Forest Row In Transition – A Work Community In Progress

ISBN 978 095217 572 8. Published by Brambletye Publishing in 2009. 38 pages in big floppy A4 size. A nice quick and easy light-weight read. This is what happens when a Local Council has money burning a hole in its back pocket and decides to give it away to a community group working on local resilience in the face of Peak Oil and Climate Change. There is something truly astounding about this “community work in progress”. The Parish Of Forest Row only has 5200 residents. The number of people who worked on these 38 pages is, wait for it, 20 not including those who attended the individual Group meetings where these ideas were sketched out. Now if you are one of those unfortunate souls who live in apathy-town where, out of 100,000 residents you can barely manage to get 5 people into a room together to do anything “transitiony” this is an eye opener.

The work started as a “Changing Worlds” workshop in a community centre in 2007. This finally expanded into what became Transition Forest Row. Where is Forest Row? Somewhere in Sussex near East Grinstead. Yes. East Grinstead, which has the highest density of diverse religious grouping per square mile than anywhere outside of Hollywood. It is the home of Scientology in Europe. It is a special place. At the rear of the book we hear that “…the Transition impulse spread through the village, groups began to form around particular topics like energy, transport, food…..”. If only such Transition fever could grab the rest of the country we would be onto a winner. So what do you get for your £3 (you can download it for free from www.transitionforestrow.org)? Well, £5000 worth of funky graphics and cartoons. The front and back covers are quite striking if bizarrely nothing to do with Transition. A chicken looking at a mountain of strange cartoony-stuff. Weird. Apart from that we lots of nice photo’s of nice Forest Row people doing transitiony things like scribbling on paper, making cider and planting things. There are some simplistic mock up newspapers, overviews of transition initiatives, peak oil and climate change, lots of ideas about how a future Forest Row will look and a cartoon family called the “Foresters” who live in 2025. We see the world 2025 through their eyes and examine how things are so different for them.

It is all very inspirational and packed with good ideas. It is actually a text-book version of what the Transition Vision is all about. This is seminal work and every transition initiative should have this tucked away for guidance. Expect it to be heavily thumbed and shame-lessly copied by every other group out there. That isn’t to say it is totally flawless. Considering the amount of tax payers money that went into it, it might have been expected that some “science” and demographic analysis might have been inserted by the Council. The work is imaginative but amateurish, charming but somehow lacking authority. It is very “transitiony” but it is just aspirational…. It provides no real clue as to how we get from here to 2025. Things happened but we don’t know why. As a roadmap it fails to convince, but it is a “work in progress”. Expect great things from this team. Recommended.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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