By Joe Duggan
Some people gather in a church hall. Someone called Andy is talking. I sit near the edge. Near the door. I recognise a few people from the screening a few months before. Apparently a Transition Town is a community response to the challenge of climate change, something called "peak oil" and economic challenges. Very admirable. I have always wanted to do something about the environment. Always talking about it, never doing anything. Then Andy says that a number of the people in the core group had moved on or got too busy so we are now the steering group.
"Sorry? We're in charge?"
"I don't even know these people. Can we not just watch another video, this sounds too hard."
Another bloody meeting about the constitution. Someone thinks the bit in paragraph three should be moved to paragraph four. Someone isn't sure if we should be a company limited by guarantee or a community interest company (CIC). I can't remember the difference. Are we saving the world yet? Can we not just stick on another video? We do show videos in the Gipsy Hill Tavern, such as "Farming For Our Future", which really gets me thinking about where my food comes from.
Katrina organises a skill-share day. We're actually doing something. 80 people turn up despite torrential rain. I get the job of giving out flyers on the main street with Mehul and Robbie. Some people can't believe it's free and assume there's a catch or I'm offering cheap phone calls to Eastern Europe. Down in Antenna Studios, 15 stalls have come together offering every skill from bee-keeping, gardening, massage, jewellery-making, cookery, jam-making, sewing, knitting, bread-making, bicycle repair, wormery-keeping... It's interesting to speculate what conversations at this event seeded the many projects that have happened since.
Things start to take off! Rachel contacts Croydon Council and we end up with our first growing space in Westow Park. An Energy group is formed and plans a draught-busting workshop. A few of us meet up and do a bit of planting in Mehul's garden. We are actually planting things now! Based on "Stitch and Bitch" I decide to call it "Plant and Rant". This is the first of the many silly names I come up with. Since I don't have a background in gardening or solar panels, it's good to be useful at something. I've also trained in group work, so I start to chair the steering group meetings, which seems to help people move forward with their ideas. We have a ground breaking day at the Edible Garden. About 20 people turn up and we get our hands dirty. Lynn talks about a Fairtrade event for next year. Something is starting to take shape...
Tune in for the next thrilling installment of how we got from this to our present Transition Town: with over a dozen active projects, a network of growing spaces and a thriving weekly food market.....