Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mornington Peninsula and Casey Coastal Transition Towns film night - Generation Green and In Transition 2.0

Wikipedia describes Transition Towns as "a grassroots network of communities that are working to build resilience in response to peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability." It's about sustainable living and local resilience to the changes we're experiencing. Communities are encouraged to find "methods for reducing energy usage as well as reducing their reliance on long supply chains that are totally dependent of fossil fuels for essential items."

Given my interest in these issues, it seemed like a good opportunity to find out what's happening locally when a film night was advertised to screen In Transition 2.0 at Pearcedale Community Centre, not far from where I live.

We were invited to bring a plate of food to share after the screening - vegetarian. It may seem a bit odd, given that I believe vegetarian food is not only good for sustainable living but can yummy too, that my natural inclination is to balk when I see it on an advertisement. My brain slips into reactive mode: Will I be expected to sit awkwardly on the floor scrunched up and painfully uncomfortable? Will there be mung beans? Nutmeat? What will the other people be like - surely not as 'out there' as the people at Nimbin, so alternative as to be almost off the scale. But mostly - Will I fit in?

I know I'm not alone thinking like this, and I suspect that there are others who could be interested in the Transition Towns concept, but ... well, sometimes it's easier not to attend things when we feel a bit unsure. But I figured - If they're too weird, I'll leave! So with my BS detector firmly in place I went.

I was pleased and relieved when there was a table full of pamphlets from reliably mundane (some might even say boring) organisations such as Melbourne Water - a promising start!

Two films were shown, the first Generation Green about BZE (Beyond Zero Emissions), a group I'd already 'friended' on FaceBook. They've produced an excellent, comprehensive report of how Australia can be weaned off the addiction to fossil fuels and use alternatives instead.

It was great to meet the people behind the report and be drawn into their commitment to create a viable future for us all. They're under no illusions that the path we're currently on will lead to wholesale destruction of everything we have been conditioned to consider 'normal'. There's a link to two of their reports here.

The 14-minute documentary Generation Green ... charts the "inspiring work of young Australians fighting climate change", its director Briony Benjamin said.
The film focuses on Patrick Hearps a chemical engineer who resigned from oil giant Mobil and joined Melbourne think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions where he co-authored the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan released last year.
"The film is about young people, who have said inaction over climate change is not good enough and are working to shape the future they want to live in," Ms Benjamin said.
"Patrick wanted to use his skills to do good and combat climate change; the Stationary Energy Plan is a detailed, fully costed report on how Australia could have 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 using currently available technology costing on average $8 a week for a household."
She said Generation Green is a rallying call to mobilise people power to start demanding clean, sustainable energy from governments.
"We have one of the sunniest, windiest continents and we should be leading the world with renewable energy solutions, Generation Green tells us how." (from http://www.qut.edu.au/creative-industries/about/news/news?news-id=52956)
One of the main messages I took from this short documentary is that in this election year, it's up to each of us to ask candidates standing for election what they are doing to actively support sustainable energy locally as well as nationally. I'll be asking my local candidates something along the lines of: "What are you currently involved with to seriously address the complex interlinked issues related to climate change?"

If candidates haven't yet thought about the impact of these issues and aren't committed to addressing them consistently and proactively, they're not worthy of the responsibility of being in parliament. We desperately need wise leaders who act with integrity, who are honest, and who have a viable vision for the future which involves a real commitment to energy, food and water security, beyond what the fossil fuel industry and other huge corporations are willing or able to provide.

We owe it to our children to take climate change and our addictive reliance on fossil fuels far more seriously than the current crop of politicians appears to be doing. At present, huge amounts of food are transported massive distances as well as between countries using fossil fuels. Putting all our energy and food needs into the one basket is a recipe for disaster.
The second documentary was In Transition 2.0. If you haven't seen it, and it's being shown near you, go. It's mostly about acting locally with an understanding of our need to be less reliant on food monopolies to supply foods. It's an encouraging film, full of active, proactive people working locally to improve streetscapes, wellbeing, environments. It's about people coming together to learn to be communities again. It's not all hearts, flowers and twittery bluebirds of cutesy happiness. It's real, and there is discussion of difficulties, challenges and failures. It's about responsibility and how we can find potential, then transform our little bit of the world independent of politicians.

In Transition 2.0 is about building resilience, and it's not just for aged hippies or new agers or intense people with a bee in their bonnet, a chip on their shoulder and an axe to grind. These are "normal" people, our neighbours, the kids down the street, the mums, dads, grandmas and grandpas. They're the professionals, the tradies, students and teachers. They're in communities all over the world from India, to the UK, the US, Japan and Australia and the thing they have in common is the desire to connect and to improve their lives. And that's not a bad thing to be part of!
Thankyou to Mornington Peninsula and Casey Coastal Transition Towns for showing these two documentaries. I was interested in the discussion afterwards to hear that in both Mornington and Casey it's ok to grow vegetables on your nature strip but that in Frankston it isn't ... C'mon Frankston, get with it!!

It was great to be part of such an engaged audience and in particular to see a local councillor - Antonella Celi - there. I could only imagine how encouraging it'd be to have a local political candidate attend an event such as this.

I'd love to hear if you're involved with Transition Towns or something similar. Are you growing vegetables? Keeping chooks? Bees? A goat?

I'm not sure where this came from, but it seems appropriate!

More on climate and change here.



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. This is great that Mornington Peninsula coastal community as taken being a transition town to its heart ..

I wrote about them in June 2009 - where I had to research to do it! Having picked up the fact they exist ... and sort of did a potted history ...


It would be a project my mother would have loved to be involved with .. and certainly in due course is something I must consider ...

Now I'm renting for the moment - there isn't the opportunity to do any of these - though I know people who do quite a lot ...

That logo is in Lewes too .. I spotted in a local newspaper at the library .. and realised I'd seen it here!

So good for you to keep us informed about what's happening down under .. and so pleased to read that the young are getting active too ..

Very interesting read .. cheers Hilary

Sue Travers said...

Thanks Hilary, We're nowhere near the Totnes Transition town, but it's a start. Amongst the flyers was one talking about Landshare which looks interesting, particularly for people who don't have access to their own land. It's a spin off from the River Cottage series which I loved - perhaps there's a group near you? There's something deeply satisfying about going into the garden and picking something to add to dinner!