Transition Black Isle
The Transition movement is said to be ‘more of a party than a protest’ and that’s definitely what we aim for at Transition Black Isle. Formed in 2009, Transition Black Isle now has about 130 active members in communities across the peninsula with nearly 300 receiving our monthly email newsletter. In order to tackle our concerns about climate change and peak resources we have undertaken many practical projects.
Like Forres, we began by film shows and awareness raising events. We also held a couple of Question Time events and are preparing for a third in early 2015.
Green Homes Open Days
We held two very successful Greening Homes and Gardens events where up to 300 people could visit homes where renewable energy had been installed and talk to people directly about it. More recently we have been involved in the Energy Saving Trust (Home Energy Scotland) Green Homes Network and Green Network for Business. We’ve also had Open Garden sessions and a Bee-Keeping event.
Our Grow North course was a year of monthly sessions on practical food growing. This was compiled into a book which we are selling for £12 or £10 for members but it is also available on line. We also set up two community gardens at Culbokie and Muir of Ord and some allotments at Rosemarkie. Feedback suggests that many more people are growing some of their own food now. We’ve had a couple of one off events and Gardeners’ Question Times too.
Our annual potato day has been a great success with hundreds of people descending on a village hall to choose their seed potatoes from up to 70 varieties. We passed on some of our spare ones to supply TTForres last year and hope to do the same again this year.
Highland Food Challenge
Our ‘Highland Food Challenge’ aimed to inspire people to cut food induced carbon dioxide by eating local, seasonal, organic and more vegetarian food. Many of us who thought we were doing quite well realised the carbon footprint of our food was actually very high and resolved to do better. We compiled a ‘Local Larder’ book of all the local food suppliers and cafes and produced ‘local larder’ stickers for businesses to use.
Million Miles Project
More recently we have been running our Million Miles Project which is all about reducing car miles. We calculated that this is only 1% of journeys started in the Black Isle. We have about 15 Community Cycle Trainers who run a variety of cycling projects for adults and children in their villages. We have set up highlandliftshare.com which is a local portal to a national liftshare scheme. We have also had days focused on different villages to encourage them to think about how to reduce their car use. These have included giving away vouchers for a week’s free bus travel. Bus travel has gone up by 2% which is a good start. We have also provided eco-driving lessons. We also have constructive links with a wide range of individuals and groups locally and further afield.
Black Isle Bicycles
We started a new Social Enterprise in 2014 – Black Isle Bicycles – hiring out bikes and promoting the Black Isle as a great place to cycle. This was with Coastal Community Fund money but we hope it will be self-funding after two years. In October BIB held a very successful combined on and off-road cycle race called the Black Isle On-Offer, with the aim of extending the tourist season for cyclists, which is intended to become an annual event.
We hold monthly community markets at Cromarty Second Saturday of the Month 11am-2pm and last Saturday of the month at North Kessock (10am -12 noon) with a wide range of local food and crafts on offer and the refreshments are run by different local organisations each month as a fundraiser. There is also a community Market at Culbokie on the third Saturday of the month from 10am -12 noon.
We are working on proposed community wind project with up to three turbines in Forestry Commission Land near the radio mast on the ridge of the Black Isle. This is at the feasibility stage at the moment. We will need to ballot the whole Black Isle for this and have 50% of people in favour, but with up to £500,000 in income for community projects and a 50% reduction in the Black Isle’s carbon footprint we hope we will be able to persuade people.
TTF is very grateful to Transition Black Isle, and especially to its retiring Convenor Anne Thomas, for providing the story and pictures for this page, which represents the second part of an exchange of information between the two groups which began earlier in 2014 and which we hope will lead to more interaction and co-operation in the future.