Transition News

In Service to Hope


The Rojava project is a revolutionary socio-political idea which could, if it were allowed to survive, transform the middle East and perhaps our entire world. My daughter Anna, other foreign friends like her and thousands of Syrian Kurds have been, and still are, willing to sacrifice their lives for it. Which means it must be a very powerful idea indeed.


Read more by Dirk Campbell


Left: Anna Campbell 


Photo: Katie Vandyck, Lewes.


Lewes Town Council taking steps on single-use plastic

By Sue Fleming and Juliet Oxborrow


Plastic Free Lewes was pleased to meet in March with a new working party at Lewes Town Council which has been formed to help phase out single-use plastics from the council's activities.

Lewes Town Council has voted unanimously to phase out single-use plastics from its premises and encourage groups and organisations hiring the Town Hall, the All Saints Centre, Malling Community Centre and Pells Pool to do the same.

Half of all the 300 billion tonnes of plastic produced globally is estimated to be used once before being discarded.The biggest contributors towards single-use plastic pollution include disposable water bottles, plastic bags, drinking straws, takeaway coffee cups and plastic food containers.

Working with Plastic Free Lewes, the town council is looking to:

- Send out a leaflet to anyone seeking to hire one of its venues, explaining alternatives to using single-use plastic.

- Phase out single-use plastics from all its offices and encourage workers to use reusable water bottles, coffee takeaway cups etc

- Provide posters throughout town council premises giving tips on cutting personal and business plastic use

- Provide access to taps in the town hall for anyone to refill reusable water bottles.


The town council is also to vote on becoming a strategic partner to Plastic Free Lewes so it can support and promote the group's initiatives. Town councillors who have joined the single-use plastics working party are Annabel Ashby (Green), Janet Baah (LibDem), John Lamb (LibDem), Susan Murray (Independent Green), Ruth O'Keeffe (Independent), Chelsea Renton (Green), Esther Watts (Green) and Stephen 'Caitlin' Wischhusen (Independent).

We are now seeking to meet with Lewes District Council, which has recently made a similar commitment to phase out single-use plastic where possible. We also intend to approach East Sussex County Council to see if it would like to formulate its own plastics policy.

You can learn more about Plastic Free Lewes here or join the Plastic Free Lewes Facebook Group here


How you can help get our MP to support parliament divesting from fossil fuels

Divest Parliament is a campaign getting MPs to show leadership by divesting the parliamentary pension fund from fossil fuels. They are asking all those concerned with climate change and responsible investment to lobby their MP to sign a pledge supporting this action. So far 100 cross-party MPs have signed. This is part of the general campaign for divestment from fossil fuels with which Keep It In The Ground Lewes (KIIGL) and Divest East Sussex are associated.

So far Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has not signed. Every effort should be made to bring her on board and the more people that contact her requesting her to sign the better chance of getting her to do so. In the first place send her an email. Divest Parliament have prepared a template for an email which can be personalised to deal with any issues on which the writer feels particularly strongly. Details of the template and of the pledge are at Divest Parliament

It is always better when lobbying your MP to meet and talk face to face if you can. You can do so individually or in a group. If anyone would like to join a group to try and meet Maria please contact TTL or Arnold Simanowitz of KIIGL at


Tingle's Way


When Colin Tingle died in May last year there was a strong feeling that we wanted to create something that would recognise his work and unique contribution. Tingle's Way is beginning to evolve; it will be a routeway for walkers & cyclists coming off the South Downs Way, through the urban centre of Lewes and on to Egrets Way leading along to Newhaven. It will also be a tangible way to understand Colin's philosophy around the vital benefits that Nature brings to our lives. He saw the natural capital as the 'stock' of nature and the ecosystems services as the flow of benefits from nature. Actual 'goods' are provided from ecosystems services that in turn impacts the lives of all of us.

Colin was passionate about educating and inspiring people to see how valuable nature is and how everything is connected. 

Colin worked collaboratively with these ideas and so many people from various approaches are keen to help connect on this project. A Steering group is forming to coordinate efforts and various sites have already been identified as being specific points of interest to illustrate the concepts of natural capital & naturegain. Discussions are underway to see if Tingle's Way can officially form a link to the South Downs Way.

If you'd like to know more about this or identify certain key sites that you like, please get in touch:


Plastic Free Lewes – what’s happened so far

Plastic Free Lewes was launched as a town-wide initiative at the end of 2017 to help reduce unnecessary plastic use in Lewes and has seen huge response and support.

Here’s a quick update on what’s happened so far, including initiatives both by Plastic Free Lewes and others...


The ultimate in recycling: Freegle and Freecycle



I’ve been freecycling for about 11 years now. It’s been brilliant for me, getting rid of stuff I no longer need, knowing that someone is going to appreciate it and without worrying that it’ll go to landfill or incineration. Win, win. I’ve had to clear two family houses during that time, and it would have been deeply upsetting to throw away so much that was still usable but that I couldn’t sell. And now that I don’t have a car, Freegle and Freecycle are particularly useful: for example last week someone came and took away eight used fence panels, dismantling them to get them into their car!

Read more by Julia Waterlow here...


New Lewes Pound Issuing Points



The Lewes Pound is delighted to announce that it has two new issuing points.

The Patisserie Lewes on Station Street has agreed to be a new #lewespound issuing point. And it's a great cafe too, so you an exchange your Lewes Pounds and enjoy an excellent coffee!
Skylark, downstairs in the Needlemakers, will also now exchange your sterling for Lewes Pounds. While down there you can enjoy a great selection of books, cards and artistic wares, including fairtraded items.

We would also like to extend our thanks to Laporte's and to Cheese Please, both of which are very sadly closing down. They have been great supporters the Lewes Pound, as well as being issuing points. We will miss you.


Keep your home cosy with SNUG

As the single-digit winter temperatures persist, lots of us want to know how we can make our homes less draughty and more energy efficient without going to huge expense.

SNUG was set up by Transition Town Lewes to offer practical information and help with draught-proofing. Experienced "eco builder" Olivier Sauer (pictured) is on hand to offer free advice and recommendations on insulation, draught proofing, magnetic secondary glazing, energy-efficient thermostats, ventilation and managing humidity.

If you would then like any work to be carried out, Olivier can provide a cost estimate - or you can use your own preferred builder or handyperson. You can see more about his work, including magnetic secondary glazing, here...

Olivier is available from 7 March onwards and can be contacted at



Jon has something to say about water



As a general rule, I will agree that persuasion through reproach is a bad idea. Nobody likes being told off, nobody appreciates being told what to do, and anyway there are too many beams in my own eye to complain about the motes in another's. However, within the quiet precincts of an inoffensive newsletter of modest ambitions, where I am preaching only to the converted - and, presumably, some desperately bored civil servant in an office somewhere in Cheltenham - what the hell is it with the bottled water? Are we to meekly accept its alleged indispensability? Let us consider precedent.

Photograph: Tom Lovell

As Alexander led his army through a burning desert in eastern Persia, one of his scouts found a tiny pool of water; filled his helmet, and took it to his general. "ls it enough for a thousand men?" asked Alexander, and, seeing the man shake his head, poured away the water on the sand. Flavius Arrianus sees this as proof that Alexander was a great man. Personally I think it makes him look like a right pillock. To be fair, there are many different versions of this story - some attached to other historical figures, Confucius among them - and Arrian himself admits that he is not quite sure which particular desert he is talking about. However, in none of the classical works I have consulted is there any suggestion of the Macedonian army refusing to proceed unless they were supplied with a sufficiency of bottled water, or of anyone writing to the municipal authorities of Gedrosia ( or possibly Bactria ) requesting the construction of a network of drinking fountains. And if Alexander's men could march from Issus to the Indus on little more than pitta bread and a handful of olives, why can't a healthy twenty-first century adult make it from home to Waitrose without pausing for therapeutic hydration? Because there is a downside to this, isn't there? Plastic is bad: single use plastic is worse. Water is heavy, and moving it around wastes carbon. If you want spring water, hitchhike to Buxton ( where the water is quite nice ) or Bath ( where it is apparently quite foul ). If someone can come up with a sound medical reason for the phenomenon, do let me know. Or are people making a hobby of micturition?

And as for coffee! You don't need it. Or rather you only need it - coffee being somewhat addictive - because you have got used to it. If on the other hand you must insist that good coffee is one of life's great pleasures, you will have my enthusiastic agreement. Coffee is a delight, and one of the few good reasons for international trade. This being so, however, why would you drink it through a plastic lid on a cardboard cup while hurrying down the road? Sit down somewhere warm and comfortable, with a good book or a good friend, and treat your coffee with the respect it deserves.

Next month: Jon explains why you should never let your kids have any fun.

Jon Gunson, TTL.


Beacon (eco village) Community



Beacon (eco village) Community is an intentional community in formation aiming to build in Sussex or Kent, but most likely within a 10 mile radius of Lewes close to good transport links.They have a blueprint & a development path through the various stages culminating in the built community & are looking to recruit more households so that they can begin vital processes.

Read more here: A World Waiting To Be Born


Colin's Bequest

Colin Tingle (below) as a director of the Lewes Pound was a huge enthusiast for local currencies, how they support local businesses and everyone in local communities, and their connection with the local environment. His passionate drive and belief in positive change was integral to the LP and continues to inspire us. When he died last May he left a legacy of Lewes Pounds to be used for the benefit of the community

Colin Tingle   With the agreement of his loved ones we proposed that some of these Lewes Pounds should be given to users of the food banks to enable them to make choices to buy fresh local produce or shop in local independent businesses to get items they couldn't normally afford and that the food bank doesn't supply. In early December envelopes of LP25 were distributed to people using the Landport food bank along with an explanatory letter and a copy of our information leaflet. After Christmas they were asked how they had used the Lewes Pounds and what difference it had made to them.

The replies were surprising and, to be honest, not exactly what we had been expecting.. It would be fair to say that most of the replies indicated that people had spent their LPs on treats. We heard from someone who had been able to go to a film at the Depot with her partner and from someone else who was planning to go. Another had taken her family for pizza at The Bus Club (formerly the Hearth). Another had been able to pay to have a bracelet repaired at Jonathan Swan. Someone had bought a lovely box of chocolates for his mum at Poppy's in the Riverside. Yet another had given them as Christmas present to her daughter who had bought a craft set from Wickle and was saving the rest for another treat later on. Someone else went out to buy Christmas presents for her grandchildren and for the first time ever went into Bags of Books. These are things that many of us take for granted, but they truly were rare treats for the beneficiaries of Colin's bequest.

We are so touched and delighted by these stories of people getting some agency over their lives and being able to look a bit beyond the day to day struggle for survival that we aim to repeat the scheme and to seek grant funding to extend it to other food banks in town. However this isn't just about people who go to food banks. It also underlines the wide variety of businesses in Lewes that accept LPs and shows that more of us could use LPs to express our support for the local independent businesses that help make Lewes such a unique community. One that the Lewes Pound is proud to celebrate.


Lewes Town Council and the Living Wage Foundation

Lewes Town Council has now become fully accredited with the Living Wage Foundation, and is also a "Friendly Funder". Full accreditation means that the council will look at all its subcontractors to ensure that they too are paying the real Living Wage, now £8.75 per hour. Friendly funder status means that they ask all applicants for Town Council grants if they pay the Living Wage to their employees if any. Lewes Town Council have been signed up to the local Living Wage Brighton and Hove for some time. The new accreditation deepens their commitment, and all Town councillors voted for it. Many local councils of all sizes around the UK are accredited, but not as yet Lewes District Council or East Sussex County Council. More information here...


Litter Free Lewes

Date for the diary - the next litter pick will be on March 31st, 11am - 1pm, to do Ham Lane/Cockshut Road, meeting at the Southdown Sports Centre. For more info, please see all our upcoming dates on Litter Action  or Facebook group Litter Free Lewes (no hyphen) or email Milly

Litter Free Lewes is a new project that aims to reduce litter and clean up our area. Here's how...

1. Carrying out regular litter pick-ups - fortnightly if possible, minimum once a month
2. Contacting schools to discuss their litter policy and encourage student engagement with the anti-littering message. 
3. Working with local authorities to improve signage and bins
4. Working with local artists to create anti-litter stencils (with respect to the local environment).

Read an update of what's been happening...

Please let us know if you'd like to get involved, join a litter pick or think you could help create an engaging workshop to be delivered in schools. Email Milly: or join the Litter-Free Lewes Facebook group for regular updates.  Read more about Litter-Free Lewes


Lewes for a Living Wage

Lewes for a Living Wage has produced a leaflet about poverty in Lewes: The Lewes Divide was launched at the group's Lewes Depot showing of I, Daniel Blake. In the discussion afterwards panellists confirmed that scenes from the film are typical of what is happening in Lewes. This is not good enough, and means we are far from being a resilient community. Almost 50 of the packed audience signed up to keep in touch and do more. Read a copy of the leaflet here, and for a longer account of the film event see here. Contact:  

There's a live-streamed video of the discussion on Facebook

Food bank


Putting Lewes on the map as a Sail Cargo Town

In October the engine-less classic sailing ketch Nordlys (built 1873 on the Isle of Wight) shipped 1000 litres of olive oil into Newhaven, from Porto, Portugal. This was the culmination of many months work, connecting us via the sea with our wonderful growers, the Reigado family, and bringing their delicious oil to the homes of our sail cargo pioneers - people who pre-ordered 5 litre tubs. This allowed us to pay the Reigados a fair price upfront, 40% of the sale price. We offer full transparency, with each tub including a breakdown of where the £10/litre goes. We have some oil left, in 750ml glass bottles (£10) and 5litre plastic tubs (£55) which you can order here... 

To make all this happen Sail Boat Project (a community sailing school) set up Sail Cargo South East, a partnership to look at establishing sail cargo routes using our own sail training vessels for potential cross channel routes, as well as Nordlys and other boats working longer passages. We are part of a wider network called the Sail Cargo Alliance, which brings together sail cargo vessels, growers and brokers. We are calling this way of working 'community supported shipping' and we are already looking at a second shipment into Newhaven around April 2018 with this year's olive harvest. This will hopefully include: olive oil in wine box style cardboard packaging; whole olives, almonds and dried fruit; sea salt; Portuguese wine and port!

We're looking for people to get involved with promotion, port logistics and planning and ideally sourcing a river boat to trans-ship the cargo into the heart of Lewes on the Ouse. So if you're interested in putting Lewes on the map as a Sail Cargo Town and working towards zero emissions transport we'd love to hear from you!

Nordlys arriving at Newhaven


Shedding some light on our streets

I was curious about how much of our street lighting is now LED. Not only do LEDs save money in terms of electricity consumption but also in maintenance because the bulbs last so much longer. I asked Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe what she could find out.

Her reply was that the key layer of Government in all this is the County Council. The District Council only has very limited responsibility for lighting in parks.


The head of the Lighting section at ESCC says that ESCC street lighting is currently approximately 50% LED / 50% traditional discharge lighting. LED units have been introduced through various projects during the last five years.

A further energy saving project is planned for the new year, with a further 2000 lanterns on the main roads being converted to LED. ESCC are also looking at future projects in which LED lanterns would replace the 4000 low pressure Sodium (orange) lanterns currently in place throughout the County.

Looking at the inventory there are currently 2005 ESCC street lights in Lewes of which 814 (41%) are LED units. The number of LED units will increase as and when the projects outlined above are progressed on site and through the replacement of individual lanterns that are changed through maintenance.

As Ruth says, it is good to know that concerning LED lighting, ESCC appears to be at about twice the average already (10:10 estimate that the current figure is still only 20%) and that these projects to continue to increase that percentage are already planned and being put in.

Julia Waterlow


What’s the future for energy management and storage?

By Chris Rowland of Ovesco

If you visited our own local energy guru’s SuperHome in September, you’ll know that Nick Rouse has installed a Tesla battery to manage electricity generated from his rather large 5.9KW PV array and to help power his electric car. The battery allowed Nick’s house to supply his entire electricity needs and on top of that, export to the grid this summer. What Nick installs today, we’ll all be installing over the next decade!


Sadly, Nick is currently recovering at home from a cycling accident (we need more cycling paths), otherwise I would have asked him to employ his technical knowhow to write this article about the talks given last week at Cooksbridge Hall on ‘Energy Storage and the Transition to a Sustainable Economy’, which was organised by The Green Growth Platform & Brighton University. The speakers were Joy Aloor (left), Head of Power Technologies at Siemens PTI, David Middleton from Origami Energy & Thomas Maidonis, an Energy Economist at National Grid. 

Read article in full


Twitter Wizard wanted by the Lewes Pound

Do you know a young person who would like to earn £25 pocket money per week helping the Lewes Pound with its Twitter account? If so please pass this on and ask them to get in touch.


The Lewes Pound currently exists very much in the concrete world of paper money and practical purchases of food and drink or films, for instance. However, we would like to have a much bigger digital presence so that we can do much more to support the local community and local businesses.

We're offering £25 (split between Sterling and Lewes Pounds) for two hours work per week delivering a strong Twitter presence for the Lewes Pound. This would involve occasionally attending our regular Friday morning meetings, but could mostly be done at times to suit the successful Twitter wizard.

If you know of someone suitable please ask them to email the Lewes Pound with a brief CV and a short account (maximum 250 words) of how they would set about raising our profile on Twitter.


Reaching out to the young: sustainable fashion sense

Jill Goulder shares her findings and thoughts after a Friday night out...

On Friday 13 October I went to the Alternative Lewes event at the King's Church, 'What do your clothes really cost?' Three speakers underlined from their personal knowledge the true 'cost' of the clothes that we buy and wear. In response to a question from the floor, all three nicely-dressed speakers confirmed that their clothes were mainly from charity shops. Among the many messages:

  • - It takes 2720 litres of water to make one T-shirt. Cotton-growing involves vast quantities of water, and it uses 16% of the world's pesticides - choose organic cotton. And 20% of global water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles
  • - 1 in 6 of the world population is employed in the clothing industry. How much of the cost of a £5 T-shirt do you think goes to the garment-workers?
  • - US$3.1 billion is spent annually on Hallowe'en costumes in the USA, many of which are then thrown away.

But even more relevant for Transition Town Lewes is that most of the audience was under 30 years old! We're constantly mulling over how to get our message to the newer generations, and could learn excellent lessons. The event combined talks and a 'clothes-swap' - you could bring along clothes which were nice but that you didn't want, and hand them in and take away something else that appealed. Of course most of the audience was female, but not all. I gathered that some of the audience were friends of daughters of Alternative Lewes practitioners, with the word spreading peer to peer. So for attracting a younger audience, a) lay on a 'pull' such as a chance to get nice new (well, pre-loved) clothes, and b) use the 'snowball' approach to spread word of the event among young people. Note that the entrance fee was £6-8 but it didn't deter them.


Bus tour takes divestment message across East Sussex

On Saturday 23rd September members of Keep it in the Ground Lewes together with other members of Divest East Sussex visited Hastings, Bexhill, Hailsham, Eastbourne, Seaford, Crowborough and Uckfield in a Big Lemon bus powered by waste cooking oil during a one-day tour to publicise the campaign to persuade East Sussex County Council to stop investing local people’s pension monies in fossil fuels.

Equipped with their own mobile bus stop and traditionally-dressed bus conductor, the campaigners collected over 640 signatures for the ‘Divest East Sussex’ petition bringing the current total to over 2,500. They also distributed copies of a ‘Global Warming Time-Table’ with the message: ‘Don’t Miss the Bus on Climate Change: Make Pensions Fossil Free.’

Investments in fossil fuels have become increasingly controversial, with over 680 institutions in 76 countries, managing assets worth more than $5 trillion, making some form of divestment commitment since 2012.

The East Sussex Pension Fund – which is administered by the County Council and holds the pensions for a wide range of organisations from across East Sussex – is estimated to have at least £150m invested in fossil fuels. Three members of the Fund – Hastings Borough Council, Lewes Town Council and Brighton and Hove City Council – have already passed motions calling on the Fund to divest from fossil fuels.

These investments not only contribute to global warming but, as Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said in an article in The Guardian on October 13 2015, also pose a growing financial risk for local people’s pensions. For example, UK public pension funds lost nearly £700m during 2014/15 when the value of their investments in the coal industry plummeted. ESCC should follow the lead of other UK Councils, such as Waltham Forest and Southwark, and commit to ridding itself of these investments over the next five years.

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