By Sherry Clark
Chair, Transition Town Hastings 

Worried about how you’ll cope with post-COP26 blues now that two years of anticipation and two weeks of ‘blah, blah, blah’ draws to a close? Your finest form of prevention might just be to stand still, look around you – and celebrate. 

While the minute-by-minute bulletins detailed the creative new ways of corporate greenwashing in Glasgow, closer to home, climate-concerned local citizens were taking hundreds of small steps to move us all towards the seemingly impossible goal of 1.5c. 

Sure, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has joined the list of eminent observers of UK life to declare that coastal communities have lots of problems. Add to that the various reports and funding bids, dense with data, proving just how awful a place Hastings is to live, go to school, work and be alive in. 

There’s no room in this article to detail the damage these relentless negative narratives have on our health (both physical and mental), but there is time to give a shout out to those who are investing serious and significant effort in reimagining and rebuilding this town as a positive place with great prospects for a cleaner, greener, more resilient future.

Here’s to our heroes running independent cafes, shops and community spaces who work tirelessly to make eating and shopping as beautiful, meaningful and, most importantly, low-carbon, as possible. Three cheers for Wonderfill, Trinity Refill, Naked Larder, Joyful Roots and Hastings Compost Community. You all need a particular vote of thanks – for all you’re doing to remove plastic, reduce waste and encourage the finest forms of consumer behaviour. 

Dandelion, Kings Road – ethical trading

A round of applause, too, for the people running those oft-ignored businesses that make climate-considerate consumption so much easier: our amazing network of charity shops where purchases do double-duty, helping the charity as well as the planet. (Sad to see another disappear from London Road because of a massive rent increase. Shame on you, landlord!) 

Gold stars, too, for St Leonards Clean Water Action Group, Strandliners, Surfers Against Sewage and the UN Association of Hastings and Bexhill for all your efforts to save our seas by pushing for water quality measures and utility companies that place people and planet over profit. 

Well done to the local Zoomers (you know who you are) who have just spent three days online, participating in the Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking’s Climate Action Lab, inspired by the words and work of international leading lights like Daniel Christian Wahl, Mike Berners-Lee and Vandana Shiva. You’re stars for taking the time to learn more
about regenerative economies, revitalising relationships and taking responsibility so that the whole town can be enriched, inspired and energised. 

While borough and county council officers, councillors and local citizens rarely come together, here’s to all who lowered the illogical boundaries between them and found time to travel to Sheffield to see how a city can transform its roads into 1.3km of spectacular, climate-resilient gardens – bringing Hastings’ Garden Town one step closer to reality.

Three cheers for Hastings Commons and its continued mission to restore the Observer Building and forge new ways to regenerate whole sections of this town, experimenting with new ways to imagine place, relationship, work and belonging. Here’s to all the inspiring initiatives that are calling Hastings Commons ‘home’ – from responsible retailers like Cheese-on-Sea and Aura Que, to regenerative initiatives like ReWeave and the Library of Things. 

Jess Steele at the opening of the Common Room

Last week the new Common Room (part of the Commons) hosted its first ‘Food-for-Thought’ potluck supper, to restore that age-old habit of ‘companionship’ sharing food (and gossip) together. Here’s to the next one, taking place from 5-7pm on 25 November. 

Still in The Common Room, let’s say thanks to Transition Town Hastings and Energise Sussex Coast for co-hosting a ‘Green Room’ every Thursday. A veritable garden of green, low-carbon ideas and information is growing rapidly. Free energy advice, permaculture workshops, DIY chutney-making, and beginner’s patchwork courses are on the calendar for November. 

Thanks, too, to Hastings Greenways group for getting people out by recently leading a walk to the fantastic low-carbon, straw bale house, while local green goddess, Anna Locke, led a workshop on permaculture at the Marina Allotments. 

And finally, let’s give a big thanks to everyone in Extinction Rebellion, who recently took to the streets to stage a die-in in front of local councillors, for their relentless reminders that the time to act is now. 

Got a little SIMT (Sorry I Missed That)? Don’t be – just slow down, take a deep breath and be grateful to live here. Save your energy for what really matters – don’t waste it worrying. We are privileged to live in a beautiful seaside town, rich with history, and inhabited by people who really are making a difference. 

None of this work is being done on a stage or in the light of a thousand press cameras – but it’s what matters: people with great ideas and tenacity, keeping it local and believing we can achieve great things together. Keep up the great work, all of you. 

The Common Room is now open Tuesday to Saturday, 12-4pm. 

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