Local authority backs Transition Initiative’s Streets project
The Suffolk Streets-wise session was a ‘great day’, says David Greenacre, chair of Greener Farm Transition Initiative, running a Transition Streets course led to our Core Group doubling in size.
The Transition Initiative, which runs a community garden and has plans for a small community-funded solar farm, had been going through a ‘rough patch’. Despite this David was keen to try Transition Streets after reading about it in the Transition Companion. In the absence of other funding, Greener Fram paid the print costs of running a Suffolk Transition Streets pilot. David’s report on that pilot led to funding from Suffolk Coastal District Council for Streets-wise training as part of the Suffolk Coastal Local Strategic Partnership.
And so on 20 May 2013, thirteen people from seven Suffolk community organisations interested in Transition Streets attended a Streets-wise session at Hacheston Village Hall led by trainers Hal Gillmore and Celia Monoughan of from Transition Town Totnes. ‘Streets-wise does what it says and more’, says David, ‘the leaders were excellent: they pitched the content well and were very enthusiastic’.
One participant said they were interested in ‘how others had grabbed the concept elsewhere – wow!’; while another in the ‘diversity…and breadth of scope for Transition Streets’.
Following the training session five Suffolk Transition Streets groups are forming, each comprising up to 12 households, and there are plans for further households to take part. Of the local villages involved, Rendlesham have completed the programme, while Wenhaston, Waldringfield and Framlingham are to start in Spring 2014.
David’s advice to new project teams is to start by ‘picking low hanging fruit and work with other existing initiatives’. The nearby Apricot Centre for Sustainable Living in Lawford, Essex, for example, is now also planning to set up a Streets programme. And David’s position as chair of Framlingham Neighbouhood Plan Steering group and on his local village hall committee has been very helpful in putting sustainability on the local agenda.
He says it has been a challenge to find funding for the project, and so Greener Farm were delighted that Suffolk Coastal District Council provided funds to pay for 80 households to be involved, through the Greenprint forum: a link between statutory and voluntary action for sustainability. And the Apricot Centre is set to cover the costs of another 100 households from Stour Valley taking part.
The value of Streets-wise has been to strengthen their Transition Initiative and create a ripple effect to include other villages and local sustainability organisations – now all acting together to engage local people in sustainability issues. And although he’s retired, David describes this as his new job and says: ‘Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Worry about what you can do, and do it!’