Planet Protectors (un)profiled…..
What do you imagine a green / eco activist to look like? Be honest, now. Brighton crusty? Bristol tree-dweller? Shouty placard-bearer? We all trade daily in violent shorthand, stereotypes and imagined Others. Media headlines (“Gay alcoholic mother of two”; “Euro-Mega-Boss”) teach us to do it. Sometimes our families and neighbours teach us, too (“that Polish builder opposite”; “sarky auntie”).
A Transition Town Worthing meeting severely (and joyfully!) undermined our expectations of an ‘eco network’. Even the venue surprised. We’d not expected to sip craft gin in Indigo hotel with this eclectic lot. Bemused and chastened, then. After-meeting chat whizzed us through some of the other nodes in alt.Worthing networks, like food pioneers and breathing spaces. Here, among community activists tightly connected into Worthing’s everyday, we can ask and learn something about who is a Worthing-ite in 2017. The story these folks know is a far more interesting one than that suggested by the bald census figures, numbers which tell a somewhat frightening story of overbearing white Englishness, potentially bereft of cosmopolitanism and not yet grown up into the global consciousness we need. Quantum shifts towards necessary changes have been taking place, and are now gathering energy.
Longtime Worthing folks in this group took the blog question in good spirit and with some humour, walking us patiently through the very specific local histories of Worthing, which continue to inflect the present. As we hear about the role of market gardening, we enjoy some ‘aha!’ moments: all those nurseries and garden centres; our own lovely garden soil – gentle and luscious to work with, generous in result. We also hadn’t properly thought before about fisherfolk, their stories being recorded by the poignantly named Last Fisherman Standing.
As Transition Town folks already know – and as we are learning – Worthing has its own particular history, and is a place which is now changing fast – but with a lot of community input and a very wary eye on being more than simply The New Brighton.