By Karen Majer
Transition Margaret River is a grass-roots community group, part of the worldwide Transition Network.
It’s a community-led local approach to creating a more sustainable, resilient, happier society in the face of challenges in today’s world, especially climate change, economic uncertainty and unsustainable resource use.
We formed in 2012, recognising the need for a group to tackle the issues of becoming a more sustainable community. Transition provided a good model of a positive local approach.
At that stage there were several organisations focusing on specific issues. Over the years, more activities started up, and we took on a networking function, supporting other groups and providing the big-picture story.
Over the years, more activities started up, and we took on a networking function, supporting other groups and providing the big-picture story.
We see Transition as an inspiration and a catalyst for our community to move towards being more supportive and resilient, and living in greater harmony with our natural resources.
Our ages range from teens to nineties. Occupations include farmers, academics, professionals, tradies, local business owners and employees, vignerons, artists, teachers, students, retirees – – -.
We are intercultural.
We have no formal membership, no fees, and everyone is welcome.
Many of us have qualifications – what you see is just a sample – but you don’t need degrees.
All of us bring skills and life experiences that make up a rich community of people with a common passion for a better future.
Our range of skills enables a broad spread of activities, including practical projects, training and communications, so everyone can play a valued role.
Our community reach is wide – we have over 780 people on our Newsletter circulation and an active Facebook page.
Our diverse interests are catered for by a wide range of volunteering opportunities from cake baking to engaging kids in recycled craft activities, gardening, running events, representing the community on Shire Committees – and many more. Again, there’s something for everyone.
We have about 50 active volunteers, maybe more – there are so many projects that it’s hard to keep track. More than 20 of them are on the organising ‘hub’. We have a flexible, non-hierarchical, structure with no Steering Committee. Common threads among the reasons people join in are a feeling of belonging, nurturing, hope, and actually getting things done.
Our focus is holistic, and again that provides a huge range of opportunities for people to engage in their special interests.
We hold regular community events. The annual ‘Love where you live’ Sustainability Pavilion at the Margaret River Ag Show give the educators and crafty folk lots of scope.
Underpinning everything is SHARING – including information, ideas and discussion at our films, meetings and sustainability seminars. Everyone is welcome on Saturday mornings at the Open Community Coffee Club at the Margaret River Organic Garden. And the donations for cake and coffee are our major income source.
A focus on food also gives us plenty of opportunity for sharing gardening skills and swapping produce at our weekly “garden produce shares”, as well as promoting best practice including regenerative agriculture and permaculture.
Each year we adopt a theme in addition to our wider activities. Waste was our focus in 2017. In 2018 it was energy and in 2019 “The Water Connection”.
We promote local community initiatives such as Cape to Cape Plastic Free, Boomerang Bags, and beach clean-ups.
We’re non-political but we make our voices heard on important issues like renewable energy, and we are proud that the idea for Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy originated at a Transition-Shire community workshop.
The 2019 theme The Water Connection included four seminars, displays, practical skills training, a water theme for our Ag Show Pavilion and culminated in a community-wide Project Snapshot event attended by 60 people in November. The event was jointly hosted with Nature Conservation’s Giant Light Steps Environmental Stewardship Alliance.
We promote sustainable transport options. The electric cars are always a draw-card at our Show Pavilion.
Several of our seminars have linked with Margaret River’s amazing creative community to discuss poetry and art. It’s an important part of being a resilient community.
TMR contributes to local planning through submissions on Council plans, attending forums and representation on Council Committees.
Helping people to “live lightly” involves changing values and practices, so local models like the Witchcliffe Ecovillage and involving media celebs like Josh Byrne are important.
Climate change is a core issue for our community to be resilient in the future. We’ve held several marches, events, community workshops and films, and we support Climate Action Augusta Margaret River.
Peace and social justice are core values.
Two Margaret River Peace Weekends, in association with the Medical Association for Prevention of War and Amnesty, have been consciousness-raising and fun.
A new initiative was born at our annual planning get-together in 2019. It clearly struck a chord and now eight groups have been formed to progress areas of interest.
It’s an example of how Transition can evolve and respond to community needs.
Our theme for 2020 of local-is-more has been developed together with the Shire and Chamber of Commerce. The vision is that our community embraces a culture of buy local, source local, grow, create, share and recycle for a more resilient community in the Augusta-Margaret River region
You’ve probably picked up that almost all our activities are founded on partnerships, for example Sustainability Seminars are held in partnership with Curtin Uni and the Shire. The Shire is a supporter through funding as well as collaborative events and we thank them for that.
When it comes down to it, I think most people volunteer because they enjoy the activity, want to belong, and feel they are doing a good thing.
We emphasise community building, celebrating and having FUN!