10 May 2010
Totnes EDAP Launch Part Two: “the single most important book about Totnes ever published”
The Totnes Energy Descent Action Plan received a fittingly rousing welcome into the world on Friday night in Totnes Civic Hall, following on from the earlier parade through town and its announcement by the Town Crier. Over a hundred people were treated to local Sharpham wine and nibbles in advance of the main event, buying copies of the EDAP and meeting friends. The audience had been promised, in the event’s poster, ‘fine speeches’, which put those speaking under considerable pressure! It turned out to be a fantastic and memorable event, one that welcomed the long-awaited EDAP into this community.
The evening was opened by Jacqi Hodgson, and then I gave an opening talk. You can read my full talk here, but here are a few bits of what I said…
“….in TTT, we do not look at this as a time for gloom and doom, rather as an opportunity for creativity, optimism, entrepreneurship … Rebuilding an economy that can support us here, vibrant local agriculture, renewable energy systems that we own and benefit from, energy efficient housing that utilises local materials, more local and meaningful employment, these are not the things of some Luddite retreat to the caves, but the foundations of a resilient economy more adapted to the times. Totnes is uniquely placed to achieve this. We are big enough for it to work, but small enough to be able to do it quickly, and as TTT has shown, what we start here can spread elsewhere incredibly rapidly and virally. Totnes emerges from the survey as a skilled, optimistic and adaptable community. Totnes as model that inspires the future direction of humanity? Why not?”.
Jacqi Hodgson (left) then took the audience on a walk-through of the EDAP, introducing its layout, how it moves from introducing the underlying assumptions, peak oil and climate change, moves into the role stories play, both traditionally, oral histories, and the story of TTT. The main section of Plan is the different aspects of Transition, food, energy and so on, and also includes two vital pieces of research, the Energy Budget for Totnes, and ‘Can Totnes and District Feed Itself?’. Having given people a sense of the structure of the Plan, she then introduced Paul Wesley (below right), Chair of the Totnes Chamber of Commerce.
He started his talk saying that he was exhausted, so his talk would be rather short. He said that he had started the evening wanting to watch the election on TV, but gave up and sat down to read the EDAP instead. While he hadn’t read it all, he had read it into the early hours, and in spite of not having much expertise in the subjects covered in the plan, he does have a lot of expertise in books (he runs Totnes’s largest second-hand bookshop). With that in mind, he said, he had to say that the Totnes EDAP is the single most important book about Totnes that has ever been published. He said he was very impressed with it, the language, the accessibility and the layout.
His conclusion, having read it, was that it is much more important than what happens in the election. Totnes is developing an important lesson for central government. One of the cultures we are developing in Totnes is that or co-operation, working and communicating together. The community, he said, is lucky to be working with Totnes Town Council, South Hams District Council and, hopefully, Devon County Council. This effort, rather than traditional oppositional politics, is paying dividends. A core theme of the EDAP is about economics, of the importance of the commercial sector of the town. Paul stated that the least he can do is to make sure that every business in Totnes gets to read the EDAP. It is full of relevant stuff he told the audience, it is very accessible. Transition Town Totnes is, he said, already having an economic impact on the town, and an increasing economic impact. It is now a tangible reality economically, which while not being the sole purpose of TTT, is nonetheless important. The Chamber of Commerce, he said, will play its part in bringing the EDAP’s vision into being.
“Climate change and the running out of oil and gas are urgent issues that we all need to address. The EDAP has been written to help us to just that. It has been written in a very easy-to-follow way, and is full of ideas of how to reduce our dependence on oil in our daily lives: in our homes, workplaces, schools, and so on. We can all do something and more importantly, we can do these things together…
…I am pleased to be Mayor of Totnes, a town where there are so many interesting things happening. Transition in this town as attracted many visitors and much attention from the media, and I’d like to thank all those involved in TTT for the work they are doing for the community. I would now like to officially launch Transition in Action, Totnes and District 2030, and to cut the cake. May everyone enjoy the journey”.
And cut the cake she did (see left). Then three members of TTT read out sections from the EDAP that they had chosen. One looked at the opening of the Transportation section, another took a part from the Heart and Soul section, and the final reading was from the Health and Wellbeing section, and took samples from across the timeline to show how Totnes’s health improved…
Then, to close the evening I read out the poem written by the audience at last year’s Wondermentalist Cabaret evening where, in the interval, the audience were invited to write a couple of lines on the theme ‘2030, What are You Like?’, and Matt Harvey then spliced them together to make a poem. You can read the final poem here. Then the EDAP cake was cut and that was that. People then milled around chatting, getting their EDAPs signed and visiting the stalls in the hall.