The story of transition, part one

A fun collection of short films about Transition.

I shall avoid the temptation of writing about our need for transition, well for now that is, and just go straight to this recent article that appeared on the Transition Culture website.

As part of the promotion of ‘The Transition Companion‘, Emilio Mula made these 10 short films of different stories from the book.  The recent BBC series ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ beautifully told the story of the evolution of human history illustrated by 100 objects chosen from the British Museum’s collection. We used a similar approach to tell the story of the emerging and unfolding Transition movement, which in its short life has spread to 35 countries around the world from its humble beginnings in Kinsale, Ireland.  You can read more about these stories here, and here are the films…

So the first three of the films today and some more tomorrow.

Film One – A Really Quite Horrible Jumper  Origin: Transition Taunton Deane

Between July and September 2009, Transition Taunton Deane ran a series of workshops with their local council looking at peak oil, climate change and resilience. What was extraordinary was that every one of the Council’s 375 employees attended, from CEO to car park attendants.

This was written up as ‘Towards a resilient Taunton Deane’ and the whole process deeply impacted the Council. They set up a Green Champions team, every department now has an energy charter, it has cut its electricity use by 14%, set up a car club and is now installing PV and insulating its buildings. After the initial workshop, a planning officer and a car park attendant got together and planted a new community orchard on public land.

Chrissie Godfrey from TTD told me “our main role is to keep telling them how brilliant they are… it just goes to show how powerful a catalyst Transitioners, in the right place at the right time, can be”.

The jumper? In 2010, the Council held a ‘Turn the Heat Down’ day where the heating in their offices was turned down and staff were invited to wear the most revolting jumper they could find to work, and prizes were awarded for the most hideous.

Film Two – Bertie & Gertie Origin: Transition Town Tooting’s Trashcatchers’ Carnival

In July 2010, Tooting was the setting for the Trashcatchers’ Carnival, the first Transition project to get Arts Council funding. Together with Project Phakama and Emergency Exit Arts, Transition Town Tooting (TTT) created a street carnival celebrating the Earth using entirely recycled materials. Over 800 people took part, including local schools, mosques and temples, and over one million plastic bottles and shopping bags, half a million crisp packets, half a ton of renewable willow and half a ton of materials were collected over a six month period to create this extravaganza, which included several structures over 6m (20ft) high.

On the day, thousands turned out, the sun shone, local restaurants fed over 1,000 people for free at the end of the event, and the community was left with the feeling of ‘if we can do that we can do anything’.

Bertie and Gertie were made entirely from recycled plastic bags by members of Tooting Bec Lido as part of their float, and represent the real Bertie and Gertie, who are often to be found swimming in the Lido.

Film Three – A Gas Lamp Bulb Origin: Transition Malvern Hills’ ‘Gasketeers’

Malvern is home to 109 Victorian gas lamps, which provided C.S. Lewis with the inspiration for the lamp that first greets Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They are listed, part of the identity of the place, but are also hugely inefficient. At the moment each lamp costs £130 to maintain per year and £450 to maintain.  They don’t even create that much light, and as local council budgets tighten, there is a risk that they will be turned off altogether.

Enter Transition Malvern Hills’ energy group, known locally as the ‘Gasketeers’. The group brought together experts in gas lighting from the local area and also from further afield. They have now started making the lamps over; their changes will mean that each lamp will now cost just £14 a year in gas and £40 a year in maintenance, reducing carbon emissions by 84%. They will also be 10 times brighter, and produce no light pollution at all. They are maintained by Lynn, the UK’s first qualified female gas lamp technician, who performs all her maintenance with a bicycle and trailer.

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