I have often wondered to myself what it means to be part of a community. If it is 'recognising myself amongst the collective’ this is most accurately revealed by looking around my house after the Transition Kings Cliffe Christmas Fair.
I can literally find myself within the eclectic mix of objects; the people represented by recycled jam jars from the Pickled Village, free and generous cake leftovers from Pudding and Pie, and Sue Kirk’s willow decorations hanging up on my wall (a basket weaver – but also great at braiding my hair on special occasions). A sense of meaning is made much stronger when my eyes rest on a supermarket bag in direct contradiction.
The harvests and crafts of these locals have been a constant element of my living room, kitchen, and more importantly lifestyle – throughout my childhood. It is the familiarity of the jam jar which gives it a curious power to capture a sense of my identity. In this moment I realise just how much the community has given me and how it is an essential part of self development.
I know Transition Kings Cliffe are aware just how many ways one can benefit from the community, promoting the knowledge that everything can be bought locally at one’s fingertips, with over 35 stalls in the Kings Cliffe village hall for the Transition Kings Cliffe Christmas Fair. With the slogan ‘avoid them all come to the hall’ they advertise local products that are ‘not just for Christmas’ but can be used throughout the whole year. The aim is to help everyone to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
As an intern here at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), I very quickly became aware that, similarly, environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything PECT does. When out of the village I have time to reflect on my amazement at the independence such a small place can achieve. Kings Cliffe’s sense of independent community should not be underestimated; not only do the village’s strolling observers prop up the local business, the individual businesses prop up each other, for instance the Little Soup Kitchen uses Mr Wooding’s Vegetables.
It is apt that the original Transition Movement, which started in 2006, was initially grown from two small places Kinsale (Ireland) and Totnes (England). The inspirational effect of these communities is self explanatory because by 2013 a total of 1,107 other places had adopted their own form of Transition movement, in more than 23 countries around the world. It is beautifully ironic that spread so globally are ideas about an independent lifestyle.
Here at PECT we work towards sustainable environmental change with ‘think global act local’, which helps support local economic circulation. It also serves to reduce the already detrimentally fast use of fossil fuels and encourage people to look into alternatives.
Establishing that people benefit from the environment, how does Transition Kings Cliffe give back to the land? Their community projects are inspiring – even benefitting sub communities. Last year they grew an orchard and the local primary school had access to the apples. They support the public’s options to change their lifestyle for the long term. With bike parking at the shop people are able to make more sustainable changes easily.
Similarly PECT has achieved so much in the way of local projects; in 2010 PECT launched Forest for Peterborough, aiming to plant over 180,000 trees in and around the city and surrounding countryside by 2030. The intention behind Forest for Peterborough is to improve the quality of the green space for the community as well as the air quality, and ultimately to plant one tree for every person living in the city.
The principals of community stem from the most natural instincts and basic of relationships. The need for community is integral to us all, and this is why it can be found everywhere, and ideally constantly improved; however I am lucky to live in what is already a beautiful example.
Marianne Habeshaw is a volunteer with PECT.