Barwon Heads Community Arts Garden- Sustainability Group

Australia

Four years ago, a group of like-minded folk got together and formed a community garden with broad local support and funding from local government. The garden is an off-the-grid demonstration site and was designed using permaculture principles by the initial members who ran an “introduction to permaculture” workshop. The founders believed that the Transition Movement was the next wave of permaculture, so the garden was always intended as a “transition initiative” as a response to developing community connectedness and resilience in the face of climate change and peak oil. The garden continues to blossum and now hosts an Arts subgroup, a Sustainability Group and is an annual participant in our local Festival of the Sea.


The Sustainability Group first met in August last year, with the intention to spend six months or so determining its directions and activities. An initial focus has been to develop a network of people with a practical interest in sustainability in the home and garden. A slide show presentation was developed to support discussion on approaches at the Festival of the Sea event in March 2010. Later in April, after this event and the engagement with the Barwon Heads Association, an Open Space workshop was held to engage new participants and to refine activities and directions as determined.


Registration as a Transition Town


Over the last few years the Community Garden has hosted public events on Climate Change presented by Environement Victoria, Peak Oil presented by David Holmgren and at last year’s Festival of the Sea, the BHCAG hosted a forum on Transition Towns, with Andrew Lucas from Transition Belmont as a guest speaker. This drew considerable interest and helped to catalyse the formation of the Sustainability Group.


A broad outline of the Transition Town approach is attached and available at http://www.bankofideas.com.au/Newsletter/Jul09/downloads/Transition_Town_Initiative.pdf; there is much other material available through the Transition Towns website http://www.transitiontowns.org/.


The Sustainability Group has considered pros and cons of linking with this development over a number of meetings, with no strong arguments against and many in favour, the major being:
• The model presents a positive approach to local action to reduce the impact of climate change and cope with the likely impacts of peak oil
• The model, originating from the UK, is rapidly spreading internationally with over 270 registered communities, 28 in Australia, four in the Barwon SW region (Bell, South Barwon, Torquay, Anglesea). A base of collaborative experience is being developed.
• The Transition movement is gaining support in many quarters, particularly local government. In the UK Transition approaches are becoming imbedded in the work of some local government authorities. The Municipal Association of Victoria has issued an Alert to local governments about the impending impacts of peak oil and the desirability of supporting Transition Town initiatives; it is also establishing a Councils and Communities in Transition (CACIT) Program.
• The Transition model encourages an approach to future planning at the local level, through the establishment of an Energy Descent Action Plan (although these processes may need further clarification)


The Sustainability Group has concluded that the focus of the Transition Town initiative should be on Barwon Heads, as having appropriate scale and village characteristics; so the name would be Transition Barwon Heads. However, the joint activity with Ocean Grove residents is recognised and valued. An objective should be to see a related development in Ocean Grove.


Registration as a Transition Town initiative, with the Transition Network in the UK, does not constitute any formal commitment. It is essentially a quality control mechanism to protect the use of the name and build an effective movement. The attached extract from the Transition Town website provides this information and demonstrates both the seriousness and lightness of touch of the originators of this concept.


Barwon Heads Association endorsement


The active support of the BHA for the initiative is highly desirable. The development, over time, of a low-energy vision and Energy Descent Action Plan for Barwon Heads might well be something the BHA wishes to embrace as a part of its activities.


The development of the Transition Town initiative will continue to be carried by the Sustainability Group under the auspice of the Community Arts Garden. The BHA will be asked to have formal representation on the Group, with regular reports. (There are already a number of people, at least five, with common membership of both groups.)


The BHA will be asked to:
Endorse the registration as a Transition Town initiative
Note the range of working groups and possible activities to be conducted
Support the development of an Energy Descent Action Plan over time.


A broader launch of the initiative will be conducted later in the year, in which BHA engagement will be sought.


 

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