By Adrienne Campbell of TTL

In the autumn of 2010 Transition Town Lewes was offered a wonderful opportunity: to hold a fundrasing event at the world-famous opera house, Glyndebourne, which is in the countryside near Lewes. Gus Christie, the owner, knew about TTL – he came to the Richard Heinberg talk for local landowners, he’d been at all our launches, we’d supported his application for a wind turbine, and he also knew Oliver Dudok van Heel, from TTL.
 
Over the summer, Gus, Oliver and a small cohort pulled together some great local musicians. By the autumn, they had lined up a bagpipe group; a special choir of over 100 people, conducted by John Hancorn; The Baroque Collective and the world’s best recorder player Piers Adams; The God of Hellfire, Arthur Brown; and world famous opera stars Paul Austin Kelly, Liz Brice, Thomasin Trezise and Riccardo Simonetti, performing together; Glyndebourne’s Youth choir and The Galliard Ensemble, one of Britain’s leading chamber ensembles. We’ve got amazing talent here in Lewes, though quite a few of them depend on international travel – for now.

There was the usual scramble to make the publicity (thanks to Chris Smedley of TTL who runs a design company Hudoq), and more publicity, when nobody had booked with a month to go.  But in the end the event was virtually sold out with 1,100 tickets going for £20 or £10 concessions, with under-12s free.
 
In the lead up, we could have been better organised, especially at communicating what Transition was about to people who were just there to support the choir. We certainly didn’t model it very well, failing to organise buses, bike routes and car share.

On the day, Gus Christie himself wove together the performances with a wonderful story about the history and all our characters and escapades – including Tom Paine, Bonfire, Harveys and of course the Lewes Pound. After costs, we raised a net of £8,000 – which pays for our two part-time workers to run the office and newsletter, and for Ovesco, our energy company, to pay for legal fees and marketing of a share issue in 2011 for what we believe is Britain’s first community-owned solar power station.

Looking around the auditorium at one point I was deeply moved by the sheer interconnected ‘magic’ – that more-than-the-sum-of-the-parts effect that I come across quite a lot in Transition, a powerful shared experience that will live long in people’s visceral memories. The last song of the evening involved the choir and the audience singing the song that was created at the launch of the Lewes Pound (words below) – a great cheer for Transition, Lewes and all that we have to be glad about.

Lyrics by Sarah Earl

Lead into ‘Can’t help Lovin’:
Oh listen, sister.
I love that Mister man – and I can’t tell you why.
There ain’t no reason why I should love that man.
It must be somethin’ that the angels done planned….

New verse(s) for ‘Can’t help Lovin’:
(1)Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly but
I’m gonna drink one beer ‘til I die.
Can’t help lovin’ that Harvey’s Ale

Give me Blue Label, or give me a red
Let me drink John Hop at least ‘til I’m dead
Can’t help lovin’ that Harvey’s Ale.

When it comes to booze
You can’t beat our Ouse…
Water, hops and that ‘Je ne sais quoi’
De Miles Jenner (God love him!)

You can stay out ‘til quarter to three
But life without beer ain’t no life for me.
Can’t help lovin’ that Harvey’s Ale.

What about this for the end?
(2)Currencies come, and currencies go..
But we’ve got the Tom Paine pound don’cha’ know!
Can’t help lovin’ those Lewes pounds.

Transition town- it’s sure not a whim
If we stay solvent, we’ll have to thank him.
Can’t help lovin’ those Tom Paine pounds.

When you’ve got to pay, they show another way
Whether you’re in May’s, the Riverside, or Good Old Bill’s
(Not Tesco!)

You can go out on a shopping spree
With ordin’ry pounds
(But) it’s a shame to me..(shrug)
Can’t help lovin’ those Lewes Pounds.