Transition East at Old Hall, November 2011
By Gary Alexander 28th November 2011
[See and join our egroup to keep in touch: http://groups.google.com/group/transition-east-anglia]
On Saturday, 26th November 2011, 40 Transitioners from 13 Transition Towns in East Anglia met for our third regional meeting. It was hosted by Transition Stour Valley and held at Old Hall Community, East Bergholt in Suffolk. It was an inspiring day, as we have come to expect from such Transition events.
Just hearing about each others’ experiences – good and bad – was valuable and illuminating. Here are some of the highlights for me:
‘transition’ versus ‘Transition’
A few people reported that their initiatives had become inactive due to conflicts or burnout, but were then replaced by practical projects (ex. a community farm) which weren’t officially associated with the ‘Transition’ movement. The feeling was that these ‘transition’ projects were a natural extension of the movement and something to be proud of, not sorry about. There are lots of ‘transition’ projects around by people who don’t want to be part of an organised movement, but are very much on our wavelength.
Food projects galore
Most groups reported active food projects of various types: CSAs, food hubs, coops, market stalls, food sharing, festivals. Many met to discuss this in an Open Space session. Then in the closing session, we set up a small group that will help these food projects across our region to keep in contact with each other and promote synergy between them.
An East Anglian Transition currency?
I was in the Open Space discussion of local currencies. It was hard to choose the Open Space group I wanted, but I was so gripped that I stayed there throughout. We were actively discussing what we can do in case of major economic difficulties. The people from Cambridge are putting on a small conference on Alternatives to Economic Growth to look at this. The most exciting idea for me was a proposal for an East Anglian Transition currency that we could all use, tied to businesses and people who want an economy driven by wellbeing not money. We set up a small group for take this further.
Incorporating children in our meeting
There were activities for children of people attending in which they created some wonderful artwork that became part of the meeting. Some children also took part in some of the adult activities.
A tour of Old Hall
Old Hall community is a wonderful place. I have visited many times, but had never had a full tour. It is largely self-sufficient in food with vegetables, animals on about 70 acres, provides a lot of its own energy from its woodlands. People have individual units but eat together and share the work of the farm and buildings.
As usual for such events, we had a feast for lunch with food we all brought, supplemented by soup and cake from Old Hall.
Communications and conclusions
In our final session we arranged to improve communications between us by more use of our Google group, and will hold our next meeting next Summer. Several small groups will take forward the results of our discussions. Everyone thought it was an enjoyable and useful day.