The Streets of Cambridge are Paved with Flowers
Literally! I am tickled by the diverse brass flowers that are embedded in to the pavements as I saunter along the ancient streets of this university town.
The sun is out and people are strolling, I wander in and out of shops, enjoying the spectacle without the manic need to buy. In a camping shop a saying is written across the wall
“A journey is better measured in the friends you make rather than the miles you cover”
It seems rather fitting; a good way of describing this adventure of mine.
Cambridge is full of all sorts of delights; it’s a people sized place, in spite of its present physical size. From the “If War is the answer, it must have been a pretty stupid question” sticker in a suburban window I pass on my walk from Marion’s home in the oldest part of town, close to the mound that is all that remains of the old Iron Age fort, to the eateries in the centre that serve fresh, healthy food, and the luxurious patisseries, I feel like I have found a city I could be in.
I am amazed as I enter the patisserie after breakfast; I have slept till noon as per my usual pattern of arriving in a big built up area, and am now starving. The first person I see is Anna McIvor! She is with a friend Agi, from Hungary. They invite me to join them and comment on how often it happens in Cambridge that one meets the people one knows. We talk transition tales and about the event planned for later in the week, this evening’s meeting, and she tells me she has found a place for me to stay in Huntington, my next destination after leaving Cambridge. When she has left to return to work Rhea and I talk yoga; I trained as a yoga teacher, and Agi wants to. Before she goes she gives me directions to SB2, the cafe where the transition core meeting will be later.
As I meander my way across the town headed for SB2 I come across Midsummer Common in the midst of houses and streets. If ever there was a picture of what a transition future in a city might look like this it. (Marion tells me later it has been common land for a very long time). It is, just like the river bank, full of unfenced grazing cattle, and all around cyclists and walkers go about their business, going home from work, sitting in the sun with friends or lovers, cycling with baskets full of shopping on the front, or bundles of babies or toddlers on their backs, laughing, smiling, or moving up and down the river training, or for pleasure, in punts and long rowing boats.
The road cannot be heard; it is of least consequence in the order of things here; cycle paths intersect it at every moment, and places for people to cross are frequent. A pedestrian is in more danger from a collision with a cycle than a car here.
I have dinner with members of the transition Cambridge hub; they disbanded their steering group some months ago and now representatives of the various working groups and projects meet regularly to share what they are up to. I hear about their common move to each keep chickens shortly after forming their steering group, Pippa’s magical garden and the venture to create a blueberry patch in the chalk soil of Cambridgeshire – a feat involving rescuing an old bath tub from where she saw it abandoned in a park’s undergrowth, with the help of fellow transitioner Ivan and his handy van, and a rescuing of an old Christmas tree to help make the right kind of compost for blueberries. Ivan and Pippa are both currently doing a permaculture course.
Anna talks about how they secured funding from Lush through her contact with fellow transitioner Sophie who those of you who have been following my journey might remember; I slept on her sofa when I was all the way back in Dorset! Ivan talks about the potential he sees in transitioners working closely with their local Co-ops and helping them to get to a place where they can see how to turn the supermarket concept into a proper working model for distributing local food by getting themselves elected to their local regional committees, as well as possibly being a way of sourcing larger funding.
There are more tales to tell from this friendly and close knit group; I’ll save them for later in the week when we will all get together for a transition tales storytelling event.