25 Mar 2008
Transition Ambridge Begins!
What was possibly the worst kept secret in the Transition world was revealed last night on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. For those of you from outside the UK, the Archers is a fine British institution, a radio soap opera based in a rural community called Ambridge. It began in World War Two as a way of getting information out to farmers and rural communities, but it proved so popular that it is still with us. I must confess to having listened to it religiously since the age of about 7. Anyway, last night, the first mention was made in the programme of the possibility of Ambridge becoming Transition Ambridge. One of the characters, Pat Archer, a dedicated organic farmer, raised the idea. She decided first to discuss it with her friend Cathy, who asked her what this Transition stuff is all about…
Pat. Well, it’s something the Soil Association has been talking about for a long time. Transition is a way of actually making a difference
P. Its a bit like we did with the school meals at Loxley Barratt, but on a far bigger scale, and it wouldn’t just be about food.
C. Hang on… you want everyone to eat local produce or grow their own or what? And if its not just food….
P. OK. I’ll start again. The Transition Movement says we’ve got to do something about climate change, and we’ve got to reduce our dependence on oil..
C. Everyone’s been saying that for ages
P. Yes, but Transition communities are actually doing it.
P. Lots of ways. Food is just the start. Energy Descent Plans. Community orchards. Woodchip boilers. Economic localisation. The Totnes Pound…
C. The what?
P. Totnes, you know, Devon. They’ve created their own currency which you can only use locally.
C. Good grief! It all sounds pretty ambitious!
P. Well, it’s got to be.
C. And you’d be expecting the whole of Ambridge to get involved?
P. Oh definitely the whole of Ambridge, and other villages, Borchester even…
P. Well, most of the places that are doing it already are Transition Towns, there are a few villages though…
C. You can see why if you’re trying to get people out of their cars, better public transport.
P. Yes but..
C. That’s the trouble though… if you give up your car, there’s no other option
P. Well you can cycle…
C. Like Nigel?
P. I think in Stroud they are setting up a shared bike scheme… bike shelters and community bikes all painted yellow or something, you just grab one to get where you’re going.
C. …and then if you can cadge a lift back…
P. Definitely. You’re not committed to the bike… And they do bike maintenance classes for people who’ve got their own.
C. Well, it sounds amazing!
P. Tony thinks it’s a good idea.
C. I think you might have a job selling it to the whole village…
P. Well, I’m going to carry on with it anyway, see how far I can get.
If you missed the episode you can hear it on BBC Radio 4’s Listen Again section for the next 6 days. I think it is hugely exciting, and will introduce Transition ideas to a huge audience. What next? The End of Suburbia in Ambridge Village Hall? The Ambridge Pound? Local Passivhauses popping up all over the village? Brian Aldridge turning home farm into a mixed use permaculture CSA project? Eddie Grundy setting up business installing knock off solar panels his friend’s Baggy and Snatch have nicked off roofs in Felpersham? Caroline deciding to make Grey Gables as self-reliant in food as possible, digging up the lawns and installing edible landscapes and a kitchen garden?
Perhaps Pat and Tony might become the communicators of The Great Reskilling, helping their neighbours move towards being organic as the price of fertilizer makes other approaches unfeasible. Maybe Richard Heinberg will speak at the Village Hall and the talk in the Bull will be about the strengths and weaknesses of the Oil Depletion Protocol. Who will be the first to bring their carbon footprint below 2 tons? What wisdom and insights can be gleaned from the village elders to support this work?
All will be revealed. What are your dream Transition Ambridge scenarios? I will give a copy of The Transition Handbook to whosever makes me laugh the most (post them as comments by Friday 4th April). Let your imaginations run wild and free…. . It has already got the Archers bulletin board buzzing!