A Very Merry Christmas to All! Love, Transition x

Christmas is upon us and we here at Transition want to wish you all the winteriest of winters, the most festive Christmas, and the happiest of holidays! The festive period can be an opportune time for reflection, ushering in a new year of resolutions. In fact, we would love to share ours with you. These reflections share insights into work with Transition, hopes and fears about the climate crisis, and celebrations of people and projects.

Look forward to seeing you all in the new year, fresh and ready to take on the world!

Ali Macleod, Transition Project Manager

For me, COP26 in Glasgow and our Line in the Sand in St Andrews brought together all the hopes and fears for the work we do. I’m optimistic that the rachet mechanism of annual reporting will now bring quicker results and there was some big commitments in terms of finance and forestry but is it enough or guaranteed? The world feels more awake to the challenge of what needs to be done so there is hope.

I was also touched by the responses of the participants at the Adapted Cycle Trial in the summer. Some amazing stories of folk not having ridden for many years getting back in the saddle and enjoying the freedom of cycling.

On the back of this years amazing work being done by the Meadows in Making team (Johanna, Ecologist, and Stephen, Practical Conservation Worker) to change grassland management and create new areas of woodland and hedge. I’m looking forward to creating a new linear orchard that will run from DRA Halls along the North Haugh in February that will create a local food source for students/staff and reminds us of how food would have been integrated into the St Andrews campus of the past where fruit trees would have been common within the grounds.

Alistair Macleod, Transition Manager

Johanna Willi, Ecological Projects Manager

It has been such a pleasure and privilege working on the Meadows in the Making project this year. Not only has grant-funding enabled us to create a suite of habitat in and around St Andrews with our project partners, it enables us to engage people in the process. Enthusiastic volunteers have taken part in hay raking on our new wildflower meadows, tree planting to establish two new woodlands, hedge creation to connect habitat, and other fun activities such as building bat boxes and bug hotels. We’re creating richer spaces for people and wildlife, and the process is as enjoyable as the outcome. I’m looking forward to spending a bit more time in Guardbridge next year, as the project focuses on some woodland creation there. It will be great to involve a new community in the project. 

Johanna WIlli, Ecological Projects Manager

Tansy Torkington, Skillshare Coordinator

I guess 2021 has been a bit of a roller coaster for everyone. So, when asked to reflect on the year it took me a momment to refocus and begin to remember some of the high points and acheivements that have also been part of 2021.

So, I would like to riase my cup of localy sourced mulled organic apple juice to a few people who have been involved in Skillshare this year. Firstly, Susan, who has lead all our online cookalong Monday sessions. She has guided a group of young people through a whole range of plant based recipies. Expanding minds, pallets and culinary skills along the way. A further toast must go to Marielle, our Skillshare Intern who has hosted the Thursday cookery classes, supporting the young people to lead the sessions with a focus on them gaining leadership and presentation skills. Then by way of a Boast, both the Monday and the Thursdy sessions have been a huge success, with 47 skillshare sessions being run through 2021.

And looking forwards. My personal oath for 2022 is to plant 30 trees in my local area. I have the trees, permission from the landowner and gathered some local volunteers for the project. And for Skillshare, once the Covid restrictions lift, we will start running some sessions with Tool Share and also with Patrick out at Pittarthie Farm. The plan is for Skillshare to return to being the link that brings together the other Transitions projects, supporting the local community to share their skllls and develop the resilience we need to confront the challenges that lay ahead.

Tansy Torkington, Skillshare Coordinator

Lewis Pull, Sustainable Travel Officer

I joined the team at Transition in July. The very first project I worked on after I started was our adapted cycles trial. It was extremely rewarding to see people who haven’t been near a bike in years get such enjoyment out of being able to cycle again. It is amazing to see that the work we’ve done in the area has enabled us to go forward and apply for funding to improve the provision available locally. Our new air quality monitoring project is well underway and I’m exciting to see how we can use the technology available to further develop this and allow the whole community to be engaged in our work in this area.

My big focus for the start of 2022 is our new behaviour platform which revolves around making smarter travel challenge. Engaging the community in this work is crucial to ensure we maximise the benefit. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a real challenge but one which brings endless reward – being smarter about your travel choices is a great way to reduce our collective carbon footprint whilst supporting the development of new skills and improving the mental and physical wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

My time here has been an eye-opening experience to say the least – I wouldn’t exactly describe my working style and my organisational standards as ‘similar’ to anyone else on the team, but the cupboards of 7 Woodburn have never been tidier.

All joking aside however, I must confess that I have loved (almost) every minute of it. What would any job be without a fabulous team? You have welcomed me with open arms (even though I’m from England!)

You are all such a genuine group of folk. In my many many (*cough* 22 *cough*) years I don’t think I have encountered a group of people so passionate about what you do and so passionate about making a real difference in your community. There is such a drive and determination amongst you all to get out there and get things done, even when the COVID news is bad/the weather is rubbish/you’re just having a bit of an off day. The way in which you are all able to engage people in the work we do is absolutely fascinating (particularly Ali with his ability to start a conversation with a group of total strangers about LITERALLY anything).

I’m most impressed by your ability to put up with me – despite my nags and whines about GDPR/event bookings/the website/first aid kits/cargo bike keys/COVID/whatever thing I’ve picked up on that day… and I apologise again for making everyone gain a few pounds with all the biscuits/cookies/mince pies/obscure bread I randomly show up with.

Oh, and the moments I haven’t loved? Sorry guys, doing all that tech support really gets to a guy… (especially for someone with very little patience!)…

Lewis Pull, Sustainable Travel Officer

Andie Habeshaw, Sustainable Transport Officer

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This year has been like a homecoming, settling back into something familiar, like returning to an errant family after a year or two in the wilderness! I have returned to Transition with a different perspective, a new outlook and a partner in crime to boot. I left the role of Sustainable Transport Officer in 2018 and went to see the wide world of bike shops and marketing for a mental health charity, but the buzz was not the same and I missed the passion and drive of the Transition staff. So I returned at the perfect time as Covid rules began to ebb and we were allowed back to the farmers markers and to run Bike Pool fix it sessions in person. So I have re-discovered Bike Pool and found that offering people a hour dedicated to their bikes is preferable to standing in line the way we did pre-covid. As a result I have seen 255 bikes fixed over 29 sessions. We have slimmed it down to two venues, asked people to book online and have given them a half hour session to themselves. A more mindful way to work. Covid has had its benefits. Seven led rides and two led walks, three farmers markets and the Walking and Wheeling Festival later and we are in to 2022! Not to mention the Line in the Sand and a COP26 protest march, where I met just about everyone I know. I’m happy to be back and just getting into my stride! Watch out 2022 when we will have a follow-up Walking and Wheeling Festival and more cyclists trained up and ready to take to the streets and lanes of St Andrews! Active Travel is in town and here to stay!

Andie Habeshaw, Sustainable Transport Officer

Sam Woolhead, Project Officer

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Feels like crazy is the new normal. Who knows what is coming and going these days. In fact, I feel like I can’t properly recall the year all the way through to the beginning. That was until this photo popped up. Nice friendly reminder that #PollutionIsPants! Hence, the pants on my head during a beach clean.

This past quarter alone has been jam packed. From the pandemic to COP26 I find myself shifting between hopeful and frustrated. Working with Transition staff, volunteers and project partners keeps my head above water. The team are a blessing of support and after 4 years as part of the staff following 4 years as a volunteer, the work we do still provides me with a tangible sense of what sort of future we could all inhabit – a silver lining in the foggy world we live in. Look to 2022 I’m stoked to dig my teeth into whatever floats on the horizon.

Like most people I’ve been flakey with my new year resolutions in the past. This year I’m not committing to any month challenges. Instead, I want to take the new year with an open-mind and open-heart reminding myself of the kindness in people and the power of community. Anger and hopelessness lead to inaction and doubt. Trusting in others, I hope, will do the opposite. I guess the challenge is coping when things don’t work out in line with expectation.

Sam Woolhead, Project Officer

Maisie McDavid, Campus Cycling Officer

Caught Covid and wasn’t able to submit a reflection.