Ideas into Actions Meeting, 21st July 2011

This evening Transition Loughborough held the follow up meeting to the successful first public meeting two weeks ago.  The aim of this evening’s meeting was to explore some of the ideas presented at the previous event and then discuss what positive actions people would like to take forward from them.  Whilst we were a little down on numbers, we had a full hour and half of idea sharing and planning!

The meeting started with a suggestion from Steve that was should each introduce ourselves and say what area(s) we were each most interested in.    These included “food”, “energy”, “green drinks”, “transport” and “community outreach”.  The “food” option was one of the most popular and so it we focused on that initially.  Steve and Paul explained that they’d already got a few proto-projects underway, so we focused the initial discussions around those.

Apple Day

The first of these was the Apple Day planned for 4th November at the Shree Ram Krishna Centre in Loughborough.  This would hopefully bring together different local communities to share recipes for using apples, for example English apple pies and Indian apple pickles.  As such it actually bridges between the “food” and “community outreach” areas of interest.

It was suggested that there are other regional/national dishes that involve apples (such as the German potato fritters with apple puree) and we might ask the Students Union’s International Society if they had anyone who could add other dishes.  It was also suggested that a small fruit press or juicer could be brought along to make apple juice from the fruit.  Another idea was recipe cards for the different dishes that could either be given away or sold at low cost to help finance the event.

Judith mentioned that there are some apple trees at Gorse Covert and proposed that before the Apple Day we have another event (probably at a weekend) to encourage local people to come and help pick them.  This could also be linked to our online foraging map, as well as getting children involved in harvesting.  Judith volunteered to lead this idea, with some of the collected apples then being used at the Apple Day which Steve and Paul are leading.  There are also some apple trees that Transition Loughborough members own or have access to that might provide fruit for the event – one thing to watch out for is that the season seems very early this year: some apples are already being harvested, as are blackberries.

Another suggestion was to see if an organic veg box scheme company might like to get involved with the Apple Day.  This could either be by donating some fruit in exchange for promotion, getting a small “kickback” from people signing up to the scheme or by them sponsoring part of the costs.  It may be that this year’s first Apple Day is too small an event to interest them, but if it is successful and we repeat it annually, this should be considered.

Land Share

The second project that Steve and Paul had already been mulling over was an idea put forward by a local reporter: have volunteers take on a local private garden that the owner can’t manage and turn it into an attractive edible growing space as part of Loughborough In Bloom.  This brings in a number of benefits: the owner gets their garden maintained and a share of the produce, the volunteers get to grow and share the produce even if they don’t have their own garden, we get promoted by Loughborough In Bloom and (hopefully!) the Loughborough Echo and intergenerational community links are forged.

Diana was very keen that the garden should belong to an elderly member of the community who is finding it difficult to manage and/or is having to currently pay for a gardener.  Steve agreed that he’d talk to the John Storer House people about advertising the idea to their visitors, as they have a large number of older people make use of the centre.  We’re probably looking at just one garden to get started this year, but if successful it would be good to use the publicity to bring together more garden owners and potential gardeners.  JSH might also be able to advise on the best ways to make contact and whether things like CRB checks would be required.  Siva mentioned that he had contacts with the Charnwood Neighbourhood Housing group and was happy to discuss things with them as well.

The issue of land use and availability was discussed – people would not only want to share gardens but also have growing space of their own in allotments.  Several of the people at tonight’s meeting were on the local allotment waiting lists and Caroline volunteered to coordinate an action to request that Charnwood Borough Council start to look for more land for allotments.

Community orchards were mentioned as a means of making existing council owned public land more productive.  Already some areas of Loughborough have fruit trees and bushes planted in public spaces but there needs to be education on what is safe to forage/good to eat.  One simple idea was to produce labels that could be attached to the trees/bushes that said what they were and when to harvest them.  Steve said he’d like to lead a project on this, and would also contact the folk at Wymeswold to see if they could come and explain how they arranged their set up.  Yvette said that she’d contact her local councillor (Neville!) to ask about using space in Shelthorpe.

Film Shows

Judith suggested that we should look to run film shows using readily available DVDs with suitable public showing licences in order to help put our projects into context and explain to people about Peak Oil and thus why transition is important.  Films suggested were The Age of Stupid, In Transition 1.0, a film about Peak Oil, something on Cuba’s urban gardens, The Coconut War.  Judith volunteered to lead this project, and we’ll discuss what films people would like to see and how to run events on the Google Groups mailing list.  We might also be able to show films in the students union with the help of PP&AI – we’ll talk to Harris about that to see if there’s some common interests.

Siva suggested that we should also record meetings like this evening, so that people who couldn’t attend could listen to podcasts or watch a video.  Jon said that we should also video some of the events we’re planning to hold (such as Apple Day), not only for use on our website but to pass on to the Transition Network to encourage other areas.

Future Topics

Whilst we’d mainly focused on food and growing (and tangentially community outreach) this evening, the second most popular topic was “energy”.  Caroline proposed that we should think about holding a future meeting on that topic.  James and Jon were keen on this as well, and it was agreed that we’d use the Google Groups mailing list to kick the discussions off in advance of a face-to-face meeting.

Caroline also said that she was keen on organising a monthly “Green Drinks” event.  The idea behind this would be to invite lots of local community and green groups to come to a pub in Loughborough to socialise and share ideas in an informal setting.  She pointed out that it wouldn’t be a Transition Loughborough project and was a “low maintenance” action as it just required an email to be sent out to all the various groups and mailing lists.  The Swan in the Rushes was suggested as a first venue.

Date of Next Meeting

We’re going to skip August as lots of folk are likely to be away on holiday, so the next meeting will be on 7th September at 7.15pm in the  Shree Ram Krishna Centre on Alfred Street, Loughborough, where we’ll be able to see the space we can use for the November Apple Day.  Note that this is a Wednesday rather than Thursday – the hope is that by moving meetings to different days of the week we’ll be able to get people that already have arrangements on certain days along to at least some meetings.

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