Transition St Albans had its first meeting on wednesday night. We met at the friends meeting house, about twenty of us, and it’s a really interesting bunch of people. There are teachers, accountants, an architect, a gardener, a storyteller – just the kind of combinations you need to get the creative and holistic solutions that typify the Transition movement. I’m excited to see what we can come up with together.
It’s not an easy proposition. The most successful transition towns have been smaller places, and St Albans is a city. It’s a commuter town, so an energy descent plan will have to address the issue of relocalizing employment. No easy task. It’s very affluent, and while fashionable greening might be an easy sell in such a place, real lifestyle change may prove too challenging. In fact, a WWF study into the ecological footprints of 60 UK cities placed St Albans 59th – the second largest ecological footprint. (Winchester saving our blushes there by being the worst.) Being very suburban, cars are something of an obsession. 20% of St Albans ecological footprint is car related.
There are positive signs too. Friends of the Earth and the local Green Party were present at the meeting, and they have active groups. While the bus service may leave a lot to be desired, cyclists are quite well provided for. The car-share programme Whizz-Go has launched in the area. Lots of people have gardens, and a movement to grow your own is surely just waiting to happen.
Of course, I actually live in Luton. Transition is all about re-localizing, so I feel a little out of step, but I was born in St Albans and probably know it better than Luton. The St Albans initiative presents a valuable learning opportunity, and who knows, in a year’s time maybe there’ll be enough interest to start something here.
I’ve volunteered to do the website, and you’ll find Transition St Albans here. Not much there so far, but I’ll keep you posted about how we get on.