I attended last night's screening of In Transition at the Maltings Arts Theatre. Encouragingly so did lots of other people including senior representatives of Labour and the Greens. Transition is an exceedingly interesting movement - started in Killane in Ireland, became established at Totnes and now an increasingly global movement. It is about how we can individually and in local groups make the transition from oil dependence to local resilience, very much based on personal and bottom-up initiatives. An impressive group of people in St Albans are now leading the charge.
The film was surprisingly good - not at all preachy or dull. I like the sense of optimism and "can do" - and a realisation that every little helps. St Albans Transition will be looking closely at food miles in its early activities. Allotments are a key part of the story - this fits in well with some of the ideas of active management of our green belt. Also a nice idea of garden sharing - where people who can no longer look after their gardens allow other people without gardens to cultivate vegetables and flowers. This seems to me an eminently achievable idea. St Albans has a significant challenge in terms of its collective carbon footprint - a function of long commuter journeys and energy inefficient housing stock. Again I think we have to be more flexible about conservation areas and listed buildings (I live in one), but the challenge is also on the building industry to come up with products that fit better in historic cities.
But I whole-heartedly support my friend Jack Pia's idea of covering the Abbey roof (after all no more than a Victorian fake) with photovoltaic cells - it would send the most powerful message and generate a lot of energy too. We also have to be more robust about cycling. The ban on cycling through Verulamium was raised - I do think this is absurd, I hope some progress can be made on this. Councillor Melvyn Teare spoke after the film about the City Vision project. He has an allotment and he clearly understands the issues which is encouraging. One message he should have received loud and clear is that the City Vision should be more about sustainability and less about department stores! You can read more about St Albans Transition and its future events here ( http://transitionstalbans.org/ ) and I will continue to report on its progress. PS When I was at school, Transition was the (to us) incomprehensible name of the class just above Juniors with a particularly vicious form teacher... I prefer its new incarnation.