Wicklow Transition

In 2011 a group of people came together at an event hosted by An Tairseach, Ecology Centre to learn about transition. Some attendees went on to form WOW (wicklow and our world) a temporary initiating hub. Members included: Sr Marion O'Sullivan, from an An Tairseach  Suzie Cahn, Carraig Dulra, Eliza Kane, Wicklow Arts Festival, Amber Godwin, Wicklow Community Garden, Pat Kavanagh, Local Councillor, Judy Osborne, an Taisce and Friends of the Murrough, Valerie McHugh  and Kate Hennesy, parent from Wicklow Educate together. 

This group roped in others from their networks and ran a series of events that included inspirational film showings and discussions at the Wicklow Film Club, talks and courses in the community Garden and at an Tairseach, and Carraig Dulra, a schools competition, an exhibition, a local food cookery demostration by celeb chef Catherine Fulvio and more. Many events were supported by grants such as the local agenda 21 grant or by local support for events. 

These events culminated in big celebration Cuban night of food and dance at the Wicklow Rugby Club. The guest of honour was the Cuban ambassador and members of her staff. Before the festival part of the evening began, the ambassador spoke introducing the film "the power of community how Cuba survived peak oil," about how her country coped with a forced transition to low fossil fuel use after the collapse of the Soviet Union. She told of the positive effects of a society becoming sustainable, such as, health benefits through changes such as the uptake of cycling and a change to 80 per organic agriculture.

All the events were very well attended by Wicklow town and environs residents, as well as, representatives from all the local churches, many clubs and schools, and local councillors and council representatives. Everyone who attended events voiced their support for a transition to a more sustainable future for the town. 

Many idea seeds were sown and many exisiting projects gained new awareness of ways for Wicklow to become a sustainable local community.  Community owned energy, re-localizing food production and sales, sustainable local transport systems and the education and skills to achieve all this and more were some of the visions committed to. People acknowledged it will take time, but the sense possibility for these ideas to bring positive local livelihoods to people in the town and it's enhance it's environs as a great place to live, and set up business, was a clear outcome. 

The initiating hub's activities came to a close as planned.  The original members and new recruits who helped along the way, too many to mention here, are still busy in their own community spheres and transition inspires actions and themes for events and projects. 

Nationally and internationally awareness has grown that Climate Change and Peak Oil have both arrived. The need for fresh approaches has been spoken about by many not least former President Mary Robinson, a champion of Climate Justice for the poorest people most effected by climate change. 

Locally the town and its environs are still  hopeful about their future and WOW has played its part in making sure it includes a sustainable vision for Wicklow. This future is recognised as vital to work toward for the sake of the children and grandchildren of current residents who will live when the town has made its transition. 

The last function of the group was the dispersal of remaining funds raised to in support of transition. 

In 2014, WOW were pleased to donate €600 to an Tairseach ecology centre towards a transition year programme they are seeking funding for: an 8-week course on Environmental Awareness for Transition Year students which has been facilitated in the Dominican College for a few years, and which they now hope to extend it to other schools and to give a bursary for a low income participant on Carraig Dúlra's Permaculture Design Certificate Course.  

Where the transition movement came from....

The transition towns movement started in a VEC adult education college in Kinsale Co Cork in 2004 as the response of permaculture students to their growing awareness of Climate Change and the coming challenges. Coupled with the fact that world oil production was reaching its peak while world demand still rises. Other concerns feeding into the need for a change in thinking, include bio-diversity loss, and other resource peaks to come such as soil, coal, uranium, copper, timber, water and, as well as, issues of waste and pollution management. 

Faced with such issues the adult students along, with their tutor in Kinsale Rob Hopkins, thought starting local was a way to cope with these overwhelming facts. They began to design a permaculture inspired process of local action that would leading to a transition to a low carbon future. Their focus was on creating a shared vision of the future for the town that was vibrant and provided for people’s needs in truly sustainable ways. Transition Kinsale was the first transition town in the world.

When Rob later moved home to his native Devon, he took the idea with him and transition towns became a movement. It quickly caught on in the UK and then around the world. People saw the simplicity of starting with local projects that spread without waiting for political action. They could act locally to help the world to positively adapt and create local resilience in areas such as food, energy, built environment and more. There are now over 500 communities in the UK engaged in transition activities and more than 5000 worldwide. Back in Ireland the transition process came full circle. 

An initiative begins when a group of interested people get together to act as an awareness raising, often temporary, "initiating hub." This group is, therefore, intended to be short lived. Its purpose is to forge links with existing groups and catalyse conversations that lead to new networks of people with a shared vision of the future and to new transition projects. Eventually, it is hoped, that this builds a momentum which helps bring about plans for a truly sustainable future at the community level and continues to spread around the world.