This week saw the departure of one of Sustainable Bungay’s key movers and shakers, Nick Watts. To celebrate his very active presence amongst the group and to wish him well the comms wing of SB wrote and produced a special newsletter as a farewell card. Here it is!
Welcome to our souvenir issue of Sustainable Nick! A newsletter all about our fellow community activist, the grassroots economist, winemaker and grower and sharpest notetaker on the block, Nick Watts.
After 20 years living in this fine old town, and six in the challenging new era of Transition culture, Nick is moving with his family to South Wales. In celebration here is our autumn edition that charts his unforgettable contribution to the group.
Nick burst into Sustainable Bungay our annual Christmas party in 2008, and almost immediately took up his notepad and become the Secretary for all our core group meetings. His organising skills and dynamic energies have been key to all our activities from Give and Take Days to Green Drinks to running the Greenpeace Tea Tent in 2011. He also seeded and led several innovative new projects (see below) and inspired many folk to get involved.
Communicating the hidden worlds of finance however was what perhaps fired him the most. ‘Skintnick’ felt people really needed to know the facts around the fragile and illusory nature of our monetary system. His talk, A Tale of Two Curves – On the conspiracy of silence on natural limits and economic growth in June 2010 was a witty, full-on whistle-stop tour of economic history, and explored ways in which we might become resilient within the Transition framework and the local economy.
During 2011-12 when the Occupy movement had the world thinking about money in a new light, Nick was often to be found at the Occupy Norwich camp speaking about the radical changes needed in the global banking system. He also organised a thrilling nighttime march up to Norwich Castle to commemorate Robert Kett and the Norfolk uprising against the “hard-hearted elite” in 1549.
In an interview with co-chair Mark Watson, Nick explained how being involved with the Transition movement changed his life. “You become friends with people you’re working with on a common understanding, for a common good. Transition casts a different light on everything you do. You’re thinking in a bigger way about the systems that underpin our lives, but acting from where you are.
“You’re simplifying your life so you are less dependent on a high income, high energy use and the industrial food system. Peak Oil presents the very real possibility of these fossil-fuelled ways of life being taken away. I see it as a responsibility, especially if you have children, to take it seriously.
“None of knows exactly what is on the cards for the future – but our bet (6-4 favourite) is that Sustainable Nick will make the valley he is headed for a greener, more switched on and joyful place.
One thing is for sure: we will all miss him here in low-carbon Bungay. Thanks for everything Nick and happy moving!
Images: On the move: Nick with the all-important chair, Give and Take Day, 2011; making medicinal raspberry wine, Plants for Life workshop, 2012.
Food is never far from Sustainable Bungay’s collective heart and from the off our events have been accompanied by homemade cakes, seasonal soups and even our local take on tapas. But it was Nick who suggested we should turn eating into the main event.
Like a lot of good ideas Happy Monday was dreamt up in the pub – it was to be a regular meal demonstrating much of what SB is all about; supporting the local economy, working co-operatively, and celebrating farmers and gardeners in and around Bungay.
Unlike a lot of ideas discussed over a pint this one has grown into a very real and successful venture – thanks in no small part to Nick, who having come up with the idea, organised the first meal (a pie and mash night) in May 2011.
33 Happy Mondays later and almost 2000 meals have left the kitchen since that pub chat. Nick has been involved with every one of them; cooking, supplying home-grown vegetables, buying local produce and demonstrating his formidable washing-up skills. We are now left with a wonderful legacy for the Community Kitchen the future. Cheers Nick!
On the shelf
As a one-time booksearcher and keen to keep folk abreast of the thinking around peak oil, climate change and economic downturn, Nick devised a special lending shelf at Bungay Library. Over 50 book, as well as printed documents on everything from dig gardening to the debt crisis, were available to anyone who was interested. The Library has since disbanded the section and the books are now available for sale. An invaluable resource for people looking at the bigger picture. Green and Transition titles will be available at Happy Mondays on 19th October(see Simon Bloom)
In 2010 Nick took the lead in creating the Bungay Library Community Garden. In January Sustainble Bungay held a permaculture course taught by Graham Burnet off Spiral Seed. Their mission: transforming the bare brick courtyard into a flourishing showcase garden. Working to the collaborative design Nick co-ordinated a team of volunteers, who built raised beds and filled them with donated soil and compost, plants and trees, as well as installed rainwater butts and a composting bin. The Gardem opened the following year with a great celebration has since hosted dozens of events, including the bi-annual Give and Grow plant and produce swaps, also organised by Nick. It’s now a hub for many of SB’s activities and a peaceful and sustainble green space for all the community to enjoy.
NR35 was another plant-based enterprise devised by SB’s green-fingered entrepreneur. Based on Bungay’s postcode the NR35 (‘Natural Resources’ 35) group explore “how to use our skills, knowledge and labour to generate an income by sustainably managing/harvesting the resources which are wildly abundant around our rural market town.” The results include the harvesting and distributing of fruit and vegetable gluts, some of which are supplied to local restaurants and grocers, play area regeneration, dead hedge making and building a communal firewood store.
Tea with Everything; Nick, Margaret and Charlotte at the SB Tea Tent, Greenpeace Fair, 2011The knowledge: Nick (and cat) at Bungay Community Library party, January 2013; Quartermaster’s stores: Nick and fellow members of NR35 with firewood stash, October 2012