Thursday, 8 January 2015

A transition interview with: Jacky Sutton-Adam

1. Who are you, and what group are you representing?

I'm Jacky Sutton-Adam and I represent the Food Group. We have fortnightly meetings, our mission is to inspire and support people with practical food and growing projects that nurture the planet and communities. I've been a member almost since the beginning in 2008 and our group is diverse in its interests, ranging from hands on growing projects to food skills and food waste/redistribution initiatives. A big part of what we do is public outreach at shows and events such as the Mill Road Winter Fair.

I also represent the Food Group at the monthly Transition Cambridge Hub meeting, where we report on sub-group activities and discuss things that affect the whole of our community. I also help to compile the weekly Bulletin. Those aspects of my involvement with Transition have strengthened my connection to our community and helped to widen my appreciation of all we have achieved - it's quite something!

2. What have you enjoyed, and what have you learned, during the last year, as part of working with this group?

It's been amazing to watch food group projects develop from a person's idea to an initiative that flies with its own wings, and also to learn that nothing stays the same for ever: some things we've started come to a stop when the group energy for participating dries up. I've learned to view these discontinued projects as part of the cycle, not failures! Our practical activities have been a source of pleasure too, attending Crop Share working days at Willow Farm is always a good laugh - I enjoy the banter and daft photo opportunities - not to mention the brilliant lunches... and cake! We ran a Fermented Foods workshop last October that has really transformed my diet and kitchen. I've just done my 5th batch of kraut (fermented vegetables) and am about to try my hand at a beetroot kvass. I love these living foods - not just for the flavour, but also because they're such an ancient food tradition - I feel that I somehow connect with my human ancestry when I make and eat them.

3. What are you looking forward to for the next year?

We're having a RE-conomy meeting at the end of January - to open a conversation about money within and around Transition Cambridge. Although we're a voluntary community, there are things which you can do more easily if there's a bit of money to make it happen. So money is a useful part of the equation because it can help volunteers to get things done, and even stave off volunteer burn out. And if we accept as a community that money is necessary, we could then consider the question of livelihoods... If our members can't afford to live in Cambridge we risk losing their impact on and contribution to Transition Cambridge. Are there ways we can help them to settle here? I think it would be brilliant if we could support people in creating sustainable livelihoods by harnessing the synergy of volunteers' experience and knowledge with the vision and energy of aspiring young entrepreneurs.

4. What question should I have asked you?

I'd love to have been asked 'What do you think is the next growth step for Transition Cambridge?' - It would have to be more community groups emerging at street level! I've seen recent encouraging signs of the Transition message and way of life springing up in City Wards that historically have a bit low on sustainable community-led initiatives.. (Check out this CB4 skillshare/trading initiative and Rock Abundance in Queen Edith's Ward.) The Mill Road communities have trail-blazed the way over the last few years, is it now time for other areas to take up their version of this baton? Each little project that is inspired by what we do offers an opportunity to inspire yet more people. I don't think it matters if they are connected to Transition or not - the point is surely to nurture community spirit - once that happens anything is possible!

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