So, if Transition is the child of Permaculture, was the visit last month by visiting permies a bit like parents coming to see what the kids have been up to? I’ll leave that for you to decide – but there was certainly a lot of pride and pleasure in showing people from more than a dozen countries around some of the numerous transition and permaculture projects in our part of the world.
The planning started just after the last International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) in 2013 when we learnt that the next event was to be in the UK. Since ‘Edge Events’ are a key part of these gatherings this was a great opportunity to showcase what’s happening around Totnes. Building on the experience of Transition Tours it was possible for a small group to put together a 3-day programme and offer it to the world, or at least to the 1000 people coming to the UK for IPC 2015. Nearly 60 people accepted the offer, which probably made it the largest of around 40 edge events around the UK. So what did they do?
We started by bringing people from the IPC in Essex to Totnes on a Big Lemon bus fuelled by recycled cooking oil. Big Lemon, a community enterprise based in Brighton, run regular bus services as well as coaches for hire and provided an excellent service. That evening saw a welcome event with a chance to meet local activists, sample beer from the New Lion Brewery, eat local food from The Kitchen Table and get an overview of the next few days. Even the Aussies liked the beer so I guess it must be okay!
Then began an intense and exhausting two days with visits to Martin Crawford’s Forest Garden, School Farm CSA, Adam and Erics Grocycle Mushroom project, Atmos, Transition Homes, Landmatters, Schumacher College, the REconomy Centre and The Wellbeing Garden. They also had a potted history of Transition in Totnes and a chance to wander the streets and purchase lunch with Totnes Pounds. Ignoring TS Eliot we ended with a bang by taking around 90 people to Dartmouth and back by riverboat with a brilliant double-act commentary from Hal Gilmore and Stephan Harding as well as nourishment for the soul and the stomach.
For those not already exhausted the following day saw a small group visiting the moor for an exhilarating walk lead by Inga from Dartmoor Walks This Way while others headed for the International Transition Network Conference at Seale Hayne.
So what did all this achieve?
* Educating and inspiring permaculture activists from around the world, vital since none of what we are doing makes sense unless others learn from, emulate and improve on our experience.
* Learning and being inspired by what our visitors have been doing and by their interest in our achievements.
* Bringing almost £20,000 into the local economy and sharing it with local households who accommodated visitors, projects that welcomed them, Bob the Bus and his twin brother who carried them around and all the people who helped feed and water them.
* A lot of fun!
Last words go to our lovely visitors who said:
"Thanks so much for an amazing Edge event. It was truly transformative!"
"It was a wonderful time in Totnes!!! And that last day (for me anyway…) hike was wonderful!!! big hug- one of your US based fans."
"Fantastic! Many thanks ! I will never forget this trip and the great people I met! Please let me know when Transition Homes project is finished, I would be very happy to visit ! If you come to France you are all welcome in my house !!! Best Wishes to you and all the participant!"
"Thank you! It was a great trip! Thank you for your generosity, openness and passion."
Thanks to all the people who helped make this event happen but especially Hal, Nicola, Anne-Marie, Dee, Theresa, Maria and Chris.