17 Sep 2014
How we make space for nature: Transition Langport
Transition Langport started with the appreciation and love of nature at its heart, for nature, with its abundance and support for life, is what brings so many of us together. We want to protect, enhance and value nature’s life supporting qualities. As a community we are lucky to live at the heart of the Somerset levels surrounded by the natural environment. As humans we are part of nature and our awareness of wildlife and seasonal changes also highlights the effect climate change is having on our weather and wildlife.
The Somerset Levels have in the last few years seen some of the worst flooding in summer as well as winter which has impacted greatly on the people and wildlife that live here all year round. Our first gathering of the community was over a shared meal of local seasonal food, which stimulated our local food co-operative called Elderflowers Food co-op, launched during the late spring when elderflowers were in full bloom.
The activities that bring most people to interact with Transition Langport are those involving nature. Hedge laying was one of our first activities at a field near the entrance to the town. A group of all ages and abilities came together to learn a rural skill and to create an attractive traditional hedge creating a sense of pride and natural habitat.
The field was also the location for our first community tree planting which lead to engagement with another project working to bring the elders and younger members of the community together in positive activities in the community and skill sharing.
The field has now become allotments for local people to grow their own food. It is amazing what happens when people came together for a common positive action and the conversations and ideas that flow during these activities out in nature. I believe we all have an inherent bond with nature. It makes us feel happy and healthy and makes us feel we are doing something positive and worthwhile for the benefit of wildlife, each other and ourselves.
Litter picking is another regular activity we do seasonally. Being a town so close to the countryside, the impact humans make by their consumption of fast food and mass-produced packaged sweets and snacks, quickly impacts on our green spaces and waterways. Most people living here love the locality to nature and don’t want to have a negative impact on it. Litter picking as an activity gives people an opportunity to highlight the impact packaging (made from oil) has on their own habitat and environment as well as the impact on nature.
These activities enable the wider community to make comment and join in with their passion for looking after nature and dislike of rubbish too! It was during these litter picks and conversations that stimulated the Plastic Bag Free town campaign for Langport, an ongoing project to rid the town of plastic bags. Demonstrating the volume of litter and plastic bags collected by the community and showing the local businesses has helped to greatly reduce the number of outlets supplying plastic bags to shoppers.
Transition Langport has now planted over 1,000 trees with community members including families of several generations. People have a connection and understanding of the value trees have to absorb CO2 to reduce one of the climate change greenhouse gases, creates oxygen for us to breath, fruit for us to eat and support wildlife habitats and food resources.
Plus tree planting is a great outdoor activity for all ages and leaves people with a feeling of achievement, giving something back to nature, helping to combat climate change and leaving a legacy for the future for both people and nature. We also have an annual apple picking and traditional cider making event. which is a great way to make use of the traditional cider orchards that have started to dwindle over the years and also a great social event.
Our most recent project for nature is the Barn Owl Box we are the new custodians of (donated from the Hawk and Owl Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust) and have enjoyed looking for the best tree in our community to place it in where the Owls will have access to the best mice hunting fields and breeding habitats.
All these activities bring people together creating a space to share interests and an opportunity to get away from computers or the TV, but most importantly, a space to get to know each other and share a common love of nature. We enjoy looking after nature as after all it looks after us.
The added value is that there are always new ideas being discussed, an opportunity to be outdoors together doing something good for the heart (both physically and metaphorically) and of course the best part is the laughter.
Cara Naden. Transition Langport.