About Us


We're part of a world-wide community movement in response to peak oil and climate change. This site gives you details of our up and coming events and meetings, as well as reports and related matters that are going on in Norwich and East Anglia.

NEWS AND RELATED EVENTS... Common Room - Low Carbon Cookbook - Magdalen-Augustine Celebration - Norwich FarmShare - Transition Free Press 4 - Visions for Change -On the Blog Harvest: Looking in the Archive 2009-2013 - Flight of the Butterflies - Where We Are Now

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Oil Crunch

"The Oil Crunch - A wake-up call for the UK economy" is the second report of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security. This Taskforce is a self-appointed group of 6 companies - Arup, Foster and Partners, Scottish and Southern Energy, Solarcentury, Stagecoach Group and Virgin Group (www.peakoiltaskforce.net).

The report argues that an "oil crunch" will occur within 5 years. Whereas we failed to prepare for the credit crunch, we do have time to prepare for the oil crunch: "we must plan for a world in which oil prices are likely to be both higher and more volatile and where oil price shocks have the potential to destabilise economic, political and social activity."

The report gives a good explanation of what peak oil is and why it is likely to happen. An expert opinion from Chris Skrebowski compares new oil projects coming on stream with declining output from existing production. He suggests that oil prices will continue to rise gradually until about 2014, alongside a recovering economy. Around 2014 the world's increasing demand for oil will exceed supply: prices will spike as they did in 2008, pushing the world back into recession. Thereafter oil production will continue to decline, with the economy repeating this "downwards oscillation".

Dr Robert Falkner of the LSE considers the impact of this supply crunch on the British economy. He believes that the oil crunch is unlikely to have a "catastrophic" impact on the UK in the next 5-10 years. But he does agree that the transport sector, in particular, will be hit hard by rising fuel prices and the lack of any viable alternatives. This in turn will disrupt the just-in-time distribution we rely on for our food, and will also disrupt other businesses. "Continued dependence on oil...will cost the UK economy dearly."

Finally the authors make a number of policy recommendations. These include a shift from private to public transport as well as to electric vehicles; policies to protect disadvantaged people from rising food and heating prices; and a shift to renewable electricity generation, while recognising that this can not happen quickly enough to offset the imminent energy crunch.

The most positive aspects of the Oil Crunch report is the press coverage it has attracted - due in part to Richard Branson's celebrity status. All the quality UK papers ran prominent stories, and even the Wall Street Journal covered it. My issue with it is its lack of radicalism. It comes from the business world, and it seems to suggest that life will continue pretty much on its current trajectory, provided we can deal with some significant obstacles. Next month I'll review another report that reaches very different conclusions.

Picture: Tully speaking at EAFL's second End of Oil Conference, UEA, March 2006

Reskilling: Textile Workshops

The Reskilling group wants to (re)learn the multitude of skills that will be needed for a sustainable future. In the past year we have had craft stalls at green christmas markets, visited the Weird and Wonderful Wood fair for inspiration and helped organise the summer party. Our next endeavour is a series of Reskilling workshops introducing some of the basic skills requested in the skills survey we carried out earlier this year. The focus of the first six of these sessions is going to be on textiles, running in late April and throughout May, led by a variety of people from both within and without the group.

To begin with we want to know who is interested in each workshop, so please email Kerry (kerezereky_the_first@hotmail.com) if you might like to attend any of the sessions (numbers will be limited and there may be a small fee for some of them) and whether you have any particular preferences for days and time during the weeks.

The possible sessions so far are: Knitting - the basics and then a follow up session; Spinning wool - with an emphasis on spindles rather than wheels; Clothes mending/altering - the basics and answering queries; Clothes making - an introduction to making 'comfy trousers'; Rag rug making - start to produce your own rug with help. (Kerry Lane)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Carbon Conversations - Second Round - Wednesday 28 April

We have almost finished our first two Carbon Conversations courses and group members are already making energy savings in their homes and travel arrangements. In the last two sessions we talked about food and stuff and we are now creating our 5 year plans to reduce our carbon emissions to half our current level or less than four tonnes. As facilitators Tully and I have been impressed with the effectiveness of the programme and the enthusiastic discussions arising from the exercises and games. I have been surprised by the changes in my own behaviour and reduction in my energy use triggered by monitoring energy in my home and Inner Space.

Secretly, I’ve developed such a close relationship with my energy monitor that I’ve even been known to take it to bed with me but please don’t tell anyone! The course provides an ideal structure for starting a Transition Circle in your neighbourhood, street, workplace, village or community group and as we are hoping to roll this programme out across Norwich priority for the course starting on Tuesday 20th April will be given to those wishing to start their own group. We shall also be facilitating a daytime group in Diss during the summer term. In May we are planning to run the first facilitators training for those who have already completed the course which will mean that more courses will start in the summer.

If you are interested in Carbon Conversations please email training@transitionnorwich.org

Transition Norwich Carbon Club
If you are interested in monitoring your home energy use I can recommend signing up to I-measure at http://www.imeasure.org.uk/ where you can enter your meter readings and it will calculate your CO2 emissions for the week/month/year. I have also started a Carbon Club on the site called 'Transition Norwich' which you can join and where you can see how others in the group are doing. If you want to monitor your flights and travel as well you may prefer to use http://www.thecarbonaccount.com/ so I suggest trying both and deciding for yourself which site you prefer. (Christine Way/Core Group, TN2)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Transition Circles - 13 and 26 April

Having completed their first investigative round on the four main drivers in personal carbon cutting – Food, Transport, Energy and Stuff - Strangers' Circle are creating a wholefood coop and both Strangers’ and Circle West are meeting on April 26 to discuss waste (please check events calendar for venue details and Transition Circles for full details). Meanwhile a new cycle of Carbon Conversations begins this month.

Strangers’ Circle On the 9th March we arrived at Naomi and William's to find we'd all been really busy, brought a salad and hoped someone else would provide a main dish. So Naomi found more ingredients, Elena worked marvels with a mixing bowl, William got busy with eggs and we ended up with a feast fit for Strangers.

At this meeting we took stock. We’d spent several months looking at our energy, food, stuff and transport use. So we asked what it was we valued about the meetings themselves and where to go from here.

Key is the fellowship and warmth that has developed over the time we’ve been paying attention to these subjects as a diverse group of people living quite different lives. The meetings also provide a base to refer to when confronted by a business-as-usual world, where travel magazines, for example, make long-haul short breaks (e.g. to Canada!) still seem like the most normal weekend activity.

We decided to form a wholefood-buying club, which we discussed last night at Tully and Angie’s. We're starting small and at our next meeting in April we’ll be placing our first experimental order. (Mark Watson/Strangers' Circle)

Transition Circle West and Strangers' Circle The Strangers' and Transition Circles West are meeting to discuss the subject of waste in respect to carbon reduction. As Erik from Transition Circle West explains: from an "ecological footprint mindset waste and stuff are the same thing, because in steady state the stuff that comes in must come out as waste. It's a mindset that I would like to see adopted widely: buying stuff is buying waste. And permaculture rule #6: eliminate the concept of."

Above: Christine of Carbon Conversations sleeping with monitor; Strangers' Circle relax after their low-carbon supper; Boris, Elena's compost bucket,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Allotment - Plant Swap

We're making good progress with the allotment in spite of the continuing cold weather - windowsill gardening is the key while we wait for the soil to warm up! So far we've got seedlings of at least six different types of tomato; three sorts of pepper (including seed from Slovakia for delicious white salad peppers; aubergines; courgettes; squashes and pumpkins (with a special exotic from South Africa, Flat White Boer]; some cabbages and salad; and potatoes chitting nicely (Pink Pir Apple, Nicola, Charlotte). We're planning a plant swop at the end of May, probably outside the Forum - so all you green-fingered Transitioners, do please sow a few extra seeds now to swop on the day! For further info contact: jane@janechittenden.co.uk (Jane Chittenden)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Millennium Babies project in the news

Our Millennium Babies project was officially launched today at Norfolk’s Children’s Library in the Forum with Tom Harper's innovative peak oil workshop; it was filmed by the BBC for inclusion in the Politics East show (date to be confirmed). The Evening News covered the story earlier this week.

Transition Norwich – which has started working in Norwich’s schools – believes that when faced with the real facts about our imminent energy crunch, children have very good ideas about what should be the new priorities. However, children are rarely given a voice about their future. The Millennium Babies project provides an opportunity for every Norwich child born in 2000 and 1999 to investigate how their communities, food and consumer goods might change; how they’ll travel and what their future jobs might be. Over a period of eight years the project will enable them to express what they would like to see in Norwich in 2018, and what the priorities would be for them.

In the summer term, we’re hoping to involve every junior school in the city in the project. For more information contact Jane Chittenden: jane@jane.chittenden.co.uk.

(Grateful thanks to the Children’s Library for providing a superb venue for the event).

Picture: Millennium Babies from the Avenues School mapping out the city centre of the future

Friday, April 9, 2010

Climate Emergency - Saturday Night Sunday Morning vigil - 15/16 May

Join other transitioners and climate campaigners for this Post-election event organised by Campaign Against Climate Change to remind the new government that dealing with the climate crisis needs to be their top priority. The organisers write “Light a candle for science, reason and truth; for action for the climate emergency; for climate justice and the world’s poorest, for the young and future generations and for positive solutions; climate jobs, green energy and a zero-carbon Britain. Let the new government know that you care and you’re watching them.”
Assemble 11.00 pm outside St Martin's in the Fields, Trafalgar Square for the Candlelit Procession down Whitehall. For further details: http://www.campaigncc.org/

If you can’t join the 'Vigil-istas' right outside the home of government can you organise or attend an overnight vigil in Norwich - perhaps outside the Forum or the surgery of the newly elected MP, or wherever you feel most appropriate? Let me know at training@transitionnorwich.org and I’ll try to coordinate those interested. (Christine Way/Core Group)


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NEWS: Solar Energy - New PVs on offer!

Transition Norwich have a great opportunity to work directly with Solar Century - a reputable company set up by Jeremy Leggett of peak oil fame - to bulk purchase at a discount the latest PV technology for domestic solar electricity and utilising the Goverment feed in tarriff ( FIT) which starts on April 1st. The introduction of the FIT completely changes the arithmatic on payback periods for PV, making it more like 10 years to the previous 25 or 30 years.

The scheme, which is being offered to different Transition initiatives in the UK, goes like this: if a minimum of 20 households within TN 'sign up' Solar Century calculate that on an 'average' U.K. house, with the system they install, and the current government payment for energy 'exported' (under the FIT) by the PVs paid at 41.3P per unit, there would be a payback for each household of about a £1,000 per year. This is assuming that 50% of the generated electricity is used by the household, and the other 50% is exported. This proportion will obviously vary according to your own particular circumstances and current useage. In addition there is a third party ownership option under this new scheme, suitable for those who cannot afford to buy the equipment for themselves. Under this option, householders would pay a small upfront amount, and gain the savings from energy generated and used themselves - the FIT payments would go to the third party. Ownership would be transferred to the householder after 25 years. (Chris Hull/Core Group)

If you are interested in taking part in this scheme, please fill out the surveymonkey here now! http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/solar. This does not commit you to the scheme. The more householders we get signing up, the more discount we will get on the purchase. If you have any questions please ring Chris Hull ( 01603 664928)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

REPORT: The Low Carbon Roadshow

March was an innovative month for TN as 60 council staff took part in Transition Training at County Hall. Meanwhile there were creative moves within the often dry scientific areas of climate change and peak oil. Following the Norwich Transitioner’s blog, This Low Carbon Life (look out for the topic week this month on The Industrial Food System, beginning April 12), the Low Carbon Roadshow started to tell the story of Transition in the classrooms and on the streets of Norwich.

The Earth Hour "I'm a bit of an anorak," people kept confessing at the Future Visions: a world beyond oil event organised by Greener Fram(lingham) last Saturday. I have to admit when it comes to the Low Carbon Roadshow we were more of a velvet jacket/multicoloured trouser/leaves and skulls/blue faced kind of people. It’s good to know facts about peak oil and climate change but when it comes to big cultural shifts you need colour and imagination, you need drums and music, boldness and a lot of style. You need a show of how things might be in the future.

At the Low Carbon Roadshow’s first reheasal at the Norwich Arts Centre we found ourselves developing a performance based on Future Beings of 2110 “returning” to 2010 to speak about the times of Transition, Each of us incorporated a possible scenario from Mad Max to Steady State, Green Tech to Paradigm Shift. Then on Saturday evening (27th March) four of us conducted a ceremony to open the Earth Hour, accompanied by Taiko drums, converging at the Forum from the four directions. “What did it mean?” asked one of the crowd. “We’re creating the future,” I replied and realised in that moment that that’s what everyone was doing right there.
(Charlotte Du Cann/Communications)

To get involved in the Low Carbon Roadshow contact Charlotte Du Cann at theseakaleproject@hotmail.co.uk.

Transition Tales and Visions at Catton Grove School One unexamined assumption I appear to have been holding until recently was that kids ‘these days’ are addicted to TV and video games, the content of which influences their tender opinions about society and our culture, about relationships between groups, relationships between people and people’s relationships to the environment. This assumption was partly blown out of the water by one particular day of work at Catton Grove Primary school. Charlotte Du Cann and I were working with a class from year 5 (9-10 years old).

We played the ‘Oil Game’ with them – in brief a game designed (by Rob Hopkins) to get people to think about Oil being a finite energy source required by lots of different outlets from transport to food to clothing etc. A litre jug of water is used to represent oil and a pupil from each varying group whether it be clothing and cosmetics or mobile phones and computers comes up to the front of the class to get 75ml of water/oil, to last them 10 years. 10 years goes by in 1 minute and suddenly all the groups, transport, clothing, food, energy for business and homes, TV’s etc, come up to receive more oil. However, there’s not enough to go round! Who deserves the oil the most and why? Blow me down! All the class agreed that TV and computer games were not important enough to warrant using any oil for. One young man even suggested that TV was completely unproductive, to quote “You don’t do anything, you just sit there!” There fizzled my assumption that TV is one addiction that kids can’t do without.

The next day we invited Transition Cambridge to come and share their Transition Tales and Visions: two hours of time travel from traditional fairy stories about the relationship with the earth to a Transitioned future in 2050 where school children were milking goats and singing songs in praise of anerobic digestion. (Tom Harper/Core Group)
Above: Richard, Sarah and Chris on the Taiko drums outside the Forum at the Earth Hour: Salli from Transition Cambridge and Catton Grove Year 5 enacting a scene from a fairy tale about animals and the harmony of the world

Friday, April 2, 2010

Theme Group Meetings - NR3, Heart and Soul, Resilience Plan - 8 and 12 April

NR3 are now meeting regularly again and the next meeting is a Seed Swap at Greta's house near the Whalebone pub on Monday April 12th at 7p.m. If you want to come then email helenofnorwich@hotmail.com

The last few meetings have mostly been lively discussion with some interesting input from two artists who are both setting up temporary residence in St Augustine's street. One of these artists Karen Steadman is promoting "Paint The Town Green" - an art project which aims to transform neglected spaces into stunning virtual community gardens. More details on this are available at www.artoftheordinary-steady.blogspot.com or contact Karen on 0770 848 5998

Heart and Soul A new programme of Heart & Soul meetings is kicking off this month – these will take place on the second Monday of each month, 7.30pm to 9.30pm in the upstairs meeting room at the Bicycle Shop CafĂ©, 17 St Benedict’s Street (01603 625777). Our first meeting on April 12 is on Inner Resilience, facilitated by Naomi Duffield.

How do you maintain inner stability in times of external change? What does it take to switch from consumer based values to more sustainable ones? What does it take to keep motivated? This will be a listening space, rather than a teaching session - all welcome. Contact: trust@mangreen.co.uk

Our Resilience Plan is gradually taking shape, with visions for the future supported by plenty of facts, figures and practical plans. We're planning to publish a first draft during April for everyone to see. As part of the Resilience Plan, we're launching our Millennium Babies project, to chart the progress of children born in the Millennium year. They will come of age in 2018 - what will the future hold for them? We're hoping to work with every school in Norwich to capture the visions of 10 year-olds and their ideas in shaping the future for a resilient Norwich.

Our first step will be a photocall with the BBC on Tuesday 13 April, so if there's a Millennium Baby in your family, do contact us asap if you'd like to be involved. More details of this exciting project to follow in the next bulletin! Contact: Jane Chittenden jane@janechittenden.co.uk or Tom Harper tomharper@ekit.com (Jane Chittenden)

Food Projects Make the Headlines

Transition Norwich's "food plan" (part of the Resilience Plan) and food projects (especially the community-supported agriculture scheme and the Hewett School Farm) got plenty of press coverage on March 17th-18th. Tully had been asked to present on local food initiatives to a County Council subcommittee, and the EDP picked up on the County Council's press release, producing a front-page article as well as a two-page spread. The Evening news also ran a story, Radio Norfolk interviewed Tully on their drive-time programme, and the EDP even ran another story the following day, reporting on the Council meeting. In the EDP's letters pages local farmer Richard Hirst described the Food Plan as "a dangerous fantasy" - perhaps understandably missing the context of the Plan, which is the fragility of our current food system in the face of peak oil and other threats.

Meanwhile people are continuing to express an interest in joining the community-supported agriculture scheme. 48 people have said they will "definitely" join the scheme and another 41 "probably". We need at least 100 members to start the scheme. We've begun talking to some big employers, such as local councils, to see if they could offer a weekly pick-up point at their offices, and encourage their staff to join. If you would like to join, or to encourage your friends to join, do fill in the questionnaire at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KJS62D8. (Tully Wakeman/Food Group)