Transition Culture

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6 Sep 2012

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

This month’s round up covers two months, because this time last month half of the team that lovingly create these round ups was away when they should have been producing this.  As a result it’s a bit of a whopper.  The latest Transition Bristol newsletter begins In this issue…. The Bristol Pound is coming, the Bristol Pound is coming, oh, and lots of other stuff too! Read on”.  That seemed like a good way for us to start too.  The Bristol Pound, the vastly exciting imminent launch of a city-wide currency that is creating a frenzy of media interest, is nearly here.   Here is a short film about it:

It will all kick off with a grand launch on September 19th, and if you want to get a sense of the potential of it all, have a look at this map of all the businesses who have signed up to which will make the hairs on the back of your next stand up (mine did anyway).  The Bristol Pound is very active on Twitter (@BristolPound) and there was great excitement when the first notes arrived at the office.

Here is the first batch of printed notes …

… and here is Bristol Pound Director Chris Sunderland unwrapping the first printed notes to arrive at the office.  You can almost feel the excitement from here.

Another place that is exploring creating a local currency is Market Harborough.  Transition Town Market Harborough are one of 10 organisations that have partnered with Sustainable Harborough Challenge, recently awarded £1 million by the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme, who plan on using the money to transform the town into a flagship for green projects across the region.  As the article reports, “the project will even set up an enterprise for Harborough to have its own currency for visitors to spend in and around the town”.

One other story that is almost equally deservant of top billing is the story of the UK A-Level exam paper in Citizenship, sat by many thousands of students this year, which included two questions about Transition!  Transition Network’s Ben Brangwyn begins the story:

“About 3 years ago, Transition Network was contacted by one of the UK examination boards requesting our permission for an exam question about Transition to appear in the national examinations for “Global Citizenship”. We were sworn to secrecy and had to sign several official looking documents. We were a bit surprised with this development but, knowing the complexities of the UK curriculums for schools and how slowly that area works, we didn’t think we’d hear any more about it. However, two years later a small number of schools got in contact with us to arrange visits to Totnes and ask some pointed questions about the whole transition thing. And then, last month, we heard from someone involved in the murky world of examination boards….”

Some people sitting exams, yesterday.

So over now to that person, Kevin Walker, a Citizenship Teacher living in Devon, who sent Transition Network the following:

“This summer’s A-level exam papers in England, Wales & Northern Ireland included questions on the Transition Movement. The Global Citizenship unit of the A-level in Citizenship Studies included two questions, the first focused on the applicability of the Transition model to the student’s own community and the second asked the student to consider the relative global impact of community based initiatives in contrast to governmental action.

Students were informed in advance of the topic area but not the specific questions so they had a chance to research and discuss the topic beforehand. Their answers demonstrated a genuine concern regarding the impact of climate change and some knowledge of the concept of peak oil but most knew little about the Transition movement until they undertook their research. This often revealed local initiatives of which they were generally unaware and in a few cases it led onto their own involvement. In all cases these 17-18 year olds engaged critically with the issues and reflected deeply on the role of the active global citizens which they are becoming.

Each year different topics of contemporary relevance are featured and increasing numbers of students are opting to take this qualification. Sadly although the current government pays lip service to the importance of preparing students to be responsible citizens by putting renewed emphasis on traditional subjects they have in effect downgraded the importance of Citizenship as a distinct subject in the curriculum. Hopefully more schools will continue to respond to the concerns of their students who will have to face the consequences of the inaction and lack of vision of their elders”.

Let’s leave the UK now (although we shall return) and head to Australia.  In Western Australia, Transition Town Guildford’s Kitchen Gardeners have been busy at Marmalade Cottage learning about how to keep chickens and also Backyard Bees.

Are Transition Town Guildford checking out the chickens, or are the chickens checking out Transition Town Guildford?

Their Steering Group have also been proactive in responding to the city of Swan’s draft ‘Strategic Community Plan 2012 to 2022’ with some insights and observations. Read the full response here on their website.

From New South Wales, our thanks go to  Sandra Menteith of Transition Shire Wingecarribee, an official Transition initiative in the Southern Highlands (which essentially acts as a hub as the Shire covers such a large area), for this write up of their In Transition 2.0 film screening:

“The event went really well with around 80 people coming along to the Empire cinema in Bowral. The pre-screening musicians were inspiring, with Nina writing a new song especially for the occasion (see above). Most stayed on for the post-movie discussion and the conversation continued in the gallery outside well after that!

We did not ask for donations on the day, but rather for people to fill in sign-up sheets with their contact details and expressions of interest in learning more about Transition or Transition Training. We hope to seed other small groups at the village level in the Shire.

Another project that has just been launched was a nut tree planting. Funded by Canwin/Transition Wingecarribee, 12 nut trees (hazel, chestnut, almond, macadamia) were planted by the Bundanoon Transition/Commons group in a public reserve in Bundanoon on July 3rd as a first, small but important contribution towards local future food security (see above and right).

Now to Brazil, and many thanks to Isabela de Menezes for this:

“Slum, Cinema and Popcorn – “Brasilandia in Colors” is the name of the event that happened for the second time in Brasilandia, on July 20, Friday.  The proposal by Julia Campos Institute is to provide sociocultural inclusion.One of their main actions is the exhibition of films in the street with all the infrastructure of a good movie, for free  and with popcorn.

Were shown the films “DNA Brasilândia” and “Blonde’s Bathroom”. Two films made by members of the Julia Campos Institute and Short films from Kinoforum, a partnership that has encouraged and helped  in many events in Brasilândia.  After a week of heavy rain the organizers were afraid, but the weather improved and the event was a success with the presence of many children with their parents and friends of the community. The exhibition took place in Pancadas Street Square, Garden Icaraí and started at 18:30″.

Here are a couple of Transition stories from Chile.  The first is about Rari in Transition, and was sent in by Juan Pablo Laszo Chile.  He writes:

“A Transition movement has been occurring naturally in the node of the Vizcachas for some time. On April 22, 2012, on Earth Day in the house of Buenmundo over 100 people and leaders of sustainable initiatives throughout Chile came together and began to see ourselves as a powerful movement of movements.

On this auspicious weekend we hosted the first meeting of CASA Chile, representative of the emerging CASA continental as a coming together of the permaculture, ecovillage and Transition movements in South America. This gathering was facilitated by the national group of the Chilean Institute of Permaculture the Transition Hub of Chile.

From then until now, multiple story lines have emerged. We have shown the film In Transition 2.0 in several internal meetings with our local community and those urged by transition. There has also been a screening in the nearby town of Panimávida where a group has a meeting with the entire neighbourhood and has been very successful in engaging with people. It is intended that the second meeting to add another street and so on mobilise the town street by street.

Our next major event will be a joining of forces and calling of a regional gathering that follows the calls of the Condor, Beijaflor, Hawthorn and the most recent Call of the Mountain in Colombia. We are organising busily for the Call of the Vizcachas, and as the local stories say Rari: the place from which emerges a great story”.

The second, sent in by Carolina Heidke from El Manzano in Transition, is about Cabrero in Transition.

“On Thursday, August 2, for the first time the community of Cabrero was called for the first meeting of Transition Cabrero organized by the project Environmental Network and Transition Biobío.  The community were invited to participate in a public seminar, through posters placed around the city, calls on the local radio and personal addressed invitations.

Gradually they came, and eventually we gathered around 30 people including rural school teachers, representatives of the elderly, young professionals, students, and residents from the area, a diverse group with a burning common goal to “dream and design the community that we want”.

We open with a dynamic to build confidence, break the barriers of being strangers, and after a few stretches and movement in group, we introduced ourselves one by one, to meet us and find out why we are called together. We continued with two presentations from the local environmental unit director from the local government of Cabrero, then followed with a small documentary film “The Story of Stuff” which is not well known in these parts.

After the movie we did a quick think and listen so that all present could express what they felt about the film. We continued with a World Café activity where participants split into two groups and conducted four questions where each group and people had the opportunity to speak, think and listen. The 4 questions were: What is going well in Cabrero? What are the challenges of Cabrero?  What do we want Cabrero to become? And finally, what are our next steps?

All enthusiastically answered the questions and engaged in the conversation with many laughs and smiles. We gathered good material to continue working together, and began forming relationships.  The activity exceeded our expectations; a cliché phrase in the Transition movement is that those who come are always the right people. We felt it is true, a powerful group of people is forming and defining what it is and wants to become. We can say that this is the beginning of a path to Transition together. We thank everyone who came to the meeting and who believes in the steps ahead”.

In Canada, TT-Comox Valley hosted a summer picnic in the park (see above).  Williams Lake TT co-hosted an event at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre with Band Together BC, Council of Canadians and Potato House which kicked off with a screening of In Transition 2.0. Read more on the event here, and see photo below:

Transition Town Peterborough in Ontario are holding their second Purple Onion Festival on September 23rd.  Here’s a short promotional film they made about it:

Anne-Claire in France sent us an email, pointing us to this recent report about Transition that was broadcast on Arte recently:

You will find some additional clips, including extended interviews, here.

The first Transition Training will be taking place in Greece in September. Read more on the potential pathways out of the crisis in Freegan Kolektiva.  From the Netherlands, here is Godelieve Engbersen of Transition Towns Tilburg responding to the question “so, what’s Transition”?  I think.

Next to news from Germany and Switzerland, sent in by Gerd Wessling.  He writes that “this year’s Transition Conference  for the German-speaking Transition community happens 21.-23. Sept. 2012 in Witzenhausen (near Kassel) / Germany.  In partnership with the local agriculture university as well as the town, Friday 14h-22h most workshops/talks/activities will mostly be in the town center. Saturday (9.30h-22h) / Sunday (9.30h-16h) most will happen on the university “Nord” campus very near the train station.

The German Transition conference team.

It will be 2.5 great days of fantastic themes & speakers; including:

Margrit & Declan Kennedy about “Permaculture” and “Occupy Money”, Norbert Rost about “Peak Oil”, Konstantin Kirsch about “Permaculture” & the “Minuto”, Freimut Hennies & Klaus Graeff & Gesa Maschkowski & Marcus Kampmeier & Gerd Wessling & Farid about various aspects of “Transition in practice” and the Transition network, Nikolay Georgiev about “OSE” and many more…


Networking, 2 movies: “Voices of the Transition” & “The economics of happiness”), introducing “REconomy” and “Transition Thrive”, sharing our best Transition & other practices, “localizing” Transition further into the European & German-speaking context, music, celebration, art, theater, practical reskilling, fun & laughter etc. from old & new Transitioners (and those who want to become such:) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux, Denmark, Norway, Sweden etc.

The skyline of Witzenhausen, where the German conference will be held.

The main conference language will be German.  More info & registration here.  There are also a couple of “Training for Transition” courses coming up in Germany & Switzerland for Sept.  2012.  They are:

There are now more than 1650 members now interacting on the German-speaking Transition Platform!

Last year in Italy, a one-day gathering of people interested in Transition was held in the beautiful Palombara and it was a wonderful day according to those we’ve heard from who attended.  Here is a short film about the day:

Transition Town Luxembourg have been very busy, and have some stunning photos (i.e. see right) and a great write up on their amazing Luxembourg City community garden, which as well as providing food also has more than 37 wild plants.  If you scroll down the page there are also some great responses from various people on the question “What does the transition movement mean to me?”, well worth taking the time to read.

Here, from Korea we think, is a presentation which is about Transition.  We think.

In South Africa, Greyton-TT held a general meeting (GM) with a difference! With a recycle rap and a gumboot dance, attendees were also asked to DREAM and help create a vision of a future Greyton.  The author of this article – ‘Building resilience and awakening consciousness: transition towns applied to the South African context‘, spent a few days in Greyton ahead of their Trash to Treasure Festival, which surely must have taken inspiration from T-Tooting’s (July 2010) Trashcatchers Carnival!  Always interesting to see where ideas take root after being distributed on the wind.

So, back to the UK now.  Here is a short film by Daryl Mulvihill about The Green Backyard in Peterborough, you can read more about it here.  The Transition Companion puts in an appearance near the end:

In Cheshire, Macclesfield TT are using LEAF (Local Energy Assessment Fund) to investigate district heating, and TT-Wilmslow organised a talk by a landscape ecologist with the idea that a deeper understanding of the local landscape will be invaluable in shaping future sustainable plans.  From Derbyshire, our thanks to Colin Harrison of Transition Chesterfield for sharing this wonderful T-Chesterfield Potato Day video:

Colin adds:  “We will shortly start planning for our next Potato Day, which are excellent ways of profile and fund raising. If you feel that this video would be useful to other groups please feel free to use it as you see fit – there are no copyright restrictions on it. If there are other groups who would like to share in our experience of planning etc we are happy for them to get in touch and we will do our best to help in any way we can”.

To Devon now, where TN’s Ben Brangwyn writes the preamble to this month’s TT-Totnes bulletin in which he talks about some of the interesting visitors that turn up at our humble TTT/TN offices in Totnes!  Transition Town Totnes’ ‘No to Costa’ campaign was very disappointed recently when Costa was granted planning permission, a story told in a fantastic piece called Totnes the Town that declared war on Global Capitalism which made the front page of the Guardian’s website.  The story also made it in to The Huffington Post, and a piece in the Sunday Times chastised David Cameron for his localism agenda not giving communities the powers to protect themselves in such cases, saying:

“How sick everyone must be of the promises from all the parties and from this government to foster localisation and the big society with the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework. Can it all be entirely meaningless?  When most people, as in Totnes, are greatly opposed to something, how can it be right for that thing to happen anyway?”

Here is a short video about the campaign:

Fiona Ward (the one without the beard) discussing local Transition enterprises with Transition Durham.

At the moment, TTT are working on their ‘Economic Blueprint’ for Totnes, due out in the Autumn, the first REconomy Blueprint, which will set out the kind of local economy the town does want.  One of the key authors of the Blueprint, Fiona Ward, recently went on a ‘REconomy Roadtrip’ around the UK visiting some of the Transition initiatives with interesting social enterprise tales to tell, and has beautifully documented her experiences and insights.

Before we leave Totnes, The Totnes Sustainable Construction Company, a social enterprise that emerged from TTT, is currently working on an Earthship.  Here’s a short video about it:

TT Honiton are starting Sustainable Saturdays following the success of their Seedy Saturday event earlier in the year.

Our thanks to John Bell of Transition Town Berkhamsted for this:

“We recently held a successful outreach / future visioning / building community event in Berkhamsted.  Thanks to the event we are hopefully moving to a new and exciting time at TTB. A write up of the event is here“.

T-Loughborough recently negotiated great deals on solar panels for 10 homes in the town.  In Lincolnshire, TT-Horncastle hosted an Incredible Edible Open Day.

To London now, which has coped with the excitement of the Olympic Games, then the Paralympic Games, but now, to top it all, is bracing itself for the wonder of the 2012 Transition Network conference.  You wonder how, after that ever-increasing fever pitch of excitement, they will ever top such a trio of events ever again?  Chances are you won’t still get Paralympic tickets, but there are still conference tickets left, and at a fraction of the cost too.

TT-Tooting took advantage of a break in the weather and headed out to their community garden to get stuck in (see above)!

Returning to the subject of local currencies, traders in Brixton who accept the Brixton Pound can now pay their business rates using the currency.  Here Sarah Gwen, owner of local restaurant Casa Morita talks about her business and about the Brixton Pound, and about being the first business to pay its rates in this way:

And then, from Al Jazeera recently, this fantastic piece about various Transition things underway in Brixtonthe Brixton PoundBrixton Energy and the Edible Bus Stop project.  Great stuff.

Up in Merseyside, TT-West Kirby are on hand to help with any excess fruit  this season with a scheme that benefits all.  T-Tynedale broaches the subject of councils in relation to successes such as Taunton Deane in Somerset and the potential for involvement with their own local Hexham Town Council.

Many thanks to Chris Rowland of TT-Lewes’ community energy company OVESCO who shares this with us:

“OVESCO’s completed projects to date:

Harveys Brewery in Lewes 98kWp PV installed 2011

Priory School in Lewes 35kWp PV installed June 2012

Barcombe Nursery in Barcombe 9kWp installed July 2012

Brickyard Farm in Town Littleworth 19.5kWp installed July 2012

We have PPA with Good Energy for all of these projects”.

Chris Bird, author of Transition book ‘Local Sustainable Homes’, recently visited Lewes, and spent time with Chris.  Here is a short film of Chris and Chris in conversation:

… and here, starting on a very windy hill, Chris Rowlands takes Chris Bird on a tour of OVESCO’s renewables projects:

Chris adds, “The Barcombe Nursery project is a very nice Transition story. The nursery sells organic veg via it’s veg box scheme to those in the Lewes District and Brighton area. They were struggling to pay the electricity bills for running the chillers on site to preserve the veg (hot sunny days), so OVESCO visited them with the idea of installing PV panels (PV for free) paid for by a share issue and the FiT. At the same time Barcombe Nursery sell veg at the Market Tower in Lewes on Fridays, which was set up by Transition Town Lewes. The market takes the Lewes Pound set up by Transition Town Lewes. Here we have REconomy with local produce, energy and currency and employment = Resilience! These connections really inspire us to keep plugging away at OVESCO”.

Transition Town Lewes have also been out on the streets asking people what a thriving Lewes means to them:

Marlborough in Wiltshire’s market, mentioned in last month’s roundup, was a resounding success.  Here’s a great little film to prove it:

In Wales, T-Chepstow joined Professor Susan Baker at the Chepstow Festival in July. You can download the full presentation on ‘Climate Change: Sustaining Environmental and Social Resilience’ here.

To the US now.  Firstly, here is the July newsletter from Transition US, and the August newsletter.  In Minnesota, the Quaker group Metro Friends hosted a potluck picnic to which Transition Northfield was invited along to share their experience.  TT-Missoula invite people to join a discussion with indigenous leader Chief Oren R Lyons on Moving the World to Balance.

Here is a fantastic video story from North Carolina, Owner Tim Toben didn’t describe his North Carolina Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute as officially part of the Transition Movement, but it fits in well. Farm manager Margaret Krome-Lukens is part of the Transition Town movement (helped Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC become one). She shows us the garden, her gorgeous cob home (we’re jealous) and her pigs.

Transition Woodstock (NY) recently became the 115th official Transition initiative in the US (congratulations!), and here is a short video they made about their work so far which is also an invitation to their Transition Festival on September 22nd:

Participants signed up to a Transition Training at Brown University In Rhode Island in mid August will guide where the next Transition hubs are going to emerge according to Michael DeForbes of Transition Providence. Read the full article in Eco RI News.

T-Charlottesville have been practicing resilience in light of the recent extreme weather conditions affecting large areas of the US including Virginia.  Can their community weather an emergency?  TT-Manchester in Vermont recently held a cleanup day in the Riverwalk area a story also covered in the Manchester Journal and T-Drummerston initiated a food sharing programme with a seasonal pot luck and discussion, read more in The Commons online.

Transition Margaret River (WA) invited people of the town to join an open space event to consider how their community could become more co-operative and resilient.  David Banner of T-Viroqua  (WI) gives a plain English reason why it’s a good idea to get involved in Transition, read more here in the Vernon Broadcaster.

Finally, here are a few general bits and bobs, spotted in various places.  There’s a nice review of In Transition 2.0 here from RTCC (Responding to Climate Change).  Marion Harrington, a clarinettist and classical music entrepreneur writes this interesting article titled What the Worldwide Transition Movement Can Teach Classical Music About Adapting to Change.  A general synopsis of Transition here in the Poughkeepsie Journal from T-Marbletown in NY who have set up their own holistic clinic and tool bank.  An online discussion forum raises the question ‘are the Transition bods on the right track’? via Urban 75.  A good question.  Quakers in Transition is an online support for Friends working within the T-Movement.  Here is a Transition article in Front Line Copy by Faith Attaguile, and finally Samuel Alexander writes ‘What is a Transition Town?’ in The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.

Don’t forget there’s just over a week to go until the 2012 Transition Network conference … find out more here, and we’ll see you there hopefully.  See you next month.