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"A crowd, a host of golden Chanterelles": my wild mushroom initiation

I did indeed wander “o'er vales and hills”, although not “as lonely as a cloud” - I was with my son, on a Sunday afternoon walk.  Whereas Wordsworth wrote “When all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils”, it was an entirely different golden host that we came across: chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius).  They would have fitted beautifully into Wordsworth’s poem, far more exciting than daffodils: ‘daffodils’ and ‘chanterelles’ even scan the same.  Dorothy Hartley, author of the seminal ‘Food in England’ wrote of chanterelles “you find them, suddenly, in the autumn woods, sometimes clustered so close they look like a torn golden shawl dropped amongst the dead leaves and sticks”.  It was my first experience of wild mushroom foraging, and it was magical. 

New REconomy Guide: 'The Do-Ocracy Handbook'

The UK REconomy Project have just published a new 'How To Guide' by Mark Simmonds, entitled 'The Do-Ocracy Handbook: organisational types and legal structures'.  It's a wonderful thing, and you can download it for free here.  Here's how the REconomy folks introduce it: 

"Want to take your group or idea to the next level this Autumn but not sure how?  Our new Do-ocracy Handbook by Mark Simmonds looks at organisational forms and legal structures might be just what you need.  The how-to guide is packed with information and resources covering legal options, governance arrangements, tax compliance, charitable status and much more".

From the Archive: How tough is your skin? Monbiot, Mann, McKibben, various Transitioners and others on what to do if your Transition initiative comes under attack.

Here is a post from February 2013 which explored an area of Transition that isn't often discussed.  It draws together the experience of many people, and feedback we had at the time was that many people found it very useful.  

As Transition groups deepen their work and begin to have a tangible impact, it is, perhaps, inevitable that those who disagree may express their opinions with vigour.  Over the last few months it has been my own personal experience to be on the receiving end of this in Totnes, and I have to say it has not been especially pleasant.  It appears, finally, to be calming down, and so what I would like to do in this post, with the help of a few names you might recognise who have had a lot more experience of this kind of thing than I have, is to try and draw out some learnings from it. 


From the Archive: The Ghosts of Shoppers Past: why assumptions matter

Here is a blog by Rob Hopkins from March 2013: 

Berry Pomeroy Castle near Totnes is famed for supposedly being one of the most haunted castles in Britain. It is said that the ghosts can still be seen of the Pomeroy brothers riding to their doom over the castle cliffs to avoid losing the castle following a siege.  Or there’s the Blue Lady, reputed to be a Pomeroy who strangled the child conceived with her father, or the White Lady, who was supposedly shut up in a dungeon by her jealous sister and whose ghost now walks the walls at night. None of these phantasms has any basis in history though: there never was a siege, the guy who first wrote about the Blue Lady said he had seen her in the Castle even though at the time of writing it had already been in ruins for many years, and the White Lady is the creation of a Gothic tale first published in 1806.  The truth about the castle is less supernatural and exciting but a fair bit more interesting. 


Book Review and Competition: 'Born on Third Base' by Chuck Collins.

Book Review: Born on Third Base: a one percenter makes the case for tackling inequality, bringing wealth home and committing to the common good by Chuck Collins.  Chelsea Green Publishing.  * Win a copy in our exclusive competition below! *

I am regularly, and rightly, asked about the extent to which the Transition movement successfully engages with disadvantaged communities and communities of colour.  But I can’t think of a single time when anyone has asked me how successfully the movement has engaged with the 1% community, the wealthiest members of our society.  As Boston-based Transitioner and inequality campaigner Chuck Collins argues, it’s a conversation we urgently need to have, indeed we will struggle to do Transition properly without having that conversation.  

From the Archive: Cara Naden reflects on being flooded in Somerset.

For our next 'From the Archive' post we go back to March 2014.  The previous months, the UK had been hit by some of the worst storms in history, and Somerset had been hit especially hard, with many areas flooded for months.  Cara Naden, a Transition activist living in Somerset, was asked to write on the theme of 'Living with Climate Change', our theme at the time.  She reflected on her experience, but also how it steeled her resolve to move Transition forward. Here's her post: 


Rob 'Hop King': my first year as a hop farmer

As someone fascinated by the craft beer movement, in particular the remarkable things it does with hops, I had a moment last year when I wondered if my surname, Hopkins, somehow referred to an ancient relative who was known among his neighbours as the ‘Hop King’.  That his knowledge of hop production was so treasured that it was reflected, indeed celebrated, in his name. Research (well, Wikipedia) reveals the real root is nothing of the sort, meaning ‘son of Hob’, whoever he was.  My fascination with hops remains unabated though, meaning that I really have to share with you the story of my first year as a hop farmer. 

From the Archive: Sophy Banks on The Power of Not Doing Stuff.

As part of our 'From the Archive' theme, today we revisit a blog from July 2013, an interview with Sophy Banks on 'The Power of Not Doing Stuff' (our theme at the time was 'The Power of Just Doing Stuff'.  It is as relevant today as it was back then...


Exploring Transitions in Wuppertal

The day after the 10th anniversary of the Unleashing of Transition Town Totnes (has it really been that long?), I hopped on a succession of trains to head for Wuppertal, a city in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany.  Home to 350,000 people, it is sometimes called the ‘Manchester of Germany’, with its history of coal and steel, and later cloth production and other industries. Today there is less industry, although according to Wikipedia, “Wuppertal still is a major industrial centre, being home to industries such as textiles, metallurgy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, automobiles, rubber, vehicles and printing equipment”.  And also a huge Beyer factory, the Beyer who are currently trying to buy Monsanto (why would you?), as well as home of Aspirin and the vacuum cleaner.  And an amazing ‘floating tram’ (see video below).  And lots of rather impressive sustainability stuff too. 

When Loorbach met Hopkins: on Transition and research

How might research best support, document and inform both the Transition movement and societal transitions more widely?  Over the last couple of days, at Wuppertal University in Germany, a conference called the International Sustainability Transitions Conference has been taking place.  One of its plenary sessions was called 'Research and Practice Perspectives on the Governance of Urban Transitions', and featured Derk Loorbach, director of the Dutch Research Institute for Transition (DRIFT) and Professor of Socio-economic Transitions at the Faculty of Social Science, both at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Transition Network's Rob Hopkins.  In case you couldn't make it, here we present the full audio of the session as well as both sets of slides, so you can relive the experience in your own home.  Enjoy.  

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