Transition Crouch End came about in September 2008, when a group of us made a geographical connection at a talk by Rob Hopkins in London, and decided to meet again. Our urban initiative had no clearly defined area, but we felt we wanted to appeal to people who had an ’emotional attachment to Crouch End’. At the same time we didn’t want to exclude the residents of Hornsey and so we decided on the name, CHATI which stood for the Crouch end and Hornsey Area Transition Initiative.
As CHATI, we organised successful film nights around the theme of oil (screening the powerful trio, The Power of Community, Farm for the Future and The End of Suburbia) and ran free events for the community. Since then we have changed our name to the more transparent, Transition Crouch End, and have developed a robust dialogue with Haringey Council, based on receiving a Making the Difference Award and giving a presentation to the Local Area Assembly. We work very closely with other green initiatives, taking part in monthly film nights, attending meetings of the Sustainable Haringey Network. and having links with several community gardens in the area.
Our main focus at present is growing spaces, and we are seeding initiatives in partnership with Hornsey Vale Community Centre, Stroud Green Library and Thornton’s Budgens in Crouch End. Food (its provenance, production and potential scarcity) is a powerful vehicle(!) for presenting the message of ‘peak oil’. It is one which engages the public, and empowers them to adapt their lifestyle, both in terms of their living space and the choices they make as a consumer. An illustration of this is our annual Apple Day each October which draws in hundreds of people, with widespread coverage online and in the local press. Jointly organised with the Urban Harvest, the event is an opportunity to taste freshly pressed juice and to sample different varieties of English apples. In addition to apple activities, we host talks on the origins of the apple, sometimes a cookery demonstration using produce from the Hornsey Vale Community Centre Kitchen Garden and many other delicious, natural, local things.The Tyre Garden at HVCC
Our future emphasis will be to build on this interest by encouraging people to share skills, not just in gardening, but in other creative areas, such as baking, woodwork and craft. There are many sustainable projects happening in the area, a proliferation which can be confusing to people outside the loop. Our role as a transition initiative, a recognisable ‘brand’ with a national and global presence, is crucial here. The transition model provides a coherent and compelling ideology which gives meaning to these activities and emphasies their importance in creating a strong, resilient community.