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.

5 Jun 2013

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

We’ll start this month’s round up in South Africa.  We loved this video from German TV about Transition Town Greyton, and the work they are doing.  Wonderful stuff.  Altogether now: “Stuff your bottles, clean up your town”…

This month’s round up comes to you with a new added source of material, Twitter.  There are hundreds of Transition initiatives on Twitter, and they offer a more intimate insight into what’s happening on the ground, stories that wouldn’t necessarily warrant a blog or make the local press, but which offer a great sense of what people are doing.  Hopefully you’ll agree that this month’s round up is all the richer for it.  Feels to me like the fullest and most vibrant we’ve yet produced.  

Let’s start in the UK, and head to St Albans.  You can catch up on the latest news from Transition St Albans here.  One of their key activities has been the rolling out of Transition Streets, which is already being done by 40 households in 6 groups, with another 7 groups forming over the summer.  Transition Wilmslow recently organised a work party to build raised beds at the Riverside Hotel in Colshaw.

Transition Town Berkhamsted ran an event called Modernising Money: why our system is broken and how we can fix it.  They may have tried to imagine a place where everyone used a local currency, where rather than being a complimentary currency, it was the standard currency.  Visitors to the recent Sunrise Festival didn’t have to imagine too hard, as the Bristol Pound partnered with the Sunrise Festival.  According to a joint press release:

Sunrise and £B have teamed up to make the Bristol Pound the currency for this year’s main festival.  We feel it is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word of the £B as a catalytic tool for positive change.  It adds another great element to the festival, an interesting and fun way to get people thinking about money and to experience the enjoyment of using a community owned currency.

Sunrise Festival described themselves as ‘overjoyed’.  The idea also attracted press attention, as the photo below attests:

bristol pound

Transition Belper have produced their most recent newsletter.   It captures the sense of a Transition initiative with a powerful sense that it is making change happen and that it is finding the whole thing rather thrilling.  Here’s a short passage from their newsletter:

Transition Belper continues to grow and break new milestones all the time. This week we will see the number of supporters for the group going above the 500 level, something the 5 guys who sat together in December 2009 and said ‘should we get involved in this new Transition movement’ should be very proud of. From a practical point of view work continues on the green spaces of the Belper Train Station, adopted in April 2012, we have just held the first Youth Market in Derbyshire, we have seen the launch of Totally Locally Belper and this weekend sees the first Eco festival to be held in Belper, all organised by Transition Belper.


The above-mentioned ‘Eco festival’ was actually called Belper Goes Green, and was their first ‘Transition Festival’.  At the end of the day they tweeted, “what an amazing effort, we are unleashed”.  Transition Town Stratford’s GardenShare scheme is going well, they recently tweeted “folk are busy harvesting delicious new potatoes and giant radishes”.

Bath & West Community Energy, the community energy company that grew out of Transition Bath, has formed a rather exciting alliance with Frome Town Council.  The Somerset Standard recently ran a story entitled Carbon neutral plan could see town generate its own electricity, which stated:

Now the council hopes to team up with a Bath-based renewable energy company to achieve the ultimate goal – a dramatic reduction in energy consumption and as much home-grown energy from renewables as Frome uses.

Speaking of Bath, Nathan Baranowski and Iva Carrdus recently wrote a fantastic article about how Transition is unfolding in the city. It is well worth a read.  I loved its concluding two sentences:

Our prayer for Transition is to let us move forward with pace and a balance of hands, head and heart in all that we do, so that we stay connected to ourselves and others as well as the planet we live on. And always bring tea and cake.

tp_posterTransition Reading now have a new Steering group in place.  Transition Social Reporter Kerry Lane wrote a great piece sharing a vision for resuse and repair in Shrewsbury.  Transition Sheffield ran an event to bring together Transition groups in and around the city to share their ‘Local Transition Stories‘.  Another excellent, in depth article about what Transition looks like in practice in a particular place was this article about Plymouth in Devon and what’s unfolding there Transition-wise.

TT-Forres in Scotland welcomes 16 Scandinavian visitors. Read more in the Forres Gazette.  TT-Marlow (Bucks) have set up a new monthly market in which anyone can set up a stall as long as they are selling locally made produce or are offering a local service.

beesTransition Louth recently held ‘The Festival of the Bee’, which included a wealth of bee-related events, including the Louth Concert for Bees (see poster, right).  It inspired the local paper to a cascade of dreadful bee-related puns, such as “Louth is soon to become a hive of activity as the town prepares to celebrate its first ever Festival of the Bee organised by Transition Town Louth and Louth in Bloom”, and talk of “making a beeline” to the event and how it was “buzzing”.

TT Honiton in Devon have created a new waste group and have also been busy with a clothes swap.  From TT Lewes, some growing tips for the forthcoming month of June.  TT Romsey teamed up with Riverford Organic Farm to organise a poetry competition for primary school children on the theme of growing your own. You can read the winning poem and some other entries here.

Transition Cambridge’s unveiled its Fruit Tree Harvest project, which they described like this:

There must be hundreds of fruit trees in Cambridge gardens producing unwanted or wasted fruit. The Food Group are planning a new project to tackle this situation.

They set out some of the things the project needs in order to be a success:

  • Do you have a fruit picker or a lightweight (bike friendly) ladder that you’d be willing to lend to the project?
  • Do you have a garden producing too many apples, plums or pears for your needs?
  • Would you like to join the harvesting teams?

Transition Town Totnes’ Food Hub takes more steps towards becoming a reality.  Also, Greg Barker MP recently visited the town and made this short video to reflect on the experience:

You can read the latest Transition Town Totnes newsletter here.  Transition Chester have got together with Friends of Hoole Parks and with Cheshire West and Cheshire Council to bring the Incredible Edible idea to Hoole, planting over 100 fruit bushes in the corner of Alexandra Park. Transition Chepstow presented to their local U3A group a talk called ‘What is a Transition Town and what has Transition Chepstow been doing?’  Transition Malvern Hills ran a repair cafe.  Social reporter Caroline Jackson wrote a beautiful blog about her local Transition initiative in Garstang , Lancashire.  She wrote:

As new initiatives go, I think Transition Garstang is a fantastic example.  It has made a space for itself in a place where there is already plenty going on and you could feel daunted by that alone.  It has partenered up and gained acceptance from all manner of local groups and has been willing to try things and take the risk of failure.  The future is full of new ideas and opportunities.  All I can say is thanks for giving me the time to learn so much about you.  Go Garstang!

James Smith has written a great piece on Transition Shrewsbury Green Doors 2013.  Over the next few months, two young film makers from Folkstone in Transition (Kent) will be asking local people involved what does Transition mean to you?  Transition Chichester held a stall at their recent Farmers Market. here’s a photo of it…


They also ran a Swap Shop event, which we suspect was actually just an excuse to try on lots of different silly hats, as this photo suggests:


To London now, and news of some of the groups there.  A couple of them have recently been celebrating the anniversaries of their setting up.  Transition Town Tooting just turned 5!  Here’s a great blog by a newcomer to the group, reflecting on the party, on feeling part of the project, and, of course, on the cakes that were made for the event (see below).


The Tooting group also recently organised a craft session in the local library where children learnt how to take prints from leaves.  Here are a couple of photos of the event:

Tooting Library 2

Tooting Library 1

Transition Town Kingston (you can read their latest newsletter here) held their 5th birthday party, which included an entertainer which they described on Twitter as being “a zany performer described as a cross between Brian Cox, Harry Hill and Lady Gaga”. Blimey.  Marilyn Mason, a key member of TT-Kingston, and not “a zany performer described as a cross between Brian Cox, Harry Hill and Lady Gaga” has been praised for her work in the local community and nominated as an unsung hero.

Crystal Palace Transition Town are doing great stuff at the moment, and they just celebrated their second birthday.  Their birthday was celebrated at what sounded like a wonderful AGM event, which celebrated all the many projects underway in the area.  Here’s a great write-up of it. Here is a video they made that captures what they’ve achieved over the past year:

The day after their AGM, CPTT launched the Crystal Palace Food Market, which has been a huge success.


Inside Croydon, the local paper, wrote a glowing article about it, reporting on the market’s second week of trading:

The Crystal Palace Transition Town group got this market off the ground in less than a year.  They did this without a six-figure grant from the government.  They did so without needing any endorsement or assistance from a television celebrity.The market has been an immediate draw for local families.  It was achieved through the hard efforts of unpaid volunteers and by spreading  “word of mouth” digitally, online, via Twitter and Facebook, with some outlay on acquiring stalls and some printing and associated costs.  So many people attended the market on its first staging a week ago, that many of the traders were almost out of stock by 1pm.

Food-Market-Joe-the-Carrot-e1369742059720-200x300As part of promoting the event, CPTT’s Joe Duggan even rather gamely dressed up as carrot.  He may well not thank us for it, but here is a photo of him in his carrot-suit (see right).

CPTT will be hosting the official launch of The Power of Just Doing Stuff on June 18th, and one of the speakers at the event will be Agamemnon Otero of the wonderful Brixton Energy.  The event is open to anyone, and promises to be a really fantastic evening.  They write “It’s likely that this event will attract national media attention and a turn out from other Transition Towns and groups, so you might want to turn up early if you’d like a seat!”

Here’s a recent interview with Agamemnon:

Transition Ealing screened a film called ‘The Spirit of 45’, which they described as:

An impassioned documentary about how the sense of unity which buoyed Britain during the war years carried through to create a vision of a fairer, united society.  The film seems of enormous relevance to the Transition movement as we endeavour to rebuild community spirit in the face of the challenges of climate change and energy volatility.

With Spring turning to summer, and things finally starting to warm up after the coldest Spring for 50 years, London Transition groups are out doing some gardening.  Transition Brockley have been similarly engaged, tweeting “the sun is out, come and garden at Brockley Common from 10-12″.  Croydon Transition tweeted that “Thornton Heath Rec Community Garden is really coming along. Put in lettuces, peas, cosmos, sunflowers and a few squashes on Sunday”.  Transition Kensal to Kilburn have been back out working on their ‘community allotment’ on Kilburn Tube station, and tweeted “come and see the beautiful black tulips and the blossoming apple tree”.

The group also held an event to launch their ‘Edible High Road’ project where they decorated and delivered trees to participating shops.  There are some great photos of the event here.   Here is the group with some of their trees, on Kilburn High Road.

kensal trees

To Spain now, and on a recent Transition Training course in Barcelona (‘Curso en Barcelona de Transición Sostenible’), participants were asked “what is Transition?”  Here’s what they said (speaking Spanish helps):

From Brazil, here is a film about Transition Granja Viana spent Earth Day:

In the US, a magazine called ‘In These Times’ ran two fantastic articles about Transition, some of the best coverage I’ve seen.  Jessica Stites wrote a piece called Transition, Coming to a Town near you, which gave a great overview of Transition across the US, and included this lovely quote from one US Transitioner:

Between you and me, I don’t know if we’re going to solve the world’s problems.  [But] the underlying ethos is that the process needs to be fun enough to be worth doing anyway. I love that about it. There’s a bit of anarchy, which is wonderful. People who are attracted to it tend to be upbeat, optimistic, joyous people.

The second, by Polly Howells, looked at one initiative, Woodstock in Transition.  It included a quote by Katryna Barber, a member of the Woodstock Initiating Group:

Transition is like when you’re a kid with your friends and you decide to make a circus. The energy level is so exciting and inviting that more kids want to join you!

Here is a video of a talk by Gail England of Transition Town Montpelier about home food systems:

T-Marbletown (IL) have been busy organising two events, one a classic community pot luck aimed at community building and the other a 5 day retreat which held Transition training events, a regional mid-Atlantic Transition Hub meeting plus plenty of sessions in which members of the public could drop in on.

‘What is *Country X* doing to take care of their environment’? asks TT-Payson (AZ) who start their series with India and Australia.  TT-Charlotte (VT) plant out their second annual TT Garden ready for the summer reading bee tepee programme.  TT-Viroqua (WI) met to talk about the many benefits of an edible weed garden.

Transition Falls Church (VI) continues to grow strong writes Ronald Lapitan, a high school student and key member of the group who first heard of the Transition movement via the film Economics of Happiness and was inspired to start a project. Read his full piece in the Falls Church news press.

I have no idea where this video comes from other than assuming it is somewhere in the US, but it features various Transition folks helping someone dig over her garden, while the narrator points out that in 47 days time she’ll be eating greens from her garden.

Emily Zionts, a global issues teacher at Woolman, a non-profit educational community in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California, focuses the end of semester on Transition which forms part of their activist toolkit workshops.

You may have found that in your Transition group you struggle to get members to figure out how to use the website and upload stuff onto it.  Well, Transition Town Comox Valley (BC) in Canada have created a video tutorial to show people how to use their website:

… and another to show people how to use their discussion forums (or fora)…

Joe’s garage seems to be a regular haunt for TT-Comox Valley meetings where they met recently to discuss long term strategic aims and greater collaboration with like minded organisations in the valley.  The co-founder of T-Oakville (ON) gave a talk about the Transition model in Cobourg (ON). A public meeting followed shortly afterwards to discuss whether the local environmental group Sustainable Cobourg should become a Transition Town. Read more here and here. Transition Toronto recently ran a Container & Backyard Gardening Workshop.


To Italy now, and to Ferrara.  Ferrara in Transizione recently held an event they blogged about under the title The picnic and the magic of Fruttiprendoli.  It was basically a community picnic and fruit picking event, but it led to some interesting discussion as to how to translate the work ‘Fruttiprendoli’.  Pierre Houben from the group had a go:

The idea came from “Not far from the tree” project, could try with Fruitcatcher Fruitgrabber or something more fun that give the idea.  In Italy you have “Fruttivendoli” shops who sells Fruits and Veg (the true name with which they played) and you have “Fruttiprendoli”, people who grab or catch fruit or … I don’t know other words”.

So we might have a stab at Fruit Tree Harvest (like Transition Cambridge’s project described above) or Fruit Gleaning, or something.  Looks like they all had a great time anyway.

From Japan there’s this great article from the website DE, ‘Transition Towns’ lead the way in low carbon living, which pointed out that “followers believe that it’s communities – and not governments – that drive societal change to adapt to climate change and cut reliance on oil”.

Thanks everyone who sent in stories, do send in anything you’d like in the next one.  Happy Transitioning!