JUNE UPDATE: On the streets and in the swim with Transition Free Press

TFP_Advert_STIR_FinalOur sparkling Summer issue has now been out in the streets for over a month and news from our 50+ distributors around the UK is that it’s been selling out and getting some ace responses from readers. Our newspapers can be found in downtown cafes, community gardens, summer festivals, town libraries and station newsstands, as well as a colourful array of Transition events. One of the most successful outlets are local farmers’ markets:

We have been having a monthly stall at our local farmers market in Nayland and have been selling the papers there. We try to make it a bit of an event – last month for instance we gave away free energy efficient light bulbs and took the opportunity to talk to people about energy consumption. This month we’re giving away rechargeable batteries and having a battery recycling box. We tend to find that once people are engaged they are happy to buy a copy and the feedback we have had has been very positive. (Michaela Woollatt – Transition Nayland, Suffolk)

image001And not just in Britain. Here are members of Transition Ingolstadt in Bavaria catching up on the news at a TFP reading evening‏, organised by Thomas Kirchmayer

Ingolstadt is, as we would put it, a “car-addicted” city as 38 000 people work at the AUDI”-car factory and cars are all the rage here. So we
wondered if  our little group would ever make this city change.

However we believe we could at least contribute. So  we started Transtion Town Ingolstadt with a community garden project and some more ideas on local food supply. I volunteered for one week at TT-Lewes and the programme Alexis (TFP news ed) organised  gave me deep inside views on how TT-Lewes works. In fact we regard UK TT-groups to be the very example of making Transtion happen. TFP was the best opportunity to make my group understand, what’s going on in the UK and to give them some fresh ideas about what could be done (e.g. mushrooms grown on coffee compost). So we are looking forward to keep contact and hope that reading TFP may help TT-Ingolstadt to “mushroom up”.

Subscribe to TFP and and keep the conversation open.

In the next few months we are launching a campaign to raise our subscriptions, so if you or anyone you know would like to receive copies through the post and help support our bold fledgling newspaper, do spread the word. We are running a pilot this year and are very keen to continue next year and into the future, so support at this stage is crucial and much appreciated.

We are a unique grassroots paper telling stories that are frequently left out or dismissed by the dominant business-as-usual media. We report on the big frame and the small actions of all aspects of Transition culture and act as a nexus for similar future-thinking organisations.

Do help us keep all our voices heard (that’s yours too!)

Working on issue three

GetAttachment.aspxMeanwhile we are now working on our autumn issue (out Sept 1) and would welcome any letters, ideas, great photographs or feedback. Do get in touch with us if you would like to contribute. We are always on the lookout for good stories from climate action to community kitchens, news, reviews and  interviews (charlotte@transitionfreepress.org.uk).

Most of all at Transition Free Press we like articles that are written in the field, by folk immersed in the hands-on business of radically rethinking and reshaping their individual and community lives to live within ecological limit, writing with dirt under our fingernails, as the Dark Mountain manifesto declares. On our Physical pages we look at ways that Transitioners engage directly with the planet with their bodies and minds, from uphill skiing to underwater diving. Here is TFP’s Arts editor, Lucy Neal on her life-changing immersion in wild (and sometimes extremely cold) waters, as well as her local community swimming pool, Tooting Bec Lido.

river-fairypools-151A Swim on the Wild Side

I recall my first year of winter swimming as one of the elementary rites of passage in my life. September cooled, leaves blew off trees and by November ‘cold’ was too vague a term for water temperatures heading down to -1°C when ice formed on our Lido steps. “Wear two hats; do widths not lengths; get out when you’re cold… and don’t let a degree slip without swimming in it.” That was the advice I received as a novice cold water swimmer.

Excited and curious, I wondered if I’d make it to Spring. By Christmas, the daily ritual was familiar: getting in, the intake of breath, an inner glow spreading and the zizz of energy on getting out. By April, I felt like a triumphant squirrel, startled and elated by my own resilience. I shed a hat and relished longer swims and warmer days.

At the edges of my physical and mental abilities, a secret door had opened: how better to explore the bounties of the world than by swimming it? Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is water and so are we! Streams, lakes and rivers enjoyed from a “frog’s eye view,” as legendary wild swimmer Roger Deakin once said. Goggled up, I swam the River Lot, the Norfolk Broads and Slovenia’s Lake Bled.  Near the Arctic Circle in Oulu in the frozen Baltic, I swam for England using ‘head up breast stroke’, a Mickey Mouse stroke reserved for avoiding ice floes and vasoconstriction of the brain arteries. Paradoxically, in making friends with cold water, I discovered the swimming community’s welcome is warm and wide.

Travelling by land to the 2012 World Cold Water Swimming Championships in Latvia, I visited Iksikile Transition Initiative, the first in the Baltic States. As a welcome, they lit the homestead’s traditional stone sauna. We sweated at 100°C and cooled off in the apple orchard’s snow and the icy Maza Jugla river. I felt radiant and well for weeks. Their summer festival celebrates the river with concerts, crafts and mushroom picking.

At home, no less thrillingly, the 100-yard-long Tooting Bec Lido is the gentle lapping centre of my world. Swimming, I lose the boundaries of myself; I’m sentient and whole. In sun and rain, everything I love is here: dappled, splashy, open-air, sky, trees and fun.  A creative community revels in water’s natural habitat mixing synchronised swimming, cross-channel training, egg and spoon races and doggy paddle galas.

Wild swim books and websites show open-air swimming is on the increase.  Swimming tourism adds historic swims to be collected like trophies: across the Hellespont and around Alcatraz; during the Cold War, activist ‘peace’ swimmer Lynne Cox swam across the Bering Straits between  the Soviet Union and the US. But you need not go that far!

DSC01854It’s May and I’m off to explore the falls and fells of Lake Buttermere and Crummock Water. The full glory of swimming is in your imagination. The swimmer hero, you answer the call of the wildness in you: rebalancing yourself to the world. Stretching the wings of your spirit you fly free.

Lucy Neal is a core member of Transition Town Tooting in South London. She is currently writing Playing For Time – a Transition book on the arts and acts of creative community. For more on wild swimming see www.wildswimming.co.uk

Images: Trucie Mitchell (TFP designer and Bristol distributor) and Other Animals check out TFP; Transition Ingoldstadt read all about it; first radish of the season and the new TFP T; wild swim (Dominic Tyler) ; bee pinata and Tooting Bec Lido from Treasuring Tooting (TT Tooting).

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