Making the Transition

Another weekend, another opportunity to join up with some cool people doing some great stuff! This weekend it was a combined session run by Urban Reforestation (  and Transition Towns Darebin ( . If you haven’t run into transition towns already I strongly recommend you do a little bit of searching in your area because there may well be something happening in your community. To quote Wikipedia….

“The main aim of the project generally, and echoed by the towns locally, is to raise awareness of sustainable living and build local ecological resilience in the near future. Communities are encouraged to seek out methods for reducing energy usage as well as reducing their reliance on long supply chains that are totally dependent on fossil fuels for essential items. Food is a key area, and they often talk of “Food feet, not food miles!”

Central to the transition town movement is the idea that a life without oil could in fact be far more enjoyable and fulfilling than the present: “by shifting our mind-set we can actually recognise the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant — somewhere much better to live than our current alienated consumer culture based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth.

So the focus of this session was all about the ‘art of community gardening and was appropriately held at what is locally known as ‘Our Apple Tree’. This is a small amount of land next to a train line, on the corner of a fairly busy road that had been dormant and ignored for a long time. Through some hard work by the community it is now a growing food garden complete with communal benches and tables and a (somewhat dodgy looking) tree swing!

This space is actually owned by VicTrack but was basically reclaimed by public interest. It started off as a guerrilla venture but has now reached a level of understanding between the community and the council so will hopefully have a long future.  It made for a great backdrop to talk about how to engage with community interest and make use of land both as a productive space but also to break down barriers between neighbours, ages, cultures and whatever else gets in the way of community. It’s pretty amazing when you start thinking about what this could achieve. I recently read a book on guerrilla gardening and found that I now actively check spaces out and find myself assessing whether something could be done. The idea that our local park could have that boring wire fence re-purposed as a trellis for peas for kids to snack mid-play or that the concrete edge outside the car park fence would be perfect for sunflowers is kind of exciting. If you’re still struggling to see the possibilities of this sort of things, check out this TED talk.