Transition Rutland was set up out of the recognition that challenges facing rural areas are best met with a positive vision for the future which emphasises resilience across economic, environmental and social strands.
It combines two separate Transition initiatives- Transition Towns and Transition Farming. The title of Transition describes the ethos behind this project. Its aim is to provide steps, a pathway; from where we are now, to a more resilient state. It’s about what’s possible and achievable, backed up with ambitious aims. We felt it was impossible to make this transition in simply one or two towns in the region, without recognising the relationship with the landscape and rural producers and community that surround them.
Fundamentally, we are a community project, with local people from all backgrounds, who want to take the initiative to ensure that Rutland’s future is not left to chance or to the mercy of budgets, corporations and governments that come and go. We want this project to be sustainable; that is, it will continue on its own two feet and be able to react to new challenges and opportunities as time progresses.
There are number of broad aims and ideals that we believe in and would like to pursue. Within that we have a set of objectives that reflect an abiding ethos at our foundation: Transition, being a process that people can follow to get to another state. It’s a process and means of translating vision into steps that allow us to move forward in the right direction.
Acting on peak oil and climate change
We are committed to dealing with issues raised by the advent of Peak Oil, namely rising fuel prices in areas dependent on fossil fuels for business, transport and domestic purposes.
We are committed to taking steps towards climate change mitigation and adaptation which will achieve resilience and energy and resource efficiency as well as saving money for the region in the long run.
We are committed to being a democratic organisation which, whilst having a set of aims and ideals, is able to respond to the world around it and be responsive to the demands and needs of the region. The values of democracy which we uphold are based on equality, consensus, respect and consideration for different opinions and an equal distribution of power. We believe everyone is essential to our endeavour and a diversity of backgrounds and approaches is vital to an effective and resilient approach. It is important to create opportunities for all to benefit from, in terms of new experiences, skills and positions of responsibility.
Our group is open, as are our meetings, to all those who respect all of our values and commit to them.
We are committed to ensuring sustainability is not simply about environmental issues, but the future of our communities and economy. Sustainability for us, is a set of steps and processes that recognise the interaction of society, economy and environment and how best for all three strands to prosper in harmony with each other.
Working in partnership
We believe in the role of local individuals working in partnership with local government, charities and businesses to achieve the resilience of Rutland. Creating strong working relationships with others is vital.
Empowerment and sharing
We are committed to help put more control in the hands of the local public in terms of knowledge, skills and local issues. We are committed to supporting other groups with similar aims as much as possible. We will document successes and failures in order for others to benefit from our experiences.
Supporting the local economy
In order to build local resilience to reduce reliance on non-local resources we believe it is important to keep resources local, strengthen the local economy, use local knowledge and skills and build local capabilities. In the future we may not be able to rely on non-local resources; particularly as we may not be able to rely on long-distance transport.
We are a non-political body which will campaign for new practices, but not lobby against change without providing a better alternative. We believe in positive changes and solutions. Practice, not just theory is core to what this group believe.
We aim to inspire positive visions of future local life and positive action through optimism not fear or guilt. Transition Rutland is an initiative that is enjoyable and enriching.
We are passionate about the role of education in achieving local resilience and its ability to reconnect the community and landscape around it.
There is little to be gained by scaremongering, but there is also a need for us to face reality.
Rural areas in England have seen either outward migration, losing key skills in the process, or seen inwards migration from richer urban dwellers which subsequently fuelled rise in house prices preventing local people from being able to stay in the area. Rural areas have seen a decline in rural services, further stimulating outward reliance and movement. These areas have found difficulty in adjusting their economies – farming has been marginalised, commodified and commercialised. Those farms that survive have found very little power for self-determination in face of the supermarket dominated food chain. Very little local produce ends up in local hands. Too much food ends up in our bins.
Rural areas such as Rutland are also vulnerable on fuel issues. The fuel-tax escalator will hurt those in this area who have little alternative to their car at the present time. Peak Oil is the point at which we stop producing as much oil, because of availability and the cost. This is cost is in both monetary and energy terms – what’s left in terms of oil deposits is becoming very difficult and costly to extract. Add this phenomenon to rising global demand and what quickly becomes apparent is that the price of oil is only going to rise, before ceasing to be available at all. So too will our driving costs and winter fuel bills rise unless we start to wean ourselves off from oil now.
A starting point for us is to look at the ways in which Rutland is vulnerable to weather events, and what way could weather bring positive changes. We will always need to live with whatever weather fate deals us, and so one of our aims is that we are not susceptible to extreme weather, droughts, floods and weather variability. It’s a universal truth that we must do this, regardless of the politics or views of people on the issue of climate change.
The future of Rutland
Despite these challenges, we remain not just optimistic about the future, but excited about what is possible. The challenges described above should be a catalyst for us to start taking control over our future, not just reacting as events happen and times change. We have identified a number of win-win measures that can be taken locally which achieve a number of different aspirations within each idea – all making us less vulnerable, more resilient.