Transition Culture

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

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5 Dec 2011

The ‘London Transition Groups Gathering’, 1st December 2011

Last week, on a rather soggy, windswept London evening,  members of Transitions Belsize, Bethnal Green, Brentford, Brixton, Crouch End, Crystal Palace, Finsbury Park, Hackney, Highbury, Kensal to Kilburn, Kentish Town, Lewisham, Peckham, Stoke Newington, Tooting, Tufnell Park,  Walthamstow, Wandsworth, Wanstead, Westcombe, Willesden and Wimbledon (and probably a few more besides), as well as members of the public, gathered at the GLA building in London, to help celebrate Transition in London, and the launch of ‘The Transition Companion’.

The evening was chaired by Lucy Neal of Transition Town Tooting (see below), who started by talking about what an amazing city London is, and how important the river is to the city, and how much cleaner it is now than it was, and that it now contains 120 fish!  The audience soon corrected her mistake, although it left me with an image of London’s official ‘fish counter’ bobbing around counting the fish.  Anyway, I digress.

So the first part of the evening was short talks by 4 people involved in other sustainability initiatives across the city.  First, Sue from London Low Carbon Communities Network talked about their work, followed by Ross of Merton Low Carbon Zone, Chris of Richmond Low Carbon Zone and Nick of Project Dirt, each of whom in just 5 minutes each set out the work they have been doing and the lessons they have learned from it.  They then took some questions and offered more insights into behaviour change and engagement.

Then it was over to me.  I gave an overview of why ‘The Transition Companion’ was written, how it differs from the Transition Handbook, and how the idea of ‘ingredients’ came about.  I stressed that at most book launches the author will speak about his/her book for 30 minutes of so, and then maybe take some questions.  This one would be different.  Although the first two parts of the book are quite linear (see an overall outline of the book here), looking at why do Transition and then what Transition is, the third part is a collection of ingredients and tools that is meant to be used, to be tested out and added to. Consequently, this wasn’t going to be a sit-down evening, but was to be interactive, moving-around kind of an evening, one that started with pushing all the chairs to one side.

So, the first activity we did was a milling one, where the room was divided into two halves, and the cards dealt out so that everyone had one.  People were then invited to mill around and to tell each other what’s on their cards.  They did this for about 15 minutes and seemed to find it a really useful way to quickly become familiar with the ingredients, much better than me showing them one after the other on Powerpoint slides.

Then we did a mapping exercise, inviting people to map themselves in a giant map of London.  Once we had done this, I asked if 5 groups might like to tell their stories.  Once we had 5 groups who had offered to do that, each group was given a pack of the Transition ingredients cards.  They were invited to lay the cards out in a sequence that told their story, how they had started and what had happened as the initiative unfolded.  We did this for about 30 minutes.

It was fascinating to see how different the stories were, and how differently they laid out the cards.  There was then 5 minutes for people to go round the room and to visit the other groups and to see each story.  We then all came back together in a big circle and people talked about how they had found the exercise.  This then led into a more general questions and answers session, where people from London groups chipped in their experience and talked about what they were doing.

This for me was really the highlight of the evening, everyone sitting around and chatting about Transition in London.  Unfortunately we couldn’t do it for a couple of hours!  The evening wrapped up with Sophy Banks talking for a few minutes about the role of inner Transition and about Transition Training, and Lucy mentioning that the possibility had arisen for funding to create a Transition London co-ordinator post, and that there would be a meeting in January to discuss it.

Dishing out the cocktails!

Then it was time for more social time, drinking wine, cocktails, or even some of Transition Leytonstone’s rather wonderful ‘Transition Ale’.  I signed quite a few books, and met some great people.  It is always amazing to see the diversity and the richness of what different Transition groups are up to in London, and to participate in events where they all come together to share their learnings is always an inspiring experience.

Deepest thanks and congratulations to Anna O’Brien who organised the whole thing, and to the team of helpers who ensured it all ran smoothly.  Sterling work all.  Also to Jonathan Goldberg, John Fellowes and Anastasia Harrison for use of their great photos of the evening.  You can see more of Jonathan’s pictures here


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


5 Dec 8:35am

Thank you to people like you doing what you are doing. Hope you are pushing urban farming/gardening.

Jo Homan
5 Dec 9:49am

Thanks for helping make it a wonderful event. The last picture is of Rebecca from Crouch End pouring out sage cordial made using local leaves by Urban Harvest ( This was mixed with organic vodka to create ‘Sagacity’, one of four yummy cocktails we were giving away on the evening. The others were Liquor-ish (gin and fennel), Balmy (vodka and lemon balm) and Ice and Fire (vodka and chilli).
Standing between the cocktails and the beer was tough, but I somehow managed!

Gary Alexander
5 Dec 11:55am

Sounds like another great Transition (and ‘transition’) event. I think these regional gatherings are really important, and show a growing new dimension of our movement. See for a report on the recent East Anglian regional meeting.

[…] tutti quelli che si chiedono se la Transizione ha senso in una grande città consiglio l’ultimo post di Rob sul gathering appena concluso a Londra. È ovviamente in inglese… Share […]

7 Dec 10:28am

I always get an injection of enthusiasm and energy when we come together as a hub. If you are free tonight Londoners or any other Transition groups come join us to see 10 short films of some of the Transition projects and events going on in our area powering up our community resilience….eco supported agriculture…permaculture etc
Details below.
Transition Crouch End / Green on the Screen

Crouch End in shorts
Wednesday 7th December 2011
All proceeds in aid of the Haringey Churches Winter Night Shelter

Celebrate the year with us – doors open @ 6:30 – come early and network!
We expect to start the screenings from 7.30pm, so come early to choose from our delicious menu of mainly local food;
PLEASE order when you arrive!

Short films illustrating local projects

Community Supported Agriculture
The Meadow Orchard Project
Knowing Through Growing
Food Cycle

Time for a dessert from our menu and a drink from the bar…

Haringey Churches Winter Night Shelter
A year of Green on the Screen
Community Fire Celebration
Edible Landscapes London
The Compost Giveaway
Food from the Sky

We invite you to bring a wrapped ‘no longer needed’ recycled gift.
We’ll exchange gifts after the film screenings.
Anything left over will be donated to the Homeless shelter


News & Updates

•Come see the ‘must see’ film of 2012! Post your choice in our film suggestion postbox at Moors Bar on GOTS nights and yours could be one of the nine we plant/screen in 2012!

•The next three films of 2012:
•February: The Transition Movie
•March: Ecomonics of Happiness
•April: Water, the great mystery

On entry we request a donation of £3 (does not include food)

Green on the Screen
Feeding you delicious food
Showing inspiring, informative and empowering films on food and sustainability issues
Discussion around the theme of the film, with occasional guest speakers

1st Wednesday of every month
Green on the Screen is held at Moors Bar
Doors open 6:30pm – Films @ 7:30/8pm

56 Park Road, Crouch End, London N8 8SY

7 Dec 4:36pm

I agree with you Rob that the highlight was when we all came together to talk, something that the London Transition community rarely manages to do.
A theme that came up again & again that evening was about personal (energy)sustainability and burnout, which was touched upon in the circle but not given the weight that seemed to be asked of it. I wonder if a longer talking circle can play a larger part in our next meeting.

Kenrick Chin
8 Dec 11:18am

Wish I were there! Great book Rob. I was surprised to see my name in print but I liked that. Thanks.

Trish Knox
9 Dec 12:19am

Seems to be a parade of community building events built on creative and resilient parts be they cards with colored images or people with stories. Last night Transition Woodinville attended a Cities Need Farms and Farms Need Cities Roundtable. Farmers, Transition and Sustainability folks, public officials, city staff, etc were in attendance. Midway through the evening the information shifted to inspiration as emotion started to move through us and between us. It’s okay to inject emotion in these groundbreaking meetings that unify us in network and voice. Emotion is Heart and Soul stuff…alive and well at the core of Transition.

Happy Solstice!