At the latest Transition Newcastle film night we showed a series of short films.
Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA
Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”
Britta Riley: A garden in my apartment
Britta Riley wanted to grow her own food (in her tiny apartment). So she and her friends developed a system for growing plants in discarded plastic bottles — researching, testing and tweaking the system using social media, trying many variations at once and quickly arriving at the optimal system. Call it distributed DIY. And the results? Delicious.
Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes
What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.
Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change
“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.
Rob Hopkins: The Next Ten Years for People and Nature
We also showed a talk by Rob Hopkins (one of the co-founders of the Transition movement) where he gives a brief overview of some Transition initiatives.
Inspired by our Transition Streets, we door knocked our own street in Waratah to invite all of the neighbours to Christmas drinks. And on the day, after 15 nervous minutes of my husband and I sitting out the front slightly lonesome… they came.
It was lovely to meet our neighbours. Some were recent arrivals like ourselves, while others had raised families and now grandchildren in the street. Families who had lived in the street for more than 16 years were pleasantly surprised to meet for the first time.
A conversation about cars speeding down the street has left a seed… could there perhaps be enough momentum for a traffic-calming project in the New Year?
And the good will continues. Now, as we walk down the street we receive waves of recognition and greetings the entire length.
Perhaps most precious of all, the elderly gentleman who was feeling bleak sitting at home and came along to find ‘his spirits lifted’. The next day he commented ‘this sort of thing builds community’.
And so our journey begins.
[Submitted by Emily Grace]
At our final Transition Newcastle film night for the year we showed a few short films.
The first video was a talk by Stephen Schneider (who was a Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University) about climate change risks and the representation of the science in the media.
The second video, a TED talk by Tim Jackson (author of Prosperity without Growth), was a bit more the theoretical. He suggested it was time to establish economic principles that could help stop feeding the crises and start investing in our future. He also spoke about “keeping out the giraffes” (8:05). We didn’t show the little animation at the end – we weren’t sure what relevance it had to the rest of the talk.
To continue with the economic theme, we showed a short film by the European Commission suggesting there was a need to find an alternative to measuring the GDP.
Tying in with the Transition Streets Challenge theme of food, we showed a couple of short videos on meat produced through factory farming. After seeing them there was a bit of discussion about the difference between eating meat from factory farms and meat from free range animals.
What is factory farming? – Us and the planet
The Meatrix (Inspired by the Matrix)
To help finish the year on a positive note we showed a couple of more inspirational films. The Story of Change, from the makers of the Story of Stuff, encouraged us to put down our credit cards and to start exercising our citizen muscle to help build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.
The short 350.org film “People Everywhere Connect the Dots on Climate Change” captured images from their day of action in May 2012.
Finally we ended with the ever popular ”Earth to Humanity” by the BlueMen.
29 September 2012: Islington neighbours gathered together for a street party thanks to a Newcastle City Council Place Making Grant. Watson Street households, participating in the Transition Streets Challenge, arranged to close off their street to allow a bunting adorned marque to be set up with neighbours from surrounding streets bringing along tables and chairs for the event.
Children enjoyed riding scooters and bikes and drew chalk pictures of food on the closed road. They also potted seedlings so that each household had edible plants to take home with them at the end of the party. It was a bring a plate affair, with around 50 local residents sharing the barbeque along with potato röstis, homemade labna, backyard grown spring tea, salads and cakes.
The households from the Transition Streets Challenge contributed meals using locally produced food to highlight diverse sources of food with low food miles and a subsequently lower ecological footprint. Information was provided to everyone, about food sources in and near to Islington such as household gardens, Earths Garden Organic Shop and Café, Islington Park and Fig Tree Community Gardens, Islington School Garden, Beanstalk Organic Food and of course Newcastle Farmers Market which incudes Nourishing Newcastle Urban Tucker Stall (NNUTS) selling excess backyard produce.
Islington even has it own band. Vocalotion provided music for the street party, mixing it up with both original songs and covers. As the sun set, the fairy lights twinkled on the marque and the children played with glow sticks. Grit Kaeding, coordinator of Watson Street Transition Streets Challenge, described the atmosphere of the street party as a cosy friendly celebration of the community and something they would like to repeat.
Five Newcastle streets are progressing within The Transition Streets Challenge. With support from Transition Newcastle, groups of households are working together and looking at how to transition to more sustainable lifestyles. After reviewing energy and water use, food choices are now being investigated by households in Watson Street – Islington, Laman Street – Cooks Hill, Watson Street and Kings Road – Tighes Hill, and The Terrace -The Hill. The Challenge Streets are tapping into the valuable resources any community has to offer, which can be found when people share ideas, experience and support which leads overall to a more resilient community able to invest even further in itself.
Members of the Laman Street Transition Streets Group and their neighbours and friends gathered on August 17 at the Birdnest Building for a bicycled powered cinema with support from Magnificent Revolution. Dinner was prepared on site, coordinated by Newcastle Soupie with ingredients generously donated by Silsoe Community Garden, Natural Tucker, The Fresh Ingredient, Bills and Hunter Organics.
Powered by four bicycles, eighty people viewed the film Power of the Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, a documentary looking at how a nation creatively responded to oil imports being more than halved and food imports reducing by 80 per cent after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The crowd on Laman Street were touched by stories of hardship and inspired by creative steps communities in Cuba took to transition from a mechanized, industrial agricultural system to organic farming methods and local, urban gardens. The film highlighted the value of the community resources that had worked together to present the film night and the ability for the same community to prepare and respond to challenges of their own.
Other Transition Street Challenge Groups have gathered for film nights in each other’s homes, also sharing meals and inspiration. There are regular meetings to review information chapters provided by Transition Newcastle, prompting Street Challenge Groups to learn together and test steps towards more sustainable lifestyle choices. The current Food Chapter has spurred tremendous enthusiasm to review current household food purchase and production choices with the knowledge that 30% of Australia’s ecological footprint is attributed to food production.
The Watson Street Transition Street Challenge Group obtained a Newcastle City Council Place Making Grant to host a street party over the upcoming long weekend. The surrounding streets have been invited to join in on a neighbourhood dinner with the hosts contributing meals using ingredients from local food producers. A household’s ecological footprint can be reduced via local food due to the savings made in food miles; that is the distance food is transported and the carbon emission associated to transporting food over large distances.