Transition Town Peterborough

08:20 Thursday 3rd November 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: A new project to make the city more environmentally friendly is being launched today. It’s called Transition Peterborough, and it’s part of a worldwide effort to reduce the amount of energy we use, and the amount of carbon dioxide we produce. Setting it up is Sophie Antonelli, who joins me in the studio. Morning.
PAUL STAINTON: And on the line is Alan Rayden who runs the Transition Group set up about eighteen months ago in nearby Oundle. Morning Alan.
ALAN RAYDEN: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Now Sophie, it all sounds very worthy this, doesn’t it? When you say these things, people go ooh well Transition Peterborough, what does that mean? What’s the idea?
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: Really simply, and I’m not even going to talk about carbon dioxide, it’s a way for communities to become stronger and happier.
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: By becoming more localised, essentially, by figuring out how we can work together, and by figuring out how our city works, as we’re the people to do that. We know our town.
PAUL STAINTON: So integrating everything green. Because I thought we were already seen as quite a green city, aren’t we?
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: Yes we are. It’s really not just about doing the green things, you know, you’ve got your song to time how long you’re in the shower. It’s about how everything works, how we get around, where we live, how we live, what we do to eat. Every single element of our lives comes under this.
PAUL STAINTON: And how do you physically interact with people to help do that?
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: Well we’re starting how we are tonight. So we’ve got a launch, and we’re just inviting anybody to come along and ask the question, what do you want Peterborough to look like in the future. Because we need to figure that out first, before we can understand the journey to get there.
PAUL STAINTON: Where do you hope to get to? What would be success? What are you measuring yourself by?
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: It’s really hard to say. At the moment I’m talking pre-group formation. Tonight we hope to form this group. So what I want to do is find a group of people who are committed to Peterborough, to their city.
PAUL STAINTON: You want normal, when I say normal people, there are the usual suspects when it comes to green issues in Peterborough. Would you like more everyday people to come forward.
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: Definitely. Yes. From every walk of life. Because we need experts in every single field. And actually, from what I’ve read, Transition’s got a really good record of appealing outside of those usual suspects, like you say.
PAUL STAINTON: Alan, what have you managed to do in Oundle. with your Transition group? You’ve been going a couple of years now, haven’t you?
ALAN RAYDEN: We have, and we’ve taken a long time to get focused. I think what Sophie’s just said, you’ve got lots of ideas and discussions, and the difficulty we found was focusing on one or two things that the group could do locally. So the best advice we had was go for where the energy in the group is, and do those things that you can do. Don’t try to do everything at the same time, which I think we did try to do at the beginning.
PAUL STAINTON: When you were setting your group up, did you manage to get some everyday folks in there, not just lentil eaters?
ALAN RAYDEN: Yes we did. We got a good range of people. We got a lot of people who are interested, and like most groups, you’ve got about twenty people are the core of it who have got the time and the energy and the interest to actually do really quite a lot of work.
PAUL STAINTON: And what have you done? What have you succeeded with?
ALAN RAYDEN: I think the most encouraging thing was we had quite a big exhibition called How Green is Your Oundle, earlier in the year. And that provoked really a lot of interest in local food, and particularly in renewable energy. And we’ve seen a big take-up in Oundle of renewable energy, not just as a result of that, but by word of mouth.
PAUL STAINTON: So you’ve had some successes there.
ALAN RAYDEN: I think the most interesting thing we’ve done is to train eleven of us as voluntary energy assessors, and that means that we’re now able to go to people by invitation and help them look at how they use their energy in their home, particularly people who find energy particularly difficult to meet in terms of cost, and give them advice about saving energy, further insulation, what they could do. And we’re just starting that now. We’re hoping to have done forty homes by January. And we’ve had some grant funding to train us.
PAUL STAINTON: Is that where all the money from this comes from? Do you have to apply for grants?
ALAN RAYDEN: Well fortunately we’ve got one of our members is very meticulous in applying for grants. So we’ve got a good grant from East Midlands Groundwork and Climate East Midlands, towards this training, and running this particular project.
PAUL STAINTON: Sophie, do you get any money for this? is there any money to ..
ALAN RAYDEN: No. It’s absolutely free. That’s the great advantage to everybody. Our advice is free. We’re not experts, but we can point people in the right direction. And the most interesting thing since we started this is the discussions we have, that the householders get really interested in why they’re using so much energy, and how they could change.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. I’m just going to speak to Sophie. Do you have any funding in place to help you get through this? Because it must cost some money.
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: Yes, we do actually. I would stress that you don’t necessarily need any funding to start up a Transition initiative. What you really need is a selection of people who are committed to change. But we were lucky enough to get some funding through City College Peterborough. And that’s going to pay for us to give the group that we’ve formed some really amazing training, that’s not available in Peterborough or anywhere else. We can train the group in group dynamics, how to actually interact, how to make consensus decision making, as well as doing some really cool stuff about building a pedal powered bike generator, to generate electricity off grid. We’re going to do a permaculture course. These are really exciting courses that we’re going to be able to run, thanks to this funding.
PAUL STAINTON: We might all have to do it one day.
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: I think we will.
PAUL STAINTON: Your meeting is tonight. Anybody can turn up=?
SOPHIE ANTONELLI: Anybody please turn up. Six o’clock at the Town Hall. And you’ll need to go in the back entrance, because it’s closed.