Transition Culture

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

Transition Culture has moved

I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

30 Nov 2011

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

In the UK, the main Transition-related story to make the national news over the past month was the suggestion by Ian Jones, CEO of Volunteer Cornwall, that Cornwall should set up its own currency, the ‘Cornwall Pound’.  The story made the national news and many references were made to the local currencies already in existence via Transition Towns Totnes (Devon), Lewes (Sussex) and Brixton (London).  Jones told the Daily Telegraph “It’s no good if we endlessly talk about our problems, we need to start doing something positive now if we are to avoid being at the mercy of the global storm which is currently raging.”

The discussion even got onto the BBC’s Politics Show (who have previously run stories on Transition currencies), with David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, arguing that “There’s no reason why Cornwall couldn’t have its own banknotes like Scotland, but it’s not viable or sensible for it to have its own central bank.  It can’t have its own monetary policy like we assume it’s not going to have its own army.”  Rather misses the point somewhat.

While we’re talking about local currencies, here’s something I missed at the time, Prince Charles going shopping with Brixton Pounds (see right)!   According to the article, “The Duchess of Cornwall has used some of the currency accepted by businesses in south London – known as Brixton Pounds – on a visit to a local market with the Prince of Wales.  Camilla bought a box of mangoes with a Brixton £10 note, introduced last year to try to keep the money of local people within the community”.  In case you missed it, you can hear a lot more about the current developments of the Brixton Pound in last month’s Transition Podcast (this month’s one will follow in 2 weeks time).

Here is one film about the Brixton Pound which gets out and asks people what they think of it (although it was made before the new notes and the ‘Pay-by-Text’ scheme were launched):

…and then here is a film about going shopping using the new Pay-by-Text scheme:

Heading north into Derbyshire, Transition Wirksworth are one of several local community groups in the town who hope to have more say in the future of their community. The town’s residents with the support of Derbyshire Dales District Council are hoping to secure funding via the UK government’s new Localism Act which was passed this month. Read the full story from the Matlock Mercury.   In Devon, the Newton Abbot Guide to Local Food and Drink has been launched and is an amazing collaboration of efforts by the Newton Abbot Local Food Group, an informal partnership between Transition Newton Abbot, Newton Abbot Community Interest Company, Newton Abbot Town Council, Teignbridge District Council and Devon County Council.

Transition Town Worthing have been running a course in working with willow:

… and work continues on their Energy Descent Action Plan.

The November newsletter of Transition Town Totnes is bursting with all things Transition related in and around Totnes (see right). Click here to see photos from this year’s annual Winterfest, or here to see a film of last year’s.  Transition Stroud liked the idea of a Winterfest so much that they are holding one too, this weekend!

In Dorset, Transition Town Bridport celebrated their last year and look ahead to the coming year at their second Annual General Meeting (see left) and launch a Spend Less Eat Better Campaign.

In Glamorgan, south Wales, Transition Cowbridge and Transition Llantwit joined forces with a local resident who set up The Vale says No campaign and were successful in preventing a test of the controversial shale gas fracking taking place in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan. Read the full article in Permaculture Magazine.  And there’s more here in Treehugger.

In Gloucestershire, Transition Town Cheltenham held a Transition festival to celebrate their first year of community, environmental and creative activities in town (see poster below):

TTDorchester's Energy saving winner Lorraine Wong

Transition Town Dorchester ran an energy monitoring scheme which  16 local residents took part in over a 6 month period and which led to positive behaviour change (see left).  Jon Orrell of Transition Towns Weymouth and Portland decided to visit Occupy LSX (London Stock Exchange) at St Pauls’ Cathedral and wrote up this report on the website.

Jonathan Goldberg's great photo of Transition beekeepers.

In London, Jonathan Goldberg of Transition Kensal to Kilburn (K2K) is one of 6 photographers featured in a new online photography magazine called Backyard where people shoot pictures close to home and heart (you can see one of his pics to the right, of Transition K2K beekeepers).  Transition K2K were also busy at the recent Queen’s Park Day, where they pressed apple juice and gave it away to passers by:

Also from London, here is a great article about Edible Landscapes London, an initiative of Transition Finsbury Park, and a short film about what they are up to:

One member of Transition Town Bolton, who is also a cycling instructor, is offering bike lessons to adults in an attempt to encourage them to ditch the car in favour of a 2 wheeler.  Transition Town Shrewsbury’s Hydro Group is one of four Transition groups who are going for funding via Energyshare. To read about the other Transition entries or to vote before the December 3rd deadline, see Rob’s related post on Transition Culture.

In Suffolk, one passionate individual from the village of Little Cornard got the ball rolling and helped get Transition Sudbury and District off the ground. Read this lovely report in the local East Anglian Daily News on how it all unfolded.  One of the first things they did was to hold an apple pressing day (see left).

Transition Town Kingston have launched an online directory of eco-friendly businesses in the borough in time for the Christmas shopping season.   In West Sussex, an upcoming event is being held in Lewes and organised by South East Transition Initiatives called Food Resilience Preparation Day. A group has been gathering to discuss the issue via this forum and has identified three main forms of food resilience planning.  You can also see Transition Town Lewes’ December newsletter here.  We’ll be sure to follow up and get a full report on this event for the December roundup.  And I’ll tell you what, that Haslemere Transition Town know how to have a good time:

In West Yorkshire, Hebden Bridge Transition Town and Treesponsibility invited a member of the Beehive Collective to present “The True Cost of Coal”. The Beehive Collective based in Maine (USA) facilitates creative education about issues effecting people and the environment. See their stunning poster (right) and more just like it on their website.

Awww... a heart-shaped potato dug up by Norwich Farmshare...

Transition Norwich recently celebrated the third anniversary of their Unleashing.  A Transition Culture podcast captured some of the voices of those who have been working with the group, and their reflections on where they have got to in that time.  One of their key projects is Farmshare, a Community Supported Agriculture project, which recently held a Potato Day, where the idea was that they would walk behind the tractor and pick up the potatoes it was lifting from the ground.  Unfortunately, the tractor broke down and they had to lift 2 tonnes of spuds by hand!  According to their website, “blisters and creaky joints were more than matched by smiles and banter”.

Transition Town Marlborough, who are well on their way to becoming an official Transition initiative with the full support of the local council (a story told in last month’s Transition Podcast), have rejected claims to restrict cycling in a certain area of town.

Installers Michael Merry, left, and Dan Bowers with Alison Turnbull, project manager for Bath and West Community Electricity, and Shawn Robertson, project manager for Southern Electric, with one of the solar panels for the roof of the Mead Primary School.

Bath and West Community Energy, which emerged out of Transition Bath, have already begun commissioning the first solar PV systems on local schools (see right).  You can see a list of all the installations they’ll be doing before Christmas, and also this piece from the Wiltshire Times about the first systems that went up, at schools in Trowbridge and Corsham.

It is also worth a reminder about the new ‘Communities Living Sustainably’ fund launched by the Big Lottery Fund, which is looking for innovative projects building resilience and responding to climate change.  Could be a very attractive proposition for Transition initiatives.

Glen Ballinger outside his Maldon 50k local.

So, to Australia, where Transition Mount Alexander, Transition Bell and MINTI (Melbourne Inner Northwest Transition Initiative) all get a mention in this article which centres around the sustainable business practices of local Castlemaine outlet Green goes the Grocer.

At a recent event organised by the Municipal Association of Victoria called “Building Community Resilience and Minimising Risk”, which featured, among other speakers, David Holmgren and Sonya Wallace, (you can download their fantastic flyer/poster here), Andrew Lucas gave a presentation called ‘Councils and communities in Transition’:

…and Transition Network’s Rob Hopkins gave a presentation by Skype, complete with slides, which was followed up by a Q&A by Skype:

So, next to Canada.  Transition Comox Valley had a great turnout to their first ever gathering and were inspired by the creativity and vision that local people had to offer. Read more in the BC Local News.  In Ontario,  Transition Town Orillia held their second annual community fair at a local church (see pic below). Stalls, workshops and speakers highlighted items from composting to weight lifting for seniors (!) and affordable housing to knitting.

At the University of Prince Edward Island (the setting for the much loved Anne of Green Gables novels), George McRobie (founder of the ‘Intermediate Technology Group’ with E.F. Schumacher and co-founder of the New Economics Foundation) gave a talk on the Transition Movement in Europe & North America.

Some stories from Europe now.  You can listen to and read the transcript (all in German) of an interview with Rob Hopkins by Ursula Rütten for  Also from Germany, here, as far as I can tell, are Transitioners from Goettingen, Kassel, Cologne and Berlin Friedrichshain who met on a permaculture course (?  Babelfish translator didn’t yield much useful information) and got together to plant a forest garden:

From the Netherlands, from Transition Town Nijmegen to be precise, here is a film, I think, about a community garden project:

Here is a short film from Monteveglio in Bologna, Italy, where the local council and the parks department revived (with, one suspects, some input from Transition Town Monteveglio, although that’s not specified) and old tradition of planting a new tree for every child born in the town that year, 44 to be exact:

In Belgium, Ath en Transition recently organised a screening of the excellent new film ‘Voices of the Transition‘, and the event made it onto the local TV news!  Here’s the clip:

Recently Rob Hopkins of Transition Network gave a presentation, remotely, to the Andalusia Convention on Climate Change and Urban Environment, which has now been put online, complete with Spanish subtitles:

On a similar note, Naresh Giangrande, also of Transition Network, recently visited Malmo (which, according to Wikipedia, is “in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden”).  He gave the talk you can see below, which also featured either someone drilling into the walls of an adjacent room, or someone with a terrible snore who fell asleep during his talk:

So, next let’s hop to New Zealand, and the town of Devonport.   In this North Shore suburb of Auckland, representatives from Transition community Grey Lynn 2030 and Devonport Transition Town held an open evening to “create the community we want to live in” and covered topics such as fruit trees, green screenings, waste, farmers markets and community gardens. Read the full report in the local Devonport Speculator.

Some Kiwi ingenuity! Yolanda Van Den Bemd (left) and Ellen Schlinder (right) are part of the Pt Chevalier Transition Town crew who look after the Old Homestead Community Garden.

In another suburb west of Auckland, Point Chevalier is home to The Old Homestead Community set up by Transition Town Pt. Chevalier in 2009 and now shortlisted for community garden of the year in the New Zealand Gardener Magazine’s annual awards. Check out the bike powered water system (above)!

From Transition Hickory: Robb Riordan adjusts the faucet where water flows off his roof. Rob and his wife Jacqui can store up to 6000 gallons of rain water in their cisterns.

In the US, Transition Ashland, Massachusetts (nb. there is also a T-Ashland in Oregon) introduced proceedings at a meeting to discuss their vision of a downtown Farmers Market which residents hope to make a reality by spring 2012.   A great article about the emerging Transition Missoula appeared in the Montana Kaimin – The University of Montana’s Independent Campus Newspaper since 1898!   The Riordans helped set up Transition Bermuda and now live in Hickory where they have continued their Sustainable Living Project aka Transition Hickory (see left).

It has also been fascinating over the last month to see the debates and discussions about where Transition and the Occupy movement meet.  In Virginia, an Occupy Staunton rally was organized by Transition Staunton Augusta, the Augusta Coalition for Peace and Justice and Virginia Organizing. Unlike a lot of the other Occupy gatherings across the US this group has operated largely with the support and cooperation of city government. Read the full story here in the Augusta Free Press.

Also in the town at another event, Transition Staunton Augusta co-founder Erik Curren led an information session in conjunction with Occupy Staunton and the American Dream Movement titled “How the 1 Percent Crashed the Economy and What We Can Do About It”.   Erik and his wife Lindsay are founders of Transition Voice where this article titled Transitioners debate how to engage Occupy movement was recently posted.  That’s about it for November, see you next month!

The second ‘Transition Podcast’, which will go into more depth about three of the stories in this round-up, will be posted in a couple of weeks.