President’s Report – TTM Inc.
I’d first like to remind us all very briefly of what we are here for – why Transition Towns Maroondah Incorporated exists.
We are here because of the urgent and serious nature of climate change, and because of dwindling resources, especially cheap, easy to access oil for energy – and the connections between the two – new methods of extraction of the harder to get oil are buying us some time (so the price has dropped) but these supplies won’t last, and they are contributing even more to climate change, as well as destroying farming lands and forests.
But the Transition vision for localising our way of life, and our economies looks like a way forward that could help create stronger, healthier, happier and more sustainable communities.
On our website, we have expressed it this way:
There are two parts to our purpose:
1. to raise awareness about climate change, resource depletion and economic contraction; and
2. to initiate and support projects that help to create resilient and sustainable communities as a positive response to these challenges. We see localisation of the economy and our way of life, and re-skilling as keys to resilience and sustainability.
Report on 2014
2014 was our first year as an incorporated group, after being an informal group for five years before that.
We had a shaky start to the year, as our first attempt at an AGM ended with no president, so we had to try again a month later. I reluctantly took on that role, as I was also just starting in a new and challenging job. It hasn’t been ideal for the group, but at least it meant we could keep going.
So we had a shaky start, and rather a wobbly year, but we are still here, and here today with new energy, after our half day of review and planning earlier this month.
There were certainly some good things achieved and some great events last year. Here is a list of some of them – and if I leave anything out that you think should be in, please let me know and I’ll add it:
- Tales by Torchlight – Earth was a partnership event with Maroondah Council – extremely well attended and a very successful night.
- With the help of artist, Tracey Roberts, a beautiful new banner which was started at the Maroondah Festival in November 2013 was finished at a Farmers Market this year, and kindly sewn up by Ann Heskett.
- The Croydon Food Swap had diminishing numbers for a few months, but has come back very strongly, and is now attracting over 30 people each month.
- More and more people are collecting coffee grounds from cafes for their compost or gardens.
- Jane and Neil, members of TTM, have attended several school fairs, and have given out coffee grounds as well as information about TTM
- We had a very informative and interesting evening with Hugh Venables from Beyond Zero Emissions, showing us how to reduce our energy bills in our homes to zero. This was attended by a significant number of new people.
- We had a Carbon Footprint Fun night, with Stuart and Lee presenting the results of their research – something that needs following up this year
- A night of fun and games – how to keep the joy in Transition, with Mary Williamson and co.
- A Sustainable Transport night with Michael Blowfield from the council as speaker
- Various practical workshops – including some at the Food Swap, some at the monthly gatherings – such as making bags from old jumpers or knitting them from scratch, and creating mini succulent gardens as free or low-cost gifts
- We had a marquee at the Maroondah Festival again, and with Jane and Neil’s unflagging zeal, community members helped to create a Memorial to Oil sculpture, which is now touring around primary schools in Maroondah. The Canterbury Road Heathmont speed limit campaign was also launched at the festival
- We had considerable input at consultations with Maroondah Council’s Vision for 2040
- Pam and Yvonne met with Lynne Hebbelthwaite (spelling?) re Council review of their Sustainability Policy
- TTM member, Jane Monk, applied and was accepted onto Maroondah Council’s Environmental Advisory Committee
- Ros Rodd proposed starting a Re-skilling group, or series of re-skilling workshops. Still in the pipe-line.
Both the Heathmont and the Ringwood East Structure Plans (Maroondah Council) – which TTM had considerable input into in 2013 – were released during 2014.
The Croydon Centro shopping centre development was given the go-ahead by Council this year – when they agreed to the proposed planning amendment, much to our disappointment.
Over the course of the year, we had 4 resignations from Core Group: Chris Gardiner-Bill, Jennifer Clarke, Karen Cheah, and Mandy Homewood. We are very grateful for the time and energy that each of these people has given to TTM.
We are also thankful to Karen for continuing to look after our website, as well as the Food Swap and all the work behind that, including writing a very entertaining blog between swaps. Her husband David always takes some great photos at each swap to go with the text.
One of the challenges of the year was organising our monthly gatherings in the community hall at Knaith Road. These gatherings have had an interesting evolving history. Originally the idea was to have simultaneous planning meetings for the several subgroups that we had in the early days: the Food Group, Transport, Community Engagement and so on (?) – various groups were trialled.
We then began running a series of awareness raising events on those Sunday evenings, showing films or having speakers. We added in some practical workshops, such as spring planting or how to create a hot compost. It helped share the work load when we decided to take turns to plan nights. We have had a lot of wonderful events, but last year our energy levels and/or time available were down, and numbers on Sunday nights were down, and we realised these Sunday evenings had fulfilled their purpose, and it was time to do something different. Our Street Party in the Hall at the end of the year was a fun night and a fitting ending to our many good times in the Ringwood East Community Hall.
At our half day of planning a few weeks ago, we concluded that it was time for TTM to branch out – both geographically and demographically – into the rest of Maroondah. The fact that the Council, after giving us the hall at no cost for the past five years – has now decided to charge us \$20+ per hour helped prod us into having the discussion.
We decided to let go of our monthly gatherings and that this year we would be more into action than meetings, and that we will make sure we look out for each other and celebrate our achievements. We expect to have a smaller number of larger awareness raising events as well, probably at different locations around Maroondah.
Thank you for the privilege of being President over the past year.