Results of first meeting

So, we had our first meeting on Monday, and what a fun time it was.

Click to enlarge

The Barn did us proud with cushions and sofas and coffees and teas, and we even managed to get some ‘work’ done!

Thirteen of the twenty people who are now part of the core team turned up, and we spent the first 30 minutes or so getting to know each other. We discovered we have skills ranging from language teaching to fashion design, garden design, energy reduction planning, sustainable energy boilers, project management, carbon neutral housing, transport, tourism, food, and corporate change. (Among other things…)

Then we split into two groups and brainstormed some of the things we think we will need. The list was quite long!

You can see the full details (with more photos!) if you click below. Or you can download the meeting notes as a word document by clicking here.

Next week we will focus on forming groups to look at look at specific issues, build long term visions, and maybe even start work on some quick wins. Not bad for a first meeting.


29 September 2008

We introduced ourselves, saying who we are, where we come from, and why we wanted to be part of this group/what we could contribute.

We brainstormed what we felt/thought Transition Farnham needed to do.

We discussed the results and agreed:

  1. It needs some kind of overall structure
  2. We need/want to move to action as soon as possible – quick wins
  3. People can choose for themselves how they want to get involved


We agreed to write up the outputs of the evening, consider them over the next few days, and meet again next week to agree how to move forward (and start to make it happen!).

Full details are enclosed below.


James Little: Wood pellet boilers and sustainable tourism
Sara Osman: Getting children to grow and eat healthy food, as part of Soil Association initiative
Caspar Gray: Sustainable product design and
Cian Duggan: Sustainable energy
Gayle Souter-Brown: Designing landscapes and interiors, getting schools to grow food, training them to do so, has coordinated wide variety of gov’t Green initiatives in NZ
Alex Scrivens: Building a business that helps people to grow their own food
Joyce Hurd: Has lived resiliently and campaigned successfully
Ian Bysh: Project manager
Robert Simpson: Community-Supported Agriculture, set up the FLFI
Tom Lankester: Geologist, carbon neutral housing, cycle routes and green-ways(?)
Eloise Grey: Language teaching, online businesses, Fashion & sustainability, reskilling, Lack of buses
Paula Burgess: Environmental Science degree
Finn Jackson: Wants to be able to answer: “Daddy, what did you do to stop climate change?” Has experience in sustainable organisational innovation and change.


KEY QUESTION: How might our responses to peak oil and climate change look more like a party than a protest march?


  • Use as a tool
  • Need PR / Communications skills
  • Network with local Transition Town groups
  • List everything already happening in Farnham – bring people together, POSITIVELY
  • Need a SLOGAN (eg “Absolutely Positively Farnham”??)
  • Need a Vision Statement
  • List all the current uses of oil products
  • Build a sense of community across the whole of Farnham:
    “We are all Farnham residents, all in this together”
  • Energy independence
  • Food independence
  • “Self-reliance” rather than “self-sufficiency”
  • Need a website structure or tool, that we can use to:
    • Organise information
    • Facilitate communication with each other
  • How to involve/engage the community?
  • What issues do we/should we/will we look at?
  • What practical solutions and initiatives will we work on?
  • “Seasonally appropriate cook book”
  • Have a regular column in the Farnham Herald
  • Need a vision of:
    • The problems we will face
    • What we want instead
    • How we will know we have succeeded – “measures of resilience”
  • Set up formal steering group, with structure, and chairman etc? To review priorities
  • What structure do we want??
  • It is ok for anyone to say “No, I can’t/don’t want to do that”
  • Need to prioritise
  • Need an interactive website
  • Need website optimised, searchable
  • Ning for core group to communicate
  • Hydro Micro Generation
  • Stories, eg Godalming was powered by renewable energy:
    • Back to the future
    • Eg “Generation in my day”
    • Sold/told as useful information for how to live today
  • The Greening Campaign – sustainability Centre
    10 steps for community to do, eg Alton
    – brings community quickly
  • Planned “Unleashing” after 6-12 months
  • 30 people on bikes – powering a cinema screening
  • Gyms: hook bikes into national grid or local building
  • Involve key stakeholders
  • A Vision
  • Purpose statement
  • Transition Team / Transition Farnham Team
  • Need to follow free enterprise model (?)
  • “Street car” initiative
  • Surrey Hills Leader project
  • Need to raise funding!!!


Strategic ideas

Bioneers– technology /it/ engineering solutions to environmental problems
large-scale action group committed to finding naturally inspired solutions. maybe a useful platform for us as a social network, I’ve made if you want to see what something could look like
but its completely manageable as an interface, you can create anything. have a look at to see the variety of styles it has created.

Communication there’s a huge value in creating a process model that allows us to communicate with each other and other stakeholders, community groups and strategyindividuals, how we achieve that is maybe to look at existing models and adapt them to our polity.

Robert talked about the Library foyer as a starting point for positioning information about our enterprise.

We also mooted the idea of having a permanent high street presence in the from of an Inter-lease deal in one of the vacant shops in Woolmead.

This would raise our profile massively in a long-term strategy.

Web presence this is the virtual shop window, and with the right framing could be an invaluable medium for driving our projects to a wider audience and helping to blur the “them and us” boundaries, especially if we are participative and community driven.

Practical ideas about food and stuff

Slow food Create a slow food movement, and involve participation by local cafes and restaurants, retailers?

Have a local food party, and make it the centre of Farnham’s social calender, instead of that tired, anachronistic, reactionary, cliquey and frankly embarrassing “Venison Dinner.” (and by the way, hijack and rescue the Byworth Cup, ask me later!)

Food deserts There are many neighbourhoods where you can’t get anything to eat unless you drive, walk or cycle a minimum distance such as 500 metres or more to the nearest shop. How do we tackle that?

Community orchard Is there somewhere we can engage in fruit? How about finding a way of getting people with apples and pears to sell their own fruit to a co-operative? There must be thousands of garden fruit trees with tonnes of wasted apples. Why not buy them all and sell them in the local food box initiatives? Or Maltings market, or sell them to local cider maker Mr Whitehead?

Village stores The Barley mow in The Sands has a carpark which, in the near future will play host to a purpose built village store catering for the needs of a local community whose store closed a few years ago. Could this be a way forward for small enterprise initiatives? Could we see a resurgence of the french style “horn tooting baguette vans” selling wares on the kerbside?

Freecycle Community is there another incarnation of the car boot sale yet to emerge? Could freecycle events take place, not just in the home but at community swapmeets?

Community compost Wax lined bags with a daisy flower, emblazoned with two words…community compost…again, gardens, stables, allotments all have green waste…can we bag and sell it, bag it and redistribute it Could we tackle Waverley Borough Council head on and find a way of legally managing waste at source, or out-sourcing the green waste management into part of a local enterprise?

Bartering exchanging goods and services in traditional ways opens up the potential of LETS and local currencies, which leads neatly to the hub idea of …

which also provides the kindling for ideas such as

Food in garden initiatives, such as Alex’s “In vegetis most Munchus” and the idea of a prize given to the community group, school or individuals able to produce the greatest diversity of foods from their patch, or something similar.
The key would be “incentive to lead the inventive” much in the way that early business pioneers offered great rewards for great innovations.

Youth leadership growing initiatives There are grants and funds available all over the place to activate community work especially in youth sectors. How could a transition town acquire funding and what initiatives can be found from even a cursory scan of Farnham’s social landscape?Eco schools and eco-schooling in existing schools. Members of the group are already active in educational delivery. Can we make a manifesto for local schools and promote discussion amongst the key clusters here. How more engaging would it be to somehow invite the cluster leadership to attend some form of structured seminar if we engaged other leadership groups into the event.

Waverley Woods. We live, apparently, in one of the most densely forested boroughs in Europe. Why on earth is this fabulous fact not sung with our nightingales from the highest trees in Haslemere? Imagine the Bio-regional quality of this fact, and the consequent interest in the Woods-folk, Back-woods folk, and Epicurians of our region. Which are, you may ask? The ones that need to be re-skilled to provide these sylvian delights.

There are numerous skilled craftspeople living and working in Waverley, but there’s no real voice for them and their potential. Can we unlock the gates and help let them be heard and nurtured?

Workshops The rural life centre in Tilford has changed emphasis over the last few years, and is very much a living centre of activity. Why not build a relationship with them and harness their carts? Do you remember the Seale Ploughing match? Does it still happen?
Sounds like it ought to. Guess which new group might make that happen? Is it not also an opportunity to push for a bodgers and pole lathers contest, a weavers round, a felling match on RSPB land that needs clearing?

How could we help make the rural life centre a centre for excellence for rural crafts, they’ve got the buildings and resources, location and proximity. Is there an untapped synergy waiting to be unleashed?

Adult Education Centres are hungry for new courses, and new people to deliver them
any takers?

The Farnham Food Initiative is evidently incredibly active. How can we help to activate more land release and labour to help fuel the demand for this food. Again, it may be a case of playing gentle politics, and whispering quietly to appropriate people.
On the other hand, maybe we need to identify a goodly patch of disused land and holler.

Biodiversity and bio-centrism
“There are other beings, sentient and non-sentient who have a stake in the decisions that we make…” said Robert, in relation to how we might manage land in the new terms.

Ultimately this thread runs central in the new tapestry to be woven in transition towns.

Farnham Watermeadows, part of the Wey Valley, once defined as one of England’s finest vales( Cobbett?) is now fairly redundant. Can it be revitalized as part of a flagship resolution for land usage in the area?

Is it pasture, or riparian/flood-plain horticulture, or is it a bio-corridor for natural regeneration?
What does English Nature have to say?

The RSPB campaigns of recent years are lauded, yet to many, have become hot-spots of contention. How can a transition town tap into its community and best interpret local initiatives to balance our consumption and land use?

Is Waverley’s local plan central to discussion? Do we have to challenge it? And How?

Nothing upsets people in Farnham more than the Dartford Warbler, who single-wingedly upset the plans of many a development, both domestic and commercial in recent years.

How will we deal with this, exactly? Do we need, again, to be manifesto led?

here’s a shop full of ideas to improve transport

Increased bus service.
Volunteer buses.
Research on pricing .

Bus boycotts?
Activist campaigns?

Street /shared cars.
Lift sharing website

Electric vehicle recharging point.

Create a historic core zone which is unfriendly to traffic and somehow manages to slow things down.
Traffic calming.

Extend bike paths

Bike about scheme (such as winchester)
Hill climbing elebikes?

Cycle vans..rickshaws.

And finally…

…..a side note from Alex

Why not put all of the above into a shop unit, find a way to pay the rent by retailing local produce and goods, and upstairs or out the back, run a not for profit, grant aided core business, that not only makes things happen, but sells the expertise by the way of a sustainable enterprise consultancy, which creates a forum and platform for community led, free-market transition enterprise.

I’m very interested in doing this, and I know Ray Tindle might be too, the owner of the Farnham Herald and just about every other local newspaper in the UK.

Enterprise led schemes have a funny habit of striking echoing chords, which other people pick up and play.

Transition handbooks are selling well, after all.


APPENDIX – Notes from the Transition Handbook, plus a possible way forward
A) “Key Lessons from Kinsale”

  1. Avoid ‘them and us’
  2. Create a sense that something is happening
  3. Create a vision of an abundant future
  4. Design-in flexibility

Source: Transition Handbook – pages 124-128

B) “Six Principles of Transition”

  1. Visioning – create clear and enticing vision of positive future
  2. Inclusion – “without it we have no chance of success”
  3. Awareness-raising – “be as clear, accessible, and entertaining as possible”
  4. Resilience – “the rebuilding of resilience if central to the Transition concept”
  5. Psychological Insights – “enable people to feel part of a collective response, …part of something larger than themselves”
  6. Credible and appropriate solutions – “explore solutions on a credible scale”

Source: Transition Handbook – pages 141-142

C) “The Twelve Steps of Transition”

  1. Set up a steering group and design its demise from the outset
  2. Raise awareness
  3. Lay the foundations
  4. Organise a Great Unleashing
  5. Form Groups
  6. Use ‘Open Space’
  7. Develop visible practical manifestations of the project
  8. Facilitate the great re-skilling
  9. Build a bridge to local government
  10. Honour the elders
  11. Let it go where it wants to
  12. Create an Energy Descent Action Plan

Source: Transition Handbook – pages 148-175


SUGGESTED FRAMEWORK: (A “How to achieve anything” process)
1. Define the Vision
What is the problem? What do we want instead? How will we know when we’ve got there?
What problems do we need to watch out for?

2. Identify Alternatives
Find out what other people have done, in the Transition Movement and elsewhere

3. Get Input from Stakeholders
Consult with people who will be affected, people whose help we will need.

4. Build a Strawman
Choose what seems the best alternative. Build a model or pilot.

5. Go/No-go decision

Does it work how we thought it would?

6. Communicate
Let everyone know what’s coming.

7. Implement
Roll it out, continuously improve, and repeat

BE FLEXIBLE!!! Learn as we go.

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