated people participated in a Transition training weekend in October 2013. This training has given us valuable insights into the structures and dynamics of our local community and it has started us on a new way to Transition. We are now in the process of learning how to get the most out of ourselves and our ideas. We are improving communication with the local government, finding ways to reach more people, helping to make the local events sustainable, raising awareness on food self-sufficiency.
We have also entered a 2-year project organized by Transition Wekerle, through which we will learn from and teach other transition communities, as well as build our local and national transition network. We believe the next years help us to strengthen our local community, learn new skills and set up new initiatives which help to make our village more resilient.
By Zsanett Roozental-Pandur and Zoltán Hajdú