Transition Culture

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

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10 Apr 2013

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

Pic courtesy of

Pic courtesy of

We’ll start this month’s Round up in Crystal Palace in London, and news of the ‘Palace Pint’.  Crystal Palace Transition Town started the initiative inspire by the nearby ‘Brixton Beer’, and more than 80 people have now planted hops in their gardens as part of the scheme.  CPTT have teamed up with local brewers Late Knights in Penge, who will brew a special brew using the hops and who will also run sessions throughout the year where people can learn to brew.  Hops were also planted in the Crystal Palace Museum Garden and in the Grape and Grain pub’s Tipsy Garden (see pic above).  Rachel Dethample of CPTT (in the photo with her son) said:

“We are growing fresh hops which aren’t often used when making beer in this country because they have to go straight to the brewers on the same day they are picked.  “The harvest won’t be great this year, but we sold about 100 kits and should get about 2,500 pints out of it”.

Read more here.  But the UK has been far too cold recently, even if the thought of locally-hopped beer might warm the cockles.  So let’s hear next about how Transition has reached (what I imagine to be) the white sand palm tree-laden shores of Bermuda.  Our thanks to Kristin White of T-Bermuda for this update on their screening of In Transition 2.0:

Part of the audience for the

Part of the audience for the Transition Bermuda screening of ‘In Transition 2.0’

“Transition Bermuda hosted a screening of In Transition 2.0 as a way to re-energise the local initiative by introducing it to a wide cross-section of the community.  The event was packed, and after the film, a lively discussion ensued about what parts of the film resonated and how we can introduce these ideas here in Bermuda. Transition Bermuda couldn’t be more thrilled with the response – people are asking about getting the film to show to their families and neighbours, and other community groups want to show it as well.  There has also been lots of interest in both food and energy programmes, including a community garden, chicken coop workshop, and showcasing the solar-powered water heater that Transition Bermuda developed, so we feel that showing the film has created the buzz and enthusiasm we wanted and are eager to move forward!”  (more photos of the event on their Facebook event page).

As part of Cycle Instead Bike Week (17 to 23 March) TT-Guilford in Western Australia held a Bicycle Treasure Hunt.  Also from T-Guildford, Peter Langard writes about the vast gulf between the latest climate science and the decisions being made by Australia’s State Government.

From Brazil, our thanks go to Isabela de Menezes for sharing this video of The Planet Hour, an event held by Transition Granja Viana:

From Canada, both T-Salt Spring Island (BC) and T-Guelph (ON) held Resilience Festivals.  Many thanks to Chris Mills (T-Guelph) for sharing her fantastic blog post on the event which you can read here.

Transition Guelph's Resilience Festival.

Transition Guelph’s Resilience Festival enjoy a community meal

Here is Ami Dehne, Events Co-ordinator for Transition Guelph, introducing the Festival:

Salt Spring

The Transition Salt Spring Resilience Festival

Jean Gelwicks of T-Salt Spring asked Rob to address their Resilience Festival via a pre-recorded video presentation.  Here’s the film he made:

So what’s happening in France Transition-wise?  Our thanks to Kitty de Bruin from Transition France for this update:

“A lot of activities by the Transition initiatives during the sustainable week at the beginning in April in France.  In Toulouse the fredd festival will show in a competition the film entransition2 (thanks to TT Toulouse, Joseph Gonzales) amongst a lot in international films according to the theme this year: Sustainable Town.

Christian Araud published a book: Préludes à la Transition, Pourquoi changer le monde? In this book he states that simple actions to build a part of the society in transition is our only hope to survive. Christian followed a permaculture course to experience the relation with Transition”.

Thanks to Corinne Coughanowr for this update from Transition Paris, France:

Fest de Recup - Paris

“In the ongoing cycle of the Concrete Utopies Festival, launched last September in the Paris region, the latest edition was a week-long  “Festival de la Récup” (re-use/recovery festival) from March 18 to 24. In a spirit of self-organization, the festival was pulled together by over 60 people and dozens of associations, including plenty of Transitioners.

With more than 50 events on the program, participants had to struggle to choose between them all: a film on planned obsolescence, round tables on waste treatment practices versus the treasure in our trash, meals made from market gleanings or such inhabitual “recovered” ingredients as carrot tops and apple parings.

Moving way beyond mere recycling, there were loads of exhibits and ateliers on how to turn the most unlikely waste into woven vests, mini-gardens, wild headgear, and “recomposed” furniture. People learned to crochet hats and handbags from plastic bags, to make their own cleaning and cosmetic products, and to build furniture out of cardboard.

Fest de Recup1 - Paris

Collective intelligence brought people together to dismantle and examine old electronic equipment in view of using the components in new ways. Others put their heads together to upcycle a variety of old objects into artistic and useful creations. A two-day Repair Cafe had dozens of people working together to sew up torn pockets and ripped jeans, and to repair lamps and electric kettles. Figuring out how to open a toaster and then find the problem and how to fix it was an eye-opening experience for many.

The weekend was like a giant carnival. Among the stands and exhibits, there were free zones for clothing and any other stuff people cared to contribute, demonstrations and activities for kids and “big kids”, visits to composters and shared gardens, and a bike fair and repair clinic to help owners learn to fix their bikes themselves. Concerts, skits, rap and poetry filled in any possible gaps, and smiles and stories carried on into the following week”.

Also from France is this excellent film called “Transition au Pays ; aventure lotoise”, which I have seen with English subtitles (hopefully that version will appear online soon), which visits various growers and farmers and explores what Transition, in relation to food, looks like in rural France:

From Germany, our thanks to Gerd Wessling & Gesa Maschkowski for the following:

“We made two movies about Rob Hopkins’ recent visit to Bonn, one with German translations:

… and a shorter one in English only, with Rob’s answers to 3 questions:

Here is the article we embedded them in.  And here is quite a long article by the young journalist who did interviewed Rob after his Bonn talk.  There is also the Transition Culture post on Rob’s visit to Germany here.  He was accompanied by Nils Aguilar; director of the movie “Voices of Transition“.  Thanks to all the organizers, the team from TT Bonn & the Heirnich Böll Stiftung for making this happen!  Thank you again for coming!! We are still harvesting..

In Ireland Transition Town Kinsale held their annual Spring Fair with local produce provided by Kinsale Green Growers.  And here is a lovely video of the event filmed by Ortzi Akisu:

Thanks to Bob Stilger for this blog post on (formerly Energy Bulletin) about Transition in Japan.

Now to Portugal and Spain, and thanks to Juan del Río (Transition Movement in Spain) and Filipa Pimentel (TN, Portugal) for their report on the first Backcasting Training for members of the EU IMAGINE project:

“On 26 and 27 February, we, , were in Figueres, Spain. On the first day, there was a public presentation about the Transition Movement, focusing on the National and International contexts; on the second day, we facilitated a workshop on Backcasting. This workshop was tailored for public officials of Local Authorities and representatives of Energy Cities, members of the Covenant of Mayors, who are at the moment working very actively on a project – IMAGINE – Energy Cities started the IMAGINE initiative in 2006 as a follow-up of a discussion with member cities interested in the long-term perspective and a visioning approach of energy and territorial issues.


Last December, a Transition representative was present in one the IMAGINE conferences as a speaker and, after hearing about some of the techniques Transition Initiatives use, Energy Cities contacted Transition Network hoping to learn more about Backcasting, very often part of the process of producing Energy Descent Action Plans (EDAPs), empowering the members of this project to use it in their respective municipalities.

Around 15 people from several EU countries including France, UK, Germany, Spain, Romania, Austria, were present and it was quite amazing to see how they reacted so openly to our proposals, so honest about their worries and feelings about how the world is heading to and how difficult is to find a way to make a difference, so creatively in their shared dreams. We heard that they were happy, surprised and hopeful about using what we shared with them. We heard that they started using some of our “ways” of facilitating meetings just after we left the room!

It was a privileged to work with this group and we really hope that we are just starting a long collaboration” (you’ll find photos here and more photos and an article written by Juan (in Spanish) here)”.

Other things happening in Spain are the Second Spanish Transition Gathering only in few days, 12-14 April in Mijas-Malaga. And here is a beautiful video about the Transition Training done recently in Marbella, enjoy it!

In Axarquia, Andalusia in Southern Spain, the first meeting of a new Transition group was held under the title First Workshop of the Future.  From Sweden, here is a slideshow about a Transition Training that took place last year:

From New Zealand now, here is a great ( interview with James Samuel on the growth of Transition in New Zealand.

To the UK now, and in South London, TT-Brixton have been busy uncovering the benefits of localising Lambeth’s economy with an Economic Blueprint (you’ll hear more about those in a moment). Also in Brixton, the Heart & Soul group launches two new workshops and here is Derrick Anderson, the Chief Exec of Lambeth Council, off out doing his shopping using the Brixton Pound Pay-by-Text system:

While we’re on the subject of local currencies, it was fascinating recently to see the following Tweet recently from the Bristol Pound, which is going from strength to strength and inspiring other cities to look at adopting the idea too:

“Exciting news…Talking to the Cardiff Echo about plans for a #Cardiff Pound @bristolpound » Good times! Exporting £Brizzle”

To T-Crouch End in North London now and our thanks to Rebecca, Tilly and Andy for making us aware of their fantastic Alternative Clothes Show, hosted by Transition Crouch End (TCE) and Hornsey Vale Community Association (HVCA) on 17th March 2013:

“As Paris, Milan and New York launched their Spring collection Transition Crouch End and Hornsey Vale Community Association held their first Alternative Clothes Show- a counter local response to a significant global issue.  More than 30 models took to the catwalk in an attempt to encourage people to rethink their wardrobes and consider the hidden human and environmental cost of the mainstream clothing industry.  Here is a video of some of the event:

Crouch Enders were invited to reconsider their clothing choices at an afternoon packed with stands, displays, activities and films about Fair trade clothes, clothes recycling and up cycling projects.  Poppy Pickard, area rep for Haringey Fair-trade talked about the ‘sweat shops’ where often young children work for a pittance to make our ‘cheap’ clothing.

“We want to live in a world where justice prevails. We are here to send a message that this form of slavery is not acceptable. It is important we live in a world where people get a fair price and live in a dignified way which is also part of reducing our carbon footprint.”

People were treated to many re-skilling opportunities eg; ‘sew easy’ advice, providing alternatives to our ‘throwaway culture’ by learning how to repair and prolong the life of their clothing. There were crocheting stalls and beautiful jewellery made from knitted and compressed plastic bags!  Here are some interviews with some of the models:

There were local clothes designers and makers, and also many people came to sell on their unwanted clothes, all showing ways of embracing style with less harm to people or planet. The demand to reserve stalls for recycled clothes swelled as we neared the launch of the show and we ended up needing to use the whole centre; Gym, Large and small hall, as well as 2 meeting rooms, with a very good turnout. The sustainable cafe was busy as usual, selling Fair trade / homemade produce and producing zero waste.

Then it was time for lights, action and music – a highlight of the afternoon was an original ‘Real People All Ages Catwalk’ show the red carpet was literally rolled out, with over 30 stylish models striking the pose, all wearing alternative clothes. The crowd was entertained by 5 categories;’ Fair Trade Parade’, ‘Charity Shop’ and’ Vintage Glamour’ sections and many models in beautiful clothes they had ‘Hand Made’ or ‘Up Cycled’ themselves. The fun finished up with an Extraordinary End ‘Spring in the air’ parade displaying; A radiant Sun, some larger than life insects and green nature spirits, all making special appearances to spread the word about the wonderful green growing spaces in Crouch End.

It was indeed a breath of fresh air to see a real reflection of our community on the catwalk, breaking the mold of model monoculture with an enjoyable celebration of the diverse species that pollinate this good green earth. As Tilly Williams of TCE and Hornsey Vale Community steering group said,

“We showed that anyone can be a catwalk model and look amazing in alternative clothes.. We will be building on our successes in 2014”.

Transition Crouch End and Hornsey Vale Community Association plan to add this Spring clothing event to their annual calendar , along with their autumn ‘Apple Day Celebration’ and May bank holiday sustainable themed celebration (this year ‘Bee Day’ ).

Back to South London where T-Crystal Palace have been celebrating  Fairtrade Fortnight.  Becky Richards, the co-founder of TT-Whitstable in Kent is appealing to the town’s residents to help her turn unloved, disused plots of land in to edible community gardens which could be entered in this year’s Britain in Bloom competition.

In Totnes, Devon the headline for March was the Local Entrepreneur Forum at which the Totnes Local Economic Blueprint (one of 3 locations doing a Blueprint, the others being Hereford and Brixton, coming soon) was officially launched. Here is Fiona Ward of the REconomy Project introducing what a Blueprint is:

… and here’s a short film about the Entrepreneurs Forum (which has been talked about a lot by Transition groups on Twitter, usually saying “hey, we could do one of these!”):

You can read more about the Blueprint and/or download it in full on the TTT website.  Here are the thoughts of local MP Dr Sarah Wollaston about it:

… and Richard Sheard, CEO of South Hams District Council:

… and Cllr Jill Tomalin of Totnes Town Council:

To the US, and there was no monthly roundup from Transition US this month but here is a great latest story on Transition Lab.  Thanks to Maribel Guevara for sharing that in the nation’s capital, Washington DC, In Transition 2.0 featured at the 2013 Environmental Film Festival.  Transition Network’s Rob Hopkins recently did a webinar with Transition US, which you can hear here:

TT-Bedford (MA) is considering applying for a 2013-14 solarization grant – Solarize Mass, possibly joining collaboratively with adjoining communities.  Nearby T-Wayland were successful in securing a grant in 2012.  Finally, in case you missed it, this year’s April Fool on Transition Culture fooled quite a few people and generated several rather irate emails pointing out what a dreadful idea publishing the forthcoming new Transition book only on Twitter 140 characters at a time over the next three and a half years would be.

That’s it for this month, do let us know of any stories you would like to see included in next month’s Round-up.  Thanks.