The market town of Totnes lies on the River Dart in south Devon and has for a long time been thought of as a centre for alternative culture. It features in the “top 10 funkiest towns of the world” and has also been described as the centre of “boho-chic”, whatever that means. Totnes is a town of contradictions. In the main street, shops selling expensive clothes for women rub (mostly) comfortable shoulders with cute cafes and artisan bakers. At the busy Friday market, well-dressed, well-off people of a certain age buy fish from the excellent travelling fishmonger, “hippies” run bric a brac stalls and the “cottage industry” Common Loaf bakery does a roaring trade.
Totnes is also a Transition Town. The transition movement was, in fact, founded in Totnes and has now spread all over the world. Transition Town Totnes adds greatly to the vibrancy and diversity of the place and it scored a notable success recently in its campaign to keep Costa Coffee out of the town. Totnes has many independent coffee shops and the campaign focussed on maintaining that independent aspect. A large part of the town rallied behind the campaign which was backed by the local MP and the Mayor. Costa eventually withdrew.
One of the regular Transition Town events is a Film Programme. The films chosen for this programme tend to be rather worthy, often dealing with an issue linked with the ideals of the transition movement. A week or so ago, the film was “Queen of the Sun – what are the bees telling us?” and about 40 people gathered in the Methodist Church for the screening. We heard about the many problems bees now face, mainly in the US as well as some basic bee biology. There were several local beekeepers present and one of them kindly brought samples of honeycomb from his hives. Another over-enthusiastic beekeeper hijacked the discussion session following the film by giving his rather loquacious personal summary of the film, but that’s Totnes for you.
If you are interested in bees and their problems then I recommend this film to you. It’s also very beautiful and I have tried to convey some of the ideas contained in the film in a review I wrote for the LabLit web magazine.