A different world…

Dear Transitioners

A different world 

We hope you are all safe and well.  That’s how our last newsletter started in the wake of the floods.  The message today is the same, but this time it affects each and every one of us.

Let me start by saying there is an amazing community effort of support, especially for the vulnerable and at risk from Covid-19.  If you need any help, or know of someone that does, please get in touch, or look at Facebook pages such as Monmouth Covid-19 Community Volunteers, Osbaston Noticeboard, Monmouth Mutual Aid and Assistance, MNB Monmouth New Businesses.  There are others, and they work.  There has been a speedy response to every request for help – and remember, especially if you are vulnerable or at risk, you will be a lot more bother if you don’t stay at home/isolated.  Don’t be proud – ask for help!  There’s plenty of help out there, and if you want to volunteer in some capacity but don’t know how, please get in touch too.

While social distancing, but before lockdown, we squeezed in a couple of community activities.  Last Sunday about 40 trees were planted at Claypatch Woods – oak, beech, white beam, wild cherry, hazel and some wild honeysuckle along the hedge near the bus stop.  At the same time St James’ Square got planted with pollinator friendly woodland perennials.  We hope that, as the young plants grow, they will provide cheer throughout the year, not only to passers-by but also to wildlife.

All further events have been cancelled/postponed, but our wonderful Food Sense volunteers continue to collect surplus food from the supermarkets and distribute it as best they can to Overmonnow School and local individuals and families.  We were on the verge of shutting down but were asked, if possible, to continue as we are regarded by Monmouthshire County Council as an ‘essential service’.  And just as soon as we can, Food Sense will set up a Community Pantry with storage and fridge/freezer capacity – scheduled for the end of March, but of course delayed.

We can but hope that something good will come out of this pandemic, and we will surely redouble our efforts to make this a safe, fair, and sustainable world fit for future generations.  There have been some memorable headlines:-

And the world came together as the people stayed apart

We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem

Did the Earth just send us all to our room to think about what we have done??

In the rush to return to normal, we can use the time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to

Corona is the cure – humans are the disease

And some thoughtful and sobering articles such as:

Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis:  Inger Andersen, UN’s environment chief – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other&fbclid=IwAR0EBSDwM96q1ISpLkobhRxLgatk3B2EALstqoE

Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to a complacent civilisation:  George Monbiot –https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/25/covid-19-is-natures-wake-up-call-to-complacent-civilisation?fbclid=IwAR35V-55PWCIqexjKrVEHrcAxOYfV6BnsRPoMKc5lcuQgPpoHGMYpLKYDMI

Will it take a global pandemic for us to realize there’s another way of doing things? Enrique Dans – https://medium.com/enrique-dans/will-it-take-a-global-pandemic-for-us-to-realize-theres-another-way-of-doing-things-aecebe10132b

A few things carry on.  If you have time, the Welsh Government wants to know what you think of their strategy on the Circular Economy https://gov.wales/circular-economy-strategy.  Email your response by 24 April.

Stay safe, stay well.  Keep in touch and we will keep in touch with you.

Vivien Mitchell

Transitioning on…

Dear Transitioners

We hope you are all safe and well, and have successfully weathered the recent floods.  Our profound sympathies to those affected.  It is devastating to have your home, your safe refuge, flooded, let alone twice in four months as has happened to some of our stalwart members.

While as individuals, we have all tried to help in whatever way we can, Transition Monmouth has been working to stop such events happening by implementing natural flood management (NFM) measures.  We started just over four years ago, with a huge amount of support from Monmouthshire County Council, Natural Resources Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the Woodland Trust and others.  We were fortunate in our choice of consultants, Atkins, who produced an excellent report, RECS – see our website for full details.  As a result we submitted six areas for protection/action via the Local Development Plan, and decided to make Kingswood our pilot project.  Reducing the amount of water running off those hills would reduce the amount of floodwater on the Rockfield estate, Rockfield Road, Watery Lane, Wonastow Road and the new Kingswood Gate Estate, all of which have been badly affected this winter.

But the funding ran out – no one was prepared to fund NFM.  However, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining.  In the past week two sources of funding have become available – yay! – one of them huge, and work has already started on a county-wide bid with all of our original partners.  Apart from Monmouth, we will be pushing for action to protect Skenfrith and Dingestow.  Then all that’s needed is for similar programmes in adjacent counties to hold back the flow in our local rivers to protect Riverside Park, Forge Road, the Leisure Centre, all of which suffered hugely.  We are hopeful this will happen, especially with the news that the Environment Minister has announced funding for NFM measures for farmers and other landowners – ie paying them to let their land flood to protect urban areas – ‘more than £4bn will be spent over the next five years (on flood prevention) and a big part of the focus will be on nature-based solutions upstream’.

The other big issue is the Circular Economy.  We have Plastic Free Monmouth and Food Sense (from small beginnings we currently collect over half a ton of food each month from the supermarkets and put it to good use rather than have it go to waste;  expect this amount to double in the coming year as we acquire more volunteers and also storage facilities – please let us know if you would like to participate) and we will hold our first ACE Monmouth Repair Café on Sunday 15 March – details below;  the original start up event had to be cancelled because of flooding with the venue completely cut off by floodwater!

But there is much more to be done and the Welsh Government is keen to have our views on strategy to make a low carbon, zero waste Wales – see https://gov.wales/circular-economy-strategy for further details and book your space at two events in Chepstow on 9 March, an Engagement Event from 12.30 to 16.30 at the Beaufort Hotel, and a Community Event from 18.00 to 19.30 at the Drill Hall.  Come and share your thoughts on how Wales can progress to zero waste and what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.  The Welsh Government has some ideas but need our input.  See you there!  If you would like to car share contact mail@transitionmonmouth.org

Just one more thing – Trydani aims to provide a Wales wide EV charger network.  If you would like to invest in this venture please contact hello@gwentenergycic.org.

Now for some dates:-

Grosmont Spring Market:  Saturday 7 March, 10 till 2 in Grosmont Church – food, crafts, activities

International Women’s Day:  Sunday 8 March, 10 to 4, at the Melville Theatre, Abergavenny:  Celebrating women’s strength, resilience and survival with speakers from Palestine, Zimbabwe, XR Rebellion, Youth Parliament, Syria, Modern Slavery Unit + storytelling, the film ‘He Named Me Malala’, stalls and displays.  Snacks and hot drinks available at this free event (donations welcome) but bring your lunch

Beyond Recycling Consultation:  Monday 9 March:  Engagement Event 12.30 to 16.30 at the Beaufort Hotel, Chepstow and Community Event 18.00 to 19.30 in the Drill Hall, Chepstow – no charge but booking essential at https://gov.wales/circular-economy-strategy

Transition Monmouth Members’ Meeting:  Tuesday 10 March at the Robin Hood for a prompt 7.30pm start – see agenda below

Repair Café Monmouth:  1pm till 4pm, Sunday 15 March at Rockfield Park Community Centre, Cornwallis Way NP25 5DN to repair items such as toasters, kettles, vacuum cleaners, jeans, bags, shirts, toys, ornaments and bikes – no promises, but we will do our best!

Big Spring Swap:  Saturday 28 March, 10 till 2 at Monmouth Priory.  Yes, another Big Swap event for clothes, books, toys etc as well as the usual seeds/plants/produce.  Tools for Self Reliance Cymru will be there too.  Please bring stuff to swap, but come anyway and make a donation for anything you take.  Monmouth Community Choir will perform, and there will be activities for children.  We will serve coffee, tea and cakes as usual but also soup and bread so you can relax over a light lunch.  If you would like to help with soup making, cake baking, children’s activities or the stalls please contact karin@chandler.wales

More Veg Please! – Should we grow more Fruit and Veg:  Saturday 28 March, 9.30 to 4pm at the Abergavenny Community Centre – Keynote speakers:  Amber Wheeler and Pamela Mason – Can Wales grow more veg?, Holly Tomlinson from the Land Workers Alliance – Focus on Climate Change, and a panel of local growers and food activists.  Vegetarian/vegan lunch with locally sourced ingredients:  £8.  See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/more-veg-please-tickets-94876390839 for more information and to book your ticket

The Work that Reconnects:  Sunday 29 March, 2pm at the Abergavenny Community Centre, courtesy of Extinction Rebellion and Plastic Free Abergavenny – the start of a series of films to explore how we can better cope with climate change

Transition Monmouth Members’ Meeting:  Tuesday 7 April at the Robin Hood for a prompt 7.30pm start

Monmouth Family Cycling Club:  2nd and 4th Sundays – 10 till 12, and the
Local Produce Markets:-
Usk – 1st + 3rd Saturdays – 10 till 1
Abergavenny – 4th Thursday – 9.30 to 2.30

Vivien Mitchell