Yesterday was a pleasant short (maybe 8 miles) walk along the canal tow path from Alphington south west Exeter, to Starcross and towards the sea. We started off with a quick visit to Audaye’s allotment, part of a nice big allotment area reclaimed from motorcross riding!
At the Double Locks Inn Audaye hugged his farewell and I left, accompanied by Andie Tobe of tt Exeter. Time passed quickly as we shared experiences. It turned out that what we had in common was having lived in communities, me in Bowden House community, www.http://bowdenhouse.co.uk ,see my blog on 30th March, and her in Beech Hill www.http://beechhillcommunity.org.uk and Red field, www.http://redfieldcommunity.org.uk both some years ago.
As in all other areas of life this type of community living has its ups and downs, like in family, and all relationships, it is often someone who has the power to move us that can also trigger difficult stuff too!
So Andi and I made our way down the canal recounting our various tales and discussing the various models on which a community can be based from the more traditional hierarchical structure to the more collaborative co-op models.
A highlight of the walk was the Turf Locks inn, which sits between canal and estuary ….and CANNOT be reached by car! Walkers, cyclists and boat people’s paradise! It has lovely big gardens and picnic tables and is just idllylic.
We also discussed our various transition activities and I heard about the new Harvest project in Exeter, which Andi will be coordinating. This is not a transition spawned project but funded by lottery funds and Andi sees it as a way to do the transition work she wants to do. Phase 1 will see the project identifying gardeners in the more disadvantaged areas of Exeter and providing them with what they need to then teach others on their street or neighbourhood, the project supplying pots, compost and seeds. Later phases will include identifying and acquiring plots of public land in the city for community gardens.
On arrival in Starcross we were relieved to find that I was in time for the last ferry of the day – I hadn’t checked the times and we were pleased – our leisurely stroll wouldn’t have been have so much fun if we had been clock watching!
I crossed the estuary of the Exe on the ferry’s first day out of the season – serendipity lending a hand yet again.
It was lovely to have arrived at Exmouth by water, it is a town whose industry is fishing so it seemed appropriate. I was met by Jane Habermehl of TT Exmouth and we walked to her home in the centre, met by Gill Wyatt along the way who came back for tea and cake. Jane works for the Global Centre www.globalcentre.org.uk as diversity and cultural trainer for the early years. Diversity is a key word for transition and as Jane points out as more and more people move due to climate changes we will need the skills of good communication which come from understanding other’s cultural stories.
Later , Wayne came home, and I was delighted to meet an old TT Exmouth friend from the time last year when a group of them came to Totnes to visit the Landmatters Permaculture community http://www.landmatters.org.uk.
By the time we had eaten Jane’s delicious supper there were Noel & Paul too and I got to hear tales from the Umbrella group. Gill had told me about her role in liaising with local council, and Jane of the local poetry evening they had organised, Noel Harrower being one of their star poets (I was given a CD of that evening to enjoy on my return) now Paul described their delight at having worked with their local council to change their famous lights along the seafront for ones that could run on renewable energy. They are estimating that by the end of May the new led lights capable of being run on renewables, will be in place.
One of the new projects the group are excited about is the bazaar Kim, a new member, is about to start up one morning a week serving local food, and selling locally made crafts.
Then Paul Strange, journalist by trade, interviewed me for the TT Exmouth newsletter and the local paper, and Noel and Jane got excited about the possibility of designing a storytelling & circle dancing evening with a local theme, maybe for next year’s Exmouth festival in May.
They were all enthusiatic about the Think Deep film local schoolchildren had made about local fishing that is now being shown to schools all over east Devon. It was an excelent film they said, they had shown it at an awareness raising evening and had been really impressed. See http://www.exmouthpeople.co.uk for more details. Noel commented on how few people know the name of any other fish but cod and how the local fishshop lament that no one asks for any other type. The beginnings of a plan hatching there methinks…
Exmouth are famous for good fish – local fish and chip shop Krispies won the SW award for the best UK fish and chips! Don’t think that’s a piece of local craft I can easily carry to the next town… but I can spread the word!