Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Sustainable Travel Tips and Links

This is a guest post by Mat and Blanca, the team who ran the Transition Café How Can We Have Sustainable Holidays And Travel? on 19th February. In our brainstorming session we came up with a whole range of travel ideas - from day trips around Cambridge to holidays across Europe - and lots of tips for things like where to get tickets, accommodation, and vegetarian or vegan food. So we thought it would be good to share them with you all here. We hope you find them useful.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

A new Chair for Transition Cambridge - Jacky Sutton-Adam

At our Annual General Meeting last October, I announced that 2019-20 would be my last year as Chair of Transition Cambridge. The Chairperson's role in Transition Cambridge is emphatically not a position at the top of a pile, TC is non-hierarchical in structure, it's more accurate to experience and view the role as a position surrounded and supported by a large, loose network of like-minded and knowledgeable people. One of the best things about my experience has been discovering this. 

 Who might take up the challenge of chairing Transition Cambridge? We are actively looking now for a new chair person, so I thought it would be good to set out what I've learned from my experience and what qualities and characteristics seemed helpful in the role. It's worth remembering that these are not exactly requirements for the position, rather an insight into some of the skills a new Chairperson might offer, or want to develop for themselves.

  1. Connectivity in the Community  Having a wide network of friends and acquaintances is a valuable resource, and you don't need to bring a ready made one with you! It's an asset that you can develop as you go. When opportunities arise or you need advice and feedback, other people, both within Transition and beyond can help you find clarity and focus with projects and tasks. The beauty of Transition Cambridge is that there are already many people who are ready to support and assist. Over the last few years many acquaintances have become my friends, and old friendships have blossomed and matured.
  2. Public Speaking -being a face of Transition Cambridge  Speaking to a roomful of people can be nerve-wracking - most of us would rather not! But it's a valuable skill as it develops self confidence and focus and can help to bring out your passion – and that makes for compelling listening. On more than one occasion I found myself abandoning notes and speaking from my heart which was both easier and more authentic! When you speak with passion, people are drawn in.
  3. Delegation Skills  Delegation is a grand word for getting things done in community. I learned that it's important to be as specific as possible in describing what you want to delegate. I also learned that that a personal chat on the phone or over a cup of tea was more effective than a generalised email!
  4. Empowering Others  Transition Cambridge has always been a constellation of communities; interest groups form and find their place in TC with an idea, plus two or three people who have energy to give to the idea. I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating and supporting at these 'start-ups'. I've learned that its more effective to stay in the background and allow people to shape their project in the way that is right for them.

I feel privileged to have collaborated and worked alongside many individuals with detailed knowledge, strong vision and clear focus, both within our community and also in the wider environmental scene in and around Cambridge. It's certainly been a learning curve, and I have felt a deepening and maturing awareness and understanding of the many environmental/ social issues we face. On the global and local stages, my time in the Chair has been an eventful period for the environment and climate, and I'm relieved that at long last, these existential issues are attracting mainstream media attention and increasing engagement from local government.

If you are curious about the role of Chair, or can suggest someone who might be interested, we would love to hear from you – please email Jacky or Nicola for a confidential chat. 

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Building on CleanWheels Success

Our apologies - we have had to delay the Transition Cafe event - this will now be 17th June 2020.

Two years ago Transition Cambridge began a project to put electric cars in the hands of car club members. Our first milestone is in the bag. In July this year the City and County Councils awarded a contract to Enterprise Car Club who put 30 hybrid-electric cars on the streets with ambition to change these for fully electric vehicles as the charging infrastructure becomes available.

Our next challenge is to make sure that the newly instigated Club is successful at displacing old polluting vehicles from our overcrowded roads. So far the CleanWheels team of four Transitioners have been able to push the local authority agenda in phase one, but now we need more help to build confidence in the Car Club model. Fewer shared vehicles are needed to serve numerous households and the costs are divided in proportion. That’s how we push the low-carbon agenda. Come to the Transition Cafe on 18th December and bring ideas on how to target your area with greener transport. 

Experience in Norwich is that a campaign of local advertising can rapidly build the membership around each vehicle and pretty soon its time to add an extra car nearby so that sharing is even more flexible. We can work with the Councils and Enterprise by leafleting and spreading the knowledge about low emission, low maintenance, mobility-as-a-service.

While the public sector and the commercial enterprise hold the reins of the project the voluntary sector (that’s us) can enhance development by using our local knowledge and network to spread the benefits around. Please come to the cafe on Wednesday and find out how, for example you could become a champion for low carbon transport in Cambridge and surrounding villages. Here is a live opportunity to reach out to our communities and make a real difference to transport habits and emissions.

Our apologies - we have had to delay the Transition Cafe event - this will now be 17th June 2020.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Climate Justice: climate change, gender and poverty in Cambridge and beyond

This is a guest post by the Blanca, James and Takashi: the team who ran the Climate Justice Cafe evening:

In late October, Transition Cambridge had the pleasure to hear Susan Buckingham and Sandy McClure discuss climate justice and its relationship with gender inequalities in Cambridge and beyond. Susan Buckingham is an independent researcher and consultant on gender and environmental issues based in Cambridge, and Sandy McClure is the director of philanthropic partnerships at Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) UK.

Susan Buckingham (left) and Sandy McClure (right)

We recorded the event in three parts so you can read on or listen, as you prefer.

Part 1: Blanca's introduction and then Sandy (Blanca's intro is noisy but it gets much better when Sue starts speaking)

Part 2: Sue's talk

Part 3: Questions

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Water - are we using too much?

Is this a river or a long narrow pond?

Have you looked at the River Cam lately? It is more like a long narrow pond than a river, the flow is so slow, even after all the rain we had in October. The Environment Agency water situation reports since at least May rate it as ‘Exceptionally low’ which means, based on historical flow, it has been better than this 95% of the time. However in terms of rainfall the current drought is not exceptional - certainly not as bad as in 2010/2011.

The Cam is fed from chalk streams fed from the same aquifer that is used to supply our water. The groundwater levels in this aquifer are also exceptionally low and long sections of the streams have been completely dry at times. This is a serious problem for the natural environment: there are impacts on fish, insects, birds and plants in and around the river and its tributaries. The Environment Agency has described this an 'environmental drought'.

This is why I am organising a Transition Café night on 20th November about water. We will have a number of expert speakers to explain the situation and then we will discuss what we can do about it. Please come if you can. The problem is partly caused by climate change and there are striking parallels to climate change in how we might manage it.

Monday, 23 September 2019

What do people in Cambridge think about climate change?

On Saturday some of us from the energy group held a stall at a Community Cleanup Day in East Chesterton. These events are organised by the council. They bring in skips where you can dump stuff that is too large for the household waste bins and they have a bring and take table for stuff that someone else might want. Doing a stall at these events is interesting because they draw in all sorts of people - everyone likes a good rummage to see what they can have for free.

We were trying out a new survey I devised to engage people with. I find surveys useful because (a) people like it when you listen to their opinions and (b) they make you think. This survey had three questions – but lots of possible answers. The three questions were:

  • What concerns you about climate change?
  • What are we doing for climate change?
  • What should the government be doing?

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Transition Café: Practical, Homemade Tips for a More Sustainable Lifestyle

The Transition Café on 24th July was a lively event sharing practical, homemade tips for a more sustainable lifestyle. We  swapped various recipes for cleaning, cosmetics, and food/drinks. The full list comprises laundry detergent, scouring cream, kitchen sink cleaner, shower head cleaner, olive oil mask for hair, gram flour face mask, deodorant, kombucha, fruit vinegar and oat milk. If you missed the event, you can download the booklet with all recipes from the Transition Café website and try them at home.
You can make this pot of deodorant at home. The ingredients are coconut oil, beeswax, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, and essential oils. Download all recipes from our website

The Transition Café is a monthly event series with lively conversations, talks, films, workshops and presentations about all the things we are passionate about to build a great community in our city. It takes place in different locations across Cambridge. After the event, everyone is invited to stay to meet like-minded people, network, explore new ideas, and get to know others involved with Transition Cambridge. We have more topics planned through to December: see the Transition Café calendar.

This post is from Myriam and Annuscha, reflecting on our Transition Café evening at OtherSyde, back in July.