Transition Culture

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

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25 Mar 2008

Transition Ambridge Begins!

aWhat was possibly the worst kept secret in the Transition world was revealed last night on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. For those of you from outside the UK, the Archers is a fine British institution, a radio soap opera based in a rural community called Ambridge. It began in World War Two as a way of getting information out to farmers and rural communities, but it proved so popular that it is still with us. I must confess to having listened to it religiously since the age of about 7. Anyway, last night, the first mention was made in the programme of the possibility of Ambridge becoming Transition Ambridge. One of the characters, Pat Archer, a dedicated organic farmer, raised the idea. She decided first to discuss it with her friend Cathy, who asked her what this Transition stuff is all about…

Pat. Well, it’s something the Soil Association has been talking about for a long time. Transition is a way of actually making a difference

Cathy. How?

P. Its a bit like we did with the school meals at Loxley Barratt, but on a far bigger scale, and it wouldn’t just be about food.

C. Hang on… you want everyone to eat local produce or grow their own or what? And if its not just food….

P. OK. I’ll start again. The Transition Movement says we’ve got to do something about climate change, and we’ve got to reduce our dependence on oil..

C. Everyone’s been saying that for ages

P. Yes, but Transition communities are actually doing it.

C. How?

P. Lots of ways. Food is just the start. Energy Descent Plans. Community orchards. Woodchip boilers. Economic localisation. The Totnes Pound…

C. The what?

P. Totnes, you know, Devon. They’ve created their own currency which you can only use locally.

C. Good grief! It all sounds pretty ambitious!

P. Well, it’s got to be.

C. And you’d be expecting the whole of Ambridge to get involved?
P. Oh definitely the whole of Ambridge, and other villages, Borchester even…

C. Borchester?

P. Well, most of the places that are doing it already are Transition Towns, there are a few villages though…

C. You can see why if you’re trying to get people out of their cars, better public transport.

P. Yes but..

C. That’s the trouble though… if you give up your car, there’s no other option

P. Well you can cycle…

C. Like Nigel?

P. I think in Stroud they are setting up a shared bike scheme… bike shelters and community bikes all painted yellow or something, you just grab one to get where you’re going.

C. …and then if you can cadge a lift back…

P. Definitely. You’re not committed to the bike… And they do bike maintenance classes for people who’ve got their own.

C. Well, it sounds amazing!

P. Tony thinks it’s a good idea.

C. I think you might have a job selling it to the whole village…

P. Well, I’m going to carry on with it anyway, see how far I can get.


If you missed the episode you can hear it on BBC Radio 4’s Listen Again section for the next 6 days. I think it is hugely exciting, and will introduce Transition ideas to a huge audience. What next? The End of Suburbia in Ambridge Village Hall? The Ambridge Pound? Local Passivhauses popping up all over the village? Brian Aldridge turning home farm into a mixed use permaculture CSA project? Eddie Grundy setting up business installing knock off solar panels his friend’s Baggy and Snatch have nicked off roofs in Felpersham? Caroline deciding to make Grey Gables as self-reliant in food as possible, digging up the lawns and installing edible landscapes and a kitchen garden?

Perhaps Pat and Tony might become the communicators of The Great Reskilling, helping their neighbours move towards being organic as the price of fertilizer makes other approaches unfeasible. Maybe Richard Heinberg will speak at the Village Hall and the talk in the Bull will be about the strengths and weaknesses of the Oil Depletion Protocol. Who will be the first to bring their carbon footprint below 2 tons? What wisdom and insights can be gleaned from the village elders to support this work?

All will be revealed. What are your dream Transition Ambridge scenarios? I will give a copy of The Transition Handbook to whosever makes me laugh the most (post them as comments by Friday 4th April). Let your imaginations run wild and free…. .  It has already got the Archers bulletin board buzzing!

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


Tracey Todhunter
25 Mar 12:45pm

Have written about this Archers storyline on my blog this morning. Have you worked on the storyline with them? I always said low carbon life would become mainstream when the Archers went for it!
How about Brian Aldridge gives over his land for a brand new eco community of affordable passiv houses for the likes of Roy and Haley and Emma, and instead of being a gamekeeper, Will starts running permaculture courses and becomes Ambridge’s answer to Ben Law?

Shaun Chamberlin
25 Mar 3:27pm

Brilliant – now my avid Archers-listening aunt and uncle will have some idea of and interest in what I’m up to. I’ll drop round and see them later!!

Graham Burnett
25 Mar 8:38pm

So whose the ‘mole’ in the BBC scriptwriting dept???

Lucy Skywalker
25 Mar 10:36pm

When’s Transition going to get on to Neighbours????

Chris Marsh
27 Mar 11:20am

Yes, well, this Ambridge thing got to me. My home town, Dawlish, is a candidate for the unlikeliest transition town – most people are apathetic and ignorant, I’m told. But saving a recreation ground Tesco has its eyes on( has got people going, so I put this on the guestbook:
‘Yes, we must save Sandy Lane, that’s a priority. At the same time we should, in my view, be resisting plans for a new supermarket. The days of supermarkets is ending, with the days of cheap oil. What Dawlish needs is a core group of people interested in exploring Dawlish becoming a ‘Transition Town’ – anyone who doesn’t know what that is, look it up in google. More and more towns are joining the movement. Towns with ‘something special’ – those which are not yet dead towns or clone towns – have a head start, and Dawlish is special, but it won’t be if we let that supermarket in; we’d be at the back of the Transition queue then, sadly. I think Dawlish is still special, and if you do too, let’s get together – this could be fun! If Totnes and Ambridge can do it, so can we! Chris’
I’m going to need help!!! Chris

30 Mar 8:31am

The Archers started in 1951. World War II ended in 1945.

Get it right.

30 Mar 8:32am


[…] full transcript of the conversation is on the Transition Culture blog: CATHY  You can see why if you’re trying to get people out of their cars, better public […]

2 Apr 11:30am


I wss wondering if its possible to put ambridge on the transition map as a ‘muller?’ that way we could put a link to the transition site on the archers discussion board to maybe get more people to have a look at the trasition websites, a good opportunity for publicity here I think! Was really great when I first heard the clip! Brilliant publicity!

Mr Anthony Jane
7 Apr 1:39pm

What a brilliant idea to make government, local councils, national and international company’s, consumer groups and local businesses aware of what transition can do for them in the present, future and how they can implement a start personally.

I am very interested in power form renewable resources. This is just the opportunity to help people become more aware

Malcolm Lake
23 Mar 12:28pm

Transition Towns is a breath of fresh air and is demonstrating the sort of consciousness and urgency that the politicians (at least where I live in Northern Ireland) seem not to have caught on to.

About 3 years ago, when I dared to suggest that the Government Service, for which I was then working, should not be increasing the number of spaces in the no charge carpark (many employees were daily travelling 60 or 100 miles to work and back) but directing employees to the recently-introduced car sharing scheme, I was regarded as freaky!

I’m involved with my local initiative, presently going through a series of ‘power-down seminars’ and for one of the few times in my life, I feel as though something positive is happening in my town.