Transition Town Otaki puts boots on the ground for climate action » Nov 2014

By Belinda McLean

International Day of Action against Climate Change

Tree-planting in Haruatai park on Climate Action day
Tree-planting in Haruatai park on Climate Action day

On September 29, TTO-ers joined a local march and tree-planting at Haruatai Park, in solidarity with huge marches taking place in cities around the world. About 30 of us marched in Otaki , all ages, ethnicities and interests, a local reflection of what was happening globally.

Those at the half-million strong Peoples’ Climate March in New York on the same day, had no doubt about what they were witnessing.

“The extraordinary range, age and diversity exhibited in the Peoples’ Climate March—race, class, sex, you name it, and if you were there you saw it—changes the game,” wrote Todd Gitlin, Columbia University professor of communications, in the Huffington Post.

“The game” is the great boom of the last two and a half centuries, as industrialists have taken charge of the huge reserves of the remains of previous life-forms, aka fossil fuels, to power a rapid, productive, yet destructive transformation of the world.

“In a few short centuries the carbon-based fuels of the industrial break-through have come to threaten the entirety of the civilisation they made possible. In the Peoples’ Climate March is the suggestion that civilisation might rise to the challenge, perhaps in time to avert a total catastrophe,” said Gitlin. From Otaki we applaud the words and aspire to meet the challenge.

Environmental scholarship fund for Otaki College students

TTO member Ron Eckman, soon to leave Otaki, has founded a scholarship fund for local secondary school students. Having lived much of his life without regard to the environmental consequences, Ron says he has taken this step as a way of doing something to help set that right. His suggestion is that we “tax” ourselves on our fuel purchases in order to support students to study for a career in some area of sustainability. “I plan to tax myself at the rate of GST for my annual fuel purchases and contribute that money [at least $300] to the Otaki College Environmental Scholarships fund. This is a great investment in our young people and in their work to create a healthy planet,” says Ron.

KCDC Councillor Penny Gaylor, some TTO members, and several young people and students are among about 14 so far committed to the fund. For further information contact Ronald Eckman, eckman@xtra.co.nz .

James Cootes on the big issues

James Cootes, Chair of the Otaki Community Board, owner of SK Bakery and local man through and through, at a recent TTO “potluck” meeting, shared his views on the “big issues” for Otaki in the next year. Public transport, poverty, water, health, employment, sustainability, the expressway and the local economy are all on his radar. He addressed some of the issues and possible solutions in each area and finished with a very legitimate “pet peeve” –as a business owner trying to survive financially and yet be sustainable in areas from packaging to electric vehicles, the “eco” solution generally costs three times as much. “We need a change of culture to address this”, he said.

Anita Schurmann and Emma Beveridge on The Dream-catcher Food Co-op

This local Food Co-op has been going since March and now has about 50 members. It was started by Jeremiah Straker, owner of Windsor Park, which is the hub for the packing and despatching of food boxes. The joining fee is $20 per household. Members are expected to contribute their time in some way that suits their skills and their commitments. Both dry and fresh foods are offered, as far as possible from local and/or fair trade sources, by way of a weekly email/order form. For further information email DreamCatcherCoop@gmail.com, pop into the shop at Windsor Park if you see the sign out, or get in touch with Jeremiah, 027 209 2232, or Emma, 021 064 9568.

Anita also spoke about her life with partner Alan on a mini-farm block in the heart of Otaki. They aim to live sustainably from their land and have a milking cow shared by six families, milking sheep, a goat, ducks, a pig and three bee-hives. They produce soap (from their own tallow), felt hats from sheep’s wool and simple cheeses and also trade their goods with local producers.

What is Transition Town Otaki?

JL14_Transition-TownsTTO is a group working towards a sustainable community. It links with the West Tararua Timebank, Energise Otaki, the Sustainable Food Group and the Thursday morning seasonal fruit and vege stall in Main St. TTO runs a mulcher club, with a community mulcher available to anyone after a short training. It holds monthly potluck gatherings featuring speakers or DVDs, at members’ homes or local venues. Topics are relevant to the theme of sustainability—food, energy, housing, education, climate change. Membership is free and open to all. For further information check the web-site http://transitiontown.otaki.org.nz/home .