An August Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
By rob hopkins 13th September 2013
This month’s round up is huge. Seriously. Get a cup of tea, a few biscuits, put your feet up and enjoy. It’s a cracker, and has stories from parts of the world we’ve never had before. So, sitting comfortably? Let’s get started with some groundbreaking local currency news. The Bristol Pound recently announced an arrangement with FirstGroup buses that bus travellers will be able to buy their tickets in Bristol Pounds. Interim managing director of First in West of England, Paul Matthews, told The Guardian:
“We believe we are the first bus company in the UK to sign up to join a local currency scheme. The Bristol pound has been going for a year and it has developed a loyal following. We hope that in working with the organisers we can help to increase usage further, providing a welcome boost for the local economy at the same time.”
Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, was in Bristol recently, and after spending some Bristol Pounds, said:
“Today was a real eye opener to the way in which Bristol is pulling together across the public, private and voluntary sectors for the good of the city. It’s clearly a place with an ambitious vision for the future and it was fascinating to see and hear the practical steps that are being taken to make it a reality. Bristolians are clearly passionate about their city and this shines through in the good community work which many groups are doing.”
The Bristol Pound will also be celebrating its first birthday (has it only been a year?!) with a knees-up on September 19th. Consider yourself invited. Here’s the poster:
The Oxford Pound continues to move towards becoming a reality, with the group setting it up issuing their first newsletter.
Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham has paid tribute to Transition Belper for their ongoing mission to make the town a more sustainable place to live. In an open letter she praised the organisation’s hard work clearing and renovating Belper Railway Station. The MP is also backing a Transition Belper scheme to persuade everyone in the DE56 postcode to spend an extra £5 per week on locally produced goods, thereby reducing the food miles and helping Belper’s economy. More about this here.
This week saw the opening of The Swanage School, a Free School set up by members of Transition Swanage and others (see above). It’s a fascinating story, and a huge achievement. You can read the whole story here.
Transition Portobello is going to organise ‘Strictly Cycling’ Cycle Ballet. The performance plays with the every day events and experiences of riding a bike, adding a hint of the surreal and comical, to change the way you think about cycling and your city spaces.
Eco homes in the Bridport area will soon be open to visitors to show that green doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable or pokey. Many different kinds of homes are taking part, from newly built, specially designed eco-homes, to historic properties that have been adapted to save energy and resources without harming their architectural features or the neighbourhood. The eco-homes opening forms part of Dorset Architectural Heritage Week, a week-long celebration of interesting buildings and architecture that takes place every year in September. More information about eco homes on Transition Bridport’s website or from this article in the local Bridport News.
Bridport aren’t the only place to be running Open Eco Home events. Linlithgow, Lewes, Totnes and Taunton are just four of the Transition initiatives we know of who are also running them, and the Transition Network News pages recently announced a new funding pot available for other groups who would like to run them. Applications by the end of September.
Transition Abbotts Langley recently held a ‘community market’ which was a big success (see photo below). According to the local Watford Observer:
The markets, which have been held three or four times a year since 2011, have grown increasingly popular, with organisers worrying they might have to turn stall holders away next time or find a bigger venue. Mrs Whate added: “The aim of the market is to get people together and show them what’s available in Abbots Langley. We want to encourage people to grow their own, share their excess produce and use what is available in the wild. You don’t have to go outside the village to the supermarket to buy produce from who knows where.”
It’s the season of Transition initiative newsletters. Here’s a random sample. They can offer a great insight into what other groups are up to. Here, for example, are those created by Transition Town Letchworth, Transition Lostwithiel, Transition Kentish Town, Transition Leicester and Transition Town Reading.
The volunteers from Transition Town Honiton’s planting group have been clearing the area at the back of the Honiton Library of weeds, and have turned it into a beautiful bird haven with feeders and bird friendly plants. They also recently unveiled a ‘herb wall’ with the Mayor. The local Midweek Herald reported that:
The garden is just one of the projects that have been undertaken by TTH’s planting group and around a dozen volunteers helped to bring the herb wall to fruition. A spokeswoman for TTH said: “The idea is that people can help themselves to the herbs as they’re passing. There are more than 15 different types of herbs as well as strawberries”.
Here is the group with the Mayor at the launch:
Also in Devon, September 18th sees the rather exciting opening of Transition Town Totnes‘ REconomy Centre. As TTT’s Project Manager Frances Northrop put it:
The whole thing has been a symphony of personal relationships with things shared out of love and because people are caught up in the promise of something new and inspiring. Our incubator has built in resilience, pride and ownership. We made it happen but it is not ‘our’ centre, rather it will belong to everyone who has a stake in this exciting new economy.
Totnes was recently held up by the Telegraph as being a “shining example” of a High Street. Totnes Sustainable Construction, one of the offshoots from TTT, recently ran a strawbale building demonstration at South Devon College’s Open Day. Social Reporter Chris Bird was on hand to make this video record of it:
Also in Totnes, Atmos Totnes, the project aiming to bring the town’s former Dairy Crest plant into community ownership to develop it as “the heart of a new economy” edges closer to reaching agreement with Dairy Crest. In a joint press release issued during August, Duncan Good, representing Dairy Crest, said:
“We are cleaning up the site because we are in the final stages of negotiation with Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) about the disposal of the site and how we can take forward the Atmos Totnes project. At this stage we feel that the ATMOS project represents the best way forward for the site and will help us to achieve a real legacy for the town of Totnes.”
Steph Bradley, who you may recall set off around the country bedecked only in a pair of red flip flops (erm, and clothes, obviously), is shortly to publish her book recalling the adventure. Entitled ‘Tales of Our Times’, it will be launched at an event on October 19th, and she is crowdfunding the publication, including just 13 very limited edition copies, hand-bound with felted covers! And there are only 2 of those left. Snap ’em up I would. There are other versions available too. Here is the cover:
Transition Network’s Rob Hopkins was recently interviewed for Channel 5 News about supermarkets and how to preserve/revive them. The article is here, and here’s the film they posted:
Transition Leicester will be helping out PhD student Chris Thornton of the University of South Australia who will be using the group as one of his case studies in the research he is doing. Here Chris explains what he’ll be looking at:
New Forest Transition‘s Food Challenge continues apace, with a recently-launched veg box scheme. Crystal Palace Transition Town‘s Local Food Market goes from strength to strength, and was recently featured in the local News Shopper publication in a piece called The Future’s Bright for Crystal Palace Market. It included the following:
Karen Jones, who organises the market with Laura Marchant-Short, said: “I don’t think you will get more ethically sourced produce from anywhere else in London. “I knew we were onto something on that Saturday when it was pouring with rain and people were running down the road in their wellies and macs to pick up things from the market.”
Also from London, Brixton Energy were featured in an excellent article over at Blue & Green Tomorrow. Here’s a taste:
At the moment, the project is required to sell most of its energy back to the grid, but it has big ambitions: in the long-term, Brixton Energy would like to be able to set up as a provider and sell energy directly back to investors and those living in the local area.
Transition Town Brixton recently published it’s Economic Blueprint/Evaluation, Rethinking Lambeth’s Local Economy, which followed in the footsteps of those done by Totnes and Herefordshire. An interview with Duncan Law, one of the key people behind it, will follow shortly at www.transitionnetwork.org.
Transition Town Eastbourne have been creating a community orchard, together with other local groups. According to YouTube:
“Eastbourne Community Orchards and gardens is a new group that has formed to encourage small communities to start using any spare land that they have to grow fruit trees, soft fruits, nut trees, vegetables, herbs and or wild flowers. Eastbourne Live covered the first phase when members started to clear the site and prepare it for the Spring. Eastbourne Community Orchards evolved from The Eastbourne Friends Of the Earth Group and is part of the food growing initiative of Transition Town Eastbourne. ECO has the full support of Eastbourne Borough Council in these projects”.
Here’s the video:
If your Transition initiative’s AGM was a bit dull this year, you might like to take a leaf out of Transition Town Marlborough‘s book. Their AGM ended up with them all jiving. Photographic evidence below:
David Davis MP mentioned Transition in a debate on climate change in the Houses of Parliament. Renowned as a climate sceptic and free marketeer, he stated:
A few years ago, the phrase on everyone’s lips was “peak oil.” The greens were setting up transition towns all over the place and arguing that we should go back to weaving baskets and driving horses and carts, because we were about to run out of oil. The following week, the same people would be complaining about all the oil and gas that there was, which I thought at the time was a bit strange.
Dear oh dear. A slightly more reliable take on Transition could be found when Transition Network’s Peter Lipman spoke recently at the Green Gathering near Chepstow, in spite of being drowned out for a while by passing Hare Krishnas. Here is the talk he gave:
Another account of Transition which offers slightly more useful testimony than Mr Davis’ is a newly studied piece of academic research entitled Failure and Success of Transition Initiatives: a study of the international replication of the Transition Movement published by the Walker Institute at the University of Reading. We haven’t read it yet, but it looks at least to be based on a level of research that Mr Davis might do well to emulate.
The good people at Grow Heathrow, the Transition project that has been occupying an old derelict market garden and who recently lost their appeal to be able to remain on the site, gave an excellent interview to the Occupied Times of London.
Transition Langport recently tweeted:
#Transition #Langport local produce harvest swap/sale at Eli’s on Sat 7th 12-2pm come join in & celebrate home grown food in our community
Transition Loughborough posted the notes from their Food and Gardens group. Transition Chichester went blackberry picking. Transition Walthamstow will be holding a community skillshare on Wednesday 25th September.
OVESCO, the community energy company that grew out of Transition Town Lewes, recently held a Community Energy Day, which was addressed by Greg Barker MP. Here’s the photo OVESCO tweeted from the event:
Transition Town Whitehead in Northern Ireland have seen the launch of their Big Energy Challenge, where 20 families are being supported to reduce their energy use. As Rosalyn Davidson, one of the participants, told the Carrick Times:
“The ‘background’ charge for electricity in my house is less than one penny an hour. As soon as I switch on the kettle, the monitor shows the cost shooting up to 18p an hour. If I put enough water in for just one cup of tea, it boils in less than 30 seconds. That’s a pretty good reason for not filling the kettle.”
Let us leave the UK now, and head first to South Africa. We have mentioned Transition Town Greyton in previous roundups, in particular the “>great short film that was made about them. but here is a lovely video of a community garden project the group are creating:
and also some detailed instructions in how to make an ‘Eco Brick’, a cheap building material that turns waste into a resource:
To the US now, and for the second consecutive year, “Save Our Surplus,” an initiative by Transition Towns Dummerston, is setting up self-service collection stands around the town every Saturday throughout September for residents to donate or take vegetables. The group’s mission is to reduce waste, allow residents to share fresh vegetables they grow in their gardens with each other, and raise awareness of food growers in the area?
Don Hall of Transition Sarasota recently posted a list of all the talks he has given to local groups. Impressive stuff. He also recently did a TEDx Sarasota Salon talk, which you can see here:
Transition Amherst, Massachusetts have been involved in the emergence over the past year and a half of a year-round, indoor farmers and crafts market called the All Things Local Store, that will have farm products, food products, take-out food, cafe meals, durable goods, artisan crafts and more – all local! Here is a film about their recent launch event:
The town of Troy, NY, recently made this short video about their work:
Dan Jones from Transition Town Montpelier wrote to his local paper, the Times Argus, to share all that the group has been up to. It’s pretty impressive stuff. In Holland, Transition Town Deventer in Holland recently launched a Repair Cafe. Here’s a video about it:
To Germany now, and although Transition Gütersloh just launched at the beginning of this year, there are a lot of activities there. ‘eMs Garden’ is used as a community garden now, but it belongs to Margareth, an elderly lady who offered her garden for the local community. She is glad to see her space turning in to a flourishing garden full of vegetables, fruit and with a growing number of gardeners. ‘eMs Garden’ is not just a place for gardening, but also for connecting people, harvesting and cooking together, and sharing skills.
Furthermore, the food group in Transition Gütersloh has joined the international Thursday Veggie Day campaign. They are raising awareness about the environment and animal welfare according to meat production – at the local market, in bio shops, schools and even in the cinema by organising film events. They are pretty successful, since 3 restaurants and 3 schools/kindergartens in Gütersloh have already decided to serve only vegetarian food every Thursday. Thursday is swap day in Gütersloh, when local people can offer or ask for help in whatever they want or need e.g. gardening, repairing, babysitting. Tools can be also swapped. A mobile library offers DVDs and books on the Transition Gütersloh events or in the local fair trade shop. Donated books are welcome from all.
Here is a video of some very keen looking hearty cyclists, who my guess is are travelling around Germany visiting different places that are ‘green’ in some way, and in this episode visit Transition Regensberg and their community garden, and eat some of their chard, apparently without asking…
Transition Witzenhausen organised ‘Incredible Edible Day’ end of August with a colourful program visiting edible gardens and cooking and tasting local food. You can see the poster for the event right. During the summer, several edible plants were adopted by local people or enterprises, and were placed in front of shops or houses for everybody to pick and enjoy.
Now some stories from Hungary. Transition Wekerle in Budapest has been very active on the food front in the last months, by running several organic and permaculture gardening workshops for local and non-local gardeners, to support kitchen-gardening in and outside of Wekerle. The local farmers market has turned into a place that connects people and hosts several events like seed swaps, and a flea market for swapping tools. In addition, the farmers market is also the delivery point of weekly CSA boxes, that already have more than 40 members.
The new community “solar fruit dryer” was ready in August, and was tested by drying tomatoes, strawberry, apricot and herbs. It is still open for use by local people, who want to harvest from their garden for the winter (see right).
Transition Wekerle has cleared a local park and playground and turned it into a nice place for children and young adults by building a bicycle ground, upcycled bank and edible garden.
During the daylong event, several hundred heritage tomato plants were adopted by local gardeners – their seeds are going to be collected this autumn for replanting and distributing next year. Transition Wekerle have also been busy promoting sustainable living too. Visitors got information about vegetable gardening, composting or the paper briquettes project which helped people make briquettes from paper waste then use it as cheap fuel. See pictures below:
Transition Kecskemét organised a seed swap with participants from around the country, with official and informal seed-banks, presentations, workshops and of course the possibility to swap traditional, heritage seeds of vegetables and cereals (see right).
The community canning event launched at the end of the summer to conserve unsold vegetables from the local CSA initiative. A workshop was organised near Kecskemét on a permaculture farm to teach people how to build a straw bale house.
In Brazil, the Permacyclists recently wrote about their visits (by bicycle presumably) to two Transition initiatives there. They wrote:
In Sao Paulo, the two communities work together and share ideas and experiences. It is an exchange based on mutual respect that goes both ways, with Brasilandia learning from Granja Viana as much as Granja Viana learns form Brasilandia. With the instability that climate change promises for our future, it is a model the world would do well to heed.
From what we are guessing is the Basque Country in Spain comes this film of someone giving a talk about Transition. I can’t tell you much more than that I’m afraid…
The first Transition Portugal newsletter is now out. It features the international gathering inspired by the Gift Economy in a small town of inland Portugal (AJUDADA), a fresh and positive “association” with Transition based principles in a very little village (Associação Rio Vivo), an article how a classical Transition Initiative becomes a “Convergence Center”, the story of a TI in Évora very much based on the importance “dream” and, from Madeira Island, words about CELEBRATION!” You can see it here.
Now to Romania, where Transition is catching fire. Transition Bucuresti had a Street Delivery weekend in June in the capital of Romania (see right). A lot of visitors were interested in presentations and talks about the transition movement, permaculture and school garden project, mini ‘green library’, exhibition and practical help about how to turn your city balcony into an edible garden. Look at the pictures of the event on Facebook to get an insight into the atmosphere of the event. More photos about the school garden project of Transition Bucuresti here.
Hide Enomoto from Transition Japan and Transition Fujino recently popped into the Transition Network’s office and gave an update as to how things are going there. You can read the interview with him here.
Lastly, from New Zealand comes the inspiring story of the Transition initiative that ran out of steam and then revived itself. The article, in the Bay Chronicle, reports:
The five-year-old Transition Towns Bay of Islands has a renewed spirit and the first public meeting that introduced the new steering group showed off the energy this town has for issues surrounding local food resilience, Eva Stumpf says. Eva is one of four new members of the five member-steering group for Transition Towns Bay of Islands, a group that needed a re-start. “They had no one left to continue it,” she says. “A few of us stood up and said we’d like to continue it.”
The group now has a range of gardening initiatives underway.
Our thanks to Noemi Andacs for her help with this round up. You may have noticed this edition is out a bit later than usual. We will be trialling putting them out in the middle of the month rather than at the start of the month so that it doesn’t come out at the same time as the newsletter. Just thought we’d let you know. By the way, if you’ve made it this far, welcome. Hi. Thanks for reading this. It’s a lot of work to pull together, so we’re delighted it’s been worth it and you’ve found it sufficiently interesting to get to the end of.