An Amazing Visit
Written by Maggie Tidball
There was a Dutchman who met an Englishman and after an intense conversation the man from the Netherlands returned home with a mission.
I met the Dutchman and the Englishman – Hugo and Miles- when I visited Forres, Morayshire in Scotland last week in mid July.
Forres is a Transition town of some 9,000 inhabitants, full of local shops, surrounded by lovely countryside, very wooded and well farmed on it`s outskirts. It is also about 6 miles from the Findhorn Community. This has a certain influence on the folk in the town as a few join in events at the foundation. Adjacent to Findhorn is the Air Force base of Kinloss.
Hugo and Miles had attended the Circle Dance Festival at Findhorn in 2008 and that is when Miles engaged Hugo in conservation about TRANSITION TOWNS. Miles comes from the Northumberland town of Hexham, which is an historic old town of some 11,150 population. Their TT town is coming up to 2 years old and they are preparing to dissolve their present Steering group. This is stated as a recommendation in the Handbook so Miles said and could prevent burnout by overload! ! (everyone reading this take note, you could be called upon to “rescue” your fellow in the SG)
These 2 chaps met up again this year and Hugo and his wife Evelyn had this tale to tell about his historic town of Groningen with a population of 170,000 half of which are under 35years!!
Within a year they had set up Transition Towns Netherlands done the Totnes training to teach, help set up Groningen and 2 other towns as TTs, translated the hand book into Dutch with the help of 50 volunteers, held numerous awareness raising events including films with subtitles translated into Dutch,
printed publicity and planted fruit and nut trees. This was achieved by man, wife and one other young person – a university student – as the Steering Group. Isn’t that dynamic?
So how did I meet them? My friend Ella helped to set up Transition Town Forres and she thought it an opportunity to get the represented members of the 4 towns together for some feed back of our developments.
Forres wanted to set up a Farmers` Market and set up an Energy Descent plan and applied to the Scottish Climate Change Fund for money and got a HUGE £184,000, can you believe that?
They bought tractors, trailers, storage buildings, hefty stalls for the market, 2nd hand diggers for community allotments, (which I’ve seen and are very productive even in their first year) and much more. They have regular films, awareness raising events, have a heart and Soul group, Energy Group and a Re-skilling group. Interestingly they have a member from Kinloss Air Base
They gained news coverage in the local paper with a photo of some flowers in a park. These had been set in a cut out of 350.org and were visible from a high point on a street by a bus stop. The explanation of 350.org was there for passers by to read. Look it up on the net!
I spoke about Weymouth and how we were trying to engage with the “non-green” awareness folk. Evelyn`s comment was that they want to DO rather than be lectured although this is an integral part of the journey
That’s me as I have chatted on for so long. Hope it was a good read