Fight to save Grow Heathrow

grow heathrowTransition Heathrow, which in 2010 set up the Grow Heathrow community garden on the site of a proposed third runway for the major airport, has been served an eviction notice for Friday, 15th August at 8.00am.

The group is calling for supporters to help resist the eviction and try and save the site. Events begin on Thursday, 14th August from 12.00pm with workshops, talks and training, followed by dinner and music in the evening.

Grow Heathrow is a squatted community space, open for people to visit and learn new practical skills such as organic gardening, permaculture design, bicycle maintenance and wood and metal work. It also hosts gatherings for groups which in the past have included Climate Camp, Reclaim the Fields, The Transition Network and People & Planet.

Grow Heathrow’s beginnings were in 2010 when Transition Heathrow members took over an abandoned market garden site in Sipson, one of the villages threatened by the Heathrow third runway expansion.

The derelict site was transformed: 30 tonnes of rubbish was cleared and it became a thriving community, demonstrating sustainable ways of living. Grow Heathrow produces its own food and uses solar and wind power, operating ‘off grid’.

Although Grow Heathrow have not been able to win their legal battle, their case has set a positive precedent in housing law. The appeal was the first case of its kind to have Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to respect of private and family life, deemed relevant by the judge.

Plans for the Heathrow third runway were announced in 2009 but, after a massive campaign, the expansion was cancelled in 2010. Now the runway is back on the cards and the government’s Airport Commission is expected to make recommendations on this and other potentially UK airport growth in 2015.

Eviction resistance: Friday 15th August, 8am. Grow Heathrow, Vineries Close, Sipson, West Drayton, UB7 0JH. Find out more and keep updated on Grow Heathrow at the Transition Heathrow website. 

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Our watershed moment

A storm in PorthcawlWater is a big part of our Spring/Summer edition after the winter’s storms brought the reality of climate change nearer home, but it also showed us the power of this natural resource. This article by Alexis Rowell is the front page story from that issue: amidst the chaos of extreme weather we can remind ourselves of the inherent wonder of water.

“Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.” Coleridge’s words have a prophetic ring to them. We humans need water for life, we love it for leisure, we make art out of it; yet we also waste it, dirty it, privatise it, use it as a weapon and, most dangerously, stir it up brutally in the form of manmade climate change.

The recent Climate Impacts Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is dripping with references to water. Shrinking glaciers, struggling marine species, reduced crop yields, increased flooding, melting Arctic sea ice, drought – the list of water-related climate issues is long.

There was no new science in the report, but the language was different – it was more dramatic, especially in terms of consequences for humans. “Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and expo- sure of some ecosystems and many human systems,” it warned. Or, in the words of Dr Patricia Romero Lankao, one of the report’s authors, “The polar bear is us.”

Some chose to decry the report’s “alarmist” language, but most climate experts see the IPCC as ultra- cautious. “It has to be,” says Rob Hopkins, a founder of the Transition movement. “It’s a synthesis of research papers and its output has to be agreed by governments. It is, by definition, the lowest common denominator in climate science. That’s why, time and time again, the reality has been worse than the IPCC predictions.”

Britain has just experienced its wettest winter since records began. Adrian Tait, a psychotherapist and member of Transition Athelney, which is situated in the catastrophically flooded Somerset Levels, says: “People aren’t talking much about climate change explicitly, but they’re palpably fearful of future events. My interpretation is that they’ve taken something on board about changing weather patterns and the threats these pose to the Somerset Levels.”

There’s no shortage of solutions for the Somerset Levels in the recent Blueprint for Water Coalition report: “Restoring wetlands, planting wet woodlands, encouraging rivers to meander over the floodplain and creating ‘upstream’ holding areas and buffer strips are just some of the ‘slow water’ techniques which allow time for underground reserves to fill and prevent flash flood peaks racing downstream,” it says.

Cities are just as much at risk of flooding as was shown in London this winter. Germany is a leader in urban flood management. German councils have the right to introduce charges for hard surfaces or even to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach. Thomas Kirchmayer of Transition Ingolstadt in Bavaria says: “When we built our house we had to prove that all rainwater would drain away within our grounds. Not even a litre could go into the sewers!”

On other parts of the planet the problem is lack of water. California has been enduring its worst drought for 500 years. Its largest city, Los Angeles, imports 89% of its water. Pumping it to end users costs around $1bn a year which, crazily, is roughly the same amount the city spends on flood management.

Andy Lipkis of the environmental group, Tree People, is trying to persuade Los Angeles to capture the rain rather than push it down the sewers. “The water that does fall here is estimated at today’s usage to provide potentially 30%– 33% of the water we need in Los Angeles,” he says. “But if we were to capture it and use it really efficiently – let’s say we were to double our efficiency – that would be 60% of the water we need.”

At the edges of these debates about too little or too much water is perhaps the beginning of a new narrative. Tim Palmer, author of landscape book Rivers of California, says: “Water’s long-term availability raises questions about the sustainability of growth itself.”

The UK government’s former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, believes “GDP rise in the face of the impact of extreme weather events is very unrealistic.” Joanne Poyourow of Californian Transition group, Environmental Change-Makers, notes: “Local organisations which weren’t founded for environmental or climate-based issues are now folding these topics into their descriptions of why they do what they do.”

Amid the manmade chaos, says British water artist, Amy Sharrocks, we need to remind ourselves of the inherent wonder of water: “It fulfils our most basic need and offers us some of our greatest joys,” she enthuses. “A cool glass of water, the comfort of a cup of tea, the conso- lation of a hot bath, a water fight in a summer garden, the soothing rhythm of a mountain waterfall, the power of a wave crashing on the shore.

“Next time it rains, instead of defending against it with an umbrella, stick your tongue out and invite it in,” she playfully suggests. “Beautiful, extraordinary water, without which the performance of everyday life would be utterly impossible – celebrate it, respect it and never underestimate it.”

Alexis Rowell is Managing Editor of Transition Free Press.

Subscribe to the digital edition of Transition Free Press here at Exact Editions, or sign up to get the paper version through your door.

Photo: A storm brews in Porthcawl, South Wales. By Ben Salter, under a Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0).

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Test run for Poole Harbour heat project

Poole HarbourThis article, by Gareth Simkins, was published on the Energy page of the Spring/Summer issue of Transition Free Press. This regular page focuses on sustainable energy for the future, including local initiatives such as Poole Tidal Energy Partnership. Other subjects covered in the past include, big biomass, community hydro and energy saving.

Wind turbines, micro-hydro schemes and solar panels are not the only way for community groups to generate their own energy. One scheme in Dorset has rather different plans – to produce heat and power from Poole Harbour.

The 36 square kilometre bay acts like a “massive solar heater,” says John Gillingham, a carpenter and one of the leaders of the Poole Tidal Energy Partnership (PTEP).

As the name suggests, PTEP’s original plan was to build the UK’s first ever community-owned tidal power project. The community interest company emerged three years ago, as a collaboration between Transition Town Poole, Bournemouth University and the borough of Poole.

But the tidal power proposal has proved too ambitious, at least at present. The harbour’s average depth is only 48 centimetres and there would be many competing interests to satisfy.

“It’s not viable to put a fairly large turbine there,” Gillingham explains, though harnessing the power of the bay’s tides is still on the cards.

For the moment, PTEP is undertaking a more modest project: extracting heat from a pond to warm a café and art gallery at Upton Country Park, just to the north of the harbour. This is intended to be a proof-of-concept scheme, a public demonstration of heat pump technology prior to the bigger plan – using the bay itself as a heat source for council buildings and local businesses.

The tea rooms in the park are notoriously poorly heated and have even had to be shut in the winter because of the cold. They’re a listed building, so demolition or major refurbishment is not an option. To solve this, PTEP is installing an underfloor heating system, connected to a heat pump, fed by water flowing through pipes in the pond.

Heat pumps are an old and established heat-exchange technology, most commonly used to keep fridges and freezers cold. However, they are increasingly being used, effectively in reverse, as heaters. Unlike normal electric heaters, they can produce far more heat energy than the electricity they consume.

If all goes to plan, the system, entirely funded by the council, should be operational next winter.

The scheme could increase public use of the park and will certainly cut electricity bills, probably by some £5,000 a year. It will also educate the public, and save 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide being tipped into the atmosphere – all of which will help the council meet its objective of a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.

Gillingham said the advantages are clear: “It will save quite a lot of money, cut carbon… and the public can see a working system.”

He admits heat pumps have a downside; although they are a low carbon source of heat, “we could be accused of using dirty energy” from the grid to power them. “It’s not all sweetness and light. Sometimes you have to walk before you can run – but we’re not disheartened.”

Gareth Simkins is an environmental journalist who edits the Energy page of Transition Free Press. He is also a member of Croydon Transition Town.

Subscribe to the digital edition of Transition Free Press here at Exact Editions or sign up to get the paper version through your door.

Photo: Poole Harbour from a plane, by Petr Kratochvil in the public domain.

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Getting It Out There! Deadline for Autumn Issue Bundle Orders Extended to 15th August

George Monbiot &TFP 640x480Don’t miss out! Bundles to go for the Autumn issue 2014 of Transition Free Press.

There is only one newspaper in print dedicated to reporting on all things happening on the ground in transition, and that’s the Transition Free Press. We’re bringing you the latest news and reviews from the culture that’s shifting the way it looks at and engages in the world.

Would you, your group or initiative like to sign up for a bundle of the 6th issue of this unique grassroots publication produced by experienced journalists and seasoned transitioners alike, who have taken up the challenge of ‘becoming the media’?

If so, we are now taking orders for the autumn 2014 issue.

From the Scilly Isles to the Shetlands, people and organisations from both within and beyond the transition movement have been signing up throughout the UK. There have even been orders from Canada and the US.

Image3020 detailPrepaid UK bundle prices, including P&P direct from the printer, start at £50 for 125 copies (40p per copy). 250 copies cost £85 (34p per copy). In order to keep fuel use and costs down, we keep a very limited supply of copies available after publication. And these are also more expensive.

Many people are sharing their bundles with transition and related groups in neighbouring towns. Apart from saving on costs, sharing bundles is a great way of connecting with people doing stuff on the ground in your region. Walthamstow, Cheltenham & Gloucester and Hythe are home to just three of the hubs for Transition Free Press.

To secure your bundle, whether big (250 copies and increments of 125) or small (125 copies), for distributing yourself, through your initiative or with other groups, contact Mark by 5pm on Friday 15th August at

PLEASE NOTE: Our distribution page has the current list of all TFP distributors – plus drop-down post with some hints and tips on how to get those TFPs out there!

And for INDIVIDUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS please click here.

Image: George Monbiot with TFP Summer issue at the Ways With Words Festival, Dartington,  July 2014 by Rob Hopkins

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Putting people back into finance

Fran Boait  of Positive Money

Can we fix the money system? This is the question that the Positive Money campaign believes it can begin to answer. In the Spring/Summer issue of Transition Free Press, Amy Hall looks at their increasing popularity,  as well as other perspectives on making money more people friendly.

Tapping into the deep discontent about the financial system, which erupted on to the streets in movements like Occupy and UK Uncut, the Positive Money campaign has put forward radical proposals for monetary reform. Director Ben Dyson says these changes would “democratise money and banking so that it works for society and not against it.”

The creation of money is their biggest focus: they want the state to have more power and the private banks, who currently create 97% of the money supply in the form of loans, to have less. Building on work by economists like Irving Fisher in the 1930s, Positive Money argues that full reserve banking where banks aren’t able to lend more money than they actually have, would help to stabilise the economy.

“Since almost all of our money is ‘on loan’ from banks, someone must pay interest on nearly every pound in the UK,” says Dyson. “This interest redistributes money from the bottom 90% of the population to the top 10%. The money which banks create also pushes up house prices, and inflates bubbles in financial markets – making the very rich even richer.”

Other more conventional voices, such as the former Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King and Martin Wolf of the Financial Times , have also started to ask questions about how money works. In February, the former chair of the Financial Services Authority, Lord Adair Turner, said: “Over several decades prior to 2008, private credit grew faster than GDP in most advanced economies and… that was a major cause of the crisis.”

In March 204, Positive Money claimed a victory when the Bank of England released two papers which said that modern money was indeed created by private banks creating debt, “It’s a massive step forward,” says Dyson. “We no longer have to debate how the system works and can move on to talking about how we can change it.”

But there are some within progressive politics who are not convinced by Positive Money’s ideas. Tim Jones of the Jubilee Debt Foundation thinks full reserve banking would make the financial system inflexible. “It could be really problematic in reducing the ability of people and governments to invest in infrastructure and things for the future,” he argues.

Jones thinks that Positive Money’s idea of a ‘Money Creation Committee’ to oversee how money is created is too technocratic. “We don’t need more bureaucrats taking economic decisions away from people,” he says.

Daniel Webb is part of the team at Goodmoney, a new social enterprise aiming to help business to exchange goods and services in the Brighton area. He wants to see more bottom-up reforms, “At the moment, local economies are overly dependent on bank credit,” he says. “Starting with business-to-business transactions, Goodmoney want to match up buyers and sellers to process transactions within a system of local credit.”

What’s clear is that the current system isn’t working and there is a buzz of ideas for improving it. From Positive Money to Goodmoney, from ‘moneyless’ experiments to the local currencies of Lewes, Brixton and Bristol; from credit unions to time banks: these are interesting times. Can money be remade into something more socially useful?

Subscribe to the digital edition of Transition Free Press here at Exact Editions or sign up to get the paper version through your door.

Photo: Fran Boait of Positive Money speaks at the 2014 supporter conference. Still from a Positive Money video.

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Digital subscriptions now launched!

DTTFP May 5 2014We are delighted to announce that digital subscriptions are now available to Transition Free Press readers. Subscribers will have access to all our stories in the full digital library, published by Exact Editions. That’s all six issues, TFP1-5 (plus our original preview) on line for either three months (£2.49), or for a full year (£7.99). Just sign up here:

Read our app on your tablet or smart phone, on the move, anywhere you go. It’s a particularly nifty for those who live outside the UK, or beyond the reach of one of our distribution hubs.

Already signed up? If  you know of anyone who would like to subscribe: friends, colleagues, folks at universities or libraries, do pass on  the good news!

Regular paper subscriptions are available here.

P1000559Competition for two free tickets to WOMAD

We’ve got a sizzling offer for the summer. One of our TFP5 partners, Ecotricity, is offering two free tickets to the world music festival, WOMAD in July.

So why not go in for our amazing back page competion? In each issue we’ve so far featured one of the TFP crew (pictured here after our summer meet up on Hampstead Heath), reading the paper in one of our distribution locations. We’ve had Trucie in Bristol, Charlotte on Southwold seafront, Mark on Southwark Bridge. Where do you hang out and read your TFP?

Most snappily shot photo will win you two tickets to this long-playing weekend 24th-27th July. All we ask is that you distribute a bundle of free TFPs at some point during the weekend. TFP T-shirts can be supplied!

Deadline for the competion is 27th June 2014, Please send your entries to TFP editor, Charlotte Du Cann The winning shot will be featured on the back page of our autumn issue (TFP6) coming out 1st September. Please send your photos as hi-resolution jpegs.

And dear readers of TFP5 don’t forget Ecotricity’s great offer in this issue on p.7. If you switch over your electricity supply to them, you get a year’s free subscription to the paper and we get £30. Thanks to all those who already have!

P1000550 enh copyImages: David Thorne, Chair of Transition Town Tooting selling TFP5 at their May Day revels: some of the TFP crew after summer meet up on Hampstead Heath – (back row)  Alexis; (front row) Charlotte, Mark, Michaela ,Amy and Snowy the newshound (photo: Sarah Nicholl).

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We’ve arrived! New Spring/Summer edition of Transition Free Press now published

TFP_2014-05_Cover_rgb-1Merry May Day everyone! Our first edition of the year is here at last! Thanks to all our contributors and a great core team we have taken our pilot blueprint  and given it a new twist for 2014.

Thanks also to over 80 distributors our colourful grassroots edition No 5 is now making its ways into shops, cafes, and community events across the UK from the Scilly Isles to the Shetlands (and even further abroad to Washington state). We bring you the latest news and reviews from the culture that’s shifting the way it looks at and engages in the world. All the elemental and essential stories that other papers don’t quite reach: on Earth, on the airwaves and in the swim.

W is for Water

13845808243_823628aac4_zThis issue we’re focusing on three big W’s: Waste (a Transition cafe that turns a town’s throw away food into delicious meals, an interview with Ugo Vallauri of the Restart Project, an update on The Rubbish Diet and  a new enterprise that makes bars from discarded fruit); Walking  (together in Deep Time, following the tracks of Patrick Leigh Fermor in search of hidden Europe and pollinating new ideas across the UK), and most of all Water, where we assess the impacts of last winter’s storms on the nation’s mindset. How the deluge not only has brought the reality of climate change nearer home, but also a deeper appreciation of the stuff of life around us, that includes surfing, lidos and foraging by the sea.

So do dip your toe or just jump into our new edition. Among our news and features pages you’ll find stories about rekindling democracy, alternative finance, community energy projects, open source tech,  neighbourhood reskilling, CSAs, sustainable time, mindfulness, Transition teas and more!

Transition Free Press is designed as a  paper you can hold in your hands. But if you don’t live near one of our distribution hubs, or are not one of our subscribers,  you can still read us on-line. Here’s the link:

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