Today (8/1/08) Transition Island learned that they have been
accepted into the national Transition Towns Network
Brangwyn (Co-founder of the Network) said "It looks
like you have the makings of a great team there and I'm
delighted to welcome you formally into the hallowed ranks of
official Transition Initiatives - our first island! "
He was interested to see the
way "the uniqueness of an island shapes the initiative there ...
You'll have lessons that other islands will benefit from."
Transition Island aims to encourage and support all who work to
meet the twin challenges of Peal Oil and Climate Change. They
hope that all Island towns will form their own group to work on
their local issues, and will in turn support the Council's
The Steering Group was
delighted with this recognition of their work so far. They will
gain national support such as training, information and
networking with other groups in the UK and abroad. The Island's
temporary website is at
They welcome contact from everyone interested in learning more
about this, and anyone who would like to contribute.
Future Energy Gap
By CAROLINE DIAMOND, IW
Friday, January 4, 2008
AS we begin another year, we often take
time to reflect on our lives and to think about what our
resolutions might be for 2008.
Life on the Island is good for many
reasons. We are surrounded by stunning scenery, much of it
designated as areas of outstanding natural beauty, we have no
motorways, the crime rate is relatively low and Islanders are
rightly proud of the area.
But how do you envisage the Island in 20
years' time? This is one of the questions posed by Vav Simon,
who is involved in the Transition Island Scheme. This is part of
the Transition Towns Network, a national organisation which aims
to help communities prepare to cope with problems encountered
due to climate change and the peak oil issue.
Climate change has been well documented
but the peak oil issue is slightly more controversial. The
Transition Town website explains the world is not going to run
out of oil and grind to a sudden halt, in the way a car runs out
of petrol and suddenly stops.
The problem, scientists argue, will be more
of a steady decline in the amount and quality of oil obtained
and this could have a huge, worldwide domino effect, which could
be catastrophic and affect many areas of our lives.
The other problem with peak oil is prices
will rise steeply as a result of the shortage of
easy-to-extract-oil and this will be made worse by the huge
amounts of oil required by growing industrial world powers such
as India, Russia and China.
Many of us believe alternative energy
sources will be found but others feel, unless a fictitious fairy
godmother appears, time will run out and the social and
economic effects of peak oil could he disastrous.
Vav Simon spoke to me about how the
Transition Island Scheme could work effectively for Islanders.
Vav is keen to stress the scheme is a collective anyone can
join, not class-related or linked to any political party or
religion. This is a network of people who believe in taking
small steps to counter, on a local level, what is a global
Vav has been on the Island for 13 years and
is best known for her work as a chiropractor at the IW Natural
Therapy Centre for Animals, as well as the courses she runs from
her home at Aldermoor Farm.
When Vav and her husband, Dave, took up
residence at the farm in the winter of 2004 they began carrying
out works to the property and were astonished when they were
asked to remove a hedge growing on their land.
They saw this as unnecessary and
detrimental to the environment but came to a compromise by
agreeing to a process called hedge laying, where the hedge is
cut back and maintained. While doing this, Vav and Dave got to
know many local people and became interested in permaculture -
working with, rather than against, nature. They ran and hosted
the Island's Permaculture Group and ran courses about it from
From there, Vav discovered the Transition
Town Network and was invited to its first conference to lecture
on Post Peak Oil Healthcare for Animals.
The Transition Town Network idea
originated in Totnes, Devon, and attracts hundreds of people
to its meetings, gaining national acclaim. Totnes businesses
have even adopted their own currency, the Totnes pound.
I was interested to know how Vav thought
this model would work on the Island, how it could be implemented
and what the benefits would be. Vav explained the Island would
suffer as a result of oil price rises due to the vast amount of
goods we imported from the mainland. Transport to the Island,
particularly the ferries, would be badly affected. The
Transition Network promotes buying Island-produced goods from
Island shops and also encourages actions like growing your own
A meeting was held in Newport to introduce
the concept of transition to Islanders. Vav was extremely
encouraged by the turnout on the evening of almost 70 people,
including the Island's MP, Andrew Turner. A film, The Power of
Community, was shown, showing hardships and struggles faced by
the Cuban people after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990
when oil imports were cut by half.
Vav's ideal for the Island in future
includes less vehicular movement, more local shops and markets,
the existence of an abattoir on the Island and the use of more
It is difficult to argue against any of
these. The outcome of the meeting was that those who attended
took a unanimous decision to adopt the Transition Town Model
for the Island.
The next stage was to set up a steering
group, which meets fortnightly and looks at areas to work on
such as education, water, food production, transport and
recycling on the Island. The network is in the process of
setting up a car-share scheme here and also wants to branch out
and spread the word to every town and village.
A roadshow will visit as many areas as
possible, following a similar format to the Newport meeting with
a view to encouraging more people to get involved on the Island.
The roadshows will be open to anyone who has an interest in
their community, so knowledge, skills and ideas can be pooled.
The network promotes the idea of each
member of the group having an equal say and equal status. Ideas
are bound to differ from one town to another, what works in
Yarmouth may not work in Bembridge, for example.
It stresses the key thing is to start by
making small changes to your personal lifestyle. Vav is
interested in hearing from anyone who can offer a suitable venue
for the roadshow and also any groups who may wish to hear more
about the Transition Island model.
Transition Island also needs a website and
welcomes any enquiries from people interested in getting
Although taking these steps will not solve
the issue of peak oil, they serve to highlight the issue and
encourage people to think and act for the good of the
To find out more and to get in touch with
Transition Island, log on to
Cowes plans energy descent
Fuel and food prices are rising all the
time, with no sign of slowing.
Planning for a different future is
increasingly important. A group called Transition Island, a
branch of a national organisation (Transition Towns Network) is
focussed on this.
Vav Simon is currently heading the group.
She said “We are encouraging people in the community to start
forming local groups to discuss these issues. Rather than
waiting for Government or big business to sort it out, we need
to make a start for ourselves.”
The first East Cowes Town Meeting will
invite residents to listen to Vav talk about the Transition Town
model. This offers a method for everyone to have a say, and see
the range of concerns and opportunities arising. It is not
unusual for hundreds of comments to come out of such a meeting.
Margaret Prior, Mayor of East Cowes, said
“This is a chance for local people to make our town more
sustainable and resilient to the changes ahead. We want everyone
to contribute. I am very excited about this initiative and look
forward to meeting people on 3rd April at 7pm in our
The meeting will start with a talk by
Winston Churchill award winner Lois Prior on ‘Zen and the Art of
Sustainability’. The Town Council will also explain their work.