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Greyton Transition Town

Humane Education

After receiving over R130,000 from Humane Society International in New York to start the roll out of a humane education (HE) programme we now have two members of staff working with the schools and within the wider community. Annalisa du Gard delivers the humane education programme in schools and Tarryn Van Wyk, a veterinary assistant, supports the programme within the community.  Workshops have been organised for local teachers to help them deliver the programme to their children.  Stock holders in the community are being supported with workshops and resources to enable them to rear their animals with more compassion and to show a better example to the children.

A number of practical issues arise when teaching HE, notably that children, becoming aware of the need to care for and be kind to their animals, are then distressed when they realise that the animals in their family are perhaps not being cared for to the standard they are learning in school. With winter on the way, some children were concerned about the warmth and comfort of pets kept outside. Annalisa had the idea to stuff hessian coffee bags which are a waste product of the coffee industry. Durable and easily cleaned, the bags are sold to GTT for just R10 from the coffee roasting emporium of former Greyton resident Jake Easton. A sponsor stepped forward to cover the cost of 25 bags and the children are stuffing them with straw or fabric offcuts to make comfortable beds for their pets.

We have no doubt that other issues will arise which will be challenging to address such as dogs being kept on chains and backyard farm animals being kept in poor conditions. Tarryn van Wyk is now on hand, and working alongside Greyton Animal Welfare Society with the community, to respond to each and every challenge and help all generations to be kind and caring towards their animals. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ Never before has there been a greater need for the awakening of empathy and compassion in the children who will inherit this earth.

Food Security

GTT was recently asked to attend a food security workshop with Western Cape Government officials and other interested parties including national and global charities, national retailers, food producers, suppliers and farmers. The farmers were represented by our own Genadendal Farmers’ Co-operative with whom GTT has been working for some two years now to help build up the local market for their vegetables. An enlightened local commercial farmer has also joined in the discussion and it is hoped that the future might see an organic food hub being set up around Greyton to supply local and regional markets whilst generating meaningful income to subsistence and commercial farmers. The purpose of the workshop was for those on the ground (both figuratively and literally) to contribute to Western Cape Government policy addressing issues of food security.

The two market stands run weekly by GTT, outside Via’s restaurant in Main Road from 10 – 12 on Wednesdays and also at the Saturday morning market have grown from strength to strength. We are welcoming over ten local suppliers now, from Blue Hippo, Heuwelkroon and Boesmanskloof, the local farmers as well as many garden growers. Marshall Rinquest’s award winning environmental education work has seen vegetable gardens developed or almost developed in all six local schools.  The state schools are using the vegetables to provide fresh, healthy nutrition for children on their feeding schemes.  The surplus is sold through our markets, generating income for the schools.

Pure Café, our flagship project for our food security programme, has often struggled to find its way. Opening a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in the Overberg animal farming hinterland was always going to be a challenge but, against all odds, this little café/restaurant is beginning to find its feet. The team now comprises Ruwayda Rinquest, who has excellent skills as a chef having worked at the Greyton Lodge in the past. As a Rastafarian she is vegetarian and delights in being able to cook within the parameters of her faith.  Keeping continuity is Vianca Jafta who has been working at Pure almost from the start. Her deft touch in the kitchen and obsession with cleanliness makes her the perfect chef’s assistant.

Foschini Caledon and Foodbank sponsor Swop Shops

In 2015 The Foschini Group’s Caledon factory invited GTT to help them set up a soup kitchen in Caledon. A sum of money was contributed towards this and an identical sum was allocated to the swop shops in Caledon and Genadendal. The management of The Foschini Group visited Greyton and were escorted around the swop shops and other Greyton projects by Marshall Rinquest. After that visit, Marshall was invited to the TFG head office in Cape Town to make a presentation. As a result Foschini want to be more involved with GTT and we are looking forward to working with them.

Thanks to a visit from the Premier’s Food Forward team to Greyton in the same year, we were introduced to Food Bank and, after a successful application, were given a monthly collection of high end waste, called swell, from supermarkets, farmers and other retailers. Food Bank is a central clearing house for this waste and we were delighted to receive it as an on-going supply of product is essential to the success of the swop shop programme.

With this support the viability of our two swop shops was assured and, after successful applications for increased support to both Foschini and Food Bank we were able to open two more, in Greyton and in Riviersondend. It is a constant challenge to source swell although millions of rands of perfectly edible food gets thrown away every month throughout South Africa and we aim to make the swop shops even more sustainable in the future by inviting the beneficiaries to support community vegetable gardens.

Photographer sponsors Eco-Crew programme

Renowned photographer, Paul Bruins, who has a house in Greyton, is so impressed by the eco-crew and Marshall’s role in bringing opportunities to hundreds of children, that he has donated an outstanding panorama of Greyton, printed on canvas and mounted. Measuring 200 cms x 70 cms, the photograph is being displayed in Pure Café at the Greyt Oak Centre, 41 Main Road.  It was auctioned, purchased and then donated  back to Pure Cafe as the anonymous donor couldn’t bear the space it left on the wall!

Paul then went one step further and provided 12 stunning landscape photographs for GTT’s first ever calendar. Funds raised from the auction and the sales of the calendar allowed GTT to purchase a VW Kombi with eight seats so we can ferry our children around in safety and comfort to the various exciting activities and events that are always on offer.

paul-bruins-photo

Eco-Crew Children Shine

About four years ago, Rodney Cupido, the headmaster at Emil Weder High School, told the GTT team that the problem for the children at the school was they had no hope. What was the point of studying hard for matric when there was little for them at the end of it other than unemployment, low paid employment or early parenthood? The work of the excellent Greyton Genadendal Education Fund has done much to provide more hope and opportunities to youngsters in the school and GTT has been helping in a different way by creating a ‘gang’ that all kids want to join.

Thanks to the near iconic status of GTT’s director, Marshall Rinquest, amongst youngsters in this area, due partly to his natural, calm and open demeanour but also to his role as a bass player in a famous band and as occasional presenteron SABC’s Hectic Nine 9 programme, our eco-crew has grown from 70 to 200 in just two years with up to 350 children expected to participating in 2016.
The impact that the programme is having on children has led teachers to invite GTT to deliver it both in-class as well as after school. More children are being reached and are moving away from less desirable influences to join the GTT eco-crew to learn about environmental awareness and humane education.

Central to the success of the project are our flagship rewards whereby eco-crew members who have demonstrated commitment, focus, leadership, punctuality and reliability over the year are treated to a special outing. For three years now around 25 children enjoy a four day adventure camp in the Cederberg sponsored by the Cape Leopard Trust.
Earlier this year a group of children joined the Two Oceans Aquarium in a Penguin Waddle around Cape Point and six lucky youngsters were sponsored by people in Greyton to attend a Greenpop tree planting festival in the ancient milkwood forest at Platbos near Gansbaai.

Surely the pinnacle of all adventures must be the start last year of an annual trip for one or two lucky eco-crew members to Zambia for a one week tree planting festival, again with our friends Greenpop, to restore a forest near Livingstone which has been decimated by illegal logging for charcoal kilns. The two children who attended in 2015, Chantel Fielies and Byron Majiedt, had demonstrated considerable commitment to the eco-crew programme over the past year and were selected by their teachers because of the improvement in their class work, largely attributed to the focus and inspiration provided by eco-crew activities. The trip was sponsored by Klipheuwel-Dassiefontein Community Trust part of the Dassieklip renewables energies project based at Caledon and without this contribution we simply could not have afforded the airfares.

We experienced the added adventure of being thrown on the mercy of Home Affairs who have just changed the rules regarding minors leaving and arriving in the country. While we were waiting at the airport, a doctor travelling from the Mayo Clinic in New York with her eight children was held by security and almost deported because she didn’t have the right papers. Neither did we, despite having followed Home Affairs instructions to the full and being allowed to travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Fortunately a good friend of Nicky Vernon, GTT Chairman who was accompanying the children, came to their rescue, swooping up the whole party and putting them up at her home overnight while parents in Greyton and Voorstekraal ran around getting more documentation and faxing it through. Thankfully all was in order the following day and the children arrived safely into Marshall’s care in Livingstone. The children planted over 400 trees and returned home energetic, confident and happy. Piet Majiedt, Byron’s father, said, ‘He had such an adventure, he can’t stop talking about it’.

In 2016 we were unable to raise sufficient funds to send two children but because Byron had this time worked so hard to raise some money towards his trip we again approached the Klipheuwel Wind Farm Community Trust and were successful in securing his air fare.  We are so grateful to the Trust for stepping forward once again.

Whilst it may seem extravagant to give such an expensive opportunity to only one or two children, with our flagship adventures we show local children that they are worthy of and deserve the best, that these adventures are not just for privileged kids but for them too. We are told by teachers and parents that all children are uplifted. It gives them something to strive for, a reason to hope and a focus that investment in their own development and the local environment is valued and rewarded.

We are now being offered opportunities by organisations which have heard about our eco-crew. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has offered an adventure to some of our children.

Greyton Eco Lodge Gains Silver Status

 

ECO ATLAS is the ethical directory to accommodation, restaurants, activities, products and services in South Africa. It provides a one-stop green guide for conscious consumers and travelers empowering YOU to choose where to eat, play and stay based on sound environmental and ethical practices. Using the twenty ECO CHOICE icons you will be able to see at a glance who is achieving sustainable goals enabling you to make informed decisions about which businesses to support. Our unique search function will also inspire you to source locally produced and earth-friendly produce and products.

ECO ATLAS is the first of it’s kind in South Africa in that it provides consumers with both the socially and environmentally ethical achievements of places and services and highlights businesses that are making a difference. Any business can be listed as long as they meet at least three of the ECO CHOICE criteria. There are so many people and places creating positive change and walking the ethical talk and ECO ATLAS provides you with the map to find them.

Greyton Eco Lodge has been awarded a Silver Status on Eco Atlas, and we look forward to seeing many visitors experience all of the fantastic projects and environmental plans we have ongoing as well as enjoying the unique cultural and social aspects of the local communities.

Greyton EcoLodge offers affordable accommodation in the heart of the village of Greyton, on the edge of a nature reserve and in the foothills of the Riviersonderend Mountains. 60 beds are available in 5-8 bed dorms, double/twin rooms and one private apartment with kitchen and two bath/shower rooms.

A project of Greyton Transition Town, a registered NPO, the Lodge is also an environmental learning centre providing courses that include natural building, renewable energy, Transition Towns, permaculture & biodynamics, mushroom growing, environmental mindfulness and waste management/upcycling/recycling.

Guests can do their own thing or participate in the programmes.

The EcoLodge is also the base for the GTT after school eco-ranger programme for local school-children.  Over the next year the EcoLoge will be fitted with a biomass digester, solar panels and other facilities while the grounds will be converted into vegetable and medicinal herb gardens with natural wild flower gardens by the eco-rangers.

The town of Greyton has a number of eco credentials, including becoming the first plastic bag free town in South Africa, yet there are a wide range of facilities, a vibrant local community and outstanding natural beauty and activity opportunities. One of the fabulous fooderies, also affiliated with Greyton Transition Town is the Pure Cafe. Here delicious vegetarian food is prepared and served each day to many hungry visitors and locals alike.

1st plastic-bag free town in SA featured on News24

Greyton’s Nicky Vernon speaks to Jennifer Sanasie about the progress of the transition within Greyton and the future.

 

Trash to Treasure Festival 2014 by Hayley McLellan of Two Ocean’s Aquarium

The town of Greyton, peacefully set in the picturesque and rolling hills of the Western Cape just a short drive from Cape Town, is consistently working smart towards being a successful transition town, which is loosely defined as a community whose aim “is to raise awareness of sustainable living and build local ecological resilience in the near future”. The absence of corporate anything in their village is refreshing and a rarity, considering the influence of all the towns nearby.

 

The four pillars of this project are the very foundations which create a life that works for all and, yet, they are the simple needs that we so often overlook in our rush to get through the daily grind which we call living. When we experience a close connection to nature, and it’s successfully harmonious systems, this helps to create a sense of peace and clarity within each of us – a natural knowing of how life can unfold with ease and comfort if we follow the basic principles of life.

Considering there is no “away” on this planet, I have to wonder why we continue to approach our disposal of waste in the same manner day after day, year after year, generation after generation … by filling up landfill sites? We are definitely living proof of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, of “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. It’s high time we thought differently, and Greyton certainly is leading the way.

The issues of housing and food security are the other two pillars, approached on a par with educating people about the environment and waste.

 

The ingenious idea of transforming trash into treasure has ensured a fun and novel approach for all in the community. Everyone knows that we are more open to learning when it is packaged as delight! Plastic is made to last a lifetime and in its array of attractive colours, it most definitely seems a sin to aimlessly discard such a potential rainbow of joy. After my experience at this treasure site I find myself impatiently enthusiastic to get cracking on turning my own rooftop into a wild kaleidoscope of colour!

Breathe … (I really am that excited about this.)

The entire festival site was fashioned using trash/treasure found at the dump. And if you are wondering if there was a prevalent smell of refuse in the heat of a very hot day, no, there surprisingly was not.

 

 

This local gentleman, Peter Plaatjies, has won the annual contest for making the most eco-bricks three years running now! This clever challenge culminates at the T2T Festival each year, and Peter is not letting go of this prestigious title he has so rightfully earned by donating over 500 bricks for his past year of effort. His prize in 2013 was a practical bicycle, and this year he walked away with his own cellphone.

Peter spent a lot of his festival time hanging out with us ladies from the Aquarium. He was so engaging, just writing about him I feel a warm smile take over my being … Here is a man who lives a most humble life and with such conviction, and a wicked sense of humour too.

This is what an eco-brick wall looks like before plastering the finishing touches. Using pervasive plastic beverage bottles, tightly stuffed with any sort of plastic packet (chips, choccie and candy wrappers, plastic shopping bags), a substitute for clay bricks is magically created. There is definitely an art to this and Peter has perfected it; they must be solid.

Not only is this alternative brick creation helping to clean up the environment, it is also reducing building costs as rudimentary buildings can be safely erected. There is a thatched, rondavel classroom almost complete on site which will be used to host learners for teaching on related topics of sustainability.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that a visitor’s entry to the festival site was secured by the donation of one eco-brick, of course.

What a fun way to encourage hands-on recycling. Sets of these large drums were dotted around the venue. Painted in appealing primary colours, they were screaming out to be filled. Again, notice the eco-brick option on the far right.

An attention-grabbing, much-larger-than-life puppet was paraded through the centre of Greyton to announce the start of the celebration. This brightly coloured, and beautifully made, marionette and followers were entranced by rhythmic drummers – our African version of pied pipers no doubt – all the way to the festival site.

A group of smaller hand puppets from the Two Oceans Aquarium kept groups of children spellbound throughout the day, with the Keep the Beach Clean show. The lesson of Sally the seal swallowing the plastic shopping bag served to reinforce the message of the Rethink the Bag campaign for the little people. In following the show with a book reading, the theme of the presentation was well understood.

This has to be one of the most nifty ideas I’ve ever seen for discarded bicycle wheels! They really do not serve any obvious purpose other than seeming like a fun gadget to create out of them, and this is good enough reason for me. Perhaps they would be effective and decorative as mole deterrents in a garden? The wind catchers are 2-litre plastic beverage bottles.

An all-inclusive drum circle served to bring even more of a community essence to the day. Sharing of constructive energy in this way certainly gets the happy hormones pumping as each drummer tries to make more of a racket than their neighbour, all the time with a grin for the other.

Even alien wood from the landfill is put to good use. The appearance of this chair may be deceiving in terms of its comfort offering, but I can vouch for the piece to the point where I am also considering that it could add value to my personal rooftop project..

This was my second visit to the annual Trash to Treasure Festival, to bring the Rethink the Bag campaign to the Greyton community. The unique concept of transforming their trash site into a treasure site has touched a soft spot in my heart, and watching their simple approach to doing so has been both fascinating and uplifting for my spirit. The condition of eco-depression truly does exist and when a committed few tackle a project such as this seemingly unachievable one, they show the world what is possible with a dash of commitment and courage in the face of the naysayers.

Greyton has fully embraced the Rethink the Bag campaign and has set its intention to “march the last plastic bag out of town” on 3 July this year, which is International Plastic Bag Free Day, making it the first town in South Africa to officially and effectively ban the plastic shopping bag – a bold and much-needed move!

Greyton is on its way to becoming South Africa’s first plastic bag free town

Greyton, a small town in Overberg, Western Cape has launched a campaign to be the first plastic bag free town in South Africa. In the two years since joining the Global Transition Network, which supports community-led responses to climate change, Greyton has successfully implemented a number of projects including the conversion of a landfill site into a recreational park and fruit forest.  The plastic bag free campaign, its latest initiative, aims to rid the town of single use plastic shopping bags by National Plastic Bag Free Day on the 3rd of July 2014.

The blight of plastic bags

Greyton’s plastic bag free campaign aims to reduce the impacts of plastic bags on their local environment (Source: www.123rf.com)

According to Nicola Vernon, Chairman of the Greyton Transition Town (GTT), the campaign responds to the urgent need expressed by the community to rid the town of plastic bags. “Over the years I have watched residents becoming more and more distressed about our dumpsite, the amount of litter in our streets, the general ‘toss it away and forget about it’ attitude that is a symptom of a more profound sense of disconnection from our planet.”

Due to their ability to become airborne, plastic bags have led to a multitude of problems in the area, including littering the streets, being ingested by livestock and leaching toxins into the environment. Plastic bags are also a significant threat to marine life. “Billions of bags end up in the oceans where they contribute to the millions of marine animals estimated to die each year from plastic ingestion or entrapment.  This is why our campaign has been given full support by the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town,” said Vernon.

Apart from the environmental ills associated with plastic bags, GTT have also found them to be uneconomical. “Some of our members noted that it is the poorest of our community who continue to use these bags whilst the more affluent are more likely to use a longlife shopping bag.  The 50c charge at the till for a plastic bag has become so insidious that shoppers don’t realise they are paying it. We have asked some of our poorer members to calculate how much they spend per month on a plastic shopping bag, they were shocked to realise that it can amount to as much as R25 per month,” said Vernon.

Implementing the initiative

GTT introduced the idea of a plastic bag free town to the community about 18 months ago. From the community’s feedback GTT realised that finding an acceptable alternative bag was critical to moving the project forward. “We tried making them locally but the cheapest we could make cost R20. After months of searching we recently found an ideal source – colourful, attractive, very sturdy, longlife bags for only R4 including VAT and postage to Greyton.  Five outlets are selling them in Greyton and more are coming on board every day.  We’ve ordered our second lot of 1,000 bags so now around 1,200 have been sold” she said.

Hayley McLellan, Campaign Director of ‘Rethink the Bag’ at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, mobilised support for the initiative by presenting the threats of plastic bags to local shop owners and cashiers. The presentation inspired several shop owners who are showing their support by selling the bags at close to cost price to encourage their customers to embrace the change.

GTT have plans to monitor the progress and to provide the community with information and feedback on the progress of the campaign.  “We are a small village and we know our retailers so we will visit them frequently and support each and every one of them through this process, responding to different challenges with different and imaginative promotions and incentives.  It’s important that we create an atmosphere of ‘can do’ and positivity,” said Vernon.

Driving social change

“Most projects that are going to have a positive effect on the environment require a change in one’s habits.  Business as usual has to be abandoned and new ways of living need to be found.  This frightens some people and GTT needs to recognise that and support them so that they can see that being friendly to the planet is not only rewarding, it is life affirming. There will always be resistance to change and it’s up to GTT to find ways of inspiring and motivating.  We don’t preach or try to educate, instead we find fun things to do that will get people thinking, engaging and interacting with these environmental challenges,” said Vernon.

Vernon hopes that the initiative will inspire other South Africans. “We are publicising our attempt to become the first plastic shopping bag free town in South Africa so that others can learn from us – what works, what doesn’t – so that they can move forward in their own communities and help South Africa become one of the growing number of countries in the world that no longer supplies the single use plastic shopping bags,” she said.

Earth Hour 2014

It hardly seems possible that another year has gone by, but the ever expanding Earth Hour is on us again.

In its eighth year, WWF’s Earth Hour continues to defy expectations by mobilising hundreds of millions of people around different environmental priorities across the planet. And now in 2014, the movement further expands its digital and on the ground reach from the Amazon to the Arctic and Tahiti to Tanzania, with a groundswell of action creating massive impact around the world to shine a light on the incredible work being done to create a sustainable planet.

It fits perfectly with the ethos of Greyton Transition, where we encourage people to manage their consumption of fossil fuels as efficiently as possible, and with ESKOMS load shedding this year, it may be that no one will notice, but GTT would like to thank everyone in Greyton for taking past, if you would like to learn more visit the web site. Earth Hour

The Survival Sleepover

By Candice Mostert

The Survival sleepover was the final get together for the eco crews from local schools; LR Schmidt, Bereaville,Greyton Primer and Uitkyk. We worked around the themes of water security, food security, drug awareness, team work and integration. Throughout the term we identified local people with the relevant experience and invited them to get involved. The result was a broad range of lessons that heightened the children’s awareness of environmental matters, encouraged them to ask questions, identify problems and come up with solutions.

The Sleepover was held at Blue Hippo farm just outside Greyton where the children experienced survival in the most safe and controlled manner. In teams, they built their own shelters, harvested their own fruit for breakfast and participated in activities that taught them about medicinal plants, animals and obstacles to overcome.

We also got creative and wrote a poem together as well as offering other art activities to inspire thinking about perspective and colour. We were surprised to find that art is not included in all schools. For most of the children there were many firsts so it was an unforgetable adventure. The children were begging to stay longer and for me this proved we had succeeded in helping them realise their connection with the world around them and in inspiring them to learn and work with nature.

GTT commissioned to set up Swopshops

By Nicky Vernon

GTT has been commissioned by TWK Municipality and the Industrial Development Corporation to set up four swopshops – in Genadendal, Riviersonderend, Caledon and Villiersdorp.

We have been planning and preparing for the past six months and are about to launch all four in the first three months of next year. In Genadendal the swop shop will be based at Mind Over Matter, the charity that supports mentally and physically disabled people. A small building has been allocated to this centre for free by the Genadendal Transformation Committee. Once or twice a week children and adults will bring their clean dry recyclable waste to the centre where they will receive tokens which they can either save, barter or swop in the onsite shop for essentials such as toiletries, school uniforms, stationery, fresh local vegetables, blankets, kitchen equipment etc.

We need a constant stream of high-end ‘waste’ to supply the shop and are putting out a call to all Greyton and Genadendal residents to clear out wardrobes, cupboards etc of stuff you no longer need. We also welcome cash donations so that we can buy from the existing charity shops. Items can be dropped off at Pure Greyton, Unit 3 Greyt Oak Centre, corner Main and Oak from Thursday onwards when it reopens and at Mind over Matter next door to Emil Weder High School in Genadendal. The project will encourage the High School children to collect waste and tidy up the area, while at the same time giving them an ‘income’ to spend on essentials.

The clients at Mind over Matter will run the scheme as a learning project and will be given a set number of tokens to spend in the shop in return.

A Fruit Forest is Born in Greyton

By Nicky Vernon

The children were still wearing their white blouses and pink skirts from their march in front of the festively decorated lorry. They were leading the lorry and its passengers – 30 eager young volunteers and 100 trees – to the rehabilitated dumpsite in Greyton. Now white quickly turned to brown as the children ran forward, with great eagerness and enthusiasm, to help place those trees into pre-prepared holes, made muddy by two days of rain.

The volunteers had travelled from Cape Town with Greenpop, the NGO which has planted tens of thousands of trees throughout Africa and which had now turned up in force to help launch an ambitious plan to turn the whole of Greyton, in the Western Cape, into a fruit forest.

Nicky Vernon, Chairperson of GTT explained:

“Food security is a major issue here. People in our community are going to bed hungry. Every single project that we do with children has to include food or they won’t have the energy to plant trees, create community gardens or help clear up waste. As soon as we fenced in the Green Park we created a special space which we can enhance with more permanent structures and facilities which will allow people to come and walk, sit, have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It also helps people to see that there is no ‘away’ for waste – it’s all still here, on the rest of this site, and we must be much more aware of the rubbish that we create on a daily basis ”.

Community Planting

As the truck rolled over the lumpy ground which had once covered tons of garbage, the Greenpop volunteers cheered – ‘let’s get planting!’. As soon as it came to a halt, the truck disgorged people, trees, shovels and spades. The children and other volunteers were gathered together and the ice was broken with team building exercises.

Then it was onto the planting of the trees while women from the community cooked hot stews, vegetarian pies and curried pancakes to keep energy levels high. Three hours later 100 trees had been planted and Greyton’s Fruit Forest was born.

As well as providing a home to the start of the fruit forest, the rehabilitated area of the dumpsite will nurture five new entrepreneurs. Garden waste is welcome here, where it is chipped or turned into compost and sold back into the village, creating permanent employment for the two groundsmen who work full time at the site and who will also water and care for the young trees.

Within the next couple of weeks a charcoal making operation will be set up, a fruit forest nursery is being established and a shitake mushroom farm is to be started. A demonstration organic vegetable garden will show how easy it is to plant a home garden and starter packs of seedlings will be sold on site – creating another new business.

Green Pop and GTT ‘Treeify’ Greyton

Greenpop is a social business that believes greening and sustainable living can be fun, POPular and accessible for all. We believe in inspiring a greener, more conscious, inclusive movement and do this through tree planting projects, green events, education, social media, voluntarism and activating people to start DOING!

 

Why Trees?

• Trees give us much-needed oxygen and sequester carbon dioxide

• Trees increase biodiversity

• Trees fix nitrates into soil making it more fertile to grow other plants, like vegetables

• Urban tree planting improves pride of place

• Trees provide healthy and beautiful places for children to play and learn

• Fruit trees provide nutritious fruit to eat

• Trees improve an area’s water quality

 

Importance Of Trees

Trees are the world’s single largest source of breathable oxygen. They are under threat, which means we are under threat.

The world has lost 80% of our original forests in the last decade

~United Nations Environment Programme

We need to start a culture of planting and replacing trees now. Greyton Transition Town and Green pop are working together to develop ways to encourage new tree planting and provide an opportunity for travellers to and from Greyton to offset some of those air and road miles!

The ultimate plan is for the whole of Greyton to become a fruit forest with trees in public spaces everywhere. Greenpop is helping Greyton Transition Town to achieve this by helping plant the first 100 trees. 50 are to be located at the Zebra Moon hostel in Park Street and the other 50 at the new Green Park, situated at the dump site.

The Greyton Green Park

The Green Park has now been fenced in, thanks to funding from TWK Municipality and the Industrial Development Corporation as well as volunteer support and further sponsorship from GTT. Soon it will become a space for many events, activities and projects including:

  • Fruit Forest
  • Garden waste management area for chipping and composting the town’s garden waste
  • Charcoal making facility
  • Organic vegetable garden
  • Mushroom Farm
  • Workshop and Information Centre
  • Link to the region’s four BuyBack Centres and SwopShops
  • Festival Park for music events and other performances including the annual Trash to Treasure Festival

Our Ozzie Intern Waves Goodbye

By Matt Shim

When I stepped on to the aeroplane taking me overseas for only the third time in my life in April this year, I had no idea that I would find myself in a town like Greyton in August. In fact it was a complex web of circumstance that led me to this gorgeous little town, and little more than an odd question that determined my being here for the last two months.
I had been an intern at the Green School in Bali and in conversation with a teacher, had mentioned that I would like to visit Africa. By some unknown connection, Sunnye Collins, from the GTT Board, had been emailing him regarding environmental education. And thus, my thread was tied to Greyton’s rope, and slowly over the course of two months would become woven well into the fibres.

From my experience, it seems that the best things come as a surprise to you and in this manner, my coming to Greyton was no different. I have learnt so much, met so many amazing people, and experienced things that I would never have imagined doing.

Granted, my journey into South Africa and to Greyton was not necessarily smooth, after 8 months of tropical weather, I was greeted in Johannesburg to freezing temperatures and a luggage problem, leaving me without clothes for the night. My flight into Cape Town was also severely delayed by more luggage problems and as I walked out the gate I wondered what I was getting myself into. Greeted at the terminal by Candice, who I had only seen through skype, and two unknown Rastas, and remembering Sunnye’s emails – “there aren’t elephants, giraffes and Masai warriors here (at least not in Greyton!)” – I could only wonder what was and wasn’t in Greyton and what the next two months would be like.

In some ways, I was dropped straight into the deep end, visiting Heuwelkroon and mingling with too many names to remember. But over time, these people became my family and friends – especially those of the Country Conquerors Band. I saw the work that needed to be done in the community and realised that, given my time was short, I could only help in a small way, yet perhaps, my influence could affect people’s perceptions long after I had left. Coming from working in a school in Bali, it was only logical to work with schools here in Greyton. The GTT Team were able to make connections with five schools in the area and work on addressing issues such as energy, food and water conservation, drug awareness and entrepreneurship at a grass roots level.

As an ever-shifting community changing for the better, I wanted to highlight three changes both physical and psychological that I could see happening in front of my very eyes.

The community garden in Heuwelkroon was the first real project that I helped out with in Greyton. It was a lot of manual labour – much more than I expected, but soon the garden started blossoming, both with plants and people eager to make a change in their community. Although still very much a work in progress, we have seen the plants grow and the people responsible for the garden grow too.
Secondly, being of Asian origin although living my whole life in Australia, I feel like my presence as someone different has helped a lot of people, children and adults alike, to be able to look beyond the colour of a person’s skin, or any kind of outer appearance, and appreciate people for who they are inside. The transition from people calling out “Jappie” or “Jackie Chan” without thought to kids telling me they wished that I could have come to a camp with them is heartening to say the least.

Working with the schools was a really enlightening experience for me. We introduced games and built trust between students. It is truly an incredible moment when you see someone’s attitude change right in front of your eyes – something really serendipitous. Our games were played with so much vigour and excitement, and as we came out of our skins to ourselves and each other, we planted the seed of responsibility for each other. This culminated in the clean-up of the Green Park (previously known as the dump site) in recent weeks. Contrary to the attitude that was shown at the beginning, the kids were so full of energy and eager to participate in something that doesn’t necessarily sound so thrilling. The change from the Green Park being full of illegally dumped rubbish to being a green, living place was amazing to see.

From the runs over the zig zag pass, playing games with children, hanging out at Riaan’s house in Heuwelkroon, going bareback horse-riding, drinking coffees at Via’s, and having music nights at Pure Greyton, I feel like I’ve had a full on, but simultaneously laid back Greyton experience. My time here has been short, but I leave a piece of my heart in this country and this town. I am thankful to Nicky Vernon, Candice Mostert and Sunnye Collins for the opportunity that I had to intern here, and thankful to all of the people who became my friends and family. It is always hard to leave a place after getting to know it and its inhabitants, and I look forward to all the change to come in this town and world.

My blog can be found online:
www.lettersfromserendip.blogspot.com
facebook.com/lfserendip

Go On, Volunteer — It Could Be Good For You!

Volunteering may be good for your health, reveals a large systematic review and meta-analysis led by the University of Exeter Medical School

Volunteering may be good for your health, reveals a large systematic review and meta-analysis led by the UK University of Exeter Medical School.

Volunteering can improve mental health and help you live longer, finds the study which is published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.[1]

The research pools and compares data from multiple experimental trials and longitudinal cohort studies. Some observational evidence points to around a 20 per cent reduction in mortality among volunteers compared to non-volunteers in cohort studies. Volunteers also reported lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being, although the findings have yet to be confirmed in trials.

The systematic review was led by Dr Suzanne Richards at the University of Exeter Medical School, and was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC).

Worldwide, the prevalence of adult volunteering varies with estimates of 22.5 per cent in Europe, 36 per cent in Australia and 27 per cent in the USA. Volunteers commonly cite altruistic motives for their habit – ‘giving something back’ to their community, or supporting an organisation or charity that has supported them. Volunteering can also be used to gain work experience or to widen social circles, but its effects may go far deeper.

Previous reviews have highlighted supposed health benefits, including increased longevity, improved quality of life, reductions in stress and hospitalisation, but these tend to be based on narrative, rather than comparative evidence. Richards and colleagues pool data from 40 papers which reported data from 9 experimental trials and 16 cohort studies to arrive at their conclusions.

The causal mechanisms underlying the potential health benefits of volunteering are unclear. Some people hypothesise that physical benefits, for example, could be explained by the fact that volunteers spend more time out of the house. But the relationship with mental health may be trickier.

Although people tend to volunteer for altruistic reasons, if they do not feel they are ‘getting something back’, then the positive impact of volunteering on quality of life is limited. Volunteer too much, and the habit can become a burden, bringing problems of its own. More research is needed to unpack the theoretical mechanisms by which volunteers may accrue different health benefits.

In 2010, the UK government launched the ‘Building the Big Society’ policy, which called for low cost, sustainable interventions, such as volunteering, for people to participate in their local communities to improve social capital and community engagement. Volunteering has also been advocated by the United Nations and the American and European governments as a way to foster engagement in local communities, with the potential for public health benefits and decreasing health inequalities.

Dr Richards said: “Our systematic review shows that volunteering is associated with improvements in mental health, but more work is needed to establish whether volunteering is actually the cause. It is still unclear whether biological and cultural factors and social resources that are often associated with better health and survival are also associated with a willingness to volunteer in the first place. The challenge now is to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds to take up volunteering, and then to measure whether improvements arise for them.

Transition Town

Greyton Transition Town is always looking for new volunteers, from full time to part time there is plenty of work and opportunity to be explored, should you feel you would like to experience the benefits explained above and add to our ongoing project then please contact us.

How to Volunteer

Contact Candice Mostert, to learn more: 0828504254  candice.mostert@inl.co.za

Reference


[1] Jenkinson CE, Dickens AP, Jones K, Thompson-Coon J, Taylor RS, Rogers M, Bambra CL, Lang I, Richards SH. Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health. 2013 Aug 23;13(1):773. View Paper

New Promotional Video Stimulates Happiness

In the world of media there is a constant demand for new and more engaging techniques to stimulate interest and encourage people to stop, read or listen and engage. Here at Greyton Transition Town (GTT) we understand that engagement is all about empowerment; the transfer of hope, knowledge, skills and energy to empower people to become more resilient.

To assist with the expansion of the message GTT want to send out to all South Africans, communities and humans everywhere, we have constructed a short video to encourage people to make contact with GTT and encourage the transfer of skills and energy to enhance the community, promote opportunity and create optimism and real beneficial outcomes.

Our community is a microcosm of societies around the world and GTT provides a route for many to change their habits, expectations and ways of thinking for the betterment of themselves and others.

It is an instinctive response to feel a sense of happiness when your help is accepted, acted upon and positive outcomes emerge, these can be small or large events, it does not matter.

A group of researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky identified many years ago that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more purposeful their lives felt. Pleasure-seeking behaviours, on the other hand, did not make people happier.

Their lead author Michael Steger stated:

“It turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.”

We think that this is a driving emotion to help prompt change in behaviour and attitude, and we would love to hear from you, if you have ideas, energy and commitment to join our growing numbers and help us demonstrate the power of transition.

 

Yoga Sanga Festival

Yoga Sanga Conference & Festival is a 3-day celebration of wellness, spiritual expansion and conscious living – through yoga, meditation, ayurveda, music, laughter yoga, kirtan, etc. It is an occasion to re-connect your body, mind & soul, in harmony with nature!

Yoga Sanga Festival is a community-oriented festival in the peaceful and picturesque little hamlet of Greyton, Western Cape. Greyton village is at the foot of the majestic Sonderend mountain range only about 2 hours from Cape Town (go to the gallery for images of Greyton). Greyton is one of a few Transition towns with its mission:

To develop Greyton Transition Town as a community-based, non-profit organisation that seeks to inspire and empower the people of Greyton and neighbouring communities to work together to achieve sustainability and resilience in the face of rising energy and food costs, economic crisis and environmental degradation.

The conference is organised by Anne & Martin Combrinck from Ananda Sanga Educational Institute in Somerset West, Western Cape. Join us for a yoga celebration with excellent yoga instructors, a variety of speakers & workshops, uplifting music, inspirational experiences, interesting vendors and a nourishing community. Immerse yourself in body, mind and soul as you relax and rejuvenate, connect and expand, have fun and just be! Come by car or arrive at the festival onboard a luxury Yoga Bus!

Note: The Conference/Festival is an alcohol & drug free event!

‘Harmony with Nature will bring you a Happiness known to few city dwellers. In the Company of other Truth Seekers (sanga) it will be easier for you to Meditate and think of God’ ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Yoga
Yogic practice offers us a pathway into the core of our experience. South African renowned yoga teachers will offer classes and workshops in a diversity of styles, including Vinyasa, Kundalini, Hatha, Ashtanga etc., creating a holistic yoga experience to dive deep into your practice. Yoga classes for beginners & advanced students. Read more.

Other Related Disciplines
Other yoga related disciplines offered at the festival include:
* ayurveda;
* meditation;
* chanting/kirtan;
* sacred dancing & other dances;
* music festival;
* nia, thai chi, etc.;
* spiritual cinema;
* soul uplifting music;
* a variety of yoga related lectures;
* experiential workshops;
* child friendly area;
* guided herbs & nature walks;
* etc…

Festival
Besides the expert presenters, teachers & workshops, we have partnered with selected vendors to offer yoga accessories, cd’s, great food, holistic treatments, etc.

If you are interested getting involved with the festival as a presenter, sponsor or volunteer go here for more information. There are a variety of yoga & related activities and workshops happening during the festival.

The festival tickets are limited to maintain a friendly, intimate and joyful experience!

You are welcome to come and stay from Friday 13th December to chill out before the Festival opening the next morning – Saturday at 10:00. Remember – 16 December (Monday) is a Public Holiday- so stay and enjoy the yoga festival vibe!

Greyton Eco Bricks Mount Up

Eco Brick numbers mount up as vision of new Youth Centre shows possibilities.

Imagine the situation of many children in our community: no money, no facilities, no social and supportive environment in which to pass time with friends – and subsequent despair and anti-social opportunities abound. The local communities that are part of Greyton Transition Town identified the need for a centre for the youth as a number one project – but how best to achieve this?

Well the plan is to build a Youth Centre behind the Red Cross house in which the primary building materials used are the multiple solution solving Eco Bricks, first proposed by Joseph Stodgel of the Greyton Trash To Treasure mobilising committee. By encouraging the collection of plastic bottles and filling them with dry non-recyclable plastic waste (including the ubiquitous crisp packet) we achieve the double benefit of creating viable building materials and cleaning up the environment.

The first Eco-Brick count was undertaken at the end of the first week of June and around 20 eager youngsters found that a remarkable 2,000 Eco Bricks have already been created.  How many do we need? Well the more we have. the bigger the centre and so far we have estimated that between 5,000 to 7,000 will create the centre that the children and young people have already designed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candice Mostert was there to photograph the process and record the smiles and joy from the young people as they began to envision what this may really mean to them – a place to meet up with friends, receive guidance and support, log on to Internet for research, practice their reading and watch movies.  What might become of these youngsters once they have access to a safe, structured and supportive environment?

Feel like helping?   Maybe have some clean empty plastic bottles that just need stuffing?   Well why not call into ‘Pure Greyton’ (found in the Greyt Oak Centre), or contact a GTT member to find out how to make this all happen?

GTT Goes International with German Film Co.

Greyton is a small community with BIG ideas – BIG Transition and Environmental ideas.

Greyton Transition Town (GTT) has found its voice for sustainability in the concepts and ideas of Transition Movement pioneered by UK activist Rob Hopkins and brought back to South Africa by local resident and experienced organiser Nicola Vernon. In just a few short months the energising impact generated by this grassroots charity has inspired community and volunteer-led events to escalate at a rapid rate, resulting in recognition from the region’s political leaders.  At the recent Trash to Treasure Festival of Transition in Greyton, Special Advisor to the Premier of the Western Cape, Jennifer Cargill, announced  GTT as a flagship project  of the Western Cape 110% Green Initiative. Filming the festival, and many other initiatives being conducted simultaneously around the town over 4 days, were the professional German Film company Deutsche Welle (DW). As well as being the main provider of news for German television, DW broadcasts globally in English on current affairs with a strong emphasis on the environment, specifically climate change.  Their website features an on line stream and programme viewing facility and they publish a monthly glossy magazine. www.dw.de

DW found out about GTT through the GTT website and contacted us to cover the Trash to Treasure Festival as well as other aspects of GTT’s work.  The film crew went to Emil Weder school to watch the vegetable garden being planted out by pupils, they saw the Country Conquerors, the world’s only Afrikaans reggae band, in rehearsal in their modest shed in Heuwelkroon and interviewed their base guitarist and general all round eco-star, Marshall Rinquest.  The team also filmed the opening of the new GTT shop and info centre.

They were very impressed with the Festival, capturing the colour, clamour and commotion with hours of footage which will be distilled into a mere 8 minutes of film.  Long enough for us though!  The film will be broadcast and on line from May 6th, please encourage as many people as possible to view the film to help establish GTT as the leading transition town in Sub Saharan Africa, not just South Africa.

GTT wants to spread the excitement and effectiveness of galvanising, educating and involving local communities to protect their future and meet critical needs around food and energy now.

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