Several Sussex towns have actively embraced the idea of Transition Towns - an initiative that gets volunteers together in a communal bid to reduce the local carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable way of living and working. It's about promoting flexibility and resilience and sharing skills so that towns can continue to thrive against economic and energy crises. In East Sussex, Lewes, Mayfield, Brighton, Forest Row, Hastings and the Cuckmere Valley have got involved, while in West Sussex, Horsham, Worthing, Chichester and Shoreham by Sea have taken it on. In fact Lewes has a long history of independent thinking, right down to its own local currency - but don't worry, ordinary sterling is more widely accepted even there!
I think this Transition Town activity speaks volumes not only for the places and the sense of pride they engender, but for the local people. These are people who love the places they live in and want to make them better for future generations - not see them disappear. It’s a great attitude to help encourage tourists to Sussex as well. Some groups are more active than others and some are more commercially-aware than others: some have impressive websites, others are quite hard to track down - but it's worth the effort, even if you're just visiting on holiday for a week or two.
Initiatives range from very small to impressively large: from a monthly get-together to discuss ideas and refill bottles of a well-known eco-friendly cleaning product, which are open to anyone who is interested and might be advertised on a small local level, to advice on less-hungry power solutions such as solar panels and LED lightbulbs (one website even has a very practical and informative 'tried and tested' feature) something many Sussex holiday cottage owners are taking on board, as well as input on local sustainable housing plans. At least one group has its own allotment, and seed-swapping days for keen vegetable growers take place in several towns around this time of year. It's not just about trying to recreate The Good Life (RIP the wonderful Richard Briers, by the way) but about creating a healthier, more sustainable, forward-thinking and self-sufficient environment in Sussex - and that can't be bad.