Transition Culture

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22 Feb 2007

Transition Town Totnes Bulletin #6. February 22nd 2007.

logoWe haven’t done this before, but I thought you might be interested to see the Transition Town Totnes Bulletin that was sent out this morning. It gives a pretty good picture as to all that is happening in the project at the moment. Each Bulletin gets longer and longer as more and more initiatives spring up. It is produced roughly every month, but generally only when there is enough interesting stuff to say. As you will see below, it is a process starting to move in some intriguing directions…

**Transition Town Totnes Bulletin #6. 22nd February 2007.**


1. Latest News * 2. Upcoming TTT Events for March * 3. News from the Food Group * 4. Living on the Cusp Workshop – explore peak oil in more depth… * 5. The Great Turning Storytelling Project * 6. Skilling Up for Powerdown Returns! * 7. The Launch of the Economics and Livelihoods Group – TTT Gives Away Free Money!! * 8. Recent Power of Community screening * 9. TTT Health and Medicine Group * 10. The Energy Group. * 11. The TTT ARTS Group.

**1. Latest News.**

As TTT grows and expands, so does this Bulletin! It offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in the depth and breadth of what is emerging from this exciting project. The contents list above should assist your navigating your way around, so you don’t miss anything important. Our season of climate change events, Local Responses to Climate Change, in association with Schumacher College, South Hams FoE and TRESCO went very well. The first evening was a talk by Aubrey Meyer, originator of the Contraction and Convergence approach. As well as being an extraordinary climate change activist, he is also a concert violinist, and his talk featured some virtuouso playing as well as a passionate setting out of the case for Contraction and Convergence as a response to climate change. You can read a part of the interview I did with him earlier that day exploring the relationship between peak oil and climate change here.

Last night we had a talk by Tony Juniper which was also excellent. Tony is executive director of Friends of the Earth, and he gave a passionate argument as to why we need to respond to climate change, as well as offering some practical ways in which communities can get involved in this. Like Aubrey, I interviewed him before his talk, you can see that here.

As well as setting the recent Soil Association conference aquiver with the idea of Transition Towns (you can hear the podcast of Rob’s talk or read the text of it on the Soil Association website ), Transition Town Totnes was also central in an episode of Farming Today from a few weeks back, and also recently in a programme on BBC Radio Wales which explored the beginnings of Transition Town Lampeter. TTT was also mentioned in The Guardian recently;

>'”The idea of Totnes, Devon , running out of oil conjures images of matrons hitch-hiking to Exeter and retired chaps cooking on open fires, but the town is deadly serious about producing local food as and when the black stuff runs out. It has now declared itself Britain’s first “transition” town, and permaculture guru Rob Hopkins is drawing up a 25-year plan to see how Totnes could support itself without oil. There have been meetings about how food and energy could be produced locally, but the plan is to set up a local energy company, rewrite the local development plan and persuade others to join the movement. It must be working. Stroud in Gloucestershire and Lewes, East Sussex, have just joined”.’

Following our full house (over 250 people) to hear Peter Russell the other week, you may be interested in the interview we did with him the following day, where we explored many of the issues he raised in more depth.

Two other recent TTT events deserve huge praise to all those involved. Firstly the Heart and Soul Open Space Day , which was a lovely event much enjoyed by those who attended. You can read the Heart and Soul Group’s write-up of the day here. Secondly, Seedy Sunday at Bogan House was also a fantastic success. Hundreds of people packed into Bogan House (not all at once!) to hear talks and watch practical demonstrations by a number of speakers, as well as to exchange seeds in readiness for the new growing season. Extraordinary kales and spectacular squashes were enthused about, and nobody went home empty handed. The whole event was extremely well organised, relaxed and delightful. Many thanks and congratulations to the team who made it happen, and here’s looking forward to Seedy Sunday ’08!

The first event in the Great Reskilling programme went very well. The breadmaking course at Schumacher College was attended by 12 would-be breadmakers who learnt a variety of techniques for making this essential foodstuff…. everyone reported a great day, lots of laughter and floury noses! The next day is on March 10th and will unlock the age of secret of making good pastry…. Before that of course, is the Great Sock Darning Workshop (see below). See you there!

Perhaps one of the most important things that has happened recently for TTT was a one day workshop with John Croft of the Gaia Foundation of Western Australia on a process he calls Designing Outrageously Successful Projects. This gave us a powerful tool for the design of TTT as an organisation, which we will be digesting and implementing over the next few weeks. More about this in the next Bulletin.

Finally, as you will see below, we are hugely excited about the launch of the Totnes Pound, which you can read more about below. We are printing 250 Totnes pound notes, with the help of the wonderful Colourworks. These will be ONLY be brought into circulation through being given to everyone who comes to the launch evening of the Economics and Livelihoods group on March 7th. These beautiful notes will be accepted by a number of shops in town and as valid currency within TTT and its events. This is an exciting experiment, and the notes themselves will be gorgeous. Get involved in a piece of history.

**2. Upcoming TTT Events for March.**

Sunday March 4th. 12 – 4pm. SPARC Centre, Dartington.
**Sock Darning for Beginners (adults and children).**
with Olya Maiboroda, who learnt sock darning from her Russian grandmother (bring lunch to share). Donations. To book in advance (recommended) contact Tamzin on 01803 840926.

Wednesday 7th March. 8pm. St. John’s Church, Bridgetown.
**Local Money, Local Skills, Local Power – the role of money in building resilience.**
Speakers include Molly Cato, author of “Market Schmarket, building a post capitalist economy”, and others to be confirmed. £4 (£3 concessions). **Every person who attends will get a free Totnes Pound note (see below)!!**

Saturday March 10th. 10am – 4pm. Methodist Hall, Totnes.
**An Open Space Day.**
The Economic Revival of Totnes – how can we build a sustainable, equitable and healthy economy in Totnes and the surrounding area? All Welcome. Free.

Saturday 10th March. 2-5pm
**Gaia’s Kitchen – a series of hands-on cooking skills workshops at Schumacher College #2.**
Pastry – biscuits, creating a seasonal pie/quiche. £20.
With Julia Ponsonby author of ‘Gaia’s Kitchen’. To book in advance (recommended) contact Tamzin on 01803 840926.

Wednesday March 14th. 8pm. St. John’s Church, Bridgetown, Totnes.
Transition Town Totnes in association with Schumacher College present;
**At the End of the Era of Globalization; Turning Again to the Local.**
A Talk by Jerry Mander, co-editor of “Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible”. £4 (£3 concessions).

Sunday March 11th. Central Totnes.
**Edible Container Gardening – plants, design, know-how.**
With permaculture teacher Simon Smith. £35 (£25 concessions).

Saturdays 17th March, 24th March and 7th April.
**From Monoculture to Forest Garden – permaculture principles for food production.**
A 3-day workshop in association with South Devon CSF. www devoncsf .co. uk.

**3. News from the Food Group.**

**Totnes- the Nut Tree Capital of Britain?**
The Mayor of Totnes, Pruw Boswell, will be planting Nut trees on Vire Island with TTT on March 1st at 10am. This is part of a new initiative being proposed by Transition Town Totnes in association with the Dartington-based Agroforestry Research Trust is called “Totnes, the Nut Tree Capital of Britain”, which will begin with the planting of two walnuts and five almond trees on Vire Island in the centre of Totnes.

Why nuts? Walnuts and sweet chestnuts can produce as much protein and carbohydrate per acre as wheat and barley can, while simultaneously locking up carbon and providing very high quality timber. They will have a vital role to play in the near future when energy is not so cheap or abundant, and we will be looking more towards local sources of food. After 15 years of research, the Agroforestry Research Trust now have varieties of walnut and sweet chestnut that will crop reliably and heavily in our climate every year. Why in a town? For a town such as Totnes, having an infrastructure of these trees throughout the town offers so many benefits, that one is led to wonder why productive trees are not planted in our towns and cities routinely! They are also extremely beautiful trees, and few could argue with the idea of free food on their doorstep.

**Local Food Directory**
A small group of Totnes residents are working to produce a Local Food Directory for Totnes. We aim to encourage those Totnes residents and visitors who are interested in using their power as consumers to enrich and enliven their local community. We are lucky in Totnes and there are many quality and ethical local food producers, as well as small shops selling their produce. We have conducted the first stage of our research and are now looking in more detail at the format of our directory.

We are looking for volunteers to contribute articles, poems, recipes, pictures etc. to add inspiration and life to the information. We’re interested in a whole range of input: short or long, large or small, erudite or homespun, so put your ideas on paper, and contact if you’re feeling creative. We are also looking for funding to enable us to distribute the directory free of charge and hope to go to print in May ’07. The group working on the local food directory for Totnes are now researching and talking to shops and producers. The group need more researchers, so if you’d be interested in taking part, let Noni know by calling Teresa on 01803 863 110.

**Seedy Sunday**
Totnes’ first ever seed swap was held at Bogan House on Sunday 28th January, as part of Transition Town Totnes. The event was a resounding success with more than two hundred people, many bringing seeds to swap. A number of local experts gave talks about saving flower, vegetable, fruit and nut tree seeds, making pots out of paper, hay box cookery, compost, orchards, forest gardens and easy-grow vegetables. Raffle prizes including a “River Cottage” yearbook, signed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a classic watering can and collection of Suttons goodies, seed potatoes and various plants in pots were won by local gardeners.

Seed swaps are a very important way of preserving bio-diversity and encouraging people to grow varieties which otherwise may be lost forever. The event was also supported by Garden Organic/HDRA, SHDC, South Devon Chilli Farm, Tamar Organics, Sutton Seeds, Secret Seeds, Tucker’s Seeds and Kingsbridge Community Garden. The organisers, the Seedy Sisters were so enthused by the success of the event that they are now busy organising a plant swap in April and a seed gathering event in September. Watch this space!

**4. Living on the Cusp Workshop – explore peak oil in more depth…**

There is a unique opportunity to experience ‘Living on the Cusp’ in Totnes as a non residential weekend workshop with Naresh one of the leaders of the Transition Town Totnes project. This workshop will take place March 3rd and 4th at Bogan House, Totnes High Street, from 10-6 on Saturday, and 10-5pm on Sunday. For more details click here .

**5. The Great Turning Storytelling Project**

This is a project emerging from a fledgling education group, which has a lot of impetus behind it. The idea is to develop a programme to be run in schools in and around Totnes, which looks at energy and environmental issues in a positive and inspiring light, which wuld begin in September. With the input of Chris Salisbury of WildWise and Alan Dyer of the Centre for Sustainable Futures, we are developing a 3 day programme which would lead up to the students being asked to imagine themselves 30 years in the future in a Totnes that has ‘powered down’ successfully, and is now a leading example for the rest of the world, and to tell the story of how this came about. Who came to the fore? What were the first steps?

We are planning to do this by developing a scrapbook from the future of newspaper cuttings from various points on that journey that the students will then embellish and fill in around. Sometime soon we are planning a brainstorming day where we get together and write these newspaper stories. We’ll let you know when that is happening, and will keep you posted on this initiative’s progress via. the next Bulletin.

**6. Skilling Up for Powerdown Returns!**

Skilling up for Powerdown, the extremely popular evening class on responses to peak oil and climate change, exploring permaculture, relocalisation, food, energy, waste, water, the role of trees, the psychology of change, economics and much more, will start again with a new intake of students on Monday April 23rd. An inspirational, informative and fun way to spend your Monday evenings, the course explores what peak oil will mean for us as individuals and communities, and what skills and thinking tools we will need in order to embrace it as a positive transition.

Based on permaculture principles, the 10 weeks will explore our relationship with cheap oil, and what the various elements of a lower energy society might look like. How might we design a local food system, or build houses using local materials? The course is backed up by copious online notes, links and resources. The course is taught by Rob Hopkins, who has taught permaculture, natural building and creative teaching methods for over 10 years. He set up the world’s first 2 year full-time permaculture course at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as teaching at universities and colleges. The course also includes input from guest teachers on a variety of subjects.

Places need to be booked in advance (limited to 30 places). Cost £150 waged, £120 concessions. A limited number of bursaries are available. Contact 07868604454 or email for details.

**7. The Launch of the Economics and Livelihoods Group – TTT Gives Away Free Money!!**

Transition Town Totnes will be giving away free money at its first event, to be held on Wednesday 7th March at 8pm in St. John’s Church, Bridgetown! For the evening, entitled Local Money, Local Skills, Local Power – the role of money in building resilience, 250 Totnes Pound notes have been produced as an experiment to see how people use them, and where they end up. Speakers at the event include Molly Cato, author of “Market Schmarket, building a post capitalist economy” and one of the founders of the Transition Town Stroud initiative. The notes will feature, on one side, a facsimile of an 1810 Totnes issued bank note, and on the other information about where it can be spent. Initially the currency is for spending at subsequent TTT events, and will be treated as a valid currency within TTT, but also a good number of local shops have agreed to accept it. We see this as an important pilot to explore the potential of such a currency for the town. If you just want to learn about the power of changing our approach to money and economics, or if you want to get your hands on some free money, either way, this is an evening not to be missed!

The Economics Group would also like to put out a request for helpers/volunteers for the Open Space Day on March 10th. Contact or call 07900 266 223.

**8. Recent Power of Community screening.**

A heartfelt apology to anyone who attempted to get to the recent screening of the Power of Community; how Cuba survived Peak Oil, only to find that the venue had changed. This was due to circumstances beyond our control, namely to double booked venues. Our huge thanks go to those who beavered away at such short notice to make it happen, in particular Alan Boldon and Lara Lloyd at Dartington, to Janey Hunt, to the MSc Arts and Ecology students who stewarded so well, and to Alarick who stood outside Dartington Village Hall to redirect people but didn’t actually get to the film. Hopefully for those of you who made it the trip and inconvenience was worthwhile, and for anyone who couldn’t find it, many apologies.

**9. TTT Health and Medicine Group.**

This is to invite you to the next meeting of the TTT healthcare/future of medicine group, which will be on Wednesday 28th February, 7pm in the back room downstairs at Birdwood House (just next to the Market/Civic Square, directly opposite the Brioche). This group has been instigated to investigate the future of medicine and healthcare in Totnes in a future of rapidly rising fuel prices. It’s eventual aim is to produce a healthcare ‘energy descent plan’ to ensure the continuance of proper medical care for all.

We aim to start by identifying existing healthcare ‘assets’, including all kinds of health practitioners, patient and self-help groups, and various forms of exercise. After that we will begin to explore the healthcare issues, positive and negative, that are likely to arise. I do hope you will come. If you can’t, we shall meet again fairly soon, so let me know when would be a better time for next month. Also, if you want to send information or suggest issues to be investigated, I will pass them on to the meeting. We aim to foster many inclusive discussions and productive connections and will encourage specialist subgroups to undertake both investigations and activities in support of improving our health prospects, and we’d like you to join in. For further information contact Carol Wellwood on 01803 862750.

**10. Energy Group.**

The Energy Group is powering along with many exciting initiatives. The Totnes Renewable Energy Community Interest Company (TRECIC) is in the process of forming. Shares will be offered to the community and we are hoping for as wide a share ownership as possible… watch this space. The Solar Water Heater Challenge is investigating grants and exploring equipment and manufacturers. We have had 38 expressions of interest from Totnes and surrounding towns, and it’s not too late to join in. We are even investigating a pilot project with a leading mortgage bank for innovative funding for householders.

Energy conservation is also top of our list, and ‘If You Can Change a Light Bulb, You Can Change the World’ short course in saving energy and money will be arriving shortly with a little help from the environmental charity Global Action Plan. We are bursting with many more ideas and proposal too long to list here. To find out more our next meeting is Tuesday 6th March @8pm, 6 Broomborough Drive, TQ9 5LT, phone Naresh on 01803 840763 or email We will continue with visioning our purpose using Gaia Foundation ‘s powerful and innovative Dragon Dreaming model for creating wildly successful projects!


**11. TTT Arts Group.**

Last meeting Jan 2007 Propeller Talk.

We had an interesting presentation from Propeller that stimulated an equally interesting discussion afterwards, and a proposal by Stormsmith Nomi, enthused the group with “The Big Project”: to make Totnes carrier bag free (see below). It is great to see new people each time. Our skills list is varied and growing (see below).

Open WORK Space. 24th February 10am – 4pm. Methodist Hall, Fore Street, Totnes.

All sectors of the Arts are welcome including musicians, writers, and performers of all kinds. Anyone interested in what the Arts can offer to Transition Town Totnes. £2 towards room hire, lunch and refreshments to buy (TTT Totnes Pounds accepted).
• Find out what we want and the Totnes community wants from TTT Arts
• Generate projects, match people and skills and get doing…

TTT Arts has so far generated lots of ideas such as TTT ARTS @Totnes Festival, The Big Bag Project, Craft Group, new Celebration/tradition and so many more…

We need to make sure that these are needed and then we need to turn some of these into practice. If you want to get involved now is the time.

TTT Arts and TTT.

We’ve had a few meetings now talking about the idea of TTT and our various Arts practices and what we could contribute. The range of ideas has been terrific:

• New Tradition/Celebration – (with Heart and Soul Group)
• Creative Hub (TTT @ Red Wizard, every second Monday)
• Walks – relearning locality
• Youth project (link with TTT Great Story Telling project)
• PR Trojan Horse – to get TTT noticed
• Market Square events
• River Routes – revaluing river links
• Alternative Art School (summer)
• Communal scrap book – history in the making

And recently people, (please contact them directly) have come forward to instigate:

• Craft group (Richenda MacGregor,

I have wanted to get in touch with other craft practitioners in the area, to maybe begin to look at the practical role of the crafts person in light of TTT. I would like to network and maybe specifically form a group looking at how materials can be locally sourced, products can be made sustainably and sold more effectively in the local area. I am also interested in setting up a skill-swapping database.

• Documentary film making – to communicate with comedy (Viv Goodings,
• Totnes festival participation (Bob Stephenson,

Proposal for T.T.T. festival on Longmarsh to coincide with Totnes arts festival in September. My vision is to organise an event encompassing LOCAL Arts, Music, Theatre, Alternative energy also Locally produced food and drink. I need help to organise this so I need some volunteers. Best wishes Bob

• The Big Bag Project – a new local industry to replace carrier bags? This could involve both a politically motivated campaign and personal creative actions such as the creation of individual shopping bags. Further details on this will be announced very soon, but contact Nomi if you are interested in co-ordinating the bag-making. (Stormsmith Nomi,

Now we need you to turn some of these and any other ideas into practice. If you want to get involved now is the time
Contacts: Janey Hunt T:01803 865 006, and Stormsmith Nomi


CSF Plymouth conference: Voices from the Margin. April 11th-14th 2007

We are looking for artists to address one or more of the six strands of the conference: spirituality, peace and social justice, eco-feminism, corporate social responsibility, indigenous education and bioregionalism. There are spaces avaliable for two-dimensional, sculpture, site-specific and instillation work as well as opportunities to perform, give a lecture or facilitate a workshop. Additionally, a film programme is currently being planned.

Artists interested in any of these opportunities, and want to have a conversation around their potential contribution can contact me on: 07875923198 or

Natasha Walter. learn more at:

**If you made it this far, well done! Thanks for your interest and support and hope to see you soon at one of the upcoming events…**

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Robert Morgan
22 Feb 9:32am

Anyone in doubt that we need to localise food production might like to take a look at the article below about the effect of the Australian drought on grain productoon there. Quote included. Transpose even a fraction of those sorts of losses onto the world’s major grain producing regions and you have a frightening picture.

“Rice production will plummet 90 per cent to just 106,000 tonnes.
ABARE is tipping grain sorghum production to fall 51 per cent to 996,000 tonnes.
Wheat production is estimated at 9.8 million tonnes, down 61 per cent on the previous season.
Barley production fell by 62 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes, and the canola harvest dropped 64 per cent to 513,000 tonnes.”

ellie baker
25 Jun 7:46am

Great site and positive ideas, just scanning the web for thoughts of self build and very nice to find an initiative of such complexity.