Transition Culture

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

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27 Jul 2011

A July Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition

Let’s start with Transition Town Kingston in Surrey who ventured out  on bikes and skateboards to celebrate a Zero Carbon day which included a fossil- fuel free time trial. Here is their report of the event, here’s a report from the local paper, and here’s a video about what they got up to:

CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture schemes) seem to be all the rage these days.  Hebden Bridge TT in West Yorkshire have a HebVeg box scheme which plans to become a fully fledged CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project. Discussions took place at the local Riverside School about the project’s future direction and how to build on its success. Click here to read the related article in the Hebden Bridge Times.

Transition Norwich are excited about their local Farmshare CSA, which grew out of the Transition Norwich food group, and East Anglia Food Link, and is now producing veg, in spite of the “the near Saharan conditions endured early in the growing season”. Transition Town Worthing are moving closer to setting up a CSA scheme for the area, and recently held a public meeting about it.  Here is a film they made about their progress so far:

Also taking place in Hebden Bridge this month is a project to become The Greenest Town in the Land. And to round off this lively Transition Town here is a great article entitled The Wombles go Skipping in Hebden Bridge. For those not familiar with The Wombles, click here to read about these much loved national treasures whose motto was “make good use of bad rubbish”. Also, on the waste theme,Stamford TT (Lincolnshire) is gathering support for their Bottling Out campaign which aims to rid the town of plastic bottles.


The sign which now adorns the platform of Kilburn underground station (click to enlarge).


The Transition Kensal to Kilburn group tending their beds on the local underground station platform.

Transition Kensal to Kilburn in London are in running for the ‘London in Bloom’ award thanks to the allotment they have created on the platform of Kensal Underground station.  The beds, which were rather sad and neglected, are now a riot of edible produce, and commuters are invited to help themselves. Michael Stuart, from the group, said: “We want people travelling on the tube to see the plants, and help themselves to the fruit.  “We hope to show people that if we can grow fruit, vegetables and flowers on a busy tube platform, then they can easily grow the in their gardens, on their windowsills or in their front drives.”  You can read a piece from one local paper here, and another here.  Our picture (above) shows the great sign which now adorns the station platform.

The Transition Belsize Premier Inn Food Growing A-Team!

Also in London, here’s an update from Jo Homan of Transition Finsbury Park on ‘Edible Landscapes’, the social enterprise they are establishing setting up productive gardens in the area. Transition Belsize, on July 22nd held the ‘Grand Opening’ of their food growing project in the car park of the Premier Inn Hotel on Haverstock Hill (see left).  The launch, among other things, featured a local magician.

Anne Rickard of Transition Bridport with Young Transitioner of the Year Ellie Holt.

In Dorset, a local school impressed the Transition Town Bridport group at their inter-house gardening competition (see right). The Transition Town Louth Food Garden Group in Lincolnshire has been busy making a community garden to inspire local people.   In Craigmillar, Edinburgh,  PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town, reported the opening of the new Green House advice shop. This fantastic local resource helps people save money while help­ing the envir­on­ment.

In case you missed it, Transition Town Totnes last week premiered a new short film it had made about oral history in the area and what it can do to inform Transition.  ‘Totnes: the past can teach us about the future’, went down very well at the premiere, and you can now see it below:

An artist's impression of what the inside of Sustaining Dunbar's community bakery will look like when it's finished...

Sustaining Dunbar’s efforts to create a community bakery are moving along nicely.  They have already raised £38,000 from 270 people, who are now the collective proud owners of a community bakery.  They are still seeking another £12,000 and are inviting investment, with a minimum shareholding of just £20.  They’ve currently got the plasterers in, and they are recruiting for bakers.  Sustaining Dunbar have also been setting up a community energy company, and have been working on their version of an Energy Descent Action Plan, called ‘The Dunbar 2025 Project’.

Transition Town Whitehead in Northern Ireland is one of 6 community organisations that has been shortlisted in NIE’s BIG Energy Saving Challenge in which 20 Whitehead families are competing in this yearlong competition. Read more about this fantastic project here in the local Carrick Times and here is a great picture of the group from the local paper:

Neil Coleman and Caitriona Butcher from NIE Energy present members of the Transition Town Whitehead group with their energy saving starter pack also present is Councillor Isobel Day. Picture courtesy of Carrick Times.

UK viewers might be interested in Nicholas Crane’s new 4-part BBC2 series called ‘Town’ (see below) which starts tomorrow (Thursday) at 9pm.  One of the town Nicholas visited was Totnes, and we expect Transition to be a strong theme of that programme.  If you miss it you’ll be able to see it on iPlayer, but for non-UK viewers that might be a bit trickier…

In Portugal, Transição em Telheiras held a great workshop called ‘A garden in the house’ which  showed urban apartment dwellers how to grow food on their window ledges.  Everyone went home with a “homegarden” with some garlic, lettuce, tomatoes and parsley (see left).  You can see a great selection of photos of the workshop here.  They also ran a ‘Make your own bag’ workshop and seem to be busy with all kinds of things.

Now over to Canada where there is an update to the community garden set up by TT Meaford (ON) in partnership with Georgian Bay Secondary School which featured in last month’s roundup (see pic right). Read more about the ongoing project in the local Meadford Independent.

Food preservation display at last year's Dunbar Harvest Festival.

Also from Canada, Shelby Tay kindly sent some sets of photos from Flickr of various Transition happenings there.  There was “Village Vancouver’s ‘Neighbourhood Transition Village’ collaborative demonstration of projects and initiatives that build community resilience and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels”, Dunbar (the other Dunbar) Transition Village’s canning workshop, and some lovely ones from their Harvest Festival (see left:  check out the fantastic Transition aprons).

In the US, Richard Heinberg hosted a conversation with Rob Hopkins via a web event which had several hundred people listening in! To read more about it and listen to the recording click here.  KRCL Radio in Utah did an interview with Carolyne Stayton, Director of Transition US and local residents of Salt Lake City Jake Hanson, Jim French and Jen Hamilton who are working towards making SLC a Transition Town. Listen to the full RadioActive! interview by Ashley Anderson.

Transition Ambler/Upper Dublin (PA) showed the film In Transition 1.0, the first of a planned monthly screening and pot luck event.  The DVD of this film is no longer available via the Transition Network website but you can view it on Vimeo. The next film In Transition 2.0 is due out later this year.

Transition Durham in North Carolina put on the first of a five-part film-event series they have called “Feeding the Bull City” which will be followed by discussion on what is happening in the local, sustainable food scene.  Speaking of films, you might have missed this great little short film about Transition Houston.  As one comment on Transition Culture put it, “It’s fantastic to see a city built on the oil industry taking up the Transition challenge. If they can do it, anyone can!

The Windham County Transition Towns of Putney, Dummerston and Brattleboro (VT) hosted a forum event on Coming Together in a Time of Challenge & Change; Transitioning to a Positive Future facilitated by Tina Clarke, the East Coast Transition Trainer.   Tour de Fresh 2011 is the result of a partnership between Bike Ypsi and Transition Ypsilanti in Michigan and is the 5th annual garden and healthy food system tour featuring the work done by community groups and individuals to make the Ypsilanti-area greener, healthier, and more sustainable. Read more about Tour de Fresh and watch a video in which it appears that Health and Safety in Ypsilanti extends to the need to wear protective headgear in the kitchen!

Transition Milwaukee was recently unveiled as the 93rd official initiative in the US, allowing them to tick off the next thing on the list of tasks they have set for themselves…(see left).  They  celebrated by holding ‘Powerdown Week’ which had 2 simple objective,firstly”make your carbon foot print as small as you can” and secondly,”do it with others”, not so easy to do during one of the hottest summer months on record!

Transition Pittsburgh recently held a ‘Sustainability Jam’.  I’ll let them explain why it was called that…

If you would like to read the full and rather wonderful Transition US July monthly roundup, a kind of sister publication to this one, you can do so here.  I finish the US section with the Final Frontier of Alaska and an article in the local Anchorage press which encourages people to join Transition Anchorage and asks some important questions such as ‘would you share food with your neighbors in a crisis’ and ‘can we feed ourselves’?

In New Zealand there is currently a lively debate flowing on the Transition Towns New Zealand blog section.   There was also a National Day of Action – Rail Against the RONS (Roads of National Significance) for sensible, sustainable transport solutions.

In India, Heal the Soil CSA in Auroville in the state of Tamil Nadu, is adopting the Transition model. With the help of organic farming experts, community leaders and volunteers, they help start-up small vegetable gardens in village homes; provide seeds and permaculture training to local people which enables them to grow their own organic veg and fruits in their own premises. Snehal Trivedi has uploaded more information on Heal the Soil as a muller initiative on the Transition Network website.

From Japan, in case you missed it, here is beautiful piece about the world’s 100th Transition initiative, told by Hide Enomoto of Transition Fujino:

There was also a great piece on Japanese national television about Transition in Japan, which also featured Fujino.  The bit about Transition starts at 14.20, but the whole clip is worth watching because in Japan, on summer solstice, the tradition is to turn off the electricity and to just use candlelight.  In accordance with that, the whole studio where the presenters are sitting and talking is lit only by candles!  Although not understanding Japanese is a distinct disadvantage with this clip, it is well worth a look nonetheless.  Thanks to Paul Shepherd in Tokyo for sending us that.

Before I go, there’s the Transition Network Diversity Newsletter put together by Catrina Pickering, and the trailer for Just Do It, a tale of modern day outlaws.  Thanks for letting me share yet more great stories on this constantly growing and evolving Transition Movement. If you have any events that you would like me to feature in the August roundup please do not hesitate to e-mail them to me at

Now, ‘and finally’, as they say.  You will hopefully have seen this round up of this year’s Transition Network annual conference which took place in Liverpool, which draws together the many resources available from videos, photos, workshop write ups and blog posts.  What you may not have seen (a fact for which you may soon be immensely grateful) is the contribution to the Sunday evening’s Open Mike session which featured various Transitioners doing a Transition-themed homage to the Rocky Horror Picture show.  As the blurb that accompanies the film on YouTube says:

“The North London Transitionistas supporting Frankly Ridiculous, AKA Jo Homan from Finsbury Park in a lively rendition of Sweet Transitioner, a mostly original creation. They were: Ros from Leytonstone, Alexis from Belsize, Sarah and Andy from Crouch End, Debbie from Finsbury Park and Peter from Narnia”.

Brace yourselves.

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


Jo Homan
27 Jul 12:00pm

berlooming cheek!
And it’s Rebecca from Crouch End, not Sarah – my mistake on the YouTube thing. It’s Sarah from Belsize who did the filming and who can, I think, be heard saying “because I didn’t want to do it” at the beginning. I can’t imagine why!
I was very proud and grateful for the support of Rebecca, Andy, Ros, Debbie, Alexis and Peter. They learned their part just two hours before we did it and were utterly wonderful.

Paul Handover
27 Jul 3:41pm

What a fabulous round-up. The Totnes short film also very inspiring.

Well done all!

Gemma Chambers
28 Jul 9:02am

A really interesting round up of lots of great projects across the country

16 Aug 3:07pm

Is it just me, or the Transition movement is pretty much losing any clear identity that it had and just becoming another label that people use when they want to start any sort of green group?

I’m asking because I’ve seen many Transition initiatives are showing Just Do It and other films that are essentially about the typical climate change kind of activism: heavily political, essentially about the international rather than the local issues, and very much focused on the protest. When I joined a Transition initiative one of the big reasons was because it was NOT like the usual green groups, that I never liked. I felt that one big reason many people never listened to the green message was because it was essentially focusing on fighting “the enemy”: the government and big corporations, forgetting that a huge number of people actually work for the government and big corporations, and many of those sincerely believe that they aren’t the problem.

Transition Brighton & Hove, the initiative I joined, is now dormant because it always had a lot of internal problems, but I’m less and less keen on the idea that is sometimes floated of reviving it. It will just attract the same kind of people that the first one did, the old guard of greenies that are unlikely to fix the problem and will soon fight each other because their way of operating is finding an enemy and fighting it.

If I ever try to start something again, I will steer clear of people who have been involved in political activism as much as possible, and probably not call it a Transition initiative at all. The benefits of being part of a network haven’t been so significant. And who knows? I might start a new network, one that has a clear sense of its goals and doesn’t let itself become just a new name for the same old thing.

Jo Homan
21 Aug 10:46pm

Your first comment seems to be against the idea of transition towns being like ‘any kind of green group’ but then you move onto criticising direct activism. Then at the end you go back to the idea of not wanting transition to repeat ‘the same old thing’. Are you equating transition with activism because some initiatives are showing Just Do It?

There was an interesting (but long) discussion transition and activism here:
For my transition initiative I asked friends who had green interests (could they be called ‘pale green’?!) to be on the original steering group. That worked quite well, but it’s always a struggle to find really good people, ones who have the time, capability and enthusiasm to make a difference. I suppose it’s easy for steering groups to end up with a few more traditional activists because they are perhaps more likely to have those points in their favour.
I don’t really know much about Brighton and Hove, but you could begin by simply celebrating all the brilliant stuff that’s going on: Big Lemon bus, Infinity foods, Earthship. I bet there’s loads more than that.
I’ve found being part of a network helpful – were you at the conference? The group process thing about group dynamics on Sunday was excellent. And I believe the network is going to start offering more training (but I don’t think it will be free). Why not come to the transition camp this Autumn?

Paul Handover
22 Aug 12:43am

Just a comment from someone that used to live very close to Totnes for many years, (now living in Arizona) and was able to ‘arrange’ a viewing of the BBC Town episode; it was a very inspiring film.

And reading Doly’s comment above, history is littered with examples of great social movements struggling at times. That doesn’t in the slightest way mean that the concept of ‘transition’ is faulty – just a small hiccup in the case of Brighton & Hove.

Have faith that, as the Nicholas Strange narrated, the transition movement may in time been seen as one the greatest social changes in history.