Knowing and feeling connected to our neighbours is proven to make us happier and healthier. Yet we know that one of the biggest challenges Totnes and its district face is widespread loneliness in our communities.
If you ever wondered what you can do to connect with your neighbours, in a way that is mutually beneficial and even has environmental and economic benefits, then we may just have the answer.
Local residents are invited to attend the relaunch of Transition Streets, the award-winning project. It takes place at the Methodist Church, Totnes on Thursday, March 17th, 6 till 10pm. We look forward to seeing you there!
The event will be an opportunity to find out more about the project, hear from previous participants and imagine and discuss ideas for your street and the project.
The original project involved over 500 households who made annual savings of £570, as well as 1.3 tonnes of carbon. Not only this, but participants reported they had built strong personal friendships and support networks, which have lasted to this day, and even helped through the experiences of COVID.
An emphasis on community wellbeing will be at the forefront of the revised and updated Transition Streets project, strengthening connections to care for each other and the natural world.
Project Manager Ruth Leonard-Williams said:
“Covid, the climate crisis and rocketing energy, food and other costs mean that we need to support each other more than ever. As a society we have become so used to living in our own little boxes and so many of us are disconnected, isolated or feel powerless to create change. Transition Streets provides a way to reach out to the people immediately around us and find sociable and fun ways to connect with and support each other and the natural world.”
In the project groups of 6-8 neighbours meet to talk through a range of topics including energy, food, travel and water. This has proven results, yet this time, the focus will be less on reducing personal environmental footprints and costs (although this will remain a core part) – and will focus more on actively inspiring people to take collective action, and to encourage more sharing, connecting, mutual support and acts of kindness.
There are incredible examples of street-level projects in Totnes and around the world that the project will draw on. From sharing tools, bikes and vehicles, growing spaces, meals and childcare to insect friendly verges, befriending, listening benches, clothes swaps, whole street energy surveys, street games and parties – the possibilities are endless.
Many streets have already taken part but original participants are invited to take part again, either with new residents, to take on new projects, or as mentors to other streets to share their knowledge and skills.
Hilary Bee was involved in the project in 2011. She said:
“In our Transition Streets group we shared garden tools and trips to the dump, pooled our expertise and buying power, shared food and stories, and got to know our neighbours. As a newcomer to Totnes, it was a wonderful way to connect, form friendships, foster shared values and become involved in TTT”.
Transition Streets will be working with other organisations in Totnes and surrounding areas to help people access advice and support, including a scheme with South Dartmoor Community Energy to support people with grants and advice to reduce energy bills.
Register for a free place via our Eventbrite listing - CLICK HERE
Ruth has spent 20 years working and volunteering with communities using practical and creative ways to engage with the issues of climate change, sustainable energy and low impact living. She has a degree in Psychology and an MSc in Environmental Science and is interested in the place where the two meet and how to motivate and support people to live in a way that is more in harmony with the natural world.
She is happiest outdoors and spent a lot of her childhood up trees and in woods and mountains. She lives in Ashburton and is part of a landshare collective including a woodland, meadow and forest garden where she grows fruit, nuts, flowers and some unusual herbs and vegetables with her husband, two children and six other families.
More recently she has been very involved with Extinction Rebellion.
“I feel so lucky and excited to be working on this project with TTT. Totnes has such a wealth of incredible people and projects that are so interwoven and inspiring. I can’t wait to get started.”
Green Walls (sometimes called Living Walls) are vertical structures covered with vegetation. You can either do this by planting trailing plants in containers and training them
up a system of wires, or by using a modular system which has pockets for the plants to grow in. The modular systems are usually made from recycled materials and; have a built-in irrigation system – they work best when there is an outdoor tap to connect too.
Some of the proven benefits of Green Walls include increased insulation - reducing heating costs in winter and keeping buildings cooler in summer. They measurably improve air quality and reduce pollution. They harvest excess rainwater and protect the wall against severe weather fluctuations, plus improving the aesthetic appeal, as well as being useful for obscuring unsightly structures.
Green Walls have been shown to improve mental well-being and work productivity in built-up areas and, of course, they can provide wildlife habitats and significantly increase available space for growing food in urban areas.
Incredible Edible Totnes is looking for sites in public places that might be suitable for one or more of these Green Walls. The walls would feature some ornamental plants in addition to edible ones to ensure that they remain attractive throughout the year.
We would, ideally, like to find two or three people living close to the site to keep an eye on the plants. As these systems are easy to maintain they are very suitable for anyone to deal with, even if you have reduced mobility.
If you know of an area and would like to discuss the possibility please get in touch with Briony. firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also donate to the campaign to help establish Green Walls. When doing so, you can leave a comment about where you hope the funding will be used and if you would like to host a green wall yourself. Feel free to share with friends and neighbours: https://donorbox.org/incredible-edible-green-walls