Átalakuló Wekerle – Transition Wekerle

Hungary

The Klímabarát Wekerle project started about 3 years ago on the initiative of the local community association – Wekerle Társaskör, with support from local NGOs such as the Védegylet. After achieving official status the name was changed to Átalakuló Wekerle – Transition Wekerle

Here you can see photographs of the different events and read accounts of the programmes we’ve initiated. We’ve used the Transition methdology to organise ourselves, something made easier by the fact that Wekerle, as Europe’s largest Garden City, has a built and natural environment that strengthens community bonds. Information and good ideas spread easily; there is a sense of ‘village’ life, in spite of the fact we are a suburb of 2 million-strong Budapest.

2009-10: We started by working to catch peoples’ imagination through community events such as the “Green Saturday“, where there is a mix of the practical with the inspirational: come along and make something, eat something, share something, learn something… The “Green Shoot” night is a forerunner of the workgroups we’d someday like to have, actively bringing together those who share a common interest, be that cycling or sustainable building. The “Garden Circle” was formed to promote local food sovereignty, and people are getting excited about the ideas of community gardens. The “Kör Knitting Circle” is knitting together the hearts and souls of local people, also organising recycle art events. The “Energy Brigade” is the first really hands-on project for energy efficiency, training people to insulate their own windows and doors.

In 2011- we were awarded the ‘Green Kispest District Award’ from the municipality for our contribution to local environmental awareness.

In 2012 we took the step from circulating ideas to putting more practical projects in place to create opportunities for change. This included creating a Energy Efficiency and Renewable plan for the estate along with local architects which was adopted by the council in 2013. A similar study was also carried out into creative ways to solve the green waste ‘problem’ the district has, with recommendations for compost programmes, wood supplies for families in need, biomess energy production; the council has yet to act on this one, but we havent given up.  

On the food front we set up a weekly organic box delivery / CSA scheme with 40-60 regular deliveries. We also teamed up with a small farmer’s association to create a weekly, after-work farmer’s market. We also use the market square to hold regular flea markets and similar “wealth creation” and waste reduction events.

Supporting local kitchen-gardening is one of our priorities, as well as protecting agricultural biodiversity, which was realised in a heritage tomato plant adoption scheme, where 300 tomatoes were ‘adopted’ by local gardeners and their seeds collected for replanting and distributing. The beginning of 2013 saw our first Seed Swap with about 100 participants and loads of enthusiasm. 

Presently school dinners are a key focus with a well-organised local campaign to get decent food in schools. We contributed to the set up of Budapest’s first community garden on council land, and we support local schools and nurseries in setting up kitchen gardens and planting heritage fruit trees. We are also running an organic gardening course for local gardeners.

It’s a dynamic but demanding process, and at the beginning of 2013 we have roughly 15 regular activists who have a daily involvement with one project or service or other; there is a wider group of 20-30 people who help out at events; there is – most importantly – a growing part of the local population who benefit from the organic food scheme and weekly local market, contributing to the broader cultural change we would like to see. The process has largely grown beyond the initiators and is working to strengthen cooperation with an ever broader range of local and other projects and organisations. Part of this is supporting and coaching other new initiatives, responding to requests for information and interviews and creating opportunities for local community initiatives that appear to be heading in a similar direction to learn and grow with each other in the hope of catalysing wider change.

Key steps in development

We’ve had help from a lot of places. We are the first community member of the Hungarian Union of Climate Friendly Towns and the first community initiative to take inspiration from the Transition Movement, adapting it to the local context. Things are going well, and others are also drawing ideas from us.

Transition was first talked about here when Ervin Menyhart of Transition Coventry came to the Védegylet’s summer school in 2008. A follow up training was organised for 5 people in England in 2009, where we had an express introduction to Transition with Jenny in Bath, and also a training in organising skills with Seeds for Change and People and Planet, who have similar methodologies. Transition Scotland has also been very helpful in sharing ideas and contacts, which has provided a lot of inspiration.

The Global Projekt translated and distributes “In Transition” (Átalakulásban), coupled with a “community brainstorming”, to help bring out some of the ideas in the film: this project may grow into a HUB initiative, but it’s too early to say yet…

Presently we are looking at the possibility of an exchange visit, to let us have a better look at what people are working on, and also to show what is happening here: while it may not be called transition, there are a lot of community-strengthening low-tech projects which share a similar goal.