… How small scale actions can and will make a difference

We are pleased to welcome Kat Osborn Director of Time and Talents as our guest author today. She introduces us to the ideas of the Transition Movement.

Now more than ever, in our world of austerity and cuts, we need to believe that there are actions that we can take that can and will make a difference. The Transition Movement is determined to offer a solution.

Russia Dock Woodlands - pond - thumbThe essence of Transition is in its name. It describes the era of change we are all living in…. Transition Initiatives, community by community, are actively and cooperatively creating happier, fairer and stronger communities, places that work for the people living in them and are better suited to dealing with the changes that accompany our economic and energy challenges.

Small things joined up

One of the co-founders of the Transition Network, Rob Hopkins, published a booked called The Power of Just Doing Stuff, showing what people are already doing to create a more resilient economy. For instance here in London, a Transition group in Brixton raised £130,000 to install the UKs first inner-city, community-owned power station, with 82kW of solar panels on the roofs of a council estate. A group in Derbyshire created a food hub that makes it economically viable to grow food in back gardens for sale as an affordable alternative to supermarkets. Other groups have launched their own currencies. On their own, these differences are small, but when there are 1000s of communities all joined up and all creating their bit of the bigger picture, it adds up to something awe-inspiring and strong.

What does this have to do with us living, working, running, playing and travelling in SE16?

Fountain Stairs 2 - thumbWe want to build a stronger, healthier, happier and more resilient community in SE16. What might this look like in SE16? ….

Imagine the day when you get up and your breakfast includes eggs & bacon from the nearby city farm eaten at your reclaimed dining table. You are part of a car sharing scheme to get to work so your neighbour comes by for you at 08:00 each morning. At school, your children are learning about eco-awareness and renewable energy (to the point where they nag you about the recycling on a regular basis!). In the evening, you meet friends for dinner and visit your local high street for groceries. Its bustling with life all week with small, independent businesses because more local people spend their money locally. You end up being late back because, as you’re walking back home, you bump into 3 of your neighbours including Jenny from down the road who is setting up a new foreshore rambling group that she wanted to invite you to join. Life feels good – healthy, happy and connected!

Really Transition Initiatives are the opposite of us sitting in our armchairs complaining about what’s wrong, and instead, it’s about getting up and doing something constructive about it alongside our neighbours.

What are you doing round here?

Raised beds at T&T - thumbThere are over 1000 Transition towns and initiatives around the world and the story people tell us is that as a result of being involved in their local “transition initiative”, they’re happier, their community feels more robust and they have made a lot of new friends.

In SE16 we are starting by looking at what we already have – our green spaces, our allotments and places where veggies grow, our open water, places to recycle-reuse and reduce our waste, places and projects that strengthen our local economy and places where we gather and by gathering strengthen the net that catches people who might otherwise slip through it.

And so Rotherhithe and Bermondsey In Transition (RABIT) is publishing a Greener SE16 map; a resource to enable everyone to know about and make the most of the resources we already have. Our hope is that as we bump into each other enjoying what we have we will begin to dream about what could be…. ways to catalyse the localisation of our economy, ways to produce our own energy and ways for the community to take ownership of their assets.

Surrey Docks FarmA great example of this is the problem of download speeds in areas of Rotherhithe. As the commercial companies have done little to improve things, the community is getting together to build a fresh fibre network to deliver really fast broadband to every home and business that wants it at an affordable cost for everyone.

Transition is about small scale responses like having your own vegetable patch or running our own community broadband business that add to up to something much bigger, and help show the way forward for governments, business and the rest of us.