Transition Culture

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8 Dec 2010

Building a New Local Economy Project – an invitation to participate

We (Transition Training and Consulting) are looking for up to 10 Transition Initiatives (based in the UK) that would like to participate in this project, helping us to shape it and deliver it. Deadline for showing your interest is 17th December.  The aim of this project is to help transition communities to grow social enterprises and influence existing local businesses such that they contribute to the wellbeing of that community, and society overall (including the most disadvantaged and marginalised), rather than pursuing economic growth at all costs.  We have used the term ‘business’ here but include, as appropriate, all types of private, public and third-sector organisations.


We want to grow and develop successful, sustainable, profitable local businesses that:

1.       Recognise resource and energy limits, and explore steady state or even de-growth scenarios;

2.       Move to re-localisation, where appropriate;

3.       Consider a new type of business-social contract, where the marketplace and businesses are fair, and serve the public good;

4.       Move towards shared equity and a wide range ownership models, including community ownership.

TTandC is developing a number of services that aim to help businesses make this transition. Our planned ‘delivery channel’ for these services is with the transition towns and initiatives (TIs) around the country. These TIs can engage directly with their local businesses and create a ‘pull’ for our services from within the community (only as appropriate), and help influence how they respond. This model has power in that the local community builds the relationships with the local businesses, and local professionals are trained up to deliver the services themselves through a social enterprise model. It’s all bottom-up.

In addition to working with existing organisations, many TIs are already asking for help with how best to stimulate and support a new kind of local economy, building a more viable, equitable and resilient economic system from the ground up.

Therefore the next stage in TTandC’s overall process is to:

a)       help the TIs to acquire/strengthen the skills they need to engage the existing local businesses and organisations in discussions about the issues, the implications and the potential solutions (which include, but certainly aren’t limited to, TTandC’s services); and

b)       Support a TI as it starts up new enterprises that can take advantage of the low carbon and re-localised markets, and shape an entirely new more sustainable and equitable economy.

The project

The above needs have been translated into this project (kindly funded with £29k from the Roddick Foundation) in order to build capacity across the transition network to create a new type of local economy. This project will run for around 12 months from Dec 2010 and be run by TTandC with input from across the network.

The key activities are:

  • Research:

o    Working with the TIs, produce a vision/definition of an ‘ideal transition local economy’ – what does it do, what does it include, what does it look like, how does it work etc. Ask the TIs what support they want in achieving this vision, and how they want it delivered.

o    Develop a generic business case that shows this vision, and the outcomes above (especially 3 & 4) can deliver real financial, environmental and social benefit to a business – this is needed to bring credibility to new ideas of more equitable business models in particular;

o    From the transition network and beyond, collate current knowledge about innovative and effective business engagement, and new enterprise start-up at the local community level;

  • Development (will informed by 1st bullet above in particular, but possibly will be):

o    Develop and pilot a ‘How to engage your local business community with transition’ workshop. This helps TIs to gain the skills they need to open the debate and connect with their existing local businesses in  professional and skilful ways;

o    Develop and pilot a ‘How to stimulate new local enterprise’ workshop. Given the vision of the new local economy, how can this be best realised? What kind of alternative financing and ownership models can be used e.g. local currencies, energy banks, local renewable energy companies, community bonds etc and what support is available to make this happen.

  • Delivery and support:

o    Deliver the workshops to about 10 transition initiatives, support and learn from the TIs as they then experiment with business engagement and creation– this is the main delivery activity;

o    Share learnings across the UK and global transition network, and with other partners.


There are 3 levels of beneficiaries:

  • The TIs: the immediate direct beneficiaries will be the TIs that will acquire the skills and means to engage their local businesses and other organisations with local resilience-building activity, including the stimulation of new sustainable enterprise that serves the community. We also have a small amount of funding to go towards promotional materials;
  • The community and its organisations: As a result of this engagement, the existing local businesses and organisations (including public bodies) will have access to information and services that will help them understand the risks of continuing a business as usual model, understand which options will reduce these risks, and so are more likely to thrive in a low-carbon more localised economy. New businesses and social enterprises will provide new jobs for local people. Thus the community benefits from a stronger more sustainable local economy, and more control over their livelihoods and availability of goods and services; and
  • Transition Network: If the engagement process works, and demand is created, Transition Network can deliver ‘resilience-building’ services to businesses and organisations for a reasonable fee, paying local people to deliver the work, as well as helping its own financial sustainability.

Next steps – would your Transition Initiative like to be involved?

We are looking for up to 10 Transition Initiatives (based in the UK) that would like to participate in this project, helping us to shape it and deliver it.

What would you have to do over the 12 months?

  • Attend a 2 day workshop in Totnes at the end of Jan (Mon 31st Jan and Tues 1st Feb 2011) that focuses on the social enterprise work-stream of the project. Your accommodation and meals will be covered, plus a contribution to travel costs – *see below for more info on this workshop.
  • Possibly attend 1-2 other wider project meetings/workshops (ideally in a more central location that Totnes!)
  • In your own place, with your own transition colleagues and local partners (and some of the project team) work together to engage with local businesses, and start new enterprises and experiment with different approaches
  • Contribute your needs, feedback, ideas and experiences to the project

What type of TIs are best suited to this project?

The criteria are

  • We are looking for TIs that are established enough to become ‘official’ and that have some sort of ‘Business and Livelihoods’ group already set-up
  • Where you have at least 1-2 people already active in engaging local businesses and/or stimulating social enterprise and who have some extra time to commit to this project unpaid (maybe an additional 10-20 days over the year)

If you are interested in joining us, please send me an email at fiona.ward (at) telling us a little about your transition initiative and how you feel you meet the 2 criteria above. If you don’t meet the criteria but would like to join us, please feel free to send me an email too explaining why this is the case. The deadline is end of Friday 17th December.

If you have any questions or concerns and would like to speak to someone, please call me on 07922 165564 or drop me an email. Thanks.

*Workshop info (design still in progress, please consider this a draft version)

Transition Network and Local United

Social Enterprise in Action: a workshop in Totnes, Mon 31st Jan – Tues 1st Feb 2011


This is a joint effort between Local United and the Transition Network.

Local United is currently a project funded by NESTA’s ‘diffusion’ activities and powered by the successes of local groups coming out of Big Green Challenge and now the Low Carbon Communities Challenge. It is a gathering of social entrepreneurs eager to work out how social enterprises, that in part deliver transition, can be both developed and deployed at a pace and scale commensurate with the scale and immediacy of the problem of climate change. Currently just ten social enterprises are sharing and incubating their business models, and will draw them in to ‘packs’ that can be readily accessed (socially franchised or open sourced) and to take them out to the market place (for proofing and for dissemination).

The Transition Network is just beginning a new funded project called ‘Building a new local economy’. The aim of this project is to help transition communities to grow new enterprises and influence local businesses such that they contribute to the wellbeing of that community, and society overall (including the most disadvantaged and marginalised), rather than pursuing economic growth at all costs. The stimulation of social enterprise is, of course, a critical component of this.

As the Local United project is drawing to a close, and the TN project is getting underway, we see potential here to integrate the learnings from the LU project into the TN project. The TN project provides a test bed of around 10 transition towns that we can work with over the next 12-24 months to explore the reality of scaling-up social enterprise and alternative economic models.

Workshop aim

To explore ways to support the rapid development and deployment of social enterprises across the Transition Network.

This will be based on work already underway in Totnes and some other transition towns, as well as the ‘model’ social enterprises currently being supported by the Local United project.  This is an opportunity to focus on actual social enterprise in action – to learn from their real life experiences and to use this insight to best effect in propagating new enterprise around the country, which is of an appropriate scale to match the size of the challenges facing us.

Workshop objectives

  1. To make significant progress in addressing the following questions:
    • What are the attributes of our desired new local economy?
    • What/where are the opportunities (both short and long term) in this new marketplace?
    • What do we mean by social enterprise in this context of transition, and what role does it play?
    • How can social enterprise best be stimulated and nurtured today (while still in the old paradigm)?
  2. To bring together the leading ‘social entrepreneurs’ along with a leading marketplace (Totnes and other transition towns) who are taking on the challenge of starting new enterprises today, and to define the real opportunities, challenges and barriers.
  3. To understand how best to help social enterprise (and possibly these specific enterprise models as appropriate) to rapidly propagate across the TN.
  4. To provide time and space to build/strengthen social connections and informal networks between the entrepreneurs, transition towns, support providers and other partners.
  5. To capture the learnings and outcomes such that they provide an evidence base for the pursuit of social enterprise solutions in the UK (i.e. the economic, social and environmental potential and the best means to achieve this potential) by Local United and the Transition Network along with other partners.

Notes: 1 x night of accommodation, food and some if not all travel costs will be covered for the 10 participating transition towns. Detailed agenda and more details will follow. Due to limited space and resources, and the need to keep to a manageable number, this workshop is invite only and for those fully participating in this project. Outcomes will be shared with everyone, of course, and we hope to offer future sessions to whosoever wishes to attend.

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
9 Dec 9:03am

I have just found a new online tool that has potential to manage a lot of details, and governance issues for businesses and enterprises that are looking to do it differently and be of benefit to their society. This may be very helpful to this project.

Check out the video on the front page. I’ve just started trying it out in the context of a Transition Towns idea I’d like to develop here in New Zealand.

Michael Hallam
17 Dec 3:22pm

Hi fiona

I have just left you a voice message in my heavy-cold-laden nasal voice. I am interested in this project. I am involved with two transition initiatives in Lancaster and Penrith and have been working on sustainable economic questions for some time. In May this year I began giving presentations and workshops on The Third Peak, which is, of course, the unsustainable debt peak which drives our no longer fit for purpose economic system.

Even if it is not possible to be involved in this project at this stage I would still like to have a chat with you about it, if thats ok. My number is o7971 673436.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Hallam