The group describes itself in the following terms:
Transition Keynsham is a group of local people who are taking positive action to improve our community and environment. We do this by tackling issues that affect us all, such as high food and energy prices, the deterioration of our environment due to waste and rubbish, and an increasingly commercialised childhood. We also believe in learning how to become more self-reliant and fix rather than replace things, so we run a number of initiatives to enable the community to share skills and exchange tips and ideas. We work through Action Groups and Initiatives. Each one deals with specific issues even though they also interact. Anybody is welcome to join in and contribute to any of these groups and initiatives. We are all normal people with jobs and families, so help and support is always appreciated.
Transition Keynsham emerged out of a coming together of people in Keynsham looking for like-minded neighbours. They have a set of common interests in broader sustainability, lowering impact(s) on the environment but also a concern about the state of community in the town.
Strategies and practices
The group’s first meeting identified issues around food production/consumption and energy/transport as key issues. In that same meeting the attendees establish some themes on which they wanted to work most of which have a practical orientation:
Transport: Car share schemes, car and bike maintenance workshops to make sure they are running as efficiently as possible/improving public transport (making it cheap/free for some groups, more regular services, making Keynsham train station accessible for wheelchair users on both sides), public transport powered by a renewable source, public transport ran by a Co-op, making it possible to have more bikes on trains, DIY bike trailer workshops.
Energy: Renewable energy production on a large scale (e.g. the Severn Barrage) and on a smaller scale (e.g. wind turbines/ ESCO’s/biomass – willow coppice by marines for boaters wood burning stoves, solar, hydro-electric generation – possibly on the Chew or Avon rivers), ‘retrofitting’ (helping people to insulate and make other changes in their home that would help them to more energy efficient with workshops/ home energy support groups/ guidance).
Food: Identifying new spaces to grow food, garden share schemes, education, workshops, courses to reclaim our food growing skills (planting, maintenance, harvesting, seed saving, preserving, eating and sharing), raising awareness of food wastage, community harvesting of neglected fruit trees, wild foraging, reuse of plastic bags as well as re-useable newly created Keynsham bags, reducing packaging, group composting, encouraging composting at home, seed and plant surplus sharing (including bulk buying and sharing costs), a local vegetable box scheme, supporting local producers, businesses and retailers and shared food events which also double as ‘get togethers’.
Heart and Soul: This group describes itself in the following terms:
We are faced with some pretty daunting possibilities for the future and although these possibilities provide great opportunities for positive change they can also be quite overwhelming.
This working group aims to support the heart and soul of the Transition group following the example of a group in Totnes which has ‘home groups’ where up to 4/5 people meet once a month to talk about how they are feeling, any worries and then support each other. They have also put on talks/workshops to explore ideas about personal health and consciousness and alternative ways of healing our ailments.
Entertainment: This group describes itself in the following way:
In the future it is likely that we will be unable to entertain ourselves with electronic means as we do now. We could start now to re-create entertainment by celebrating local acoustic musicians, poets, story tellers, dramatists and watch them in a local candle lit venue. Let’s relearn to make our own entertainment!
Outreach and Engagement
Organisational issues (how to run an organisation)
TK currently has the following group structure:
Wombles: This group focuses on litter and waste. Current projects include: The Wombles, a clan of over 20 Wombles who regularly litter pick an area local to them in the town. Project zero, households working towards zero non-recyclable waste.
Energy Group: The aim of this group is to assist people who are interested in reducing consumption, saving money and more sustainable energy production. Current projects include: setting up a sustainable energy company using resources within Keynsham. Advising community groups on ways to reduce energy consumption for their buildings.
Caterpillars: A group for people who are interested in getting their children to play outdoors away from gadgets and screens, to learn about and respect their natural environment and to grow up in a more caring and friendly community. Current projects include: Wild Play Sessions during school holidays, Toy Exchange Project, ‘Playing Out’ (street play) sessions.
Community plot in the park: This refers to a plot of land in Keynsham Memorial Park – the Keynsham Community vegetable plot. It seeks to bring people together to cultivate the plot and collectively grow food.
Stitch & Bitch, Monthly craft social:A monthly craft group where members meet to chat while knitting, crocheting, sewing. They work on their own projects sharing skills and experience. The aim is to help people to learn a new skill or rediscover some old skills.
Food Group: The focus of this grow is to encourage people to eat local produce, grow their own, to take up gardening and the sharing of and learning about skills to improve wildlife locally? Current projects include: Community plot in the park, Wellsway wildflower patch and a garden share scheme.
Cycling & Bike maintence:This group holds monthly events at a local farmers market where people can bring along their bike to a maintenance sessions where one of the members will offer advice on how to maintain a bike.
Core group:The core group is made up of members of each of the working groups. They meet regularly to share how projects are going with the whole of Transition Keynesham. They manage fundraising and marketing as well as connecting to other transition groups locally to share ideas and advice. They also run a stall at the monthly Keynsham Farmers Market, sharing what they are doing with the community.
To put it in a nutshell
Changes begin on your own doorstep. Sustainability processes are to be initiated with actions in the immediate vicinity and at local level.
- Mobilising resources around identified themes (people, money, time) – food, energy, environment
- Contributing to the running of community involvement activities that help frame the discussion of climate change (and sustainability)
- Building networks with other local community groups
As can be seen from the above many of their activities are focussed on bringing local people together in a ‘social manner’ to address issues around sustainability and indirectly exploring alternative ways of living. Sociability plays an important role in their activities and they are keen to ensure that their activities, whilst addressing sustainability issues, are enjoyable for those who participate. They are Community Builders. In contrast to WinACC they are a much more loosely organised group based entirely on inputs by volunteers and voluntary activities that bring people together. The ethos of the group appears to be one of raising awareness of issues and alternatives through sociable activities. One might say to show that addressing sustainability issues can be ‘fun’, demonstrating that changing ones behaviour to support sustainable is possible and that doing ‘small things’ can make a difference. The group has deliberately sought to change peoples’ behaviour not by ‘scaring them’ but to engage with their everyday lives.