Transition Culture

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

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12 Dec 2007

Ted Trainer’s Transition Q&A Part Two.

qa**3. Are people in Transition Initiatives forming “public” institutions like town banks, business incubators, workshops, working bees, getting-rid-of-homelessness etc committees?**

In Transition Town Totnes at the moment, some of these are being addressed. Forming new banks is very very difficult in the UK given the regulations, but the town already has a Credit Union, and we are looking into the creation of new investment models that can allow people to invest their money in such a way as to support the relocalisation process. The Totnes Pound is, I suppose, a kind of ‘public institution’, and is currently setting up as a Community Interest Company (CIC). One of the most exciting developments is that TTT, together with the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce and various other local groups, have formed the Sustainable Business Park group who are putting together a proposal for the Dairy Crest site in Totnes, an 8 acre site, formerly home to a large milk processing plant which closed a few months ago. The idea is to create, as you might imagine, a sustainable business park, featuring a number of green businesses, business incubator units, urban agriculture and training facilities, powered by the nearby river and right next to the railway station.

Also, recently launched in Totnes was TRESOC (the Totnes Renewable Energy Society), which has emerged as a sister company to TTT, and which is a Industrial and Provident Society which offers a mechanism whereby people can invest money which is then used to install renewable capacity. This is a very exciting development, and their prospectus is due soon. We are hoping that our next programme of events (January to April ’08) will also trigger the establishment of a Community Supported Agriculture scheme in the community.

**4. Are there committees thinking about the needs of youth, aged, disadvantaged in the locality…providing for them more satisfactorily, and harnessing their labour skills and energy?**

One of the things that is challenging about Transition work is that we are starting to implement strategies that will be needed beyond the peak when the economy is still booming. This is particularly the case when it comes to complementary currencies like the Totnes Pound, but is also the case with some of the things you are talking about. I think that communities reorganising so as to take care of their own elderly populations is something that we probably won’t see on any significant scale until the reality of peak oil and/or a major recession really starts to bite.

We are trying to encourage as much volunteering as possible, and increasingly to design big events that allow people to get involved. We are also planning a short film competition for young people on the theme of “Totnes in 2030”, an extension of the Transition Tales work we have been doing in local schools. I think some of the other Transition initiatives are also exploring interesting ways to draw in as diverse a range of people as possible to the various aspects of their work. I think that given that we are still at the top of the economic curve, part of what Transition Initiatives are doing is seeding the groups and reweaving the networks so as to make appropriate responses possible when the severity of our situation becomes more clear to more people once we pass the peak.

**If you are part of a Transition Initiative, please do share your comments here on your experience and thinking on Ted’s questions…**

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


James Samuel
12 Dec 10:48am

I think that this process of designing the patterns that will become the fabric of a localised and resilient society is as important as getting significant uptake of the ideas and projects.

To have the elements in place and able to be nurtured and grown quickly as the need arises, is a key part of the transition. The other part will be the driving force of necessity that it seems is arriving fast enough.

This matches with the sentiments of David Holmgren (Co Founder of the Permaculture concepts) on his recent visit to New Zealand. He suggested strongly that the time for banging the drum to wake people up to the Peak Oil and Climate change issues, was not the most effective way to use our energy.

What is needed, he said, is examples of how we can meet our needs. Then as people notice the existing systems, that keep our society functioning, begin to get the wobbles, they can look around and find people to show them how to do it differently.

An example is my raised bed food garden, which has generated a level of interest I wasn’t expecting. A sign of the times?

pete rout
13 Dec 11:28am

All social security and services will need to be addressed. Pensions, health and unemployment. As the economy turns down there will not be the income from taxes and rates to pay for these. Even private pensions will be hit hard.

adrienne campbell
14 Dec 11:28pm


In the 8 months since our Unleashing the Energy group has created an Energy Services company that has won the bid to distribute Lewes District Council’s energy savings grants including one for £130,000 for solar water heaters. The Ouse Valley Energy Services Company is in the process of turning itself into a coop and aims to generate energy entirely from our local renewable resources.

The Business group has set up a website to help local businesses save energy and money. They’ve been working with the Chamber of Commerce to create a business survey to help businesses identify their energy vulnerability and hope to develop an energy auditing service.

The currency group is investigating launching a local currency in the coming year, initially for raising awareness and also to incubate a local economic tool for when it’s more needed.

The waste group is investigating a community-scale, community-owned Rocket composter for composting business waste including food and cardboard, which they identified as being a major problem for businesses.

The food group is looking at community-owned approaches to food provision, with our local cooperative, Common Cause, as well as, through the land group, how to overcome the major obstacle of land ownership.

A parallel organisation in Lewes, the Lewes Community Land Trust, is setting up a Community Interest COmpany (CIC) to bid for land that might otherwise be sold to developers, to develop for community use such as local business and affordbale housing.

The transport group is starting a feasibility study to set up a community-owned car club, starting with 5 cars, in association with the district and county councils, which would be scalable.

The textiles group has printed the second edition of the Lewes Community Bag – Love Lewes Shop Local – which is stocked by many shops in Lewes.

The Heart and Soul group has started a monthly meeting, which is open to all, to discuss how we feel about climate change, peak oil and the changes ahead.

This is in eight months, entirely fuelled by volunteers.

To answer your next question, there is definitely a recognition of the need to encompass everyone, not just the middle educated classes, and this might happen later once the wave is underway.

In Lewes the schools group is starting to ask youth how they want to engage, both with their schools and in their own lives, in nature, for example. The Oral History group is seeking funding to invite the older people to share their experiences in a way that is helpful to us now. Another member is looking at how older people will be looked after in changing times.

It’s early days and as the reality of our future becomes more apparent, more people in Lewes are becoming engaged in the areas they are passionate about. It’s not our job to change people, only to invite as widely and inclusively as we can.

Robert Howes
19 Jul 1:07pm

I want to be part of the transition, in the Swansea area. Is anyone doing anything practical here at present?

Am I allowed to put my email address and phone number here?

01792 792 442