4 Dec 2008
From the Transition Cities Conference: Energy Descent Planning Workshop
Energy Descent Plans… The story so far
Presented by Rob Hopkins, John Green & Lucy Neal
#1. Rob Hopkins – Transition Town Totnes
The Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) can be considered a community’s Plan B, developed by the community itself and based on more realistic assumptions than what local authorities, businesses and government departments use. The EDAP can be a tool to plot out what the other side of the peak oil curve, the downhill slope, may look like for a particular community. As the last of the 12 Steps in the transition model, the EDAP is an attempt to weave together the various threads (eg. food or energy or transport initiatives…) that have been running, like mychorriza through the community over the past year or two of the transition process.
The first EDAP was developed in 2005 in Kinsale, Ireland, as a student project. Since then, there have been EDAPs initiated in Portobello, Edinburgh in Scotland and the Sunshine Coast, Australia (which we are awaiting with baited breath). It is, however, a concept still in development as so far no community has developed a thorough and robust EDAP.
Transition Town Totnes has been given some funding to develop their EDAP and are currently in the process of developing their Transition Timeline. To offer people a chance to dream about what they may be doing in 2030, what Totnes may look like then, and how they reached that point, a number of events were held. Various activities and exercises have been developed, eg. a fictitious 2030 school reunion, or the creative visioning work done in the local school, known as Transition Tales. The stories, ideas and visions emerging during these activities, are being developed into the Totnes EDAP, and some of them will emege earlier in the Transition Timeline report (due to be published by Transition Network in January). In the EDAP, the timeline will run from 2006 – 2030 (it goes back to 2006 to include trends that were emerging, and that have started since TTT kicked off, key projects, etc), using three or four different scenarios about what transition may look like.
By starting with a vision of a positive future of, say, what food and farming will look like in 2030, we can then ‘backcast’ or work backwards to ‘remember’ how we got there, what the key events were, etc. This can be done for different aspects of the community such energy, building & housing, economy & livelihoods, education, governance, art & culture, health & wellbeing, transport, biodiversity, water, waste, community issues, youth issues, etc. Through the narratives that emerge from the community, the EDAP becomes the story of how the community can move through this era. The EDAP is therefore not at all a dry Council plan, but instead a vibrant holiday brochure that entices and compels people to a particular future.
At the same time as the future visioning, Totnes is also attempting to draw a clearer picture of the present situation in the town (eg. through carbon footprinting, a questionnaire on food and agriculture), as well as the history of the town (eg. through oral histories). It’s important to note though, that the EDAP should be seen as an ongoing document that is referred to and revised on a regular basis. Aside from providing a vision and rough timeframe, a community-developed EDAP also identifies areas where campaigning might be appropriate, as it will identify obstacles to its own implementation.
#2. John Green – Transition Nottingham
John described a day-long team building exercise that provided a useful plan for the most effective projects and organisational issues for the Transition Nottingham hub group. The intention for the day was ‘planning the unplannable’ using what is referred to as the Japanese ‘KJ method’ or ‘affinity methodology’ or ‘Hoshin planning’.
The first step of the process was to discuss the title of the day’s session until everyone had a clear understanding of the scope of the question. People were then asked to enter into silent brainstorming about the question, writing up each idea or question on individual post-it notes (which were colour-coded to keep track of what was being said by whom), beginning the shift from what may usually be an oral meeting to a visual form of communication.
Following the brainstorming, each person read out their notes and in turn posted them onto flipcharts that were being labelled according to emerging themes. After the last notes were read out, each person adopted a flipchart/theme and expressed to the group the ideas that had emerged around that theme, these were then discussed so that everyone understood what were the key ideas in that theme, and a new title was developed for that flipchart/theme. These headings in turn placed in a circle, or what John referred to as the ‘clock’, and the connections between these themes were then established through an interrelationship diagram in order understand the cause and effect relationships of the different factors within the community.
#3. Lucy Neal, Transition Tooting
Lucy gave an account of what has been described as “a romp through the 12 Steps to Transition”. It is an inspirational event which condensed the entire Transition process from “forming an initiating group” through to “creating an Energy Descent Action pathway” into a colourful and collaborative pageant running the course of an afternoon in July 2008 on the South Bank in London.
Lucy described a workshop held as part of London’s Lift Festival during which participants were walked through a whirlwind version of the 12 Steps of Transition for their imaginary town of Anywhere, culminating with the publication of a Transition Anywhere EDAP.
The workshop not only enabled people working on the various London transition initiatives to meet and find ways to work together and support each other, but also acted as a vibrant and inspiring introduction to the concept of transition, and a taster of the element of playfulness and enthusiasm driving it.
A video of the workshop is available from here and will soon be posted onto YouTube.
Unfortunately question time for the workshop was limited, but one of the key questions that came up here along with at various other stages of the conference was whether, in the context of cities, EDAPs should be developed at the city-wide level or at local community levels. The view from the speakers was that it is really up to the initiative to find the scale that makes sense to work on, and to be realistic about what you can and can’t do.
With many thanks to Amelia for the photos and to Asha for transcribing this session.