Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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6 Sep 2007

Transition Town Maidenhead in the News.

mhHere is a rather interesting article about the work of Vinnie McCann in Maidenhead getting Transition Town Maidenhead up and running with some rather prestigious members of his initial steering group! It is always interesting to see how the Transition model translates into different places. Sometimes articles appear that don’t really seem to have ‘got it’, but this piece has really grasped the concept and its “What is a Transition Town?’ bit from the Fact File is excellent.

**Maidenhead’s Future is in Your Hands.** From Business Monthly.

MAIDENHEAD MP Theresa May is backing an initiative to protect the town’s future by turning it into one of the first “Transition
Towns” in the country. The Shadow Leader of the House of Commons has joined forces with environmentalist Vinnie McCann who is getting backing for the scheme which encourages businesses and communities to plan for climate change and a future when oil wells run dry.

The marketing manager of Waltham Place Organic Farm says oil reserves have almost reached their peak and it will be down hill fast. Concerned for the future, he won the support of the MP when he told her how a handful of towns have already embraced it and 50 more are lining up troops to join the battle.

He is also pressing businesses to be involved saying: “There’s a strong business case for adopting more sustainable practices, and it’s gradually finding its way into mainstream business thinking. The emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and triple bottom line accounting – economic, social and environmental – may be steps in the right direction, and carbon trading could yield substantial cuts in global CO2 emissions. “However, none of these address the way that Peak Oil will make itself felt on businesses that have long supply chains, or serve markets in distant locales.”

Mrs May agrees with him that Maidenhead should be involved and said: “We need to take both climate change and the future of our energy supply seriously. Whatever people think about the science behind these issues I have no doubt that we need to plan carefully for a world in which we cannot rely on our traditional sources of energy. I welcome the initiative that Vinnie is taking to raise our sights on this issue and recognise the potential problems for the future. If we start thinking about these issues now we are more likely to be in a position to address them in time.” Mr McCann is gathering names of people and organisations to help him get the Transition Town project off the ground.

“We will be looking to local business and the council for support, to help us rebuild the resilience and self-reliance in our local economy and community that has disappeared during this era of cheap and abundant fossil fuels. For example, we will be looking at ways which can help reconnect local people with local produce using land c o m m u n i t y s u p p o r t e d agricultural projects. we need a restoration project for an environmental centre in Maidenhead itself. This could be the first project of restoration using
Transition Town planning and ethos leading to the building of an exceptional example for sustainable living both in its representation and function. There is a long way to go but it all starts here,” he said.

There are currently 17 formally designated Transition Initiatives, including: Totnes, Lewes, Stroud, Bristol, Brixton, Forest Row, Glastonbury, Forest of Dean and 50 embryo schemes.

“This is an interesting initiative aimed at getting communities to come together to think seriously about how they can at grass roots level plan for the future and start to make the changes that will be needed. For example, I’m already very supportive of the idea of using local produce where possible and this seems to me to be a good way in which we can all make a change. Some people may question some of the ideas used elsewhere like a local currency but it’s important to open our thinking as it is only by doing that that we can ensure we are aware of the future challenges and the way to address them,” Mrs May added.

Mr McCann is talking to business leaders including local business visionary Tony Buzan as well as campaigners elsewhere in the country about building a transition movement in the Thames Valley. He wants to hear from key individuals in the business and conservation. He has already earmarked Friends of the Earth and Countryside Protection of Rurual England for special attention.
The leading Transition Town, Totnes, officially launched towards the end of 2006. It already has many projects in place building up local resilience such as energy, economy, food and health. Other key areas like education, transport, textiles, psychology of change, waste and water are being scruitinised.

Mr McCann said: “Businesses that have a longterm perspective and are aware of the constraints fossil fuel depletion will have on the globalised economy need to be looking in general at oil dependency throughout their organisation.” One Transition initiative finding favour is called business exchange where one business’ waste is a raw material for another. For example, the building
trade discards huge amounts of wood that could be used by companies making wood chips for household boilers using that fuel.

Surprisingly another high profile way of building local resilience in the business sector is launching local currency. Totnes has complementary currency called Totnes Pounds which many businesses are using in payment for goods and services. “A Transition Town envisages a more localised future, where production and consumption occurs closer to home; where fragile supply chains that are vulnerable to surges in oil prices have become prohibitively expensive and have been replaced by local networks,” McCann explained.

He is planning an official launch in February after recruiting a steering group to get businesses, Maidenhead Chamber, the council and environmentalists involved and recruitment through the likes of Youtube. Ideally he would like special projects involving the
protection of agriculture and cycle schemes.

For further details about the initiative please contact Vinnie Mc Cann at 07787 184706 or or visit the Transition Network website at TransitionNetwork.


**What is a Transition Town?**

A Transition Town recognises four things. Firstly, that life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it rather than be taken by surprise. Second, that our communities currently lack the resilience to handle the severe energy shocks that peak oil will bring. Third, that we have to act for ourselves and we have to act now. And lastly, that by unleashing the genius of the local community to creatively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognise the biological limits of our planet.

**What is Peak Oil?**

Peak oil is the point at which the amount of oil being pumped into world economies reaches a maximum. From that date onward, there’s an inexorable decline.

**What is the Transition Town Network?**

The Transition Network’s mission is to inspire, inform, support and train communities as they consider, adopt and implement a transition initiative. They’re building a range of materials, training courses, events, tools and techniques, resources and a general support capability to help these communities.

**How does it start?**

Atransition initiative typically emerges within a community when there’s a confluence of awareness of both peak oil and climate change, an eagerness to take action, and a desire to learn what other communities have done. Internet-based research for community solutions to the challenges ahead will eventually bring up examples of many of the transition initiatives that are underway around the UK. Alternatively, seeing a presentation on this subject can generate a phenomenal amount of latent energy in individuals and groups and can spark off a progression of community action leading to a transition initiative.

**Who gets involved?**

Anyone with something to contribute can participate. Once the initiative has formed a core team, two key processes kick off: mapping the community for existing green projects and raising awareness within the community.

Categories: Peak Oil, Transition Towns

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


Roge W Chamberlin
14 Sep 12:15pm

You cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear…

More explicitly there is nothing like enough resource in the whole world to transition societies the size of Maidenhead to the different infrastructure and institutions required and one could not even have begun the task when it was possible without commitment to a very different foundation to society than the money SYSTEM as we have it …

The changes that are coming will be so sudden because our old system clinmgs onto pow3er over what men do ,and is unstable by very nature, that one’s attempts to transition without basic fundamental change of attitude will simply be swamped by anarchic destruction when men panic as their way of life fails by becoming ‘uneconomic’ to the ‘system’ we now live by …

The system thus includes the rules for its onwn destruction afr more rapidly than is actually necessary, but one cannot even am,eliorate the destruction because ones efforts are not based upon a perfect sense of values [negentropy] in time … one cannot adapt what is wrong in itself to be right … one only begins again after total failure and mass death through failure of the system that men ahve falsely given control over our lives to… our investment in untruth is simply too great to change in time before it fails and destroys even any attempts to ameliorate the consequences by return to anarchy and the system’s esponse to that [miltary law , for a while, until even the army finds it has no support and goes local for survival.. at cost of death of billions eventually, as mankind finds the worst possible solution to its problems which it has already ignored just far too long]

To create an alternative energy society takes a massive resource which we neither have , nor can create in time… we walked into a resource trap by committing infrastructiure to ways that we know are wrong , only because we adopted simplistic ‘monetary’ arguments and never admitted the real values [love, equality, sharing, peace]… our society is committed to te false answers ,monetary analysis offered and it is simply no use even trying to put it straight without FIRST adopting te right fundamental values , and seeing that there is no way to live by them without countless men dying … men will not accept this now, so even more men will die because men will not accept that we went the wrong way altogether, that ‘progress’ was simply insane greed and now it has come home to roost… its consequnces will not be denied since we put of faith and efforts into complete commitment of infrastructure to it … we just have not the means to get out of our lies to ourselves in time to avert catastrophe on epic scale which simply floods out ‘transition’ by any rational path which minimises say death and destruction… we are alread committed to massive destruction of all large societies and most men on earth, perhaps as much as five sixths of the population even before the diseases set free by the end of societies take their massive toll… we have indeed opened Pandora’s box and do not even most realise that our compalcent belief that tomorrow will be the same as today is about to be shattered irreversibly…

Thus the lesson has not been learned either, men still will not FOUND their society upon love, equality, sharing ,peace… not until we get fed up with our rules that make our societies otherwise… and we will not all accept that until it all fell apart … pretty inane really , since we actually know taht what we do is wrong , our own hearts of desire always told us it was wrong, we just didn’t listen until it all died and killed most of us…

Society is built upon foundations and commits all its resources to those, we just failed to make them right and the house of cards one cannot catch as it tumbles, it is just too fragile, too unstable and too thin a veneer …

In context …Towns in this country are far too close together to be able to support sustainable ways of life for their inhabitants with what we will have available… thus the whole idea of transition is simply an incredibly naive waste of what resource we do hvae by trying vainly to ameliorate what we do not have enough resourse to ameliorate…

At this stage we can only begin again using true measures of value , but we cannot even implement this until men ahve finished te insane fight for the old ways by the old ways of fighting… our efforts would just fall on yet-deaf ears and be destroyed like pearls cast before swine… mankind has been lied to for far too long by political propagnada that all is under control and progressing, men ahev systematically raped the planet until finally it cannot support our way of raping any longer, and still we do not change our ways, our ways must then also make the devastation be even more terrible than it might have been if all men at one time could change to seeing that they KNEW a better way, just never could get around to doing it …

We walked into teh tarp ignoring the few voices who said it was crazy… the trap closes slowly, and insidiously, but it canot be stopped now… do the sums on what you propose, it ain’t even close … the numbers tell you you are wasting what little we have on what cannot work… think again and accept that man has bought terror for most of us … think how to cope with that , waste no more resources on what cannot be yet… there really are stages to the descent on men from modern society, and they are terrible, but there is nothing gained by pretending they don’t exist ,and much lost …

Ben Brangwyn
16 Sep 5:06pm

I’ve been shocked by the material in the Tory publication “Blueprint for a green economy”. Shocked in a good way, I should add.

The fact that Theresa May is involved in this initiative could syphon a lot of the transition thinking into the political discourse about how to support communities mitigate the pressures we’ll soon be finding ourselves under.

I don’t care whether what side of the house a politician sits on. As long as that person has been genuinely Gaia’ed, then there’s hope. Still, I can’t wai to hear them start talking about the myth of “economic growth is good”.

GDP = grossly distorted picture…

Andrew Lucas
17 Sep 12:33pm

Re: Roge “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.

I have a friend (a tradesman) who likes to say “you can’t make strawberry jam out of pig shit”. A useful phrase in his line of work I suppose, whenever there are high expectations, and there’s nothing to work with so to speak.

As it happens, I’m working as an organic gardening teacher at a school and we recently received a large truck load of well rotted pig manure from a local farmer. The farmer thinks our food garden program is great and delivered the (hormone free) pig manure for no charge.

Anyhow, we’ve added the manure to our garden beds and planted up strawberries (it’s now Spring in Australia). In a few months I plan to get the children to pick some stawberries. From which I’ll make a jar of stawberry jam for my friend – thus proving that you can in fact make stawberry jam out of pig shit. 🙂

18 Sep 7:42pm

I think that the man who left the first comment is wearing ‘Glasses of Doom’, what we need to do is to put on our ‘Spectacles of Opportunity’ and transition together! It will be much more fun…

Philip Booth
19 Sep 12:31am

Not sure I have such faith in the Tories – it is great they have got some of the issues onto the agenda but things are still a very long way from where they need to be …their Quality of Life review group have now released their report and incredibly the report calls for reductions in domestic flights to free up slots so that the number of much more carbon-heavy international flights can increase! See Sian Berry’s comments here: