Contemplating carbon: a step on the Transition journey

It’s been 3months since I stumbled into the Transition Office, 65 North Street to pick up the Carbon Conversations handbook, the tome of knowledge to use to ‘go forth and save carbon’[1]. Since then I’ve reduced energy use, replaced light bulbs, swapped the car for the bus, and started growing my own food. These are tentative steps on a journey of transition sparked by Carbon Conversations.

In early February 14 others and myself began our respective, and collective, journey in a wee room tucked away in the Bute Building. Over the course of 5 sessions we, with the help of great facilitators, explored issues of low carbon futures, energy, transport, food, and consumption. Games, activities, YouTube clips, readings and personal experience ignited many conversations that intertwined issues of climate change, emissions reductions and sustainability. A rich tapestry of understandings and possible actions emerged as each of us shared personal experiences and facts.

Carbon Conversations is a space and process to connect with students of different years and between staff and students to consider how to engage with a complex problem. While carbon conversations is about how to reduce emissions, it’s just one part of the wider Transition Project spanning

  • how to grow, buy and cook food (veg bags from Bellfield and joining the community garden);
  • how to reduce energy use (Inter-Hall Energy Competitions)
  • how to reduce emissions through transport choices (goCar Share and second-hand bike sale),
  • how to learn new skills, and
  • how to make communities and networks

And so now as one round of funding winds up and another starts anew, the Transition Project embarks on a new phase with the award of 3-years of funding from the Climate Change Fund. New projects are being created (Local Exchange Trading Scheme and more community gardens) and others continue (Carbon Conversations). Aligned to the goal to reduce emissions are to learn new skills, connect with others, and continue enquiries into how to engage in complex problems bringing together theory and practice contributing to knowledge within the academy, the town and gown community and beyond.

As we found in the little room in the Bute Building, there are many ways to take action whether that’s in gardens and kitchens and on buses and bikes. These actions might occur in St Andrews and elsewhere as we each connecting past experiences with future possibilities – to reduce emissions and grow the Transition St Andrews community. In doing so, we might find issues and problems but remember that ‘it might be hard but there’s sunshine on the other side’[2].



[1] Thanks to Carol-Ann Cunningham for permission to use this quote.

[2] Thanks to Victoria Olayiwola for permission to use this quote.