In 2010 a woman walked 2000 miles in flip flops around England for 6 months, visiting people who are transitioning away from fossil fuels. This week I had the great joy of interviewing Steph Bradley and learning from her experiences, before The Buzz Tour begins.Steph Bradley is a storyteller who traveled the country sharing her tales and gathering the stories of the Transition movement and people moving towards a better vision of our future. She gave up her MA and left her home after she was inspired by a vivid dream; Complete with details of where she was to go, why, and an inspiration to write a book about the journey. Having spent 14 years living in Brazil, when the time came to leave, her blister-free favourite flip flops were the footwear of choice!
How many Transition projects did you visit?
“…I have hazarded a guess of 100. What was more important to me at the time was not quantity but variety… I wanted to see diversity, and find out if the vision was the same regardless of circumstance; it was.”
What were your favourite Transition projects?
“I personally haven’t liked to use the word favourite in this context, what I can do is describe a few visits that have remained most memorable over time… The fully productive vegetable garden in Hay on Wye, 3 months earlier, when I had set out, had been an unused field.
In Westbridgeford … Small plastic counters they had renamed Gems (worth one hour) had become the currency of a highly successful skill share initiative. The first Skill Share group had around 80 members; this was the maximum to be successful, for beyond that members found they no longer knew everybody by name… The members I spoke to all said that what they got out of their membership was the new friendships they had struck up. The initiative’s founder… kept the Gems in circulation and prevented the stagnation in the system…
… the grandmother in Somerset who goes out late on a Saturday night with other elders of the community …When the young people go in to the nightclubs, they hand out spikers to protect their drinks from being drugged, and when they come out they hand the girls flip flops so they don’t need to walk home on spiky high heels, and when they need a shoulder to cry on… A young people hearing this tale was moved to want to visit old people’s homes, before it was too late to hear their stories.”
Did people join in the walk with you at times?
“Yes, people did join in. This was in a very ad hoc and organic way… Sometimes they would walk out of their hometown in order to meet me and walk me into their town or city… Some would walk much farther than they had planned because they were discovering that freedom and having enough time were things to be found on the road, and not in being stationery… I learned that to ask for help is very often the best gift you can give to someone.”
What gave you the most hope?
“I was rarely without it. Dream bidden tasks are not like mundane ones. The joy of doing something that we are called to do doesn’t subject us to the same sorts of emotional challenges life can often have us face… Interestingly I entered a period of most hopelessness when I walked for several days through settlements where I encountered no Transitioners or similar positively orientated people. So I suppose I have to say that is was people that gave me the most hope, and lots of inspiration too. That and nature; I learned to truly love the weeds that grow from cracks in severely built over land, and rejoice in hedgerows teeming with life as my constant companion.”
Thank you so much for your wonderful answers Steph, inspiring and useful!
Steph is currently preparing to publish her stories in a paperback book which you can support on her website.
In April I will be leaving on my own journey around England and it gives me a great deal of hope to be able to follow in the footsteps of Steph.