Chair’s report to Transition Monmouth AGM 2019

I have been honoured to chair Transition Monmouth over the past year and to work alongside so many warm, committed and talented people. This annual report is longer than usual as I want to give new members a more comprehensive overview of who we are, the projects we support and what we have achieved over the last year.

Transition Monmouth was begun 12 years ago by Vivien Mitchell and others.  It is part of the international Transition Network movement www.transitionnetwork.org which aims to combat climate change by building resilient communities and developing local sustainable projects. Over the years many people have been involved and made significant contributions to many different projects. At this time our main projects are Food Sense, Plastic Free Monmouth, Wyesham Community Woodland, RECS flood prevention project, the Pollinator Garden, Nature Isn’t Neat and the Community Orchard.

Evolution

Late 2018 and early 2019 saw some changes to our committee. We bade farewell to Ann Eggleton as Chair and to John Payne as Notes Secretary. We welcomed in myself, Karin Chandler, as new Chair. Bryan Miller was voted in again as Deputy Chair with Vivien Mitchell remaining Treasurer, Admin and Newsletter Editor. In the early part of 2019 we welcomed Jill Cantor on board as Notes Secretary. We began the new year by reviewing and celebrating all the achievements of the previous year with the aid of post-it notes and flipchart paper, before moving on to explorations and plans for the future.

We agreed to re-shape the way we ran our meetings in 2019. Each Transition project was allocated a ‘showcase slot’ at one meeting a year. The rationale behind this was to keep our monthly meetings shorter and snappier and to allow a good amount of time to both celebrate and discuss each project in turn. This new approach was voted in unanimously by all and has been successful.

We also began a new style of working by ‘checking in’ at the start of each meeting, as recommended by the Transition Handbook. This has given us a chance to make new members more welcome and strengthen and deepen our relationships with one another by allowing an opportunity to share more of our lives.

Summary of the Year

What a year we’ve had! 2019 has seen more action on preventing and adapting to climate change than perhaps ever before. Public awareness is now very high with the focus of public discussion shifting away from “is climate change real?” towards “what should we be doing about climate change?”

Along with others, including the Climate Change Champions, Monmouth Youth Strike 4 Climate and Abergavenny & North Monmouthshire XR, we lobbied Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) to declare a climate emergency. Monmouth Town Council declared a climate emergency first in May 2019, shortly followed by MCC. From MTC’s declaration ACE Monmouth (Action on Climate Emergency) was born and began engaging with the wider community in Monmouth to identify actions that the council and the community can be taking. Since MCC’s declaration, they have been developing climate emergency plans and consulting with the Climate Change Champions group. Transition Monmouth has been pushing for things to happen on this scale for years and we are delighted to have reached this point.

We have also been really busy with our own projects. Plastic Free Monmouth made an excellent start to the new year by celebrating Monmouth achieving Plastic Free Town status. Wyesham Community Woodland, Food Sense and our Pollinator Garden go from strength to strength. Our RECS flood prevention project sadly ended abruptly due to its funding being pulled, but all the mapping and feasibility work that was done can still hopefully be picked up again in the future if more funding is secured. After a slow start Nature isn’t Neat is slowly starting to bear fruit. Interest in the Community Orchard project has grown this year, with a successful Wassail and pruning/tidy up event.

We have also enjoyed several vibrant community events this year – two Big Swaps, where we expanded the idea of just swapping plants and seeds to swapping other items too, encouraging people to reduce and reuse. We even pushed the boat out at the last Swap and served home-made autumn soup along with free bread from Food Sense. This was one of our most successful fundraisers ever.

We also purchased apple pressing equipment (Monmouth Town Council generously supporting us with a grant to cover half the cost) and held three apple pressing events in different parts of Monmouth and its surrounds. We relaunched our Discussion Forums, watching a TED talk together as a starting point. Responding to feedback, we did this at a weekend, so that Transitioners with children could come along too. We haven’t managed any more than one Forum this year, but can perhaps be excused, as it’s been an exceptionally busy year for us all!

We’ve attracted new people to Transition and our Facebook group membership keeps growing slowly.  Vivien Mitchell’s monthly email newsletters continue to be a triumph, as they are the glue that keeps us all connected and informed.  Let’s have a closer look at the year in more detail now:

January

We had a great start to the new year with plenty going on, with planning for February and March events.  We also held our first ever Wassail in the community orchard.

Wassail

We had so much fun, despite the shivery weather! Approximately 70 people gathered in the Orchard, warmed by hot apple juice and apple cake baked by our team of bakers. We wassailed the apple trees, making lots of noise to scare away the bad spirits and serenading the trees with traditional wassail songs. The icing on the cake was a Mari Lwyd (a hobby horse skull mounted on a pole and carried by a person hidden under a sackcloth – a traditional South Wales folk custom) from Brecon turning up as a surprise to join us. We made a good sum of money from donations towards the apple pressing equipment we were hoping to buy later on in the year. Our thanks go to Charles Boase for donating the apple juice.

Trip to Avonmouth Suez Recycling Plant

Some of our members enjoyed a trip to Suez organised by Sue Parkinson from MCC. It was a challenge finding safety boots in the right sizes for everyone, but it was well worth the effort. The trip was both fascinating and disturbing in equal measure, with the sheer scale and stench of the recycling remaining imprinted on the brain and nose. We enjoyed a buffet lunch after the tour and had lots of opportunity to ask questions and network with Transitioners from Abergavenny and Chepstow.

RECS, our flood prevention project – showcase report

At our January meeting, Vivien Mitchell reported back on RECS (Renewable Energy Community Schemes) flood prevention project. The project was initiated by us in January 2016.  It was funded by the Rural Development Programme and  had widespread support from agencies including Natural Resources Wales, Monmouthshire County Council, Renew Wales, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Monmouth Partnership Forum, Woodland Trust, Long Forest and local schools.  We employed Atkins Consultants to do a widespread mapping and feasibility study of the local area.

The project was not only aimed at preventing local flooding by natural means, but also had other benefits including managing woodlands in order to produce more wood products (renewable energy) while at the same time reducing forestry and other costs.  Not just that, but the measures were also planned to help improve biodiversity and maintain rights of way.

Six sites were considered for the next stage of the project and it was decided to use Kingswood as a pilot.  Unfortunately, our request for renewed funding was refused on what we believe were spurious grounds. Given the recent flooding in the area, this seems extremely short-sighted.

February

All the focus this month was on pulling off a high-profile awards ceremony to celebrate Monmouth becoming a Plastic Free Town.

Plastic Free Monmouth Awards Ceremony

This was an exciting moment for Plastic Free Monmouth which we had been working towards for a year. Our town was deemed to be a Plastic Free Town by a Surfers Against Sewage accreditation scheme in late 2018.  This meant that a designated proportion of businesses, community groups and spaces and schools had made a commitment to swapping previous disposable plastic items for more sustainable choices.

The Plastic Free Business Champions awarded at the ceremony were MonTeas, Monmouthshire Beacon, Milking Solutions, Green and Jenks, Chillipepper Signs, Marches Deli, Square Farm Shop, Wyedean Healthfoods, Savoy Theatre and ATC Floors and Doors. The schools we celebrated were Overmonnow Primary School, Osbaston Church School, Kymin View Primary School and all the Schools in the Haberdasher’s Group. Community spaces were Ty Price Community Hall, The Monmouth Priory, The Bridges and Rockfield Park Community Centre. Local community groups include Wyesham Women’s Institute, Agincourt Women’s Institute, Litter Response Team, Transition Monmouth & Rotary Community Champions.

We enjoyed a wonderful plastic-free, vegan buffet prepared by Dilly Boase at the ceremony and the opportunity to celebrate this fantastic achievement of our town.

March

March marked the start of an extremely busy period for Transition. We facilitated two workshops at Shire Hall, run by external consultants to explore what a future Monmouth affected by climate change might look like and how we could put plans in place to tackle it. We also gathered together on a cold but bright day in the orchard for a picnic and tidy up of the fruit trees. We also had a stall at the Community Engagement Stall at Monmouth Comprehensive School

Pollinator Garden – showcase report

At our March meeting, Diane Booker gave us a really interesting showcase report about the pollinator garden (formally known as the herb garden) by the bus station in central Monmouth. The garden is approximately 58 square meters, originally set up by pupils from the Attik Youth Club as the ‘Henry V Garden’. Guerrilla gardening by Transitioners commenced in 2015, when weeds – mostly thistles and bindweed were cleared. Since then, we have continued weeding, putting in additional plants, rearranging the rocks to the front of the plot and putting in a woodchip pathway through the garden. There are brick walls on two sides and the bus shelter provides shelter on another side, leaving the area open at the front.

There are a number of small trees/shrubs-rowan, damson, bay, fig, hawthorn, rosemary and herbs (mint, chives, fennel, marjoram, lavender, evening primrose, golden feverfew, sage).  Diane asked for some help from other Transitioners with pruning, taking cuttings away to be composted and with collecting woodchip from the allotments, as well as with acquiring some new plants. Members of Transition were pleased to help with these things. Since this report, we have acquired a new lectern style notice board for the garden.

Climate Ready Gwent Workshops

The first event was aimed at the general public and the second at policy makers, including Monmouthshire County Council, Natural Resources Wales, the Fire Service, Gwent Police, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Gwent Wildlife Trust and others who will be instrumental in managing the consequences of climate impacts on the town.

The aim was visioning the effects of climate change on Monmouth, influencing the policy makers and developing action plans for adaptation. Both workshops were well-attended and enjoyable. They captured useful testomonies as well as helping to expand awareness of the issues.

Orchard pruning day and picnic

We had a good number of people turning up to help prune and tidy up the apple trees in the Community Orchard by the Monmouth allotments.  We removed defunct tree guards and wiring and gave the trees a good old prune under the guidance of a local ecologist. The children enjoyed the Food Sense pastries and joined in with the pruning.

Community Engagement Event

This Monmouth networking event had previously been postponed due to snow.  We gave our display board a make-over in honour of the event and redistributed lots of bread from the Food Sense project. Plastic Free Monmouth and Wyesham Community Woodland project also had stalls, so Transition projects were well-represented. It was a fun, lively event and provided a good opportunity for us all to see the new rebuilt Monmouth Comprehensive School.

April

April was busy too. It was great to to see everyone at the Big Swap event and to be introduced to the Rockfield Community Garden.

Food Sense – showcase report

At our April meeting, Kate Rees reported back to us on Food Sense – a Transition Monmouth food surplus distribution scheme which has been running since 2018. Waste food which is about to go out of date in local supermarkets is redistributed in the community by a team of volunteers.

The project was incubated in 2017 when Transition questioned whether anything could be done locally, to reduce food waste and help cut carbon emissions caused by food waste. The excess food is used to address the ever-increasing problems of food poverty and social isolation.

The food comes from Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and the Co-op. It goes to Bridges Social Circles; the Family Learning Unit in Overmonnow; Busy Bees Nursery at Kymin View; Kymin View School; Early Years Nursery in Llandogo; Monmouth library and to various people in need in Monmouth. The project is currently running really well. Since Kate gave us this update we have found out Food Sense has received the Highly Commended GAVO (Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations) Award in the Groups category, for the second year running, so congratulations all round!

The Big Swap

We held this event at Rockfield Community Centre.  We chose this venue as we wanted to spread our events across Monmouth in different venues to help extend Transition’s reach. Clothes, books, toys and bric-a-brac were all swapped as well as plants. We all enjoyed tours of Rockfield Community Garden, a new shared garden space for local residents. The event was successful – we all swapped merrily away, ate cake and chatted lots.

Youth Strike 4 Climate – first Monmouth strike

This wasn’t technically a Transition event, but many of us supported it by stewarding, creating publicity and mentoring the children.  My children set it up with their peers, inspired by Greta and the strike we attended in Cardiff in January. Hundreds of students from Monmouth Comprehensive School joined the strike. They marched down Monnow Street, stopping traffic and occupied the Overmonnow petrol station before marching to Osbaston. The youth organisers went on to organise and lead several other strikes in Monmouth in 2019, which really raised awareness and discussion in the town. I am so proud of our young people for stepping up.

July

Wyesham Community Woodland Project – showcase report

For our July meeting, we headed to Claypatch Woods in Wyesham to enjoy a relaxed and informal meeting showcasing the Wyesham Woodland project in situ.

Richard Garner gave us a very informative talk. He with his wife Kirsty, was the main driving force behind turning this area from an uncared for, semi rubbish dump, into a useable woodland, complete with fire pit, places for adventure and den building, an open area, paths and proper drainage.  This venture has involved the local community and others from further afield and has taken impressive amounts of organising.  It is of huge benefit for the community, both in terms of providing a semi wild space for people to meet and play, but also by bringing people together to care for their local woodland. Richard took us on a tour of the woodland and explained the long-term plans for the area, including managed tree felling and building a pond. Monmouth Community Choir also sang to friends and family under the parachute by the fire pit and this turned out to be a beautiful start to their relationship with Transition Monmouth.

Rewilding Discussion Forum

We held this event at Rockfield Community Centre. This venue was chosen due to its proximity to the park, so that families with children could attend (and keep their children happy at the same time). We tried a different format and watched a TED talk about Rewilding by George Monbiot. We then followed this with an informal group discussion. It was an issue that few of us know much about, so proved very enlightening.

September

After a summer break we hit the ground running, with three apple pressing events and a packed agenda at this month’s meeting.

Happy Birthday to us!

We turned 12 years old in September – what a milestone.

Apple Pressing events

We held three apple pressing events this month using our very own newly purchased apple press and scratter for the first time. Last year we borrowed the equipment from Transition Chepstow and enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to fundraise for our own. We did these events earlier than planned as the apple harvest was early. We held events at Skenfrith, Wyesham and Rockfield Community Halls. People brought lots of local apples and left with bottles of yummy fresh juice. It gave us all an opportunity to get together after the summer too and enjoy some time together with new friends and old.

Nature isn’t Neat Project – showcase report

Cheryl Cummings updated us on the project at this month’s meeting. Nature Isn’t Neat (NIN) is a multi-agency Monmouthshire project which aims to increase and connect pollinator habitats as well as increase the population and biodiversity of pollinator species.

After a slow start, some good progress has been made with the project. Permanent perennial pollinator friendly planting plans have been drawn up instead of the current outdated and unsustainable carpet bedding for St Thomas’ and St James’ Squares in Monmouth.  Several community talks and workshops have also been delivered with more planned for the future. A booklet outlining MCC’s alternative management of open spaces regime under the banner of NIN has also been written and distributed. Public planters within Monmouth with the NIN logo have been filled with a range of permanent pollinator friendly perennials and shrubs.

NIN has both Twitter and Facebook pages and is having positive interactions with members of the public. Discussions are also taking place about the possibility of Monmouth becoming the first Bee Town.

October

Plastic Free Monmouth (PFM) – showcase report

At our October meeting, Dilly Boase reported back to us on PFM. As already described in this report we held a very special awards ceremony in February. Since then Monmouth businesses continue to commit to becoming Plastic Free Champions all the time, so our reach is constantly growing.

PFM emails reach over 100 people and our Facebook page has 450 members. This year we have run information stalls at the Monmouthshire and Usk shows, as well as supporting the Monmouth Community Champions’ Drinking Fountains Project and competing in the Raft Race on a plastic-bottle raft to raise awareness. We also held a mending workshop at Rockfield Community Centre.

PFM’s leaflets and flyers are available around the town and its profile has been raised by pieces in the Beacon and Monnow Voice. We are delighted to say that the pester-power of plastic-free shoppers has persuaded Munday and Jones Greengrocers to switch to cardboard soft fruit punnets and Bridge Fish Bar to replace highly polluting EPS with paper trays, whilst Waitrose has brought in home-compostable veg bags. Thank you to all who have consciously changed habits, requested alternatives and raised awareness of the blight of unnecessary plastics. Their next meeting is January 21st 2020, 7.30-9pm, Robin Hood Pub. All welcome.

Community Orchard – showcase report

There is no project lead on the orchard at the moment. Transition planted the orchard about ten years ago but having set up a management plan, with MCC mowing the area, we handed the project back to the Two River Meadow Group. Ecologist and Transition Monmouth member Helena Ronicle has drawn up a site management plan for the whole Two River Meadow area (which includes the orchard) and hopefully discussions can take place in the future so we can improve the biodiversity of the area in collaboration with MCC and the Two River Meadow Group.

Big Autumn Swap

This was a huge success, with people swapping all kinds of items including plants, seeds, toys, books and clothes, saving items from landfill. Monmouth Community Choir had their first ever performance and completely smashed it with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Perfect Day’ We all feasted on delicious vegan soup made from local seasonal veg, accompanied by bread from Food Sense as well as home-made cakes and goodies. Our younger members ran a table for even younger children to do some autumn leaf printing.  We made over £300, which will go a long way towards funding our new apple press equipment.

November

A quiet month for Transition, thank goodness, with everyone looking forward to our AGM and celebratory party on November 12th, although we are also organising a Climate Emergency Hustings on the 29th November at the Bridges Centre, so that members of Monmouth’s public get a chance to hear what the General Election candidates can offer to help us deal with this state of climate emergency.

Thank you to you all – together we are building a strong, resilient community and fighting climate change on a local level in Monmouth. Everyone’s contribution is important. The power of a team of people determined to tackle climate change on every level in a community cannot be underestimated. What will 2020 bring for us?

Karin Chandler
Chair – Transition Monmouth
November 2019

 

Countdown to the Christmas break…

Dear Transitioners

Our last newsletter of 2019, and perhaps time for reflection on what a tumultuous year it has been – starting with the publication of the IPCC report on Climate Change which, for the first time, the world seemed to take seriously.  This was closely followed by the first Extinction Rebellion protest in Parliament Square on 31 October 2018 when we were introduced to the then 15 year old Greta Thunberg – a leader of our time she has truly turned out to be, meeting with and addressing world leaders while unashamedly shaming many, and inspiring the international Youth Climate Strikes.  In May, Monmouth Town Council declared a Climate Emergency and this was followed a few days later with a similar motion that was carried unanimously by Monmouthshire County Council.

These things don’t come easy and involved a huge amount of work by a huge number of good folk fighting for the cause.  So far, so good – but this is almost where the hard work starts.  Our stamina must not waver.  We applaud, organise and join in when we can with the Climate Emergency protests and Youth Strikes (the youth in Monmouth have had a particularly difficult time – we are proud of their continued action) to influence Government at all levels, and shame corporations for their destructive practices.  Locally we continue to work with the County Council on measures to combat climate change, but also through the new ACE Monmouth (Action on Climate Emergency) projects – Bike-Friendly Monmouth, ACE Festival of the Future, and Green Spaces, with a Repair Café, Energy and Local Food projects on their way.  Below we give dates of the various meetings for the remainder of the year.  All welcome to all the meetings.  Please let me know if you would like to be put in contact with any of the project leaders.

And as though we don’t have enough to do, we now also have a General Election on 12 December.  OK, Brexit is a top issue, but so is the Climate Emergency, and of course the two impact on each other.  We are therefore holding a Climate Emergency Hustings – at Bridges Community Centre on Friday 29 November, 6.30 for a prompt 7pm start – to seek clarity on the positions held by the candidates:-

  • Ian Chandler – Green Party
  • David Davies – Conservative Party
  • June Davies – Renew
  • Hugh Kocan – Plaid Cymru
  • Yvonne Murphy – Welsh Labour
  • Alison Willott – Welsh Liberal Democrats

Email questions in advance to reception@bridgescentre.org.uk.  Include your name, constituency and whether the question is to be asked from the Chair or audience.  There will also be opportunity to post written questions on the day prior to the start of the meeting.  Refreshments available.

At our AGM this week Karin Chandler, our out-going Chair, gave a detailed report of our busy year – copied below and also posted on our website.  Bryan Miller is our new Chair, with Simon Durrant as Deputy Chair.  I will continue as Treasurer and Admin.  For the newsletter I would much welcome any contributions or suggestions on news that you would like to get out to the members.

Now for those dates for your diaries:-

ACE Monmouth:  Bike-Friendly Monmouth:  Thursday 14 November, 7pm at the Robin Hood to take forward the bold ambitions of the group – making the Agincourt Square redevelopment bike friendly, active mapping of cycling routes and much more – all welcome!

Repair Café in Abergavenny:  Saturday 16 November, 11am to 1pm at the Abergavenny Community Centre, Park Street.  We are looking to set up a Repair Café in Monmouth and would encourage anyone interested in being involved to come along to find out how others do it

Climate Emergency Action Festival of the Future:  Saturday 16 November, 10am to 3pm at the Overmonnow Family Learning Centre, Victoria Court, off Wonastow Road, Monmouth NP25 5AR:  A workshop to fix a date for the Festival, plan a timetable, decide on roles and requirements.  Please come along if you are willing to help with the festival or have expertise in planning events.  Feel free to come for only part of the day.  Also bring your children, and your suggestions.  Please also bring food to share;  drinks and fruit will be provided

Lantern Making Workshops:

  • Saturday 16 November, 10am to 4pm at the Shire Hall and
  • Sunday 17 November, 1pm to 5pm at the Rockfield Park Community Centre

These are drop in sessions for you and your children to make a lantern for the parade on 6 December.  Materials provided and refreshments too, but bring your own battery operated fairy lights

ACE Monmouth:  A Repair Café for Monmouth:  Wednesday 27 November, 7pm at the Robin Hood:  Inaugural meeting which, hopefully, will result in us starting pop-up events early next year

Climate Emergency Hustings:  Friday 29 November, 6.30 for a 7pm start at Bridges Community Centre – further details above

ACE Monmouth:  Green Spaces:  Wednesday 4 December, 7.15 at the Robin Hood to get a tutorial on the new Monmouth Green Spaces interactive map, and to discuss the various planting opportunities round town – the new Kingswood Estate, Chippy, where else? – creation of biodiversity corridors, encouraging wild gardens etc

Lantern Parade:  Friday 6 December, 6pm at the Old Bridge to parade up to the Shire Hall for this inspirational community event – a family fun evening with performers on stage, Father Christmas and street entertainers

Grosmont Winter Market:  Saturday 14 December, 10am to 2pm at Grosmont Church – hot drinks, a BBQ, local food, festive story telling, make-and-take craft table, unique Christmas gifts and cards – many made by local people.  Live music too ….

And that’s it for 2019 – so much achieved!  Thank you, all!  We hope you have a good break over the Christmas period and return in January with your energies and ideas replenished.

Vivien Mitchell

On with the rebellion…

Dear Transitioners

Extinction Rebellion protests are in full swing around the world and we are grateful to the millions that are protesting and the thousands that have already been arrested.  If you possibly can, please join the protests in London which are planned to continue throughout this week.  It’s easy to find local groups to engage with – see https://rebellionroles.earth/.  You can also support the actions by making a donation towards costs of providing facilities, training, legal help etc – see  https://rebellion.earth/donate/.

In the meantime we are doing what we can locally.  On Thursday 17 October we have an ACE Monmouth meeting (6.30pm at Bridges Community Centre for a 7pm start) to hear updates on our first three projects – Climate Emergency Festival of the Future, Cycle Friendly Monmouth, Green Spaces – and to hear about plans/ideas for other projects.  Opportunities for everyone to be involved – please come!

Hazel Clatworthy reports that County Council Officers have been working over the summer on a draft Climate Emergency Action Plan – see   https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=139&MId=4001.  This has been considered by the Strong Communities Committee as a policy development exercise.  At present it is a ‘response’ rather than an ‘action plan’, and contains aspirations that might not be achievable, but that is no barrier to their inclusion.  Prioritisation and work with members to understand some of the trade-offs is on-going.

Now for those dates for your diaries:-

ACE Monmouth:  General Meeting:  Thursday 17 October, 6.30pm till 9pm, to hear updates on the projects and discuss further actions / other projects.  Light refreshments will be provided to maintain your energy levels!  Contact vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk for further details or to be put on the mailing list

The Big Autumn Swap:  Saturday 19 October, 11am to 2pm 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 for you to start buying Christmas presents for your gardening friends.  Please bring stuff to swap, but come anyway and make a donation for anything you take.  Bring the children – we will have activities for them.  We will serve coffee, tea and cakes as usual but also vegan soup and bread so you can relax over a light lunch.  If you would like to help with soup making, this will take place that morning in the Priory kitchen starting at 10am.  Offers of help please to karin@chandler.wales

Active Travel:  Tuesday 22 October, 1pm at the Shire Hall.  This is a group facilitated by the Town Council but all are welcome to attend – much scope for improvements in and around Monmouth – come and have your say

Food Sense:  Wednesday 6 November, 7pm.  Currently the main activity of this group is the collection of surplus food from the supermarkets and ensuring it is put to good use;  freezer and refrigeration facilities are being investigated.  Please come along if you would like to participate – contact vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk for venue details

Transition Monmouth AGM:  Tuesday 12 November, 7.15 at the Robin Hood to receive reports for the year from Chair and Treasurer, elect officers for the coming year – all offers welcome – and then we are going to have a PARTY!  The Robin Hood has kindly agreed that we can bring finger food to share.  We look forward to seeing you

Repair Café:  Saturday 16 November, 11am to 1pm at the Abergavenny Community Centre, Park Street.  We are looking at setting up a Repair Café in Monmouth and would encourage anyone interested in being involved to come along to find out how others do it

And the Local Produce Markets:-
Usk – 1st + 3rd Saturdays – 10 till 1
Abergavenny – 4th Thursday – 9.30 to 2.30

We hope to see you soon!
Vivien Mitchell

The season of mellow fruitfulness, and back into action!

Dear Transitioners

Welcome back from what we hope was a good summer break for you all.  But now it’s back to fighting for our lives!

On Friday 20 September there is the Global Climate Strike, with Youth Strike students from Monmouth Comprehensive School starting at 9am outside the Shire Hall.  Please come and support!  Youth strikers across the world are calling on adults to join them as part of a massive global day of action.  If you want to join a different protest or for further information see https://www.campaigncc.org/climate_strike_20_september.

Then, starting on Monday 7 October, Extinction Rebellion and allied movements will peacefully shut down Westminster until the Government acts.  Sign up now at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/international-rebellion-london/ or contact xrabergavenny@gmail.com to be kept up to date with local information – it’s more fun if you go with a local crowd!

We held the second ACE (Action on Climate Emergency) Monmouth meeting in July, formed a Steering Group and settled on taking forward three projects, Action on Climate Emergency Festival of the Future, Cycle Friendly Monmouth, and Green Spaces.  If you would like to be involved with any of these groups details are:-

ACE Festival of the Future:  Next meeting:  Wednesday 18 September, 7pm at the Robin Hood.  Contact: dillyboase@hotmail.com – with email subject ‘ACE MONMOUTH FESTIVAL’

Cycle Friendly Monmouth:  Next meeting:  Thursday 19 September, venue to be confirmed.  Contact:  rachel.jupp@yahoo.com

Green Spaces:  Inaugural meeting:  Wednesday 25 September, 7.15 for a 7.30 start at the Robin Hood.  Contact:  vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk

There is a new Facebook page for ACE Monmouth –  https://www.facebook.com/groups/329198128016245/?epa=SEARCH_BOX so you can keep up to date with the news and chat.

Apple Pressing:  We now have our very own apple pressing equipment.  We would normally do apple pressing in October but apples are ready to press early this year – why? – climate change?  So we have brought the dates forward to the weekend of 21/22 September – details below.  The equipment is available for other community groups to borrow – contact Bryan Miller – bm6565@gmail.com – for further details.  Other apple pressing events will be advertised on Facebook page ‘APPLE PRESSING EVENTS MONMOUTHSHIRE’.  Bring apples, pears etc if you have any but please bring bottles to take juice home with you.

Now for those dates for your diaries:-

Grosmont Harvest Market:  Saturday 14 September, 10am till 2pm:  BBQ – brunch + lunch, local produce, hand made craft, children’s craft table

Usk Show:  Saturday 14 September:  Visit the County Council’s tent.  Plastic Free Monmouth will be there

Repair Café Abergavenny:  Saturday 14 September, 11am till 2pm at the Abergavenny Community Centre, Merthyr Road:  Typical repairs include electrical items (toasters, kettles, vacuum cleaners etc), clothing/textiles, bikes, wooden items.  Further information from repaircafeabergavenny@gmail.com or Facebook

Members’ Meeting:  Tuesday 17 September, 7.15 at the Robin Hood to hear about Nature Isn’t Neat, other updates, discuss future events, fundraising etc – all welcome!

ACE Festival of the Future:  Planning Meeting:  Wednesday 18 September, 7pm to 9pm in the Stable Room at the Robin Hood.  Come with your ideas!  There are already plenty on the table and much enthusiasm to make this an event of very high impact.

Cycle Friendly Monmouth:  Thursday 19 September at 7.30;  venue to be confirmed. Contact Rachel – rachel.jupp@yahoo.com for further details or if you want to be added to the email list

Climate Strike:  Friday 20 September, 9am at the Shire Hall, Monmouth.  Come and support this and the Youth Strike pupils of Monmouth Comprehensive School

The Diet that Could Save the World:  Saturday 21 September, 3pm to 4pm at the Borough Theatre, Abergavenny:  Pamela Mason in conversation with Professor Tim Lang.  This is a JUST FOOD free event but you need a ticket available at the Theatre Box Office or online at https://www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com/programme-2019/the-diet-that-could-save-the-world

The Future of Farming:  Up in the air or down in the ground:  Sunday 22 September, 11 am till noon at the Borough Theatre, Abergavenny:  A debate between Patrick Holden, an organic farmer and Director of the Sustainable Food Trust, and Professor Chungui Lu of Nottingham Trent University, a proponent of soil-less city hi-rise farming.  This is another JUST FOOD free event but you need a ticket available at the Theatre Box Office of online at https://www.abergavennyfoodfestival.com/programme-2019/the-future-of-farming-a-debate/

Green Spaces:  Inaugural Meeting:  Wednesday 25 September, 7.15 for a 7.30 start.  We will be looking at developing an interactive map of green spaces, planting on the Kingswood Estate and other planting/growing projects.  It’s up to you as to what we do – come with your ideas!  Contact vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk for further details

ACE Monmouth:  General Meeting:  Thursday 17 October, 6.30 to 9pm, to hear updates on the projects and discuss further actions / other projects.  Venue to be confirmed.  Contact vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk for further details or to be put on the mailing list

Big Swap:  Saturday 19 October, 11am to 2pm at Monmouth Priory.  Yes, another Big Swap event for clothes, books, toys etc as well as the usual seeds/plants/produce.  Please start keeping stuff ready to swap.  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, this will take place that morning at the Priory starting at 10am.  Offers of help please to karin@chandler.wales

And the Local Produce Markets:-
Usk – 1st + 3rd Saturdays – 10 till 1
Abergavenny – 4th Thursday – 9.30 to 2.30

We hope to see you soon!
Vivien Mitchell

Climate Emergency Action…..

Dear Transitioners

Action on Climate Emergency Monmouth – ACE Monmouth
Meeting on Thursday 18 July:  6pm drop-in, 7pm for start of meeting

At the first meeting of what is now called ACE Monmouth we discussed ideas for action under the four headings of:-

Awareness and lobbying
Reduce, re-use, repair, recycle
Active travel, private transport, public transport
Green spaces 

Of the many ideas (listed in full at the end of this email), the top 20 were:-

  1. Tree planting – various locations
  2. LED lighting show site
  3. Cycle friendly Monmouth
  4. Electric car charging points
  5. Buses for commuters
  6. Railway station for Monmouth
  7. Car free days
  8. Solar panels on buildings
  9. Climate Emergency Action festival
  10. Reduce carbon emissions by Monmouth Town Council
  11. Set up a Repair Café
  12. Set up a Library of Things
  13. Wild flower areas and community gardens
  14. Business awareness theme
  15. Energy advice for households
  16. Schools events / information sharing
  17. Community fund for projects
  18. Plastic Free for Life
  19. Anaerobic digester for dog poo
  20. Community composting

So that we have an idea of who is interested in what, please complete the survey (even if you cannot attend the meeting) at https://gwentenergycic.org/mace-survey/ – and please let us know if there is another project that you would like to see taken forward, especially if you want to actively participate.  We want to get on with action as quickly as possible!  There is a new Facebook page for ACE Monmouth – https://www.facebook.com/groups/329198128016245/?epa=SEARCH_BOX so you can keep up to date with the news and chat.

Now for some other dates for your diaries:- 

XR ‘Operation Mushroom’:  15 to 19 July:  Operation Mushroom will take place in five cities across the UK including Cardiff.  This will be the biggest action yet seen in Wales and will aim to ensure that all Governments and Councils act.  We have had enough talk!  Basically this will be a London-style event holding an area round Castle Street for maximum effect and publicity.  The theme is the Canary – a warning sign of catastrophe.  Further information and sign up at

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/sign-up-for-operation-mushroom-15th-19th-july.  A huge amount of work is involved and all help is welcome.  Please contact xrabergavenny@gmail.com to be kept up to date with local information

ACE Monmouth:  Thursday 18 July at Bridges Community Centre:  6pm for drop-in, 7pm start to the meeting when we will settle on projects for Climate Emergency Action in Monmouth

Rewilding:  A short video by George Monbiot followed by discussion:  Sunday 21 July, 2pm to 4pm at Rockfield Community Centre.  Bring the children – there is a playground adjacent to the Centre.  More details here 

Climate Change Champions:  Wednesday 31 July, 6.30 pm at County Hall to review progress on the Climate Emergency Action Plan for the County – all welcome;  contact vivienmitchell@yahoo.co.uk for a car share

Garway Fun Day – Green Living + Plastic Free:  Saturday 24 August – further information nearer the time on the Garway Community Centre Group Facebook page

Viridor Energy from Waste Facility:  Wednesday 28 August:  Minibus transport from Chepstow, Monmouth and Raglan to arrive in Cardiff at 12 noon.  The facility diverts around 95% of residual waste produced in South Wales from land fill;  it takes all of Monmouthshire’s waste for incineration – see https://www.viridor.co.uk/energy/energy-recovery-facilities/cardiff-erf/ for further details.  Places are limited and it is essential to book by contacting hello@gwentenergycic.org.

And the Local Produce Markets:-
Usk – 1st + 3rd Saturdays – 10 till 1
Abergavenny – 4th Thursday – 9.30 to 2.30

We hope to see you before the holiday break, but in any case, have a happy summer!

Vivien Mitchell