Of Orange Mountains and Maths without Money
By Steph Bradley 16th April 2012
~Being tales gathered in a language school~
A storyteller lives by what she hears and sees; inspired and joyful or hurt and saddened, the world she experiences is not the world of distractions but a world of wonder filled chapters that unfold as each day we live goes by.
And so it is that the Tales of our Times are unfolding before her eyes, day by day, the living story of how Transition happened…
In a room ( http://www.languageingroup.com/totnes-LiT ) filled with glorious technicoloured human beings she found herself, in the town that is not too big and not too small, with a river running through it and a steep, steep high street with a castle on the top, that we all know so well by now. Told she the tale of Rob of the Great Renown, and told they, eyes a shining, the tales of their towns and cities…
Of orange mountains in Valencia she heard, where local orange growers bring down from the hillsides their produce; splendid scent filled, juice filled, glorious orange orbs of deliciousness, to sell to the folk in their cooperative who come and buy direct of the fruit in large quantities to store and so it is that the notorious middle men, making money out of others labour, are removed from the picture, and the healthy relationship between growing and eating is restored once more. No sun kissed oranges in Devon mused WynnAlice, ah no, agreed the merry bunch of tale tellers, but ripe juicy apples you have a plenty.
From sun kissed Spain to sun kissed Italy the tale telling moved, for a story to touch hearts and move a listener to tears.
Of a community market so very wonderful, so very interconnected, that all who came, to sell, to share, to teach, to learn, to buy, to hang out in a colourfully diverse and stimulating environment were joyful and kept good company, told the Lady of Pisa. Spellbound her listeners, already on the edge of their seats in expectation, for they had been forewarned that this tale had not such a joyful flavour. How Community, how Transition, how Perfectly Wonderful, declared they.
Aye, said she, and no more.
No more, sad, the local council they used the power of that terrible monster of Our Times; Politics.
Ah yes, they did. Took away the right of the people to gather in the empty public square, where people had gathered free of charge, to share and teach and learn the way people always have. The immigrants, the students, the elders, the growers, the housewives, the bakers, to learn Italian, to skill share, to share of their wisdom, to pass the time of day, to sell their wares, to buy fresh organic local food for dinner. A thing of ancient times, perchance, no not at all, started in the year 2007 when all about the spirit of Transition was awaking in the hearts of people far and wide across all lands and across the oceans too.
Taken, in the fullness of life, by the God Politics. Methinks these people have become just too big, thought he; it must be time to take them down a peg or two and remind them of who is really in charge.
And so it is that the empty square stands empty now, perhaps the result of the threatened ones who made their living making money from the labour of others, and thus removing the joy that is felt when producer and consumer make their exchange of “I love what I do” “I love what you do too”. Sad are the people as they walk past their beloved empty square, no longer used and lonely once more.
Move, you must move elsewhere, said the listeners, eager, nay, desperate for to find a solution that the story would have a happy ending right then and there. Well it wouldn’t be quite the same said the Lady from Pisa, they moved in from the edge of the city in the first place to be in the centre so that all could easily participate.
WynnAlice told the tale of the community shop she had once heard tell of in the whimsical magical Worth Matravers in deepest most glorious Dorset that has closed because it couldn’t pay its rent, and how it was that in sadly telling their tale to the neighbouring village the church hall that could no longer pay for its upkeep was saved as the two villages collaborated and brought the community shop to the church hall, and new friends were made by all.
The Pisa community market in need of a home is a tale that all who hear wish to find a resolution for, its vibrant life force so strong its will to live lives on even without the land on which to meet. I tell of this tale now for there is nothing as powerful as a group of people for finding the happy ending of a story together…and this is a tale that it at its most exciting, the point at which the characters are most despondent and yet most alive too, the point at which all manner of things can happen to bring about the next chapter. We wait with bated breath your telling of the next step…leave a comment below for the Lady of Pisa, and become part of this tale, the tale of how the City of Leaning Tower won back its community market.
The spirit of Transition is tendril like, unstoppable, like the tiny spring like curls of a pea shoot or a passion fruit vine, tenaciously winding their tiny growing edges around each and every suitable surface they come into contact with, and so it is that further to the north close by the city where once the power of the people brought down a great wall that had cut their city in two, the inhabitants have brought back to life their mill. Beautifully crafted wonder of our past, the water wheel, returned to power, to power the town with water power. The teller of the tales of the time of climate change brought us this tale from the land of great forests and mighty rivers, and wonder filled fairy tales. Came too from that land, the reminder that the veg box scheme is an idea that is universal, that all across the transitioning west local growers are delivering seasonal local grown vegetables in small boxes to those that would remember the seasons again, and how it is that we have been taken far from our ancestors knowledge in the span of just three generations.
And not just close to the fine settlement of Hanover, no but in the Beile region of the land of crisp snowy peaks, fondue, time pieces and chocolate, the veg box scheme is thriving too.
Looked they then, the gathered tellers, to their friends from the Orient. Ah, said they, tiny but tiny country are we, and look we to the other mighty lands all around us to supply us with vegetables. Look we to China, to Taiwan, and to Thailand too. In Korea, t’will take some little while afore we are ready and able to grow our own, maybe ten years. But what of those with cameras, exclaimed WynnAlice, that came hither to the town that was not too big and not too small, to film and take back what they had seen for their fellow countrydwellers. Ah yes, said they, we saw that film, on the screens of our Tele Vision Sets.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the sharing of the tales of what others have made happen can work its magic there too. Perhaps, just perhaps, the power of story can spread inspiration into the hearts of those for whom change seems difficult to see happening. Perhaps, just perhaps, the roof tops of Korea will one day soon be filled with the green shoots of growing plants, the pots at their doors full of flowering fruit bushes, and joy will dwell in their hearts at the possibility of it all.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it can work its magic on you too…what is it in your life that seems out of reach just now, maybe it can happen in some little while hence, in maybe ten years?
What if it could happen tomorrow, today, right now, what would that look like; the beginning of that story?
~Being a happy ending to a dream that began some 5 years ago~
In the manner of this wonder filled world in which we find ourselves t’was a little message on a tiny screen at bedtime that inspired the telling of the next tale.
The message it had come from She of Musical Fingers and Open Heart, a certain young she that WynnAlice had encountered on the streets of the town that was not too big and not too small, called over from across the way by the She of Fine Latin Beauty she had only known through messages on a screen.
“Is it you, the storyteller? I recognise you” called she
And so it was that the three women met and shared their hopes for a day not too far hence when they might participate in the grand day the Earth Inheritors and the Schumacher Disciples were planning, when all manner of ways for moneyless trading could be shared and explored.
Floating around her like a tiny paper bird was the day, a little removed from her, yet not forgotten, and so it was when that the little message on a tiny screen appeared where She of Musical Fingers and Open Heart so touchingly shared her request for support WynnAlice went to sleep with an engagement in her heart and awoke the next morning ready to meet it.
Friday in the town that is not too big and not too small. Well, hard it is to find a day and place more consistently naturally community minded.
If you go down to the market today you’re sure of a pleasant surprise
For all the folk you ever did meet
To talk to share to laugh to sing
Are gathered here
on Market Day
Around the meeting tree the Earth Inheritors and their companions the Schumacher Disciples http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/courses/ma-in-economics-for-transition are set up with home painted blackboards and chalk, amidst streamers of twisted bright silver plastic bags and bits of coloured cloth and gloriously vibrant old magazine origami birds, and offering good conversation, inspiration opportunities, a place to find your deepest longing, and a gift table, take what you will, leave what you will.
WynnAlice picks up the waffle iron she has always wanted and leaves behind her latest poem in its hand painted handmade paper jacket, in conversation with Dr Bike http://www.doctorbike.org/ . The two they talk about how it is that finding space to simply be with what is in the moment can be hard, and the famous town- that- was- not- too- big- and- not- too –small- dance- of- the- five- rhythms is suggested as being just such a place and Dr Bike remembers his exchange with the Transition Gatherings famed She of Great Depth and Prayer; a bike repair for a dance…
And WynnAlice, she goes to the map of the great county of Devon she feels drawn too and adds her contribution too…it is a map of all the moneyless exchanges that have taken place around and about the hinterland of the mighty Oak river. There was the time I swopped my beautiful cast iron woodburner for an afternoon of website building knowledge, remembers she, and aye too the stunningly glorious hand painted delicately blown easter chicken’s egg I was given , and the poem I offered in return.
All around her buzz the Earth Inheritors, and their companions, the Schumacher Disciples, aye, and Lizzie of Great Enthusiasm was there too, and many they wore little blackboards around their fronts and backs; proclaiming a request and an offering.
Wanted: free maths lessons, book editing, a piano trolley, free food,
Offered: co-counselling sessions, a good conversation, film editing skills, massage
The morning it drew on, chatting with She of Deep Economic Understanding about the ideal of the 3 day week, and the perils of filling in the other days too with work and not dedicating an equal amount of time to rest and nurture, fun and friendships, and then She of Musical Fingers and Open Heart and WynnAlice set about across the market in search of a guitar, and though they found one its cost was measured in pounds and meantime She of Fine Latin Beauty and Great Organisation had called up friends and in no time at all a guitar it had arrived and She of Musical Fingers sat on the wall beneath the meeting tree amongst the others resting and waiting there on the wall of four sides that encircles widely the broad round trunk where the people of the town that is not too big and not too small oft gravitate, and strummed gently on her borrowed instrument.
Sat beside her WynnAlice, perused the market with her eyes. Storytelling she had offered her merry band of companions, but there, in this busy market place, here, could she summon up the quality of presence needed to begin a tale? That inner quality of total peace and stillness from where everything is not only possible, but simple too? Could that be summoned without a waiting for of the silence of the audience in which to infuse that timeless quality? Come from within it must she knew, and sat heart a-beating gazing out at the passerbys, scanning, looking for familiar faces to ease her fear. And all the while She of Musical Fingers and Open Heart strummed gently, the young woman lulling the older woman, preparing the space, holding and focussing the energy of the moment…
Till, all at once, or so it seemed, whilst in conversation with He that would Help those in Need, the two women seemed to sense the time was right and WynnAlice began the tale of how it was that Rob of the Great Renown had come to their town, and in the beginning the story flowed out as it was wont to do, the tale of people having fun, Fun , Fun, strummed and sang the talented songstress, and the tale of the Gems of the town just west of the bridge in the great city of Notting Ham it came to be heard here, the perfect place for its airing, the tale of how one plastic gem was worth one hour of anybody’s time, no matter what it was they did, be they lawyer, or gardener, school teacher or builder, cook or dentist, engineer or simply one who listened when someone was sad, and no matter their age, be they 14 or 78 and a half. And of how it was that great and lasting friendships were made between rich and poor, old and young, trades people and professionals, in the town west of the bridge in the great city of the Notting Ham. http://skillsexchange.blogspot.co.uk/p/journey-of-gem.html
And then, talking, talking, to the others on their stall, after the tale it was told, and to hear that Amber had her Maths lessons, and Oscar his piano trolley, and more, a pot of fluorescent green play dough too, that Angus had been given fruit in exchange for good conversation, and asking, asking, but what happened, what happened? How was it that Earth Inheritors had come in to being?
Heard from they and yea, from Phoebe too, who like WynnAlice, had no needs to be fulfilled on this particular day, heard from they the tale of how it was that this merry band of world changers had come together.
And heart alight with the Love that flows when young people have spoken their truths WynnAlice knew with every fibre of her being that this tale it must be told too and told she back the tale of the Earth Inheritors to the passersby that day, the grand and magnificent tale of how it was that once upon a time that was and was not a time of Transition a group of friends, well they came together and planted some trees in their school grounds, and that being good and well received they went off to have even more fun together and put on a concert and raised 600 gold pieces.
T’was a shock, what to do now, now that we have all this wealth, thought they? And little by little began to share the secret of their fun, the font of all this joy. Well, surprise, surprise, t’was our old enemy Peak Oil, though as time goes by one could easily be forgiven for thinking he is actually a very precious friend indeed so much joy and connection has he spawned in his wake. Awareness raising was begun, and films were shown at the school and much ado was made and still the 600 gold pieces are not all spent.
And the name, Earth Inheritors? Well, is it not exactly who we are, said they? And to festivals shall we go, having fun and spreading fun wherever it is we go, and sharing the tale of Change the Exchange http://changetheexchange.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/storytelling-at-change-the-exchange/, the day we gathered at the market place to ask of the people, is there not another way? Can we not be happier than ever before as we Letts, swop, barter, exchange, and share our way into Transition Times?
And of He of Beard and Great Passion to Support, we shall not forget him, not She of Fine Latin Beauty nor She of Musical Fingers and Open Heart, those fine young Schumacher Disciples that were our companions that day we sat beneath the meeting tree and all who came by smiled and talked and took pictures of our smiling faces and wrote their deepest longings onto rounds of wood and wore them beside their hearts, and wrote of their joy and of their anger too and tied them to the wishing tree.
And never, never shall we doubt that the love and enthusiasm of young people is the most inspiring force for change there is, and onward we shall go, spreading joy wherever we are.
And moved close to tears by the earnest delightful caring of the 16-17 year olds that she found herself amongst, WynnAlice heard that the time she had gone herself in first Transition steps, into the school at the centre of the lives of many of the children in the town that was not too big and not too small, the community college that was living up to its name as a Transition School http://www.kingedwardvi.devon.sch.uk/index.php/college-policies , was not forgotten.
Was it not you, she was asked, that came and did Transition Tales with us, back then when we were young and just starting out?
But of course, came the reply
That was where it all began for me…
And for others too, from time to time someone will remember and talk about that time, that time when Transition Tales http://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/projects/transition-tales came to us and we knew the future would be different, and now, whenever we think about things, we stop, and think, and how would we do that, if there were no oil, if money was not involved, and so it is that this type of thinking comes naturally to us…
Musical young people and great ideals….give them the truth and allow them full rein of their imagination, and the future we all dream of is right there, in their hands…