“What we do today has a cost,” said Earl, “but we’re not gonna bear it. It’s the future generations that pay, because there’s always a time lag. Our carbon emissions are going into the ocean, building up energy like a dynamo, that will be increasingly hard to stop.”
I nodded somberly and we stared at empty space.
“Have you been to The Green Gathering?” asked Earl, changing tack.
“No, I’ve heard of it, but never been.” I said.
“You really should go.” he said. “You’ll find lots of environmentalists all in the same place. It’s not a normal festival. Yes there’s music and entertainment but it’s about learning and connecting too. Renewable energy, permaculture, different campaigns.”
“Sound’s great. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to go there for free.” I said.
I gradually felt more restless and that I had to move on. On Earl’s advice I was to head to Wells to find Maddy Milns. I was relieved when she answered her phone. I explained about the walk and that I’d been talking to Earl about ACE.
“Would you have time to meet me and tell me about your work?” I asked. Her tone sounded busy but she agreed to go for a coffee.
The rain became heavy and persistent, my waterproof was not up to it although the poncho was good at keeping my torso dry. When I got to Wells I bought a new waterproof jacket (in bright bee yellow) and went to meet Maddy.
“I knew one of the other founders of ACE through the Green Party.” she told me. “We appointed an energy consultant and that provided the group with lots of expertise and shortcuts. Leapfrog are an organisation that provides help to groups like ours. We’re really fortunate to have a great range of skills in the team. Someone with organising skills, financial, local politicians and two people who work in renewable energy.”
“What about Transition Wells,” I asked. “How long have you been involved with that?”
“It’s been going for four or five years.” she said. “What Transition talks about is that we need to transition from where we are at the moment, which is a society that’s predominantly reliant on fossil fuels, oil in particular, and we need to prepare for a future where there isn’t any oil. We’ve reached peak oil, so it’s now the hard to get stuff. We need to find other ways of sourcing our energy, and this should be through renewable sources. As a grandmother, the future is important to me. I think its everybody’s responsibility to do what they can to secure the future. To be able to do that in Wells is a great opportunity. It’s a small town so it feels that we can do a lot.”
“How are you funding the journey?” asked Maddy.
“By donations.” I said. “We did a crowdfunding appeal before I left, which bought the backpack and waterproof jacket and will get some food along the way. It won’t cover things like campsites.”
“Where will you stay then?” she asked.
“People at projects I visit have put me up or I’ve got my tent. People have let me camp in their gardens or I find a little spot for it.” I said.
“Where are you going to stay in Wells?” she asked.