Here are the notes from Monday’s meeting.
We discussed three main topics:
> Brighton & Hove Sustainable Food Systems
> Sustainable Modern Lifestyle
> Progress against time plan
We also heard announcments about:
> Adult Education on growing organic food
> The new Transition Education group
Thanks to Alex Scrivens for chairing the meeting.
There is no meeting next week on 13 April since it is a Bank Holiday.
The following week, 20 April, will be chaired by Chris Secker.
Paul, Tom, John, Gayle, Alex (chair), Rob, Finn, Chris, Casper.
In light of Casper’s project Alex gave out a Native American prayer to highlight the language used by and large by Transition groups, as a way understanding the nature of transition as opposed to sustainability . Tom pinpointed the idea that if sustainablity is the outcome, Transition is the process by which we get there.
Some key lessons were learnt after the unfruitful Greenways project. Primarily, that agencies would only be invited to the table if they were willing to engage fully with the discussions and be prepared to effectively state “in writing” that they were ready to do so.
Re-engaging with Pat Frost, prior to the county elections is now on the priority list.
Gayle: Organic adult education courses
Gayle has approval to run the organic adult education courses, as an on-going event from September. Discussions are taking place with the museum about contextual displays connected with local garden history.
Alex: Transition Network Education Working Group
Alex had been to Totnes to discuss the formation of a Transition Network Education working group, which primarily talked about creating a space for teachers and pupils to find curriculum resources for promoting transition in schools. Funding is likely for this and the group agreed to act as trustees to allow the right people into the executive space.
Brighton and Hove Sustainable Food Systems initiative
Paul discussed the Brighton and Hove Sustainable Food Systems initiative, started in 1993, and now adopted as policy in B&H. Robert advised us that a lot of this work came out of the South East Food and Health Action Plan, and is linked heavily with Primary Care Trusts. It was clear that these are responses to government initiatives on obesity and public health, clearly to publicly reduce health care costs.
The inroad that could be taken by Transition Farnham was to explore this further and Robert intends to visit Brighton to follow up enquiry, and to find out how they are engaging with the program.
The Sustainable Communities Act, coming into force this year, gives communities the power to instruct local authorities to work on these kinds of initiatives. Alex said it would be useful to ask someone to give us a talk about this powerful and yet unsung tool.
Finn, however, asked that we remained realistic in our workloads, and recognised that these enquiries demand resources and money, which are not readily available. The group accepted that there was a need to be informed of policy but there was also a danger of getting drawn into complexity when other projects were better suited.
Sustainable Modern Person
Casper and others discussed the Sustainable Modern Person Project he is developing with John. The key issue is that the 21st century lifestyle is great, how can we maintain the triumphs and successes of our modern life, and still offset the damage somehow. John argued that we still make assumptions about consumption, for example, the Icelandics produce aluminium, with hydropower, and the carbon production is minimal..at what point therefore do we dismiss production.
John brought up the “carbon-credit” card, with a ceiling limit on carbon credits available to a consumer, hopefully reducing consumption through rationing. Raising awareness to protect existing carbon sinks would be a valid way of using those credits, by leasing land with good capacity with the offset trading value, it was clear that there was a viable scheme out there. Alex discussed the idea of a floating carbon coefficient, similiar to VAT that is embedded with sales costs, and transferable through cradle to cradle accountancy. Carbon would therefore be trackable at all times, and government legislation could theoretically demand Carbon Added Tax. Companies would be forced to reduce CAT, thus demanding less Carbon in their accounts stream.
Casper then discussed the idea of how we could create “stories” about our sustainable selves. Alex mentioned the idea of stereotypes, in that we have a good cross section of people in the group that could act as diarists, and that we could somehow create a Ning style group to explore this further. John said that he wants to fully consider the implications of his daily actions and it was agreed that thinking and acting with peer support was a valuable way forward. Tom added that this would enable us to “punch above the weight” and give strength to our ethical aspirations.
Everyone felt that Casper’s project was viable and exciting, and all felt able to contribute in some way. Alex said it would be great if the group came one evening to his home and used a peer method to evaluate the possibilities of creating transitional commercial landscaping.
Rob Simpson had wanted to discuss the timeline of the group. He wanted to check whether we were making progress against the goals we had set ourselves late last year. Not surprisingly, not all our aspirations had been achieved.
Finn pointed out that although it was true that we had not achieved all we set ourselves, it was also true that we had achieved some goals ahead of when we thought we would. He advised that the group focused on it’s successes, drawing attention to them as a way to build awareness.
We pointed out, and everyone agreed, that the response we now get when we talk about Transition and climate change is very, very different from the response we got six months ago. Although we have not achieved 100% of the goals we set ourselves on the timeline, (and some goals we have achieved earlier than expected) we have definitely started the flywheel moving.
Alex potentially to contact Victor Duckett, to find out why the allotments listings has not yet been forwarded. (This is subject to confirmation from Ian Bysh that this is needed.)
Rob to visit Brighton.
Finn is talking to Surrey Economic Partnership on Tuesday morning.
Finn to post a question on Google Group, asking whether people would like to shift the meeting time back to run from 7:30pm to 9pm.