For a long time now I've been into environmental causes. Anything Green, anything to do with animal welfare, vegetarian/veganism, recycling, composting, energy consumption, I'll listen. I'm also a big fan of music, photography, food, cooking, eating (!), media and the arts.
The other day I had a satori. That's a term that might be familiar to those of you who know what Zen is. For those of you that don't know, Zen is an offshoot of Buddhism wherein through deep levels of concentration one is able to reach a higher state of consciousness, supposedly, so that one is then able to answer certain deep and complex questions, such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Well, as a drummer in several failed rock bands, I knew that sound. But a satori is similar to an epiphany in that it's a sudden blinding realization where many disparate elements come together in your mind in a way that makes you go "Whoa! That's what I should do!"
I had been reading recently about Transition towns, a term I'd only recently come across, and comparing it in my other blog The World Of Jeff! to Cameron's Big Society. As it turned out there some similarities, in that many communities involved in Transition seem to find that they come together in a more neighbourly fashion to help each other and with a somewhat kindred spirit. It's also similar because the government isn't spending a dime on it. (Oooh, bit of politics!)
I had also over the past year or so been to arts festivals and galleries, food related events, I'd been gardening, gone to various Farmer's markets, and several music and comedy events.
Suddenly the other morning on the way to work it hit me. Thinking about things like Tentertainment and the Folk festival, and also having read about Alex James' Harvest Festival which includes live bands alongside cheese tastings and cooking demos, I thought, what about a festival in Tenterden, taking place over two or three days, with live bands scattered about the place, on street corners, in restaurants and pubs, in the rec, down at the station, in the church etc, food tastings and sales from local producers and restaurants (lots of organic and veggie types, not your popcorn-and-candyfloss vendors), local artists and artisans displaying and purveying their wares and giving workshops and how-to's, with lots of gardening and eco-stuff going on (composting and recycling tips, worm bin building, bug hotels etc.) and talks and lectures dotted about the place too? Would that not be the coolest couple of days? What could be more fun than a nice lunch of organic quiche and a couscous salad washed down with a pint of organically produced ale or a glass of local wine while listening to an acoustic jazz combo on a sunny late summer afternoon? So I sat down to write the whole thing down while it was still fresh in my mind. When I got home I told my girlfriend whom I think was a little taken aback but very supportive, and that is when I decided that something had to be done. An idea like that does not come along every day of the week.
I sat down and did some research about other towns in Transition, and found that there wasn't really anything going on nearby (Hythe was the closest). Well, I said to myself, if no other bugger is doing anything, then dammit, I will. So I started the Transition Town Tenterden page on Facebook. That was about 24 hours ago, and it's been a day, I can tell you.
I took my laptop to work and went on to the Tenterden Town website, which has a forum that seems to consist of about a dozen or so regular contributors who seem to have little else better to do all day than complain about rubbish bins, dog poo and parking. So I signed up and put a little blurb about my Facebook group, with a link on a forum post. I was met with an immediate response from the moderator (self-appointed arbiter of taste and decency) that the topic of Transition Towns should be properly discussed on the forum rather than Facebook, as "not many people use Facebook".
I responded that I knew many local residents who were au fait with the vagaries of the Book of The Face, and since the group was not an official initiative but just a metaphorical 'toe in the water', I would use any forum I saw fit to get the word out about Transitioning. Well, it took about three hours for my comment to actually show up on the forum but I am happy to report that my comments do not seem to get shot down in flames anymore. I'm happy to report that the group has 5 new members in one day, not bad for something only 24 hours old.
I also added a link to the page on Transition Network, which list all initiatives worldwide. We are now a 'Muller' initiative, which means we're mulling the whole thing over before it gets to be official. In a few more weeks I hope to have enough members that we are able to organise a meeting and perhaps bring in someone to speak from another successful group.
Well, anyway, that was just day one.