Category Archives: Uncategorized

Climate Change

I have been absent from posting on South Coast in Transition as I have been finishing some books and getting them on Kindle.

To go with that I have set up a new blog site How to Advise The President, which I hope you will look at and join in the dialogue.

Some of the issues in South Coast in Transition are really global, so things like Climate Change will be posted more on How to Advise The President than on South Coast in Transition.

I hope that makes sense.

All comments welcome.


From community garden to world citizenship

I think one of the great things about life is the very great expanse between living richly as a big part of a very small project, to living as a very small part of a very big project.

At lunch time in Chichester a group of over 10 people met to look at the possibility of a community garden right in the centre of the city. Not a huge garden space, but who would have believed that this plot of land, perhaps about the size of 2 allotments, was sitting there unused? It is a truly beautiful spot, facing south, a good solid old wall to grow things against, masses of grass cuttings, lots of weeds and some very tasty blackcurrants. I am sure we will be getting this into shape soon enough, with the promised support of the council and its far sighted employees.

Thank you Mike and others!

At the other end of the scale we have a world community being built, people sharing a very clear desire for change. You can see on the Avaaz site how many people have signed up from countries all round the world. How amazing that purely on gut instinct people are joining a new kind of democracy, many who probably never vote, who feel disenfranchised  by the system, not by any lack of pieces of paper on which to make a mark.

I think there is not a lot of difference between how Transition has grown and how Avaaz is growing, both are based on that sense of belonging coming pure from the heart.

Somewhere in between we have Hub Westminster, an innovation space for individuals and businesses, an open space for creating, what a great idea for London! What a great idea for all cities! Lets revive community space, from the village hall in our smaller communities to expansion of the idea of sports and health centres to be diverse spaces for people to play together and build the next generation of ideas.

Of course we have to be a bit careful about trusting our heart without any checks and balances. We can be whimsical in our affections, and leave a lot of debris behind, but for now I guess we are all one with the idea that we need change and we need it now.

With the right motives we can build the right skills, and then leave behind the right memories.

Universities in Transition

Having come back from my ‘retreat’ in Spain where I nearly finished my next book, entitled ‘How to Advise the President’ (it was too hot for my notepad to work properly!) I am now looking forward to an event on the coast here, Portsmouth to be precise, entitled ‘The Future of Universities’.

Organised on behalf of the RSA by me, together with a great team from Portsmouth University, we have 5 superb contributors who will kick off the ideas session but for no more than 5 minutes each. The list includes Liam Burns, President of the NUS, Pat Killingly from the British Council and Rebecca Bunting, Deputy V-C of Portsmouth.

There can be little doubt that 2012 will be the beginning of transition for many of our Universities. The issues to be faced are like many in Transition, how might short term and long term work in such a way that we have sustainability in the system? Universities are created as long term institutions, and societies pressures are more and more on short term goals. As we see from other areas of concern, the short term creates costs long term.

Asking students to pay £9000 a year for fees alone (and most will be that and many more will be very close) while a recent report suggests 28% of graduates from 2007 still don’t have full time jobs, well, what do you think the outcome will be? If you cannot afford to subsidise your children, what would your advise be?

Some students are looking abroad. I have been told Dutch Universities are charging less than £2000 a year, so why not get a degree from Holland?

Creating a new debt stream for young people while standing on a platform saying we need to reduce our debt seems ingenuous at least, contradictory at best. You know who I mean.

But the event will not be about politics, it will be about helping find ideas for institutions which share the Transition goals of sustainability, which look long term while being pushed, like our schools, for short term targets.

Come along, listen, join in, help, Transition needs passion, and it needs people able to take a long look,to help integrate fact, reason and intuition, we need our Universities, but in what form?

The timetable looks like this:

6.30 to 7.05 Arrivals and food and drink (you will not need more to eat than is provided)

7.05 to 8.00, Our guest speakers, just a short time for each.
8.00 to 8.45 round table dialogue, 7 or 8 people per table with a table host, and some different food at the tables
8.45 to 9.30 reports back from all 10 or 11 tables and some comment back from the speakers.

Book here:

The cost is to pay for the food, you will have enough to eat and drink for the evening, so think of it as a night out!

See you there I hope, last time I looked there were just 40 places left so book now!

Oh, and just so I don’t leave them out, the other superb contributors are Nigel  Biggs, who is doing a great job at Surrey University as Entrepreneur in Residence, and Chris Millward, from HEFC, the Higher Education Funding Council.


Citizen power in Peterborough

There is a lot of talk about Big Society and some scepticism about what it might deliver and it being a way of passing off cuts in council services, but let’s see how Peterborough gets on, now they have made a start.

Here is what they are going to do:

“The project has six strands of work all addressing priorities identified by the local authority and its residents:

  • Work with five schools on the creation of the Peterborough Curriculum, which seeks to encourage higher levels of civic participation amongst pupils, parents and develops learning in partnership with local organisations.
  • A series of projects, which are building ‘green skills’ amongst citizens while bringing waste land back into use
  • The development of new civic commons where people are being trained and supported to tackle local problems like anti-social behaviour and social isolation.
  • A new approach to drugs services where people who misuse drug and alcohol are being asked to co-produce services and develop a network of ‘recovery champions’.
  • A programme of arts and social change which supports local artists, raises awareness of the arts, engages local citizens and provides a firm foundation for developing a sustainable arts offer for the city.
  • Developing a map of the civic leaders out there who have the enthusiasm, ability and networks needed to generate citizen powered change.”
My immediate response to this is that it is significant, it is a substantial commitment, and it will need a lot of continuing effort to deliver, so well done.
My afterthoughts are about things missing:
1. There is no jobs programme – paid or unpaid, and I ask why not?
2. There is no local currency scheme, these are being trialled in places around the world, surely Peterborough, with this kind of initiative, could push for it and make it work.
3. There is no transport initiative, what about an electric bike network? I seem to remember Peterborough as being pretty flat!
I think the lack of these comes from a mental separation between the Civic things, Health, Education  and the Arts, and the Business Profile, SME’s, Corporates, Profits and Taxes.
If Big Society is going to succeed it needs to get people thinking of integrating all these, so business is oriented to health and education, so health is oriented to business.
How we perceive things is core to how we nudge and get nudged.
Good luck Peterborough, and I hope South Coast Councillors look, listen and learn, and ACT, the sooner the better.
Like, Chichester Email for the Mayor, Tony French
And Brighton and Hove Email
And Portsmouth Email
And Southampton Email
And Exeter  Email
And the rest – so why not give them a NUDGE!

‘Service not included’

We are used to the idea of giving a tip at a restaurant for good service, and to know it is appropriate on the bill there is a note saying, ‘service not included’.

The latest fine for British Gas suggests on their bills there should be a notice, saying, ‘Service not included’, and two other energy providers are being looked at, so BG won’t be the only one to get hit with a fine.

Twice today I have had big frustrations with big companies. One was for an incorrect money transfer which was admitted by Bank no 1, but I had to contact Bank no 2, who told me I would get a charge but I could claim it back from Bank no 1! So they make a mistake and I have to do the work to correct it.

The second was for car insurance, can I insure myself to drive a friend’s car which is registered in another country where she lives? Call the AA, response, no we don’t offer that policy, no help to find out who could provide, and no explanation as to why not. So, the AA does not provide a service, they sell you things but if they do not have those things then please go away.

The lack of efficient, effective and friendly service in the developed world is of course nothing compared to the lack of just about everything in other places. But in places good service is available, and one of those places, Ethiopia, may seem the most unlikely of places to get it.

Owen Barder’s report on the famine in the Horn of Africa is the best I have seen, simple and enlightening. Yes, Ethiopia is affected, but emergency plans are working, so far.

Somehow, responses in one country, or from one company, are massively better than from another, and this must be because of fundamental differences in service ethics, that people feel and know their job is to provide a service. Decades of management improvement programmes, of leadership development, don’t seem to have put service at the forefront of the business. It is time this happened.

What’s on that’s green and furry!

With the end of July people may be looking out for things to do which are green and furry, so I have browsed through the Transition Links and selected the following, but please car share, go by train, cycle, or even walk, (and do you remember the days when you could hitch-hike?)

Grow your own apothecary is on in Brighton, Stanmer Park, August 6th, 10 to 5.

Fruit Tree Grafting, same place, August 13th, same time

There’s a talk and picnic in Christchurch this Friday 29th July, 2011, timed for 20.30 to 22.30, which seems a bit odd so maybe check the time, or maybe the sun doesn’t set in Christchurch in summer?

The Good Life Family Week at Monkton Wyld  – August 8th to 12th

Near Chichester, Sunday July 31st there is Bracken Clearance for the healthy minds and bodies, in a wild daffodil area, but no daffodils this time of year of course.

If you can get to Exmouth with your bike there is a cycle ride planned for this Sunday.

Near Falmouth there is a Yoga event over several days, and kids go free.

Now this is advance warning for gardeners, and you will understand why, Swap Seeds! here. September at Wakehurst Place.

Help is needed now in Hythe for the Venetian Festival, building a float

Help is also needed for  a Beach Clean up,  Mothecombe Beach, which is a beach somewhere in the middle of the South Coast of England, I think!

Lewes has a family fun day this Sunday

Green Open Doors sounds a must for those wanting to know more about green energy, September but may be booked up if I didn’t tell you now (actually I am not sure you can book, but it is still a good thing to put in your calendar)!

This weekend at Stanmer Park there is Scything courses, but don’t forget to count your fingers and toes before you start.

Some magic in living is on offer at the end of August, 28th to be precise, near Totnes

This Friday 29th July there is a tea dance, Sturminster Newton

Today, Wednesday 27th July 2011, there is a Produce Swap in Southampton (why doesn’t every town do that?)

In Sidmouth there is a BBQ  on 9th August 18.30

If you are quick you can get a look in on the renewable energy show, on Thursday 28th and Friday July 29th, Cornwall.

On 29th August Ottery has an opening for a new cycle path


So, there is plenty to do this summer, in all kinds of ways. A pretty mixed bag of events too, but apart from Brighton the big cities seem to have less Transition activity than the smaller towns and villages.

If you didn’t find anything of interest then maybe you could browse here and find something.

And whatever you do, have fun!








A few friends watched the film The Economics of Happiness on Sunday night and then chatted about the state of the world and what we can do, or not, while drinking home made Elderflower ‘Juice’ and eating home made locally grown plum crumble.

Our review was a mix of despair and hope, and in the end Hope won, but perhaps for no rational reason than that it is a better state of  mind.

We had wondered how the next generation were feeling and what they were doing (so you can guess how old we are), and of course on Monday morning I get this link sent about some young people who are brilliant, creative and very very green.

Isaiah Saxon (left), Sean Hellfritsch and Daren Rabinovitch began collaborating on films in San Francisco in 2003. Their digital animation company, Encyclopedia Pictura, combines live action, stop-motion and CGI components into a unique visual style.

Now you may not think this is very green, but this is the house they built to live and work in:

Rabinovitch's grass hut combines a primitive design with more advanced  solar technology. Trout Gulch's 18 residents live in a variety of tiny  homes, huts and tree houses.

Yes, they need the solar panel because they create animations for products, but only products they use. And they seem to have jobs available, though I am not sure how US Homeland Security would welcome you at the airport, ‘Yes sir, and your job is going to be working for this company in California as a Farmer?’

One of the people speaking in the Economics of Happiness film is the not quite as young Zac Goldsmith. As former editor of The Ecologist and more recently author of The Constant Economy Zac has some pretty green credentials. He has been pretty vocal about cloned animal meat being on sale, which as he is an MP of the Government in power which is allowing it shows he sticks to his principles, but given he seems to have different views to many or most Government policies, one may wonder why he is an MP for the Conservative Party.

The Transition Movement has a bit of a tradition of not being political, and does attract people from all ways along the line of left to right, and probably at right angles to it as well. Maybe our Hope for the future has to lie in getting those in power, those with a lot of power, more closely connected to those Green Entrepreneurs who can work within the contradictions of a sustainable economy without growth. Maybe Zac could donate a few copies of his books to Transition Towns?


Spotlight on Worthing

Scanning Transition web sites shows how busy everyone is and also how tough it is to keep so many initiatives going. I think we have to talk to each other more, to keep the energy up, it can get very lonely out there trying to change the world by starting with one small garden!

This week my spotlight is on Worthing and I hope you can somehow find time to vote for Worthing in its Community Garden initiative.

You have until 31st July to vote, but if you don’t do it now you won’t do it. Unfortunately if you don’t have  a Co-operative Society membership then you have to fill in stuff, which is a bit of a pain, but it is the Co-op, so hopefully you feel that is OK.  Of course you may want to vote for something else, and the voting is by area, so you may find you cannot vote for Worthing, but I hope this helps them get a few votes anyway.

Tomorrow is the summer solstice, which for the non Pagans means longest day. There is a summer solstice picnic near Worthing, find more here. I am sure people of all and no faith are allowed to go and if you can walk or go by bike or bus then great, I am sure there will be lifts back to lots of different places, or why not stay the night, it won’t be long before the sun rises.

Finally, there is a percussion for fun event Today, Monday, 2oth June, in the evening, so I had better post this quick or you won’t find out about it in time. I guess percussion for fun has some kind of resilience/reskilling/green community element to it, all will be revealed on the evening I am sure!

Have fun!