Transition Movement Grows in Carmarthenshire
Transition Town Llandeilo has grown to become Transition Tywi Trawsnewid. So what?
Seven years since the first meeting in 2007, this transition group has expanded beyond Llandeilo to cover the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire. ‘Transition’ refers to the process of changing to an economy which is in balance with the Earth’s resources, which prioritises local self-sufficiency and resilience, and which has moved on from burning fossil fuels.
The idea of transition came from Rob Hopkins, who with his permaculture students in Kinsale, Ireland, devised a plan for the town to use less and less energy. Rob then came to Totnes, Devon, where he met Ben Brangwyn at the Schumacher Institute, named after E F Schumacher, author of ‘Small is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered’. With Pete Lipman of Sustrans, the movement for sustainable transport, they formed the Transition Network in 2006-07.
Transition Town Llandeilo was the first transition group in Wales, nursed along by a dedicated group including Steve Brown and Gerry Gold, both having an interval from office-holding. Llandeilo was soon joined by several other groups. In mid and west Wales there are groups in Bro Gwaun, Lampeter, Llandrindod, Rhayader, and Llandrindod. The transition network now spans the world, with 1,130 registered initiatives in 43 countries, although Western Europe and the USA dominate numerically.
Locally, Transition Town Llandeilo had a big role in creating Cymdeithas y Dalar, the allotments society on National Trust land at Home Farm, Dinefwr Park. The Energy and Transport Group has organised several useful energy-saving events for the public. The Permaculture Group shares expertise on low-impact food production, and the Woodfuel and Woodland Conservation Group cares for a woodland, offering volunteers wood fuel in return for 10 days’ volunteer work a year. Several Transition Town Llandeilo members worked to set up and run Dryslwyn Community Shop.
The Llandeilo Food Network is a sub-group of Transition Town Llandeilo, and Amman-Towy Community Growers, busy with outdoor vegetables on a site at Derwydd, began as a sub-group. Sadly, Carmarthenshire County Council refused permission for polytunnels at Derwydd. These would have allowed a longer growing season and the cultivation of a wider range of crops.
The metamorphosis into Transition Tywi Transnewid is an opportunity to consider how barriers can be overcome. Transition has not yet really entered mass consciousness but is largely composed of people whom others might call eco-activists. As the individual transition initiatives expand and gradually cover the map, this barrier will be easier to leap over.
There is also the thorny issue of politics. Transition is not political in a party sense, but shares many aims with Plaid Cymru in Wales, and with the Green Party over the UK. The absence of party political involvement means that supporters of all parties need not feel out of place in a transition project, but at the same time, standing on the political sidelines probably means it will take longer to convince government at all levels to forget huge vanity projects like HS2, and to concentrate on local resilience to climate shocks and to the rising unaffordability of fossil energy, to foster local economic self-sufficiency to a far greater extent than now, and to stop prioritising economic growth in the form of Gross Domestic Product. A gross measure it certainly is.
For the record, the officers of Transition Tywi Trawsnewid are Katka Dvorakova (secretary), David Thorpe (publicity officer) and me, Pat Dodd Racher(treasurer). An outreach team is currently being formed, too.