Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Starting Out

It's been an interesting week (well, five days, really) since I started our Facebook group. We are currently up to nine members, namely:

  • Myself, Jeff Hickmott
  • Laura Douglas
  • Carolyn Hickmott
  • Cllr. Christine Hickmott-Arnold, Deputy Mayor of Tenterden (aka Mum)
  • Christopher Hickmott-Arnold, aka Deputy Mayor's Escort
  • Sandi Bain (Kench Hill Centre)
  • Cllr. Justin Nelson
  • Andrew Peter Bennett
  • Stephen Wakeford from DealWithIt (Transition Deal)
And yes, you read that right. My Mum is now Deputy Mayor of this town, and local legal eagle Justin Nelson is a new councillor, which means we have strong connections with local government already. I spoke to Justin last night and he seems like a nice personable chap and look forward to setting up a meeting with him and hopefully some of the other members (once we get a few more) to set up a steering group and assign some responsibilities. In reading the Transition Initiatives Primer which is required reading (available as a PDF from TransitionNetwork.org - be warned, it's a long document!) we are going to have to create some separate 'arms' of the group in order to share some of the work. These are:

  1. Energy Group. This group will look into the local carbon footprint. Is there any data on it? Has it been researched? And how do we shrink it?
  2. Food Group. The Food Group aims to promote and support local food producers, and encourage more people to grow their own food, on an allotments, in back-gardens, or even in window boxes.
  3. Transport Group. The purpose of this group is to take actions, such as promoting cycling and car-share schemes, to enhance substantially the sustainability of transport in the area, increasing the use of sustainable approaches such as walking, cycling and public transport, and reducing the use of unsustainable approaches such as motorised vehicles.
  4. Heart & Soul Group. The Heart and Soul Group aims to be a place where we can be open about our thoughts and fears, feelings and aspirations about our future lives, and the Transition initiative in our town. It can be very shocking to find out about the likely effects of Climate Change and Peak Oil on our futures, and the fact that the timescale may be much shorter than previously thought. It is especially difficult when those around you do not understand the issues and dismiss your fears as far-fetched and unfounded. This can easily lead to feelings of despair and isolation. This group will exist in order to discuss these ideas in a supportive environment and offer solidarity within the group.
As more members join, there may be more sub-groups created within these groups as different issues present themselves.

I was at the Tenterden Town Council meeting last evening, where the new Mayor and Deputy mayor were elected. The new Mayor is usually a shoo-in, having been Deputy Mayor. But the new Deputy Mayor is occasionally subject to challenge and this was the case last night, with my Mum being challenged by Cllr. Crickmore-Porter. It went to a paper vote and the tally was 7-7, so the mayor gave his final casting vote and supported Mum. She will now be his deputy for 2 years and will then (most likely) become Mayor in 2013. At which point she will be the first Mayor of this town to live in a council house. Power to the people.

After the meeting I mingled with the assembled throng, including Justin as I mentioned before and various other councillors, and Dan Bloom, local reporter for the Kentish Express with whom I had a long conversation about the Transition Initiative (he'd picked up on my involvement from following the Tenterden Town Forum on the web), and many others. I am afraid I am talking about this stuff all the time because i am so fired up about it, and I hand my card to just about everybody. Just today when I went to apply for a job (yes, folks, my current one ends on the 28th, so it's crunch time) I started talking about Transition Tenterden to the lady who accepted my CV. I then went to AbbotPrint in The Fairings to ask about pricing on T-Shirt printing and ended up talking Transition. I then went to get lunch from Cinnamon and talked Transition to them as I ordered my sandwich. I tell you what, I am either going to get this town motivated to do something and join us or bore the pants off them. One way or the other I am getting the message out there.

Anyway folks, those are my thoughts on Day 6, so I'll catch you later.

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