Transition reaches Latvia

Tomas Remiarz
Friday, 4th May 2012

The economically hard hit Baltic States has its first Transition Movement town. They are proud of their achievement to date, but still need support in many ways, and are seeking help in creating a permaculture garden. If you feel like you can help them then please read on, they would love to hear from you.

Ikskile Transition Initiative (ITI) is the first (and still the only one) official representative of the Transition Movement in the Baltic States. The spark of transitioning flew to Ikskile two years ago when the co-founder Arturs Polis returned from the Ecovillage Design Education course at Findhorn. The work has been hard, and ITI is still in need of support, but the core group strongly believes that transitioning and permaculture are very worthy concepts, especially in the harsh economic situation of Latvia.

Ikskile Transition Initiative is a pioneering project that promotes the Transition Movement and permaculture in Latvia. It became an official transition initiative in March 2011, and a registered NGO in July 2011. The website has been visited more than 26,000 times. ITI aims to be a platform that connects the local inhabitants and organizations who value self-sufficiency, localization and sustainability. Meanwhile, the initiative is bringing a new awareness regarding global and local peak oil and climate change challenges, so that a new motivation, focus and energy is brought to ITI member's already existing activities and services.

To date Ikskile Transition Initiative has held dozens of events and has educated hundreds of people about peak oil, climate change and local solutions like permaculture and transition concept. The current active members have invested an enormous amount of time and work to organize these events.
 The main focus is to give people a very practical experience and to teach methods easy to repeat like herb spirals, vertical plant towers, rocket-stoves, potatoes' beds with straw etc. 
In October 2010 ITI conducted the project "Green Movies in Green Ikskile". The project was co-founded by the local council and involved buying movies such as "Community Solutions: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" and "Energy Crossroads", translating them and making Latvian subtitles, and taking them to public screenings. The project involved activities for students in Ikskile Secondary School. "The Story of Stuff" was shown, students were engaged in discussions and everybody played "Mobility", a game which aims to find better and more sustainable means of daily transportation habits.

Another part of ITI's work is to make the Transition concept more widely known in Latvia. Initiative has published 2 articles about permaculture and the Transition Movement; has given newspaper and radio interviews. In January 2012 Lucy Neal from Transition Town Tooting invited Ikskile Transition Initiative to give a presentation during her "Case for Optimism" workshop in the capital city Riga. And last summer ITI held a one-day open-air festival "The Song of the River", with workshops, arts and crafts and concerts.

Latvia is the country hit the hardest by the EU's crisis. The people there face the paradox of European level prices for food and living, but minimal monthly net salary of 200 Euros. Many are not getting even this, because of unemployment. It is a very real example of post peak economics. In order to keep things going, ITI is looking for support since some of our most enthusiastic members are on low income and can barely afford to visit monthly meetings. Permaculture and transitioning are very crucial solutions in these conditions, because they teach how to use resources mindfully and efficiently.

The plans of Ikskile Transition Initiative are still ambitious. Many guest-speakers have been invited to Ikskile to talk about ecovillages, permaculture, geodesic straw-bale domes, raw food, simple lifestyle and the key issues of sustainable economics and possibilities to set up new means of cooperation between households and organizations. 
The biggest project of this year will definitely be the creation of permaculture demonstration garden next to the Ikskile Free School. The local government has just given premises and adjacent land to the school. The rooms are in a very bad condition, so the Free School itself will be busy with repairs until September when the school year begins. However, everyone is happy about the 10,000 square meter land around the building, feeling the big potential of this site.

The ITI was invited to deal with land, so they started with teaching permaculture to schoolchildren parents and teachers. In the second meeting parents and teachers draw 3 inspirational scenarios of the site planning according to permaculture principles, including sports field, crafts workshops, geodesic dome pergola, wildlife zone and big vegetable and fruit tree forest garden. In the next meeting it is planned to implement the envisioned vertical plant beds. 
Ikskile Transition Initiative has decided to contribute in this project as much as possible, because it will be not only a good example of permaculture design and methods, but also a highly-efficient long-term investment in education of schoolchildren, their teachers and parents and every visitor of Ikskile eco-community. Moreover, the healthy and tasty self-grown food will nourish the next generation of Ikskile community.

If you live or work in the Baltics or want to lend your support, please do contact Ikskile Transition Initiative via their website (in English or Latvian)

You are welcome to support Ikskile Transition Initiative and the creation of its permaculture school garden:
Name of NGO: Biedriba, Ikskiles parmainu iniciativa. Address: Strazdu iela 6, Ikskile, Ikskiles novads, LV-5052. 
Registration number: 40008181142
IBAN account number: LV83RIKO0002013213241
. Name of bank: AS DNB banka
SWIFT. Account number: RIKO LV 2X