Transition Network UK News
It is around this time that Transition Network often announces its annual UK conference. We've been having a think about how best we can connect to, and support, Transitioners in the UK and have decided that in 2014 we'll try something a little different. And we'll be inviting UK Transition Initiatives to help us shape what this looks like.
Our plan for this year is to offer a 'Transition Roadshow'. It will build on the success of last year's 'Transition Thursdays' which we ran with 6 UK initiatives, and on local/regional gatherings of Transitioners that TN supported last year. We will be running 4 or 5 regional events, hosted by Transition initiatives. They will provide a great opportunity to raise the profile of Transition in your area, to network with other local initiatives, to bring some of the expertise and resources of Transition Network to support your work, and create a great platform for better engaging with local organisations, policy makers and your wider community.
They will also be a lot of fun, and a great opportunity to celebrate all that you have achieved. There will be the possibility that they could be accompanied by a some tailored Transition Training support for your group, or a REconomy day focused on reviving your local economy. So, watch this space.
Over the next couple of months we'll be sharing more about the 2014 Roadshows, and inviting requests from Transition initiatives to host them. From an international perspective, we're very pleased to report that the National Hubs have agreed that they will meet in Copenhagen in September 2014. Big thanks to Transition Denmark for offering to host this gathering.
We know people have loved our big annual conferences and we certainly haven't abandoned the idea of future large-scale events. We'll be giving some thought to this a little later this year, so we can start planning early for 2015. Leave a comment if you have view about what sort of events Transition Network should be organising.
Due to a number of our Trustees coming to the end of their terms of office, we are looking for four new board members to fill their shoes. The board of Trustees are responsible for the strategic development and the good governance of the organisation. If you think you might have the time, the skills and the passion to support Transition Network in this way, we'd love to hear from you.
Being a Trustee is a voluntary position, although all reasonable expenses are paid. You will need to be committed to the aims and ethos of the organisation, bring skills and experience that add to the overall expertise of the board, and have the capacity to contribute 1-2 days per month to Transition Network business. Meetings are held alternately in Bristol, London and Totnes.
For more information about the role and the process of becoming a trustee, please download the information pack below. If you would like an informal chat about becoming a trustee, please email Sarah McAdam, TN Delivery Director on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Closing date for applications: 4 April 2014. Transition Network is a UK charity which works to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities across the world as they self-organise around the Transition model.PreviewAttachmentSize Revised TN trustee information pack Jan 2014.pdf196.7 KB
This month the newsletter includes an invitation to become a Trustee, the Conference, a new Funding Primer, and more about the Network Initiative Support, which ties in with the theme of Resoucing Your Initiative. Our Social Reporters explore communications in Transition and the Free Press introduces its new team. Researchers offer to help you find out whether what you are doing is working plus the Training team have dates for the Launch and Thrive courses.
Transition Network Conference News for 2014!
We've been having a think about how best we can connect to, and support, Transitioners in the UK and have decided that....
Become a Trustee of Transition Network
Due to a number of our Trustees coming to the end of their terms of office, we are looking for four new board members to fill their shoes.
Transition Initiative Support Coordinator
Meet Mike Thomas the Transition Initiative Support Coordinator and find out what he thinks of his new job and what he has planned.
The New Support Overview
Transition network has produced a new page on the website that puts all the support resources we currently have online in one place, making it easy for you to access all of them from one place, one to book mark for future reference.
Unveiling Transition Network's new Funding Primer!
The first version of our Funding Primer with tips, suggestions and advice for getting your Transition group’s projects funded is now online. We hope you find it useful.
New Directory of TN Webinars
Topics up so far include Getting Ready to Fundraise; Creating an Effective and Engaged Team; Building Personal Resilience; What is the Transition model of change?
NEWS FROM AROUND THE NETWORK
The theme for February on the Transition Network website was 'Resourcing your initiative'. It kicked off with a piece from Rob Hopkins which framed the month as looking at the resources that Transition needs in the widest sense of the word, not just funding. Interviews included Transition Trainer Tina Clarke, writer and comedian Rob Newman, author Paul Kingsnorth on the power of crowdfunding and engineer Zenrainman on the potential for rooftop agriculture in Banglalore. Sophy Banks, in her regular column, looked at creating Transition initiatives with staying power.The founding members of Transition Town Totnes came together to recreate BBC Radio 4's 'The Reunion' programme, reflecting on the resources that they drew on in order to get Transition under way in the town (Part One and Part Two). We heard the cautionary tale of the Transition initiative who went after a big funding opportunity only for it to go horribly wrong. We introduced StreetBank, a great new resource for sharing resources at the community level. We heard from Transition Town Peterborough in Ontario, Canada about the resources they need to do what they do. Transition Network also launched its Funding Primer, a great new resource for Transition initiatives. Throughout the month we also published a series of short pieces capturing people around the world's 'Stepping Up moments', the point when they decided to step across into being part of making Transition happen. By far the best read piece of the month (trebling traffic to the site in one day!) was our Open Letter to the BBC on Nigel Lawson's appearance on the BBC Today Programme. It certainly seemed to strike a chord, and was reposted in many places.
The February 2014 Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
Our tour includes a Swop Shop in South Africa, films in Germany, Urban Community Gardens in Bucharest, in the UK a bird garden in Honiton, a Sustainable Food Conference in Cambridge, the rain filled up Dorchester's pond, Westcliffe and Linlithgow ran a Potato Day, Seed Swap days, plus more countries and projects.
TRANSITION FREE PRESS
To get to that exhilirating front page moment requires hours and hours of invisible work put in by lots of talented, practical, dedicated people – people you don’t normally see. With the next issue coming out in May, meet the new editorial and production team.
OUR SOCIAL REPORTERS
Communications is an important part of Transition at every level, from the Transition Network down to the smallest initiative. It's necessary but it's difficult. What are the key messages? Who are the important audiences and how best to reach them? The Social Reporters look at these and other questions as they explore communications in Transition.
How Do We Communicate About Transition in our Neighborhoods?
The first sentence Sara Ayech says to someone about Transition, depends very much on whom she is talking to. Different messages for different audiences may sound obvious but it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because we are moved to act by a particular argument, request or piece of information, then others will be too.
Checking Out the Communication Strategy
For two years social reporters have been “telling it like it is” from the patchwork of allotment plots sometimes known as “initiatives” that form the grassroots of the Transition movement. Standing in our gardens, we’ve been shouting, to no-one in particular, “Hey, look, you gotta see this!” Caroline Jackson looks at her local Transition initiative websites to find their communications strategy.
The Free Press Gang
Voicing who we are and where we are in time is part of being human. For thousands of years artists and communicators have sung in the day, we've sung praises and lullabies, shared stories, and learned, through the art of writing, how to convey our thoughts and feelings across the globe. But equally as people we have been silenced. Charlotte Du Cann talks about why the newspaper reaches places other comms does not.
The Power of Communicating Stuff
Jumping in and 'doing stuff' works well for doing stuff, but not communications, at least not in the long run. A singular voice isn't enough says Jay Tompt. What's needed is a loud and boisterous orchestra.
Transition: a Year in Numbers
Is it possible to quantify the effect you are having as an initiative? We are usually so busy ‘just doing stuff’ that we forget to look up and take stock. And it’s not always easy to get a sense of how much difference our individual efforts are making until we look at the bigger picture. Grant Venner reflects on the fifth anniversary of Ealing Transition.
Launch online starts again on April 23rd. It has sold out every time so far, so if you are thinking of attending this or know anyone who is, then now is the time to get in early while there are still places.
We are starting to offer Thrive in Europe, with Spain, Belgium, and Sweden leading the way, and have a full programme of Launch trainings, and a few Effective group trainings too. More details:
There is a special and highly recommended workshop in Germany in April with Charles Eisenstein entitled, Transition Activists and Leadership Intensive with Charles Eisenstein.
How do you know whether what you are doing is working? Want help in finding out? The School of Geography and the Environment (University of Oxford), in partnership with Transition Network and the Low Carbon Communities Network, are hosting a series of free workshops in April and May this year to help low carbon/community groups monitor and evaluate the work they do. Currently the workshops are running in Oxford (12th April), Manchester (26th April) and Totnes (10 May,) and possibly one in Scotland. More information about the project can be found here:
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"If you want to be a rebel, be kind."
This month on the website we'll be asking people doing Transition around the world what climate change looks like where they live. How is it affecting their community, and are people noticing?
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Next newsletter 4th April 2014
Introducing Mike Thomas, Transition Network's Initiative Support Coordinator, and his new support overview page.
Hi everyone. My name is Mike and I am the new Transition Initiative Support Coordinator for Transition Network. I have in fact been around since August and may have already met some of you, in which case hello again. My role is to develop support systems for Transition initiatives throughout the UK and throughout the world. Writing that makes me feel slightly overwhelmed, that is until I remember all of the great people who are involved in making Transition happen on the ground throughout the world. So how do I see my role?
Well it would be impossible for me to personally support over 1,400 Transition initiatives so my job is to take the big picture view of support, in order to come up with systems of support that support as many people as possible. My big focus is to give groups the tools and information to be successful at Transition, which in turn makes them resilient and able to deal with problems that arise through finding their own solutions. I must admit this is slightly self interested because if I can make sure Transition initiatives are successful, it means I have less problems to help sort out. I can then focus on building more systems of support that help the Transition movement grow larger and stronger.A bit more about me
So a bit more about me and where I come from. I grew up in a small ex-mining town called Cinderford in the Forest of Dean in the UK. As I was born in the Forest of Dean local customs stipulate that if I worked down a coalmine for a year and a day I would be granted freeminers rights and could mine anywhere in the Forest of Dean and have free roaming sheep. I decided not to take up that line of work and ironically now work to help keep coal in the ground. Over the years I have worked for a range of community organisations mainly dealing with social problems and issues of poverty and housing, such as Unemployed Community Resource Centres, Glofysh a Support Service for Young People and Shelter the Homeless charity. As well as this, I have been involved with loads of campaigns, neighbourhood projects and alternative media projects as well as running websites such as Permanent Culture Now which I still do and making films.How I became interested in Transition
I have been interested in Transition and permaculture for a long time as well as radical politics, coming from the Forest of Dean which has quite a history of radicalism. I have for long time been interested in how to build the capacity of movements to succeed and have been involved in doing that for a long time. When I saw the Transition job advert for this role I thought now there is a job which I could really get my teeth into and make a real difference to the world, by supporting all these inspiring people to take Transition forward. I also love meeting new people, learning about them and hearing their life stories and experiences of Transition. It feels like a big job in front of me, but it also feels that I have thousands of experts on Transition who are willing to help me on this challenging journey that lies ahead.New Support Overview Page
One of the first things I have done is to make it a lot easier for you to find the existing support resources we have by producing a page that gives people an overview of what is available on the Transition Network website. I have structured the page around the categories of a new support pathway I am currently developing for Transition initiatives, which I will be blogging about soon. The page answers the following key questions:
1. How do I find out more about Transition and keep up to date with what's happening?
2. What advice and support is available to people setting up and developing Transition initiatives?
3. What training is available?
4. Our initiative is having problems, what help is available?
Each question has a section that highlights all the resources that are currently available to Initiatives. So, for example you can find out about all the blogs, newsletters and social media presence we have, see all the resources with have on how to develop your initiative, get an overview of all the training we offer and find some solutions to problems that your initiative maybe having. This page provides you with an overview that you can regularly revisit to easily find the resources you need. I hope you find this useful.
If you have any problems which aren't covered here you can contact me here by selecting the Project Support option.
Today we have a guest post from Transition Town Brixton's Sibylle Mansour.
Reused and remade – values and ideas for engaging and connecting
Blessed be serendipity! Upon starting to write the opening paragraph to this article, I read Rob’s Resourcing your Initiative blog post and was pleased to find that in the first few sentences he mentioned the key element of the story that I am going to tell. It is about the fact that the success of a group is much more about knowing how to connect people with one another and help them keep the connections dynamic and alive rather then being able to attract funding. We had many discussions about how to attract more funding at Transition Town Brixton (TTB) and I am not saying that we should stop looking for and finding it. However I wholeheartedly like to believe that in essence any creative success story is a story about continuity, consistency and authentic presence; it also is about trust, it’s about sharing and giving.
TTB - Urban transition in progress
We had a big birthday bash for TTB’s 5th birthday in October last year. It’s been an adventurous journey to grow the movement and I enjoy being part of it since February 2010. Many stories could be told, some more humorous and positive than others of course. And this one is about how we manage to continue our efforts to connect to the core transition values while working on TTB’s future and considering the aspirations of the people who come to our events.
Sharing space, sharing food – for thought
Our secret here is called SHARED SPACE; it is a monthly event that we first started in April 2010. The original idea came from the wish to open up the working/steering group forum to a wider audience. So we started to hire a hall in a community centre on a council estate. We offered the venue to our groups to utilise the space for open meetings while we organised short-film screenings, themed discussion groups and practice sessions in swapping and sowing seeds, draught proofing, introduction into carpentry and sewing, and we asked people to bring a home-made dish to share.
Well, now this is a concept that worked in the beginning because it offered something new to people, and Transition was quite new to Brixton in 2010 and it was also the time when we had a pop-up community shop in Brixton Village market. Shared Space was handy because when we started a conversation with people in the shop and they wanted to know how to do transition and how to get actively involved we directed them to Shared Space, ‘We’re always there on Loughborough Estate, every second Monday of the month from 6-9pm.’
Building social capital
We had very lively and buzzing events but there were also evenings when hardly anyone came. With our limited capacity we simply could not come up with a diverse and engaging programme every month. Let alone putting the necessary effort into publicizing it. So we sometimes ended there were maybe less than 10 of us; some were sewing, some were knitting, sharing food and thought enjoying the informal quality of the evening. No meeting aims, no formal outcomes, no feed back forms, no time keeping, no agenda. And we have patrons from the estate we could - and still can! - count on. Persevere.
Certainly it was not always easy to stick to it and on more than one occasion we discussed cancelling the event altogether. What kept us going though was that we were intuitively aware that this was the only thing we offered that had this kind of quality and consistency; and so we continued to be present!
Over the course of the last 6 months we were incredibly successful in theming our events. And what was the best thing was that we just had to contact the key stakeholders in the existing food, energy and enterprise project groups around our Borough to join in on the night. A lot of footwork towards creating connections had been done by working on the REconomy project over many months in 2013.
TTB plays a central role in a very strong urban community where people, organisations and enterprises support and act on building resilient alternatives and develop sustainable systems. Years ago we identified the need to facilitate exchange among these groups and signpost people to create useful links to grow their social capital. So in some way it seems as if recently Shared Space has started to reach its next potential.
Make a life – make a living
It was a decision made years ago to bring livelihoods and business to the centre of attention. We knew from hands- and heads-on practice that no one was going to be able to continue to make transition their life without constructing ways of making a living out of it.
So we called for a Shared Space solely dedicated to livelihoods and scheduled it right in the beginning of the year when people are keen and inspired to make a change. - And honestly for one reason or another we certainly touched on a hot subject: we never had more people attend until that day a few weeks ago. The burning question of how to live within the boundaries of our urban built, social and natural environment and make a living by doing exactly that without having to ‘go and get a job’ is central to the transition theme. Over the course of the last few years many at and around TTB have started to grow a small local business, gone self employed and do things differently in the face of a changing economy; and led by one’s own desire to do what they wanted to do. But was it going to be sustainable?
The overarching theme of the evening was to explore the questions
- What is a Transition livelihood?
- What is our understanding of making a living?
- How does transition livelihoods affect existing systems and how do we create new ones?
- How do these changes impact on my life?
- What is the implication to work with the planet?
To get people into the right set of mind we started the programme with the premiere screening of the short film ‘Make a Life – Make a Living’ (it’s open source please use it!). After the 4min film we had a number of 4min short talks where people described their experiences and journeys in building their ‘Transition livelihood’. Here's that film:
Finally we asked everybody to join the sector based discussion groups. It was intriguing that quite a few people said that they wanted to join more than one group. The presence of so many interesting and interested people had created an amazing energy. People came with mixed expectations and especially in order to meet the needs of people who were new to TTB more guidance and signposting would have helped direct them. The atmosphere was vibrant and it was not easy to get people to stop talking. During the sector based group discussions more facilitating and guidance may have helped to minimise the chaos that was created by the wealth of human resources and initiatives that were available that night.
Conclusively it is probably hard to capture what will happen with this energy in the future. We will keep it present at next Shared Space events and include the issues brought up. We will see how it flows and continue the conversations to find out what wants to happen and hear what people are doing with the focus of the event.
It’s time to continue – ‘Make a Life – Make a Living part 2’. Soon to follow!
Fuel poverty and potential solutions for residents of the Marlborough area were some of the hot topics debated at a meeting with energy minister Greg Barker, at Marlborough’s Conservative Club. Dr Sam Page of Transition Marlborough, along with Marlborough area residents with ‘hard-to-treat homes’, attended a constituency meeting with MP Claire Perry - who chaired the debate - and the government minister. Dr Page told the minister that Marlborough has, in common with other rural areas, twice as many children in fuel poverty as in urban areas.
However, Marlborough has not been able to access the funding known as the Carbon Saving Communities Obligation which available to improve the energy efficiency of rural homes, as this funding only targets areas with high levels of crime, low levels of education and high numbers of benefit claimants.
Mr Barker, minister of state for energy and climate change, responded that a “minimum of fifteen per cent goes to the rural fuel-poor” and social housing associations in particular are taking advantage of the funding available.
Later, Dr Page shared with Marlborough News Online later, that her main point - that funding for rural areas is instead being used in Swindon, Salisbury and Trowbridge - was not addressed. Mayor Guy Loosemore secured agreement from the minister to support a project for Marlborough which needs to be led by Wiltshire Council. The council has previously identified 1,000 homes that need retrofitting under current legislation but has, as yet, done nothing about.
“Unfortunately the Wiltshire Council portfolio holder, Toby Sturgis (strategic planning, development management, strategic housing, property and waste), couldn’t make the meeting,” said Dr Page later.
"Further, Wiltshire Council has not applied for any of the funding offered by DECC which could help to implement a retrofitting project, we hope they will be more proactive in future."
And demonstrating just how confusing is still the array of funding and legislation around energy saving home improvements, Mr Barker himself talked about accessing a funding pot that actually ran out last year.
“This proposal would be taken to an energy company to implement it, under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to reduce carbon emissions.”
Dr Page said: "The take home message is that Transition Marlborough is willing to work with Marlborough Town Council and Wiltshire Council to help access funding from one of the big energy suppliers so that fuel poverty can be eliminated in Marlborough Community Area".
She prepared for the minister’s visit with a report featuring eight hard-to-treat Marlborough area homes off the gas grid with oil costs up to £4,000 a year.
St John’s School student Jake Seaward, who undertook thermal imaging of the homes, was also present at the meeting.
You can download Transition Marlborough's A report on eight case studies of Hard-to-Treat homes in Marlborough Community Area here.
Written by Louisa Davison and originally published at Marlborough News Online on 11 February 2014.
We start February's packed roundup in South Africa, where Greyton Transition Town have just set up a Swap Shop in a local school. Candice Mostert from the group writes:
Swop Shop is a space where people can bring clean, dry, recyclable waste and receive vouchers, which they can exchange at an on-site shop, to purchase essentials such as clothes, toiletries, blankets and school clothing.
In Germany, the film In Transition 2.0 was presented in Potsdam following by a talk and discussion organised by Transition Brandenburg. Still in Brandenburg - at the beginning of February, Transition initiatives from Berlin and Brandenburg had a common meeting in Wedding to strengthen their network. The regional network was set up one year ago.
Transition Town Witzenhausen has been taking part in the regional event-series about climate-justice, setting up an exhibition for raising awareness about environmental and social justice and development in the context of climate change.
Transition Warburg has been part of a film series presenting the film Slow Food Story, about the story of the slow food movement started in North-Italy 25 years ago. The gastronomic fight against fast food and globalisation of food industry was pretty successful, as today has initiatives in more than 150 countries all around the world.
To the UK now. Transition Town Berkhamsted organised an evening in February with Polly Higgins. Polly was talking about ‘Dare to Be Great: Eradicating Ecocide’. Polly is lobbying the UN to make Ecocide an international crime and campaigns globally.
Chris and Hilary Handel of Transition HKD (that's Hassocks Hurst and Ditchling to you and I) appeared in the Guardian in a piece about the energy efficiency measures he has put in place in his home. The work of Crystal Palace Transition Town and the photographs of Jonathan Goldberg recently made an appearance in a Korean magazine. No idea what it says, but it looks good:
The only distinguishable words to the English eye are 'Rob Hopkins'. Ealing Transition initiative and University of West London got together recently to produce a video capturing what the group has been up. Spoiler alert: lots.
The group also wrote a great post for the Social Reporters' blog which put some numbers to their recent work, great practice for any Transition group really. The team behind Transition Dorking's Golden Ticket (or the 'Golden Girls' as they are known locally) were recently invited to present and to share their experiences at the NEC Retail Spring Fair, an experience they wrote up here.
Transition Honiton recently installed a bird garden in the garden of their local library. The local paper, the Midweek Herald, reported how they were joined by Steven Henry from the RSPB for the official launch of the garden, who was quoted as saying:
“This project is exactly the kind of thing we’d love to see happen across the country. Transition Town Honiton had the vision to do this and worked hard to see it through. It is really inspiring to see what can be done when people work together. Of course, it really brightens up the area but it is also part of something much bigger. Gardens like this and gardens that people have at home, when put together, create the biggest nature reserve in the country, so even a little help will go a long way to giving nature a home".
Transition Cambridge were one of the hosts of a recent Sustainable Food Conference in the city and will also be holding a Renewable Energy Forum this month. The recent floods have also been impacting on communities with active Transition groups. Transition St. Albans tweeted:
St Albans allotment holders on Cottonmill site were shocked today by the site of their land completely flooded over...
Transition Hertford posted the photo below and wrote:
Hartham common looking towards McMullens now river Beane has burst. Forget hydro, we can use wave power now
Transition Town Letchworth were quoted in their local paper, under the headline "Extreme weather to become more common warns environmental group after floods", with Joanna Jefferson from the group saying:
“Whilst we clearly rely on national and local goverment strategy to deal with this, it’s worth remembering that all of our small actions add up. There’s also plenty we can do individually and as a community to reduce our contribution to what is a global climate problem".
For Transition Town Dorchester, the deluge of rain arrived at just the right time! They celebrated the recent rain by finishing their pond, just in time for it to fill up (see right). The pond has been a long time in the making. Early last year it was staked it out in the middle of the Poundbury orchard, next to the community farm, and digging was started.
Transition Town members are now putting the finishing touches to the pond – more overlay will be put over the liner to encourage plant growth in the pond, the edges will be anchored and a fence put up around it so that the geese do not dirty the water. Workdays are held most weekends, with shared lunches and frequent cups of tea, and everyone is welcome to come and join in!
Transition Kentish Town held a screening of 'In Transition 2.0', which has been available to watch free online now for just 6 weeks but has already been viewed over 21,000 times. Transition Town Totnes recently reflected on its early days when 5 of its founders sat down to do their version of Radio 4's programme 'The Reunion'. Here it is:
The programme 'Town' which focused on Totnes and contained a fair bit about Transition, recently appeared on YouTube with Chinese, or is it Korean (?) subtitles:
This month, TTT launched a Crowd Funding Campaign to pay farmers for locally grown staple foods such as grains and legumes. The success of any Crowd Funding Campaign is down to the level of personal interaction with potential donors. The workshop was based on 'Dragon Dreaming', a fun tool used for the implementation of creative, collaborative, projects.
The group is also working with Totnes Caring and South Hams CAB on a project to help older and vulnerable people in fuel poverty with advice, support and practical assistance to reduce their energy bills and increase the energy efficiency of their homes. What is offered is tailored to the needs of householders involved but could include checking that they are on the most advantageous energy tariffs, assisting to manage energy debts; carrying out simple, but effective energy efficiency measure such as draught-proofing; assistance accessing grants for further measures such a boiler replacement and cavity wall insulation and income maximisation. The project is funded through a small grant from the Devon Community Foundation with some additional support from the Feed-in Tariff income from the solar panels on the Civic Hall.
It is the season of Potato Days and Seed Swaps. Everyone's been at it. Transition Westcliffe ran their Potato Day, writing:
With over 30 varieties of seed potato, some organic, sold individually at 15p per tuber, SE Essex Seed Potato Day onSaturday 22 February gives local gardeners the chance to buy seed potatoes by the tuber, meaning anyone with enough space for a potato grow-bag, or an entire allotment plot, can get started as soon as the weather improves!
Transition Chichester didn't just hold a Seed Swap, they were swapping anything and everything, toys, clothes, seeds, you name it... Here's the poster...
Transition Town Totnes have their Seedy Saturday this weekend. Transition Loughborough held theirs. As well as the seeds, they also had other interesting stalls:
A Master Composter will be on hand to help you with any problems and advice you might need with your back garden composting. If you are looking to save a few pennies and find something productive to do on the dark Winter nights we will have some people on hand to demonstrate how to “make do and mend” repairing clothes and how to make small needlecraft items such as lavender bags. For those wanting to exercise their woodworking skills we’ll also be talking about making bird boxes.
They had their displays out...
Their event also contained a 'Make Do and Mend' stall with sewing machines on the go...
... and plenty of seeds changing hands too...
Transition Town Worthing held their Seed Swap day, and the local Mayor, Bob Smytherman, dropped in to help out too:
Transition Worthing also have some exciting community energy projects in the pipeline, so at the Seed Swap event they got together to tell the world that they support community energy (although you may have had your suspicions previously):
Transition Linlithgow held their annual Potato Day, of which they wrote:
Linlithgow and District Allotment Society, Transition Linlithgow, Burgh Beautiful & St.Michael's Church (Empowered Project) will be working together to make this our 2nd Potato sale in Linlithgow. Last year was packed and a sell-out, so we expect this year to be the same. We might have some yummy bead from the Bread Club too.
They also held a screening of the new film Local Food Roots, which we reviewed here. Transition Stroud held their Potato Day, here's a short video Philip Booth made about it:
Transition Town Tenterden's Seed Swap has yet to take place, but here is their poster, which is, frankly, bordering on the psychedelic:
Transition Town Worcester are turning their hands to 'swishing'. They write:
Come along to the Eco Hub in Lychgate, Cathedral Plaza on Saturday 22nd February for the first of two Textile Repair events! The second event will be held at the Pump House Environment Centre (Gheluvelt Park) on Saturday 22nd March. Please bring any clothes which you want to learn how to repair, and any clothes which you would like to swap for something new – the swapping of textiles such as clothes is called ‘swishing’!
A number of Transition initiatives have published their newsletters: Transitions Chepstow, Houston, Totnes, HW (Herriot-Watt University), and Kentish Town to name but a few. Transition Long Ashton's Community Orchard and cider making appeared on the BBC but didn't mention the Transition group (unfortunately the clip is no longer available)!
Holmfirth Transition Town appeared in an article in their local paper about their new project to make cycling to work easier and more enjoyable for Holme Valley commuters. It said:
"Despite the popularity of recreational cycling in the Holme Valley South ward, the area has approximately 80 cycle commuters among its population of 18,000. Following a £300 Kirklees Council grant, HoTT’s transport group aims to find out what is discouraging non-recreational cycling in the valley".
The Kingston Pound continues to move towards being launched. Here's a video update from the group...
They also tweeted:
Traders signing up to accept Kingston Pound @SurbitonFoodFes £1,400 pledged from 66 individuals can spend their K£ with at least 17 traders!
The Bristol Pound recently published the gorgeous-looking Bristol Pound Directory 2014 (see right), stating:
The Spark and Bristol Pound C.I.C are pleased to present the first printed Bristol Pound Directory. With over 600 locally-owned businesses listed, you'll never struggle to find a place to spend your £Bs again! Copies are now available for collection from businesses all over Bristol.
Members of Transition Town Tooting also recently visited Lewes on a kind of 'Transition Exchange', sharing thoughts and experiences with each other. Here's a photo collage they made of their visit.
Thank you for Mihai Abagief for this update from Transition Towns in Romania, where all sorts of Transition stuff is happening.
"We’re organizing our first Permaculture Design Course on 7-20 of April with Permaculture Teacher Rakesh Rootsman Rak. Rakesh has good experience with Romania as this is the second year visiting, in 2013 being a PDC organized with him. We hope it will be a big success and we look forward to having participants from all over Europe as the course will be held in English language (with translation into Romanian, if needed). It will be one of the cheapest PDCs in Europe this year, in order to make it accessible to as many people from the continent as possible.
A two days seminar Intro to Permaculture seminar is also set-up for this winter (15-16 of February) being held by two members of Transition Bucharest who are preparing to become permaculture teachers. It’s a free economy format with main purpose to create cultural awareness for permaculture as an instrument of social change besides the usual offering the basics of permaculture, its principles and design components.
Claudian, our Transition Towns Trainer and Filipa held last week-end in Oradea a Deep Ecology workshop (based on the "Work that Reconnects" by Joanna Macy), the third in this series (see left). Some 20+ participants joined the event with visitors from Portugal and South Africa as well. The Deep Ecology workshop format proves so far a good tool for making deep connection and starting up transition groups and will be used much more in the future.
As we’ve people that always look after the day of tomorrow, we’ve started to build a yurt. The 1st meeting took place, we’ve are looking for the best materials, built a mock-up and as soon as spring comes, the yurt will come to live in small steps. More info on our website.
A new project is starting to take shape in Bucharest, namely Urban Community Gardens. We’ve had our first meetings about the project and we’ve in the process of finding locations in the city, making communication materials for the project and so on.
Free Seeds developed spontaneously in mid January as a peer-to-peer Seeds Swap system was put in place by Adina, the coordinator of Alba in Tranzitie initiative. There is already a big buzz on the Facebook group created and seed are being sent all over the country, information on seeds saving best practices. Emphasis is on local organic and/or heirloom vegetable seeds non-native seeds that can increase diversity of Romanian veggie gardens.
Permaculture Moara Vlasiei is a new project started last year, as a permaculture demonstrative site 30 kilometers distance from Bucharest. The project public announcement and preparations for 1st meeting for permaculture design were made, but the winter weather made us postpone until the sun is on our site.
The place will also be used for experimenting with land share/allotment, a project dear to our hearts that we are keen on making it real.
Last but not least, we welcome in our team a new member, Milli who will be doing volunteer work as communication specialist, besides Oana. Milli has a corporate background and formal education in media and communication, will be making some of the fine posters you see on our website, managing our Facebook page, reviewing our presentations and writing copyright and articles for anything she’ll get her hands on.
As for school gardening project, the main project for Transition Towns Romania, we’re working right now on getting financing to extend project to 5 schools and we’re right now writing financing document for an ecology financing line opened by a company and an NGO (for green urban spaces and natural habitats protection). Securing financing is a slow process, but 2014 seems to have all ingredients for moving forward with this important ingredient.
Josué Dusoulier in Belgium sent us the following:
"In Ath (Belgium), after the launch of our new website in January, we celebrated in February the first anniversary of our repair Cafe. Once a month since February 2013, volunteers are repairing stuffs (appliances, clothing, bicycles, toys, shoes, computers ...) in conviviality. Two free market (Gratiferia) were also organized. For 2014 the concept will be expanded with new workshops : once a month our sewing experts will offer an opportunity to meet over a cup of coffee and help you to find a solution to your problems about sewing, knitting ... Everybody's welcome!!
Here are a couple of photos:
Finally, from the US, here's a short video from Transition Denver:
We are delighted to announce that The Power of Just Doing Stuff has just been published in German. It is now available via Transition Germany/DACH (the German-speaking countries), and they have done a beautiful job of translating the book, as well as adding a new section which covers Transition activities underway in those countries (a French edition is also coming soon). We are very grateful to the translating team, especially to Gerd Wessling, for making this happen. Given that it is unlikely you need to know more, unless you can read and understand German, at this point we'll switch over to the German press release.„Einfach. Jetzt. Machen!“ – Buchneuerscheinung von Rob Hopkins, dem Begründer der Transition-Town-Bewegung
Rob Hopkins: Einfach. Jetzt. Machen! Wie wir unsere Zukunft selbst in die Hand nehmen
oekom verlag, 24.02.2014, 192 S.
12.95 EUR, 13.40 (A)
Wir befinden uns im Jahre 2014 n.Chr. Der ganze Erdball steht Peak Oil und dem Klimawandel ohnmächtig gegenüber. Der ganze Erdball? Nein! Mehr als 1000 engagierte Kommunen und Initiativen haben begonnen, vor Ort Widerstand zu leisten. Die Bewegung, die sie eint, ist die der Transition Towns. Ihre Ziele: Krisenfestigkeit sowie ein CO2-armes Leben und damit der Übergang in eine postfossile, relokalisierte Wirtschaft. Ihr Begründer, der britische Umweltaktivist Rob Hopkins, legt mit "Einfach. Jetzt. Machen! Wie wir unsere Zukunft selbst in die Hand nehmen", das am 24.02. im oekom verlag erscheint, eine leidenschaftliche Einladung vor, sich der Bewegung anzuschließen – und liefert die Anleitung und viele anregende Beispiele gleich mit.
Ob der jährliche "Kartoffeltag" in Chesterfield, eine "Tool Library" in Seattle, eine Solaranlage auf einem Kirchendach in Melbourne, eine Getreidemühle im argentinischen El Bosón oder der Palettengarten in Hannover: rund um den Globus tut sich was! Die Idee von Transition begann als Experiment in Hopkins' englischer Heimatstadt Totnes und expandierte von dort in alle Welt. Die Vision dahinter: Durch die Stärkung der lokalen Wirtschaft und nachbarschaftliche Initiativen können Abhängigkeiten reduziert und Gemeinschaften widerstandsfähiger gegenüber ökonomischen und ökologischen Krisen gemacht werden. Anders als Regierungen und große NGOs unterliegen die kommunalen Aktivitäten weniger Handlungszwängen und bürokratischen Vorschriften und können so schnelle, individuelle und nachhaltige Lösungen ermöglichen.
"Dieses Buch ist eine Einladung", schreibt Hopkins, "einen neuen Ansatz dafür zu entdecken, wie unsere Wirtschaft funktionieren kann, wie wir Beschäftigung und Wohlstand schaffen, und dafür, wie wir in unseren lokalen Gemeinschaften leben und arbeiten." Anhand vieler konkreter Beispiele des Gelingens wird geschildert, wie man Probleme vor Ort identifiziert, Lösungen entwickelt, Mitmenschen mobilisiert und am Ball bleibt. Hopkins baut Hemmschwellen ab und macht Lust, die Ärmel hochzukrempeln und selbst anzupacken, denn "durch lokales Handeln kann man die Welt verändern".
"Der neue Hopkins ist so inspirierend wie sein zum Klassiker avanciertes Transition-Handbook. "Einfach.Jetzt.Machen!" liefert eine fundierte und zugleich verständliche Perspektive für eine Welt ohne Wachstum." Niko Paech
Rob Hopkins ist ein britischer Umweltaktivist, der als Begründer der Transition-Bewegung bekannt wurde. Für den Independent ist er einer der wichtigsten Umweltschützer Großbritanniens. Von seiner Heimatstadt Totnes aus expandierte die Idee der Transition Towns in alle Welt. Die deutsche Fassung des Buchs wurde von Gerd Wessling und Aktiven des deutschsprachigen Transition Netzwerks inhaltlich um Transition-Aktivitäten im deutschsprachigen Raum ergänzt.
This month new strategies are unveiled by the Transition Network and the Government. REconomy launch a series of webinars. Lots of discussion about scaling up and the Social Reporters explore Permaculture and disasters. Plus the regular world of Transition round up, and books, films and new resources and some more nuggets for you to dig for.
NEWS AROUND THE NETWORK
The Transition Network Draft Strategy - What Do You Think?
Transition Network has been going through its own change process recently. We've reviewed and made changes to our staff structure and, over the last eight months, we've been asking ourselves lots of questions about the purpose and direction of our organisation. So here is the result of our enquiry - a draft strategy which describes our vision and purpose and the way we work and sets out our priorities for the next three years. We've talked to quite a few Transitioners about this along the way, but this is an opportunity for any and all of you to have your say. Please have a look at the strategy and respond to the questions below. The Transition Board will review and agree the strategy at the end of this month taking account of comments received by 26 February. Write as much or as little as you want - we'd just love to hear from you!
UK Government's Community Energy Strategy unveiled!
The Community Energy Strategy which had a lot of input from Transition Network and other initiatives, is a fascinating example of what it looks like when Transition is able to start influencing (along with a range of other community organisations) national energy policy.
We know that many Transition groups would like to secure more resources (money, people, skills and other things) to help them meet their aims. The REconomy Project is offering 2 things to help you get started, wherever you live...
1) Helping your Transition group ‘Get ready to fundraise’ - a free webinar
Want to know what’s behind successful fundraising? Come to this webinar with 2 expert Transition fundraisers, and learn how to get ready to raise funds.
One of these experts, Tina Clarke of Transition US is interviewed here talking about some of the fundraising challenges:
2) REsourcing REconomy - 6 session online course
Do you have a REconomy project idea, but need funding to make it happen? With the help of our trainer and fundraiser, this course will help you create a real bid and find potential funders. To assess if you are ready for this, you can do the ‘Get ready to fundraise’ webinar first.
The January 2014 Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
It includes a video from Stroud, a Bramble Bash in Crystal Palace, community gardens in Wandsworth and Cobham, a TREEmendous Fruit Tree Project in Southampton and Transition Haddenham held a cider competition while in Portugal reflections on closing a community garden, plus a Repair Cafe in Canada and news from Germany, Australia and USA.
Transition US 2013:A Year in Review
From adding new team members to rolling out advanced leadership trainings and hosting Rob Hopkins' whirlwind US tour, 2013 was a big year for Transition US.
The directions Transition US will take in 2014.
Our theme for January was Scaling Up which generated a lot of content and discussion. It was framed by Rob’s opening piece, which set out the 5 factors that will enable Transition to scale up. We heard from Doria Robinson about the challenges of trying to scale up urban agriculture in the shadow of a Chevron refinery, from Nick Temple about scaling up social innovations, from Andy Lipkis, the man taking on LA’s water system, from Rosie Boycott on Capital Growth and scaling up urban agriculture in London and from Les Robinson on insights from his book Changeology.
Transition Network’s Ben Brangwyn shared how Transition is scaling up internationally, Sophy Banks discussed the risks of going for growth, and other ways to make an impact, and Josue Dusoulier looked at how the Belgian national hub is scaling up. We reviewed the rather good new film Local Food Roots.
Rob Hopkins offered some thoughts on David Holmgren’s recent paper Crash on Demand which he followed up with a post called ‘Reflections on being a Cultural Optimist’. He also explored “6 reasons why there’s no community in fracking”. We delved into what we might be able to learn from the potential, or not, of earthen building to scale up, through a trip to Kevin McCabes’s new ‘cob citadel’, hearing about a new clay plasters enterprise, and Robert Alcock’s story of building his own cob house in Spain.
Lastly, in our “how to discuss Transition with…” series, we looked at tips for discussing Transition with Conservatives/Republicans, MPs and civil servants, young people, local government and church groups. Our theme for February is 'Resourcing your Initiative'. If you have anything you would like to share around that theme, do get in touch.
Permaculture and disasters were the two themes explored last month. The theme of Disasters great and small and looking at the potential for learning about ourselves, our worlds, great and small and how they may point the way to a different future. Caroline starts the week by looking at the most painful human disaster of the twentieth century, the Holocaust, followed by Diana taking an ecopoetic look at storms and two guest bloggers, Jo on the Workington floods and Chris on how Transitioners can fall into initiative disasters. For permaculture week, Ann prods at some Permaculture myths while Kerry sees how well it complements Transition plus Chris reports from Cuba and from an exciting housing development in the UK.
The disastrous state of being human
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, anniversary of the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, time and place for us to remember millions who died or suffered in the Nazi concentration camps. It’s a moment to ponder the disaster of genocide and commit ourselves to creating a safer future.
The Strong Pull of Transition Disaster
Transition initiatives are started by groups of individuals who are committed, informed, high minded and aware of the needs of their own and wider communities. So why do they end in disaster, often after quite short lives and amidst such pain and acrimony that people are harmed and lost to Transition?
Researching Resilience: Workington after the flood
On November 20th 2009, while the eyes of the media were focused on the flooding upstream at Cockermouth, Workington suffered a different kind of disaster. All its bridges, apart from the railway bridge, were destroyed or so badly damaged they had to be closed.
An Ecopoetic take on the power of Storms
Ecopoetry goes several steps further than traditional nature poetry by recognising the interdependence of all life on earth and the irresponsibility of our attempts to tame and plunder nature in a modern world ruled by technology, self-interest and economic power.
Permaculture Gathering in Cuba
The rain is torrential and after just a few minutes roads become small streams and in low-lying streets there are cars with water up to their windows. For some unknown reason a policeman stands resolute at his post, water above his knees and dripping from his cap.
The Trouble with Permaculture
I’m not surprised that Permaculture hasn’t caught on with mainstream food growers. When I first encountered it about twenty years ago, I found it off putting, to say the least.
Transition Homes - a permaculture designed housing project in Totnes
I'm standing at the top of a gently sloping 7 acre field with wonderful views across the lush green countryside outside Totnes and over the Dartington Hall Estate - okay, actually I'm sat in front of a laptop in my kitchen but in my head I'm in that field!.
Transition and Permaculture should get together more often
Two movements working towards the same positive, resilient future using the same principles, why are they not more integrated? Why do those involved in them only vaguely know about the other? Why are we not reaping the benefits that each could gain from closer involvement? I am, if you were wondering, talking about the Transition movement and the Permaculture movement.
Thanks to some great responses from Transition Free Press readers, distributors, and some key start-up funding from Transition Network, the next issue will be coming out in May. Although they continue to work raising funds for core costs, the nationwide communications enterprise really depends on maintaining the vibrant distribution network of Transition initiatives, community groups and small businesses that they built up during the pilot. Plus individual subscribers really make a difference. Also could you be the new Food and Drink Editor?
The first Transition Launch training is happening in Israel, and the first Transition Thrive trainings are happening in Spain and Belgium, and Sweden. See here for details:
The next Launch onLine starts on April 23rd at 19.00 GMT for 8 consecutive weeks. For more information and to book:
Green Open Homes Events
Advice and support on running Green Open Homes events is available here
Building Thriving, Resilient Communities
A collection of books and online resources
The Power of Just Doing Stuff - German edition
The German title will be "Einfach.Jetzt.Machen!" and will be the first time since 2008 that a book about Transition will be published in German! It includes an extra chapter about Transition in Germany, Austria & Switzerland. Orders (in German) through TT Bielefeld can be placed here:
Two short films about food have been added plus you can now add comments to all the films listed.
How is your Transition Initiative doing? What some support to help you find out? Transition Initiatives are invited to participate and trial evaluation resources. See for more details:
Not Just My Cup of Tea – Teapot on Tour 2014
Mark Watson from Sustainable Bungay will traveling around the UK visiting people and places demonstrating how to connect to the plants growing locally and the kinds of teas you can prepare from them. If you’d like to host a teapot session with an accompanying Talk, Walk or Workshop find out more here
Grow Heathrow 4th Birthday Party
1pm Saturday 1 March
They will be breaking last year's record of over 100 pizzas in our wood-fired clay oven, with a bigger feast, more face painting, seed sowing, arts, live music and, of course, the famous bike-powered sound system.
Your Step Up moment. In February on the website we'll be speaking to people from across the Transition movement and asking them about the moment they stepped across from observing Transition to helping make it happen.
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This newsletter is published on the first Friday of each month.
Next newsletter 7th March 2014
Transition Dorking’s Golden Ticket team took centre stage at the NEC Retail Spring Fair last weekend. Invited to speak as part of the ‘Trends’ programme the Golden Girls shared their experiences of setting up an initiative aimed at increasing footfall on the high street – the highs and the lows!
‘This was a great opportunity to share what was learnt with others thinking about doing something similar as well as retailers interested in connecting with their community groups,’ said Sally Elias. ‘Small independent retailers have so little time to spend on promotion so it makes sense to work smarter and share expertise, energy and experience with others.’
We did a big ‘shout out’ for the Transition Towns movement as many people still haven’t heard about it! We had a chance to share other initiatives with people we connected with on the day.
Bringing Dorking Together is a new group that has emerged from the November event to support the high street across the next year. Originally drawn together as the ‘meet and greet’ party for Mary Portas it has decided to continue and focus on projects such as re-launching the Visit Dorking website, improving co-ordination of events and improving and enhancing signage in the town centre.
For their part the Transition Dorking members of this team are holding a surgery for retailers and members of the public to share ideas about how to enhance the town centre on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of February running from 10 until 4, both days. The venue, to be in the town centre, is to be decided.
Today sees the release of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's Community Energy Strategy, the first such strategy by a British government, and a powerful recognition of the growth and potential of community renewables. The strategy was, in part, shaped by members of the Community Energy Contact Group (CECG) which, included representatives of Transition Network and community energy projects with roots in Transition initiatives. It's a fascinating example of what it looks like when Transition is able to start influencing (along with a range of other community organisations) national energy policy. As Ed Davey writes in his Foreword, "we want to tap into the enthusiasm and commitment that’s so evident in community groups across the country".
- A new Community Energy Unit in DECC will work with communities and local authorities to provide a step-change in the support offered to community energy projects.
- A new £10m Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF).
- A doubling of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) maximum capacity ceiling from 5MW to 10MW for community projects
- A ‘One Stop Shop’ information resource for community energy, developed with community energy groups using seed funding from government
- The quadrupling of the Green Deal Communities Scheme to £80 million.
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
“We’re at the turning point in developing true community energy. The cost of energy is now a major consideration for household budgets, and I want to encourage groups of people across the country to participate in a community energy movement and take real control of their energy bills. Community led action, such as collective switching, gives people the power to bring down bills and encourage competition within the energy market.”
TransitionNetwork.org asked Agamemnon Otero of Brixton Energy, who was part of the Contact Ggroup that produced the report, for his thoughts on the final Strategy:
The Community Energy Strategy provides tangible examples and guidance to people, institutions and local government on how community owned renewable energy can flourish to create sustainable environmental, social and financial returns in the UK. The Community Energy Strategy demonstrates communities are already coming together to generate electricity and heat, reduce energy use, save money on the energy they buy, and balance supply and demand. It brings together existing policies and initiatives with new actions to provide a coherent package of support across the spectrum of community energy.Asked what, for him, is the single most important commitment in the Strategy, Agamemon pointed to Section 349, which is supplemented with a personal letter from Secretary of State, Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, to all local authorities, and which reads:"Local Authorities must back community energy projects in their areas. Their support can make a big difference to the success of community energy projects by providing them with support at key stages in their development. There are several examples of supportive Local Authorities in this strategy, and we want this to be the norm, which is why the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has written to all Local Authorities in England." With Transition Town Totnes, Brixton Energy and Bath & West Community Energy cited as case studies, this is a clear acknowledgement of the power of bottom-up action to begin influencing policy. Roll on the Commuity Food Strategy, the Community Economies Strategy, and perhaps even the Community Local Building Materials Strategy. It can only be a matter of time. Transition Network would like to thank everyone involved in making this important Strategy a reality.
Due to Christmas, things have been a bit quiet on the Transition front, so this is a smaller round up than usual. We'll start in Gloucestershire in England with a new video about the work of Transition Stroud. Transition Stroud have many themes of their work running, events coming up in early 2014 include the 2014 version of their highly popular Potato Day, a workshop on 'Local Currencies and the Future of Money' and a public meeting about how the community might respond to proposed fracking in their area. They just posted a great video that gives a sense of the breadth of the group's work:
You can read more in their recently-published newsletter. Transition Worcester have been taking advantage of the dormant period, tweeting "Transition Worcester Orchard Workers - maintenance day at New College, Whittington Road, this Saturday, 25th January, starts 10am".
In London, Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce, with the support of Crystal Palace Transition Town, are moving forward with their efforts to introduce the Palace Pound. The group have also been out on a 'Bramble Bash', tweeting that "The Bramble Bash team - so much achieved working together" (attaching the photo below)...
Transition Town Wandsworth were in their local paper recently in an article about their community garden. It read:
Every week volunteers tend to the garden, which is managed as a model of sustainability. Herbs, wildlife-attracting plants and edible plants all make up the garden, created in 2010. The garden is part of Transition Town Wandsworth, a group which works to meet the challenges of dwindling global oil reserves and climate change.
Transition Cobham is a new group which has emerged over recent months. They are soon to launch a crowdfunding appeal via Crowdfunder for the Transition Cobham Community Garden, an exciting new project to create a community garden in Elmbridge. You can read more about their appeal here.
Transition Town Totnes' Inner Transition group recently held an evening called 'Winds of Change' which looked at how recent extreme weather events and Typhoon Haiyan affect people. In an excellent report on the event, they wrote:
"In giving space to really notice how it is to be living with ever more extreme weather events and other depressing news stories we create precisely the opposite response to a system that goes on denying, distracting from or devaluing the significance of what is happening in our world".
Transition Leicester are running permaculture courses and are making a number of places available for half price to people on low incomes. Transition Cambridge have unveiled their plans for the next couple of months, and have their Seedy Sunday this Sunday, with Seed Swap, talks, film, cakes, children's activities at Trumpington Village Hall, 1:30-4pm. More information here.
Holmfirth Transition Town ran an event on 'affordable warmth in the Holme Valley'. You can see the poster to the right. Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Keymer and Ditchling Transition (HHKD for short) have just launched a rather nice new website. Transition Worcester are offering the opportunity to learn how to carve a spoon. Transition Chichester's first 2014 Swap Shop is happening on Saturday (25th), 10am-1pm Jubilee Hall, New Park. They tweeted "Come mingle, swap and find yourself some free gems!"
Transition Southampton's TREEmendous Fruit Tree Project is now underway, a project they describe in this way:
Our TREEmendous project buys fruit trees in bulk at a reduced price and passes on the saving to local residents and community groups. In the past three years, 280 fruit trees have been planted in the Southampton area through this bulk buy scheme and many trees were donated to local schools and community spaces. The project aims to create more local food in Southampton and create a virtual orchard across the city.
Here is the poster they created for the event:
"Another of the judges, Michael Whitney, confirmed that it was the best job he had had all year! Winner and holder of the Haddenham Cider Competition Wassail Cup for 2014: Dave Watkins his brew 'HappyL', made with apples from his garden at Fort End. The judges agreed unanimously that it was a strong distinctive cider that was more appropriate to enjoy occasionally with friends, rather than with a meal. Dave said he was looking forward to showing the Wassail cup to his daughter who had 'poo pooed' his efforts!"
Readers might be warned that one of the runners up was named "Diaper Explosion", clearly a delicate number with a floral bouquet.
- to inspire people that making your living being part of the solution is possible;
- to hear from people who have begun to do this;
- to look at what the opportunities are for 'transition enterprises' that supply real local needs;
- to look at what it takes;
- and to begin to provide practical help to enable people to make the change to doing what they really want to do and being part of the solution.
Croydon Transition Town have published their list of meetings for 2014. Transition Letchworth just published their newsletter, as have Transition Kentish Town. Transition Reading's Repair Cafe is back after a successful start last year (see photo below). This year's event will feature:
- Sewing, clothing repair, knitting, crochet.
- Electronics and mechanics.
- Bike repair.
- Tool sharpening.
- Draught proofing for your house.
Transition Town Worthing have experienced something of a reinvigoration since Rob Hopkins visited the town as part of one of 2013's Transition Thursdays. They have seen the emergence of many new projects, as detailed here. One of those events is their 'Sow and Grow' Seed Swap event. Here's a press release they put out about it:
"From a small seed-swap event five years ago, volunteers from Transition Town Worthing have grown a keenly anticipated celebration of local food and gardening.
On Saturday 8th February they host the ‘Spring Sow and Grow Fair’ at Oak Grove College, The Boulevard, Worthing. Starting at 12.30pm, visitors, amongst them Mayor Cllr Bob Smytherman and the Mayoress Cllr Norah Fisher, will be greeted by enticing aromas from a special lunchtime menu of hot food. Created from locally-sourced ingredients by Chef Guy French, after a sell-out success last year, by popular demand this year’s menu will include freshly caught local fish from the new Worthing sustainable-fishing ‘Catchbox’ scheme; Spring lamb from the South Downs and local-grown vegetarian options.
On sale will be herbs, annuals, perennials, vegetables and grow-your-own mushroom kits for gardeners of all size and shape plots, from window-ledges up to orchards, while free talks by experts provide advice and inspiration for growing success.
Indoors will be over 30 stalls to browse: from local, home-grown and artisan-crafted, foods, preserves, organic skin care products, up-cycled fashion and accessories, to local wildlife and conservation groups. Visitors will also get the chance to buy and swap plant seeds collected by local gardeners and horticultural volunteer groups.
Outside a warming open camp-fire, with more food choices, awaits explorers of the intriguing design features, sculptures and hideaways in the college’s multi-award-winning gardens. Add in a pop-up café with reviving afternoon tea and tasty home-baked cakes; a distinctly local musical flavour with lively entertainment from the (Heritage Lottery Funded) South Downs Song Project singers to hands-on learning and fun activities, and the Spring Fair promises to beat the worst of the weather with something for everyone to enjoy.
Major partners for the Transition Worthing Spring Fair this year are Southern Water, the Co-Operative South East, the Fish Factory restaurant as well as Worthing Allotment holders".
People are saying nice things about Transition. Oliver Tickell, editor of the Ecologist, had this to say about it recently:
As you'll know from previous round-ups, Rob Hopkins visited the US in October, and here is a short video from his visit to Los Angeles and Emerson Community Garden:
Transition KW in Canada also held a Repair Cafe. To Portugal now, and to Coimbra, who sent us the following story:
"This year started with a sensitive loss for our Transition initiative: we had to close our pulsing heart, our flourishing community garden in Coimbra's Botanical Garden. From 2009, we transformed this abandoned corner step by step into a welcoming place to meet, share and experiment.
Discussing about our future, we realised we had not lost our “soul”, that the will to come together, sharing the pleasure of living a more connected, resilient everyday life is within and between us. Why did we feel “at home” together? What is our “glue”?
During our shared inquiry, we met in public spaces and participated in activities organised by other organisations promoting alternatives for Coimbra. How on earth didn't we know about each other before? Why was there so much redundancy and so many missed opportunities for mutual support? We did not need a house for ourselves, we needed to be at home in Coimbra, sharing resources with other groups and creating shared places.
We found ourselves working with enthusiasm on formalising our initiative as an association, giving caring attention to how we work together, how we integrate new members, how we collaborate and how we foster initiatives. It also allows us to establish protocols with official entities.
Together with Coimbra Municipality we started a “free space” in Rua Direita, a street in the old, historic center of town last summer. A place to “walk in”, free of the current rules of everyday life, to become creative about what citylife could be. An urban art project led to the creation of a small garden with the active participation of neighbours and other persons passing by that were attracted by the activities. Meeting each other regularly, from one thing grows another, creating the conditions for the germination of spontaneous new ideas. Within a few months, the space has become part of social life.
Almost every day there are new challenges coming up. We spend a lot of time in conversation around decision making, deconstructing and reconstruction. We are still only a few with real availability and we are constantly asking ourselves how to support spontaneous creativity. We are ever more interested in finding practical leverage points that actually make a difference.
We wish you all strength and joy in finding what works in your community and are eager to share!"
From Italy, here is a video of Cristiano Bottone giving a succinct and clear answer to the question "what is Transition?". In Italian of course ...
Transition Town Media, along with Food & Water Watch Pennsylvania and Delaware Riverkeeper Network, is going to present the film Gasland Part II on Friday January 24th at Media Friends, 125 West 3rd Street, Media, PA.
Pennsylvania is a leading state in the fracking industry. Gasland II, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, shows how the stakes have been raised on all sides in one of the most important environmental issues facing our nation today.
The movement to share seeds is growing across the globe and the Healdsburg Regional Library in California, is the newest venue where community members can “borrow” seed. Anyone taking seeds to plant is invited to share the seeds by bringing seeds from their planted crop to the seed library. It’s an honor system that has proven to work in other places.
A Transition town meeting is going to be organised at the Kamloops Art Gallery, in British Columbia, Canada, on Saturday, Jan. 25, to start to make Kamloops a sustainable place to live. From Australia, Costa Georgiadis, described by Wikipedia as "an Greek-Australian landscape architect and television personality, best known as the host of the SBS TV gardening show, Costa's Garden Odyssey", features in this video being effusive about Transition Bondi:
... and here's a short video from Bondi about how to make 'Weed Tea', not some sort of psychedelic brew, but rather a plant feed made from green material:
... and how to make a compost heap:
In Nambour (see logo, right), some of the group followed up the demand for a community garden in town and it is now in place and a couple of years down the track.
In Germany, one of the main German newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a very detailed, inspiring article about Transition movement, especially about the activities in Germany. Beside of the article, what gives a nice overview of the various activities of German initiatives, you can read four portraits about four people with totally different backgrounds, now active in one of the Transition initiatives in Germany. The personal storries bring the issue nearer to the reader. You can watch the video to see the inspiring Transition initiatives of Bielefeld, Witzenhausen or Tempelhof.
The German language version of the book ’The power of Just Doing Stuff’ is going to be published on 24 February 2014. The book has an extra chapter about Transition activities in German speeking countries. This is the first German language transition book since 2008. You can already order the book on the website of German speaking transition initiatives.
We'll leave you with this from the US. During December, we invited Transition initiatives around the world to send in their messages of festive connection, which we gathered together here. One fell down the back of the email sofa, and we'll close with Transition Amherst in the US and their belated Season's Greeting:
"Happy Winter Solstice to Everyone! May 2014 bring you and your community an ever expanding circle of friendship, good work, fun, less dependence on fossil fuels, more delicious food, and greater resilience!
Transition Amherst and friends are celebrating our new cooperative market in town, which Bernard affectionately named “All Things Local”. The market opened two weeks ago and the shelves are filling up as more and more local producers are joining the cooperative.
The market offers locally produced foods and crafts – from vegetables to pottery, cheese to salsa, and wool to candles. It is an indoor, year-round farmers market. Producers and consumers own it together, as members.
We created the market to make it easier for producers to sell locally and for consumers to buy locally. Most local farmers are unable to sell products in the seven food stores within five miles of our university town. Big Box stores and national corporations make it difficult for small producers to get shelf space. Even when farmers are able to sell small potatoes to a grocery chain store, they only get 30-40% of the sales price.
In our cooperative market, 80% of the retail price goes to producers! Twenty percent of the sales price stays with the cooperative to cover rent, utilities and staff and other overhead costs. Each producer has their own space – their own shelf or spot. Each producer decides what to sell & sets the price. It’s fast & easy for producers to drop off their products. Volunteers and staff run a central checkout, reducing costs for producers, helping everyone make a living.
To celebrate the market, Transition Amherst and friends had a potluck of local foods. One of the market’s bakers – Dorie’s Backyard Bakery – offered taste-tests of bread made with two kinds of locally-grown wheat! (Dorie delivers her bread by bicycle and by electric-and-pedal-powered Elf!
The market will always have some items – bread and baked goods, meats, milk, eggs, cheese, ice cream, root vegetables, greens, onions and garlic, personal care products, frozen vegetables and frozen prepared foods such as soup. There are wood products, wool rugs, cards and local art. Other items will vary with the seasons. Winter arugula and spinach is in right now, along with a beautiful array of yellow, green, orange and striped squashes. The store is filled with crafts for the holiday season. I bought a dozen Christmas presents – beautifully crafted jewelry and pottery, soap and wool, plus jars of salsa, jam and maple syrup.
We’re discovering how much more items are made locally than we realized! The producers are starting to talk about new enterprises and new food products they might start growing, because of All Things Local.
Now the market is going to double in size, immediately! The landlord is so excited about how the co-op will improve the downtown (where he has a number of properties) that he has decided to take the leap with us and invest in making the market bigger. A beloved independent bookstore next door has been on the edge of collapse. The landlord is now investing his own money in reconfiguring the space so that many local businesses – the bookstore and the farmers, craftspeople and new entreprenuers – can cooperate together, and survive and thrive.
Sharon, a member of Transition Shutesbury, makes shoes and teaches others how to make their own shoes. She is a passionate member and volunteer at the market: “This market is bringing my craft to more people. They’re already selling out of the felt baby shoes. I have to make more this week!”
Lots of Love to You, Our Community Colleagues in Resilience!"
Our thanks to Noemi and Filipa in the preparation of this round up.
A guest post from Naresh Giangrande on an exciting new research opportunity:
I recently had an email exchange with Katherine from Transition Montmorency, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. She wants to be part of the ‘Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities’ (MESC) project we are running. I asked her what had happened in Monty over the last year, and she and others took some time to just list what they had done. She came back with a surprisingly long list – it surprised even her. This is typical of my experience with Transition groups, and my own experience. We just don’t give ourselves time to look back and see what we have done.
If we don’t look back then don’t celebrate our achievements, it can lead to discouragement and burn out. We also fail to learn and we can then can’t build an evidence base; two of The 5 factors that will enable Transition to scale up.
What are you really achieving? How do you know? Maybe you are having more of an effect than you think? Would you like to trial a range of resources that will enable your group to self-monitor and evaluate your activities?
The answers to all of these questions can be found by participating in a unique and valuable new project to discover ways to evaluate your work. ‘Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities’ (MESC) is a 12-month Knowledge Exchange project running from 1st December 2013 until 30th November 2014, and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. MESC brings together researchers from the University of Oxford, members of UK low carbon community groups, Transition Network, and Low Carbon Communities Network, to co-produce and trial monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools.
We are now inviting up to 25 UK-based Transition Initiatives, local energy groups, and low carbon community groups to trial selected monitoring and evaluation resources and tools over a six month period in 2014, with support from the project team. This means you will get both hands on support and also the financial support needed to participate in this project.
In the newsletter this month we have an unusually inspiring read that is the Transition Network's Annual Report, and we have a 2 month Transition world round up. Our relationship with "stuff" is the theme of interviews that include New Materialism, the joy of vinyl, citizen muscle, red flipflops, owls and Love Bombing. Our Social Reporters have an International Round-up from Japan to Italy by way of Greece, and an Edge Week. Plus many more hidden gems.
NEWS AROUND THE NETWORK
Celebrating 2013 & Plans for 2014
The Transition Network's Annual Report and Accounts, which may sound mighty dull, but are actually an amazing read capturing what an amazing thing Transition has become. Have a look at what a wonderful thing we have all created.
The November & December Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
Some of the highlights come from places such as Chile where the local police attended Transition training, Canada developing Transition Streets, a Dutch version of the REconomy Project is launching from a building and grounds they won, a TransitionFest in Italy, taking afternoon tea in Spain, a school garden project in Romania plus lots of activities happening all around in German-speaking Transition initiatives. In the UK Crystal Palace produced a guide to a more ethical and sustainable approach to shopping, an energy fair in Basingstoke, Totnes organised a health and care Conference, Stroud held their annual Winterfest, Reading a Repair Cafe and Chichester have been planting more trees. Lots more..
REconomy (UK) Funded for Another 3 years
As announced just before Christmas, we will be working closely with 2 Transition Initiatives here in the UK, and finding new ways to support and invest in emerging enterprises, among other things. Read more about our plans to help Initiatives start their own local REconomy Projects, as we develop and share the REconomy model:
Happy News Year from Transition Free Press
If you haven't read the winter edition of Transition Free Press yet there are some great stories in its pages about people who are using their ingenuity, skill, intelligence and good-heartedness to forge the kinds of enterprises and networks that help us do just that.
Winds of Change - living with climate change
As the effects of climate change become a daily lived experience for many, Sophy Banks reports on how empowering it was to come together and talk about how it feels to be seeing or experiencing extreme weather events at home or far away.
How different would the world be if we paid the True Cost of food and farming?
Tamzin Pinkerton, Food and wellbeing Editor for Transition Free Press, recently attended the True Cost Accounting in Food and Farming conference, organised by the Sustainable Food Trust.
'Tales of our Times', red flipflops and "stuff"
Storyteller Steph Bradley on what it's it like to set off, shod only in a pair of flip-flops, with only as much "stuff" as you can fit in a rucksack, to spend months walking the land in search of Tales of Transition
Now Steph is raising funds to enable the process of writing another version to inspire those who may never have heard of Transition. Called "Flip Flop - A tale for our times", it is set in the Utopia of 2050 where an elderly storyteller shares her experience of a pilgrimage she made in 2010. The part fable, part folklore story, bridges the gap between today's looking forward to an as yet ungraspable future, and the future we all dream about already in existence. By buying the book in advance (for example) you can help make it come into being:
Our relationship with "stuff" from different angles was the theme of the December interviews.
The New Materialism
Ruth Potts is the organiser of the recent 'Festival of Making'. She is also co-author of a pamphlet 'The New Materialism - how our relationship with the material world can change for the better'. She describes her work as "inviting people to fall in love with stuff in a good way".
What the rebirth of vinyl tells us about "stuff"
Rupert Morrison, who runs The Drift Record Shop, talks about the vinyl revival and what it tells us about how people relate to artifacts of beauty.
Blessed are the PVC makers
Any sense of "we're all in this together" appears to evaporate when it comes to those industries that use the most amount of energy. Rob Hopkins asks if given the scale of the cuts demanded by the climate change science, can any institution or company really be seen as being somehow immune?
The Adverts That Want to be Your Friend
Rob Hopkins explores the impacts advertising has on us, and what it all means to our relationship with "stuff".
'Affluenza', Love Bombing and strengthening our "emotional immune systems"
Oliver James is a chartered clinical psychotherapist and has written a number of books on the psychology that underpins our consumer culture.
Annie Leonard on Stuff and "Citizen Muscle"
Creator of the 'Story of Stuff' series of videos, who has done more than anyone to popularise the idea of "stuff"?
Transition Camp 2013, Owls and "unStuff"
Reflecting on the highlights of the last year, Martin Grimshaw ponders on his relationship with things and the fun of unStuff.
STORIES FROM OUR SOCIAL REPORTERS
December brought an International Round-up from the Transition movement stretching from Japan to Italy by way of Greece, and an Edge Week in which Grant recalled a lovely day in October whilst Caroline reflected on a stormy evening in Lancaster.
Grant Venner finding a ferment of learning and imagination at Ealing’s third reskilling event,
Ee, the Weather's a Bit Funny at the Moment!
Caroline Jackson on extreme weather and how growing projects will have to develop resilience.
Japan in Transition: an antidote to post-Fukushima despair
Guest Blogger Hide Enomoto, tells how hope was restored to Fujino through Transition activities.
Signs and Portents for Transition in Italy
Guest Blogger Deborah Rim Moiso tells the story of how the first Italian Transition Fest was created by using an online adaptation of John Croft's Dragon Dreaming design tool.
Jay Tompt in Athens to turn Plato's political philosophy on its head and put the Philosopher Citizen in its place.
Write For us?
The Transition Social Reporters are a small voluntary group of writers who are always looking for more people who want to tell their stories of Transition. Do you write? Are you interested in a variety of topics? Want to try writing a post or two to see how it feels? If so we need you! Please email email@example.com
Launch online is running again from January 15th, and we have the first Transition; Launch trainings happening in Latvia, Mexico, and Israel. See below for details.
Transition Launch OnLine
There are still a few places left for our next training. Transition Launch Online is packed with imaginative ways to delve into the practice of Transition helping you to set up, run and grow a Transition Initiative. It is also useful for people who have recently become involved in Transition and want to develop the essential skills and insights to help their Transition Initiative become a success.
Starting January 15, 2014 19.00 UK time and for the following 8 weeks at the same time
Transition Launch trainings in:
Want some help with how to evaluate the work you do as a Transition initiative? We have a one year project with Oxford Universities Environmental Change Institute and are looking for 15 communities to take part starting now. If you want to participate (funding is available for project time and travel expenses)
Contact Naresh Giangrande: naresh@Transitionnetwork.org
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
The In and Out List: 2014 Edition by Transition Voice
Our theme on the website for January is how best to scale up Transition so as to be proportionate to the challenges we face. Can it be done?
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This newsletter is published on the first Friday of each month.
Next newsletter 7th February 2014
We’re delighted to announce that the Transition Network’s REconomy Project has received funding that will support our work for another 3 years, thanks to significant awards from Friends Provident Foundation and the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation. This funding will enable us to build on our achievements of the last 2 years, and will be focused on supporting more Transition Initiatives (TIs), or other community groups, to begin or continue their local REconomy activity in the UK. We will be staging some regional REconomy events where you can come and find out more about how to get REconomy started where you live, and hear from inspiring new Transition-oriented enterprises.
We’ll develop event-in-a-box toolkits that will help you stage your own events to engage your local councils for example. And we will be investigating more ways that you can resource yourselves to do this work, as well as rolling-out our online training course about fundraising. We’ll also be offering more online courses and support in ‘how to do an Economic Evaluation’ project, and sharing other examples of similar ‘leadership’ activities.
We have been asked by TIs to get the REconomy ideas and examples out into the main stream, so that when they connect with local councils and businesses for example, they are more likely to have heard of the new economic thinking that underpins our approach. So we are now able to build a communications strategy that will help us do this, working alongside other organisations in our fledgling Alliance for a Better Economy group – one of our collective aims is a louder, joined up voice that talks about economic alternatives (more about this group in the New Year). And we can continue to build our international online social media network, where new thinking, great innovations and practical projects are shared daily.
We are particularly excited about now having the resource to build on our Economic Evaluation (EE) work and take this to the next stage. The EE process identifies a range of local economic opportunities – whichthese kinds of Transition-oriented enterprises will benefit from – and we want to ensure these emerging enterprises get the kind of support and investment finance they need.
However, business start-up support services (like Business Link) are in decline due to public spending cuts, have variable results and tend to be ‘traditional’ in their business advice, often undervaluing social and environmental aspects. And it can be a struggle to find the right type of finance in the early stages particularly.
So we will be working closely with 2 TIs to explore how this support and investment finance can be provided from within the local community, in a low-cost, sustainable yet professional and effective way. We’ll also be mapping out all of the larger, national sources of investment finance, loans and grants that would be of interest to Transition-oriented enterprises – this is a fast moving field so we will keep this current as it changes.
Therefore part of our grant will be awarded to two TIs so they can participate fully in this work. For the optimum results, we suggest these TIs ideally meet the following criteria which underpin the REconomy approach so far:
- The TI is playing an active leadership role in development of a partnership of local organisations focused on the new local economy;
- This group has agreed a suitable (wellbeing-based?) purpose for their local economy, and are taking a strategic, systemic approach to bring it into being;
- This work is underpinned by some research work that lays out both the challenges and the local quantified opportunities for key sectors for community-based economic development;
- They are seeing a number of new enterprises emerging that need support and investment; and
- The TIs together represent a rural and an urban setting, to ensure learning is most widely relevant.
As far as we are aware, only Transition Town Totnes (TTT) and Transition Town Brixton (TTB) can meet these requirements, so our intention is to continue to work closely with them to explore these new areas of enterprise support and investment. This paid activity will involve identifying and delivering practical means to support local emerging Transition-oriented enterprises – each TI will receive about £25,000 in total over a 3 year period.
We appreciate it’s a bit chicken and egg – that having already had access to funding to do the EE work, this means TTT & TTB are better placed to meet the requirements above (note that we have always run an open, transparent selection process for involvement in REconomy, that TTB & TTT already participated in – see below for more info). However, we feel that maintaining momentum and maximising the learnings here will better serve all the TIs in the end, and we will be able to share a more fully tested, complete and integrated approach to REconomy – in fact, year 3 of the work is focused on capturing and sharing learning and proven processes as widely as possible.
As far as we are aware, no other UK-based TIs are in a similar position to TTT and TTB and meet the requirements that might enable them to participate in this imminent work. But if you feel your TI does meet the criteria outlined above, we would love to hear from you and we are open to thinking again – but please contact me (Fiona Ward) by 5pm on Friday 10th January 2014 latest, otherwise we will proceed as planned.
Meanwhile, our existing work that’s supporting other Transition national hubs to explore what REconomy might look like in their countries continues.
If you have any questions or comments please get in touch.
Some background on recruitment of REconomy TIs, including TTT and TTB
When we started the REconomy Project in early 2011, we ran a process to recruit 10 UK Transition Initiatives (TIs) to work with us. We had 25 applications and from these chose the following: North Howe Transition Toun (Scotland), Sustainable Thornbury (near Bristol) , Transition Durham, Transition Finsbury Park, London, Transition Hereford, Transition Ipswich, Transition Leicester, Transition Manchester, Transition Omagh, N.Ireland and Transition Town Totnes, Devon.
Our criteria were that the TIs be ‘official’, have some sort of ‘business and livelihoods’ activity underway and at least 1-2 people already active in engaging local businesses and/or stimulating social enterprise and who have some extra volunteer time to commit to this project unpaid. These TIs then attended a 2 day launch event in Totnes in early 2011, and gave input and feedback through the early stages of the project, acting as the initial pilot group.
Later in 2011, from this group of ten and with their agreement, we selected Totnes, Hereford and Manchester for the Economic Evaluation (EE) pilots as (a) they represented the geographic scales we wanted to work with and (b) they had a REconomy team member living there who had the skills and capacity to do the EE work, and it made sense for this to be a local person. The REconomy team had also been carefully selected from an open recruitment process – the budget allocated to each place was around £9,000.
However, we switched the funded work from Manchester to Brixton at end of 2012, as the work was not progressing in Manchester for various reasons. The work was at risk of stalling or not producing anything useful in our committed time frame, so we needed to make an urgent change to avoid further impact on our deadline.
Why Brixton? Brixton were already extremely active in REconomy type activity, had strong links to their council, known capacity to deliver the work, and great enthusiasm for the EE approach. We needed a city in the pilot group, and no other city-based TIs were in this same position as far we knew, and so with funder and trustee permission we switched the work to Brixton. They also met the criteria of the original recruitment and had been one of the original applicants.
It’s important to us that we continue to implement transparent and open selection processes, both for TIs and individuals, who benefit from funding secured by the Transition Network for REconomy work. Please contact me if you would like to know more.
Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and a peaceful New Year,
Owls are brilliant. Where I'm from people are more accustomed to the sleep shattering squawk of unfairly maligned seagulls. Herring Gulls to be more precise (click here to hear what they sound like). With an unsavoury reputation for attacking bins, and occasionally stealing the chips of unsuspecting tourists, the endearing cackle they also make is under-celebrated. To my ear, I imagine the mirthful chuckle of schadenfreude, as a neighbour makes a feathered faux pas. Still, there is something precious and thrilling for this city boy about the joy of listening to owls at night.
Reflecting on the highlights of the last year has got me pondering my relationship with things and the fun of unStuff. As the soft focus lens of my memory seeks things that my death-bed-self will thank me for, the ones that appear through the mists aren't really 'things' at all. And certainly not things bought and delivered in haste from click to clutter. And I wonder where owls fit into the 'stuff' I've accumulated.
I think of things like Transition Camp this past October, of the magic of serendipitously parking my tent under golden trees favoured by chatty owls (you can click here to hear what they sound like). Wrapped up and cosy, the owls escorted me toward a festival of dreams of the sort associated with conversation fuelled by nettle wine around campfires, beneath a riot of stars against dark skies.
Transition Camp is a place where people involved in or curious about taking fun action for happier, healthier communities beyond fossil fuels, can gather. There's workshops and talks, inspiration, relaxation and delicious food. There's time to chat and swap stories about what has been working and what hasn't been, while the kids play in ditches and make pizza. It's a time to pause and take stock, celebrate achievement, let go of frustrations, walk in the woods, imagine, plan, and laugh. Perhaps to reconnect with what it is that we really want from our lives, or maybe just bask in the last of the year's warm rays. There is no need to carry money and because participation is encouraged, there is a sense that everybody makes the event together, and the cost is kept very low for everyone. It's a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively.
In fact Transition Camp is probably the exact opposite of most people's experience of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Frankly, this time of year brings out quite a grumpy reaction in me, managed only by avoiding all of the worst and embracing all the best of it. In The psychology of Christmas, Maria Page warns that “the materialistic aspects of modern Christmas celebrations may undermine well-being, while family and spiritual activities may help people to feel more satisﬁed,” and engaging in environmentally conscious consumption also predicted a happier holiday.
In The psychology of stuff and things, Christian Jarrett describes how a close association with objects can hinder personal resilience. Further, it hinders our ability to be happy and appealing: “Research...has revealed an association between holding materialist values and being more depressed and selfish, and having poorer relationships.” Meanwhile, “the purchase of experiences leaves people happier than buying material products,” and “materialistic people were liked less than people who appeared more interested in experiences.” A recent article by Oliver Burkeman agrees that people who are more materialistic are less able to cope when life throws up setbacks, and claims that feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated.
Gosh, but hang on. Is everyone who has accumulated a lot of objects *shuffles awkwardly* really at risk of a life of eternal misery, before we've even considered eco-guilt? Is all stuff bad? And don't our possessions also serve a useful purpose?
According to Jarrett our possession of objects and brands can be an important aspect of identity. As infants we form crucial relationships wth Transitional Objects, for example a blanket or teddy bear, which provide familiarity and comfort during the anxiety of loss and separation of identity from the mother. We continue to form attachments to objects and experiences as adults, which may be healthy or unhealthy. Apparently science is still undecided about where my extensive record collection sits on that spectrum.
So, if giving up material things of the sort that contributes to debt, isolation, depression, and environmental and social harm, means also giving up what they mean to us, then maybe we should hesitate before exhorting simply the purchase of less stuff. And maybe we should be rebranding to a sort of good stuff, that includes experiences too. At this point in the post, it would be good for you to listen to this recording of the song of the European Nightjar.
“Materialism isn’t bad per se, it depends on people’s buying motives” reports Jarrett. “To the extent that acquisitions are motivated by intrinsic goals such as affiliation, belonging, pride and self-reward... materialism will improve well-being,” and if purchases serve to broadcast our persona, there may be no adverse affect if signals are 'true to the self'.
As someone who once helped to promote Buy Nothing Day by parading in my pants, and who has been trying to declutter, the allure of a Buy Nothing Christmas and the eschewing of stuff is attractive. However, perhaps this is more about being conscious of the stories, meaning and attachments that I have unwittingly accumulated, and the ones I want to invite into my life. Perhaps I need to shift the focus away from objects, to my relationship with them and the purpose they fulfill.
My Best Of The Year list includes: the magic of owls, the satisfaction of meaningful work done well and appreciated, discovering four and five leaf clovers with a lover, helping others in need, harvesting delicious figs from the garden, leading a marriage celebration, stumbling across chamois in mountain forest, a sense of progress and achievement in life, discovering the bizarre marvel of nightjars while wild camping, empathetic joy in the accomplishments of friends, setting fire to a hoard of old paperwork and turning the ash into compost. And the surprise gift of my Ideal Green Woman, fashioned from clay and furnished with moss and twigs, and presented to me by giggling friends, with the encouragement to bring her to life.
There has been plenty of frustration and challenges too, but I notice that pausing to appreciate and celebrate the year's Good Stuff, lifted my spirit. And hereon I will be reimagining my definition of the stuff I want to accumulate, to something like 'things and experiences which enhance the wellbeing of myself, people and planet.'
Perhaps I'll call it unStuff, the opposite of objects borne of an abusive relationship with nature and people, that will endure a retirement of immortality in landfill. Perhaps really I'm just accumulating meaning and pleasant emotions, crutches which help me cope with difficulty, an identity which meets hidden needs, and a comfort blanket to reassure me.
Nigel Berman, author of the neat How To Have A Good Christmas booklet suggests games that aren't battery operated for playing together at Christmas, and going for a good walk with no hurry or agenda, for magically solving problems. I think I'll take him up on that.
unStuff. Now that feels like the kind of thing I want more of. Might help me be a bit less Bah Humbug, and a bit more HoHoHo.
Martin Grimshaw, facilitator and trainer at There's Better Ways Of Working
We start this two-month round up with a remarkable tale from Chile, that of the Transition training attended by the local police. In November 2013, a 2 day certificated Transition Training course took place in the first eco-neighborhoods of Chile: Villa 4 Alamos, Maipú where the town's community police participated, along with members of the eco-neighborhood 4 Alamos, and leaders of neighborhood council, representative of Mapuche organizations, a member of the municipality of Maipú and other independent people.
The community police officers who participated have the mission to do preventive work, have direct contact with the community and do work in the local schools with themes such as the environment. After finishing the course the police wrote:
" ... I hope that the seeds you have sown in those days in Chile flourish with good fruit and in abundance, to build a world more just, more humane, more egalitarian and cleaner. .."
The course was conducted in the first ecological district of Chile aims to be fully sustainable in the near future. The eco-neighborhood already has in public places fruit and native trees, medicinal herbs and an important social process. During the course the eco-neighborhood decided to become a Transition Initiative and it was born a network of several working groups of the community. The course was facilitated by Mauricio Deliz and organized by Change the World, Eco- neighborhoods – the board 4 Alamos and counted with the collaboration of the Municipality of Maipú. How might it look like if your local police got involved with your Transition initiative?!
The first Newsletter from the Hub Wallonie-Bruxelles in Belgium was published in December with news about the food project of Liege, inner transition, Reconomy project and also about the international hubs meeting organised in Lyon in September. If you would like to follow up the activities of Belgian Transitions why do not subscribe to their newsletter.
Thanks to Michelle Colussi, here is a nice story about the version of Transition Streets being developed in Canada:
"Transition Victoria in BC Canada has partnered with the Social Planning Council to develop and test approaches to Building Resilient Neighbourhoods. Our objective - to explore how far resilience can be taken at the neighbourhood level and learn what it takes to get there - was born out of a pilot with Transition Streets a couple years ago. We asked ourselves "How many streets would it take to reach the tipping point and impact neighbourhood wide attitudes and behaviour?" There was synergy with the Social Planning Council mandate to strengthen social cohesion at the neighbourhood level and Building Resilient Neighbourhoods was born.
Three main types of activities make up this project:
a) working with a demonstration neighbourhood on resilience assessment (our framework has 20 characteristics of resilience organized into 4 dimensions: attitudes and values; resources and infrastructure; local economy; community process) and action planning at the neighbourhood level
b) in that same neighbourhood, implementing Resilient Streets (re-branded from our Transition Streets pilot) and
c) continued regional learning workshops and presentations on resilient communities including launching Resilient Streets in other neighbourhoods. Our year one Learning Report, Resilience Checklist and Resilient Streets Toolkit are available on the site: www.resilientneighbourhoods.ca.
We have shared our "Canadian" version of Transition Streets UK with others in Canada and we know of two TTs at least who are also piloting adaptations of this program - Guelph and Toronto!To Holland now, and for one of our Transition Season's Greetings, Transition Deventer shared some very exciting news. "This year, Transition Netherlands and Transition Deventer together made a great leap in visibility. As main prize of a city-wide contest, the municipality of Deventer granted us the use (at no rent) of a large building of a former playground with some 9,000 square metres surrounding grounds. For a period of 5 years we will be exploiting this place as 'The Green Wave - (net)workplace for practical sustainability and local resilience'. Together with that, we got a grant of 30,000 euro for the necessary investments. Most of the inventory we're getting for free or to great discounts from our network. From this new home base, we're gearing up for launching a Dutch version of the REconomy Project and will also soon start actively promoting the forging of a prolific national Transition network of Dutch Transition-minded organisations and networks. Also from the Deventer, here is a short film of which I can tell you very little, other than it shows a man creating a geodesic dome out of bits and bobs. What it has to do with anything I have no idea, but here it is anyway ...
Transition Town Emskirchen were the subject of a film broadcast recently on TV in Germany about their work. It also includes footage from a screening of In Transition 2.0, which is now available to view for free online.
A los of activities are happening all around in German-speaking Transition initiatives too. After the network meeting of Austrian, German and Swiss intitiatives hold in September several new regional Transition meetings were organised, including the initiatives from Berlin-Brandenburg region in Eberswalde and in Essen for the initiatives from Rhein-Ruhr region.
They are looking forward to a busy year. In February are going to organise a Launch Training, and in the same month publish the German version of the book The Power of Just Doing Stuff with added information about German-speaking Transition initiatives.
In November Transition Witzenhausen organised a participative planning event with the title '10 rooms, 100 ideas', to found out what kind of places are needed and what kind of activities should be organised in the new Transition House. The main goal of the organiser was to make a community house with a large scale of activities for all local people from age 0 to 80.
Local people had possibility for a week long to write their ideas on the wall and comment the other ones, so finally there were collected more than 100 ideas about the possible future ways of the house. Main proposals were about activities like yoga or massage, cooking and preserving food, but a lot of local people would like to give place for skill sharing or swap events also.
At least three pianos were also offered for the Transition House, just to make the local transition more musical! Based on the wonderful ideas Transition Witzenhausen at first is going to start with the renovation of three rooms, the workshop place, a free place and a place for kids and parents.
In autumn Transition Regensburg started to organise community kitchen every Sunday. They prepare meal from food saved on Friday's and Saturday's local organic and farmer markets and a local bakery. The event is open for everybody.
More great news from Regensburg. At the end of November local Transitioners opened the swap shop (Wechselwelt Umsonstladen), where you can bring your not needed but still functioning staffs (clothes, electric machines, books etc.) and take as many other thing as you have donated. The shop is also a good place to pop in for have a chat or a coffee with nice people.
And still from Germany. The film Voices of Transition is already availabe on DVD. Voices of Transition is a film which is optimistic but clear-sighted. It makes clear that climate change and dwindling natural resources are current and impending crises, but as the examples from France, England and Cuba demonstrate in the film they are also positive challenges!. Here is the trailer:
In Ireland, Transition Town Kinsale’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) group recently harvested quinoa (see right), a staple food crop grown mostly in the South American Andes as far back as the pre-Inca period. Regarded as a ‘super food’, it contains all the essential amino acids a body requires as well as being rich in B vitamins and vitamin E. It’s a highly nutritious protein source, which can be ground to make flour, cooked and eaten like rice or spread over food like a seed. The local paper also carried a really good article about their wider CSA work.
This month the group was also recognised in the Cork Environmental Forum's Annual Environment Awards. Awards are presented to people whose work and commitment to protect and preserve the environment and make communities better places to live. They won the Community and Voluntary Environmental Award 2013.
From Italy, Deborah Rim Moiso, a facilitator and trainer for Transition Italia, reported on the recent TransitionFest 2013 organised by Transition Italia. In her article, she quoted Pierre Houben of Transition Ferrara as saying:
“Transition Italia has existed as a hub for five years now. It was designed to serve a certain purpose: to set things in motion, nationally, promote the Transition process, train some facilitators, help the first initiatives start up. But all that is done now. New people have gotten involved, including me and you... there is a network of initiatives and some of them have never crossed paths. Not to mention, the founders deserve some recognition, celebration, and a break. It's time to start something new. A phase II for Transition in Italy”.
“Sounds about right. And how do we do that? How else? WE PARTY!”
A different recent gathering by Transition Italy brought together a discussion panel which is captured in this video:
To the UK now. Anyone anywhere can now do a Transition Launch training online from their own homes- no travel no travel costs and at a very reasonable price. Participants are supported in their learning via eight weekly webinars that cover all the topics that we normally cover in a face to face training and an online platform for discussion, questions and peer to peer support in between times. All webinars are recorded so you can listen to them as many times as you like and download them, and all course materials are made available too.
The first Launch onLine has been a great success, here's what one participant said:
"I have more than 10 years of experience both designing/delivering and participating in online learning but I have never experienced what I experienced today at my second week of transition training…
Energized, emotional, inspired…again, a group of wonderful people from Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, UK, France, Senegal, Netherlands, US, Spain, Brazil, New Zealand and Canada demonstrated that around the world there are people who care."
The next course starts January 15th, 19.00 UK time. For more information and to book see Transition Network’s site.
Crystal Palace Transition Town has produced 5,000 of the pocket-sized guides, that also offer tips to a more ethical and sustainable approach to shopping. The directory celebrates the myriad of shops, artisan workshops, pubs, bars, markets and eateries on offer in the area and aims to back the local economy and promote community life. Annabel Sidney, a steering group member of Crystal Palace Transition Town, told Inside Croydon:
“We are very lucky to have such a mix of shops and our local businesses deserve our support. They have chosen to put down roots in Crystal Palace because they see and experience qualities that reflect their own personal and social values. They are passionate about what they do, have great product knowledge, provide a personal service and often stock locally made and unique products.”
A couple of the first copies were put directly into the hands of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Chuka Umunna, Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise, who visited Crystal Palace Transition Town on Small Business Saturday. Here's a photo to prove it:
Their local Chamber of Commerce has gone public about considering the introduction of a Palace Pound, similar to those of Bristol, Brixton and other places. Paul Bartholomew, the chairman of the CPCC, was quoted as saying:
“We are going to be discussing the possibility of Crystal Palace having its own currency – the Palace Crystal – along the lines of similar schemes in Brixton and Bristol".
We have heard in previous round ups about the Palace Pint and other local beer projects in London. Well, Transition Belsize are at it too, recently tweeting "Launch of Belsize/Kentish local beer project next Monday from 7pm, with @brixtonbeerco, showing @BestBeforeDoc at @thegraftonnw5. Join us!"
Transition Town Bridport have been teaching people how to become draughtbusters, which was reported in their local paper. It quoted one participant as saying "The workshop has shown me how, and given me the confidence to line all my curtains". Handy.
TransitionNetwork.org reported on how fruit picking groups in Brent, north west London, have had a bumper harvest this year, saving almost three tons of fruit that would otherwise go to waste in local gardens. Two Transition groups (Kensal to Kilburn Fruit Harvesters and Willesden Fruit Harvesters) and Mapesbury Residents' Association (MapRA) have between them picked a record amount of fruit, which has been shared with local schools and community groups.
Transition Dorking held their Golden Ticket event which went really well, in spite of the rain. Here is a picture from the day of someone, for some reason, dressed as a huge chicken, standing in the rain at some point during the day.
Also, actress Prunella Scales visited the Green Room Theatre recently to speak at the launch of the Keep Warm, Save Money leaflet produced by sustainability group Transition Dorking in conjunction with Mole Valley District Council. You can read more about it here.
Transition Basingstoke ran an event called 'Community Energy: what's in it for us?' in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy from Bristol. Transition Keynsham have also been running a series of meetings dedicated to moving towards a community energy company for the area, tweeting "Thanks to all who attended the TK energy group meeting tonight. Next stop the Keynsham Community Energy Company!"
Transition Bristol produced a fantastic Timeline of what they've been up to since they started. A gorgeous thing it is too. A great tool for any Transition group who wants to stop, record, and celebrate what they've been up to. Transition Belper recently produced their Christmas newsletter.
Transition Town Totnes featured in a long section of a documentary on ARTE TV (starts at 29.40). You can see it here in German:
... or in French ....
As part of their seeing their work increasingly in the context of the austerity measures being imposed by government, TTT recently brought together a wide range of local organisations working in the field of health and care, to discuss:
"... how Totnes could build on its reputation for its innovative and pioneering approach, the strength of its community with many successful voluntary and charitable organisations, and for generally being “a town that cares” to face the major challenge as public spending cuts bite deep, non-statutory council services are withdrawn, and welfare changes begin to impact on local people".
They also appeared in a recent article in New Start magazine called How we did it: Totnes local enterprise incubator. Transition Town Tooting were recent award-winners, and tweeted: "BATCA Heroes Award this evening for TTT Community Garden & Gatton School project #Tooting #Transition Yeah!". Congratulations. Here is a photo of them celebrating their award...
As well as winning awards, their community garden also produced some rather extraordinary paper recently. Here's a photo. It is made from sweetcorn leaves!
The group also held their annual Foodival festival. Here is a short film they made about it:
Transition Stroud held their annual Winterfest. Here's the rather groovy poster:
Transition Reading held a Repair Cafe recently and made a short film about it:
Transition Chichester have been planting more trees in their community orchard ...
... and also made some rather smart compost bins.
Here are a couple of short films made, I think, by students from the London School of Economics, who it appears, were given a project to find out about Transition. Here's the first, who went to Transition Belsize and seems to have had quite a good time ...
... while the second group went to Bethnal Green, didn't let anyone know they were coming, wandered around rather aimlessly and then headed home to make this ...
Now for some news from Romania. "In the last mounthly roundups we have already written about the schoolgarden project of the Transition Bucuresti, what is their main project and is very successful. Now here is a short video about the project.
The fourth local initiative was launched in Romania in Alba Iulia with a Transition Towns introductory seminar and a Deep Ecology. It was a very fine beginning in Alba Iulia, as the local group is being supported by authorities from the local university and particularly the Ecology faculty, some of the Transitioners in the newly formed group being still students in ecology and environment management.
For our dearest project Gradina din Curtea Scolii (School Gardening), as the time for gardening is far, we're working on a website that would be used as a national platform for school gardening, where any school can join the project, thus having access to the materials that we are preparing, the lessons that we have learned from implementing the project in more than an year and our good people with proficiency in permaculture. So far we have 4 schools (and kindergardens) being signed up for next year and probably many to come. We're working with a professional web designed to make this happen and hope that by mid spring for the platform to be ready. We'll keep you updated on the developments.
Here is some news from Juan del Rio, from Cardedeu in Transition in Spain:
"Our Transition group may be very embryonic, but nevertheless, in just two months, has found many ways to combat the cold second half of the autumn. With the idea of learning, sharing and celebrating, we have now held three monthly “Berenars” (“Afternoon Teas” - see poster, right) with ever-increasing success, thanks to the woodburner, homemade cake, and activities which awaken the mind and the body. The last one for example was shared with people from another new transition initiative Granollers en Transició.
At the same time, a smaller group has committed to undertake the development of “Cardedeu en Transició”, and to ensure everybody arrives fresh and creative, we precede the meetings with a brief and inspiring Transition Walk.
Amongst all that, and certainly not to be overlooked, is the Transition Towns course which several of us participated in last month, and which has undoubtedly helped to catalyse and inspire the whole journey.
The festive period is now rapidly approaching, but we hope to continue with the same energy, momentum and enjoyment in January.
Lastly, in the US, Don Hall from Transition Sarasota reflected on a few days he spent being part of, or around, Rob Hopkins' recent trip to the US and Transition Houston published their newsletter.
And that's it for December. All of us here at Transition Network would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas or whatever else you choose to celebrate this season, and a wonderful New Year. Keep sending in your stories, and we remain, as always, in the deepest admiration for all that you do. Our thanks also to Noemi who has been interning at Transition Network for the past few months, and who has pulled these roundups together. We are very grateful to her, and wish her all the best.
Last week the Bank of England published an article in its Quarterly Bulletin, accompanied by a video clarifying what they regard as the legal status of local currencies, and the issues they raise for the bank. It marks a significant moment in the evolution of local currencies. It is also quite possibly the first official Bank of England document to contain the term "local mutiplier effect", which is cause for celebration in itself. It also finally sets down in print what the Bank regards as being the legal status of the Bristol Pound, the Brixton Pound, and the other local currencies either in existence, or in the planning stages.
Entitled Banknotes, local currencies and central bank objectives, the article is written by Nona Nagvi and James Southgate of the Bank's Notes Division. In this short video, Nagvi summarises the article:
For starters, it clears up once and for all what exactly the legal status of local currencies is. They are stated as having:
"a similar legal status to vouchers".
"The legal status of a voucher is different from that of a banknote, as vouchers represent a pre-payment for goods or services from a specified supplier (or group of suppliers) and does not legally entitle the holder with the right to redeem the voucher. While local currencies may have more functions than a traditional retail voucher, they do not have the full functionality of a banknote".
The report is the result of a series of meetings between the Bank of England and New Economics Foundation and representatives of various local currency schemes. Historically, when local currency schemes, such as the Austrian Worgl, prospered and boomed, national government and the central banks closed them down, fearing a negative impact on the national economy. Part of the reason for the dialogue that led to this report was wanting to avoid a repetion of such a thing in the future.
Tony Greenham of nef told me:
"It was very encouraging because they engaged in a very open-minded way. The sense was that they wanted to really understand local currency schemes now and identify appropriate ways to regulate them. I think it would be fair to say that they start out sceptical, seeing them as being potentially an obstacle to efficiency, and ended up being able to see the beneficial impact that well-run schemes can have".
One interesting aspect of the report is that it was written by the Notes Division, rather than a department with a broader remit around economic policy, as a result of which much of the report is focused on the printed notes. However, such schemes, in particular the Bristol Pound and the Brixton Pound, now make use of innovative Pay-by-Text schemes, which are mentioned in the report only in passing. Odd also, given the relatively small amount of sterling notes used these days in comparison online payments, credit cards and so on.
The hope for this report, according to Greenham, was to nudge the Bank towards the kind of shift that is happening in Brazil. There, community banks are making microcredit loans to poor communities in the favelas with a proportion of the loan in local currency, as a way of stimulating and supporting local economic development. The first bank to take this approach was Banco Palmas. Initially national government tried to close this down, but they have since had a major turnaround on the issue and have now introduced a regulatory regime for it and actively support it. Although the Bank of England report is seen as just a first step, it is the hope that the Bank of England may, over time, also move to such a position.
With a number of new places, such as Oxford, Kingston and Crystal Palace poised to follow suit, what concerns remain if these schemes continue to grow and really take off? The Bank is clear that its main objective is "the need to maintain confidence in the physical currency (sterling)". It states that at the moment all the schemes are relatively small, which is captured in the rather amusing table below (we've a way to go yet people):
From this, they conclude that:
"The size, structure and backing arrangement of existing schemes mean that local currencies are unlikely to pose a risk to the Bank's monetary financial stability objectives".
They do, however, outline a few of their potential concerns. The first is that fears surrounding the authenticity of local currency notes could "spill over to reduce confidence in (the Bank of England's) banknotes", although they note that the level of attention paid to design and security features make them distinctly different from sterling and hard to forge. They write:
"One concern is whether a successful counterfeit attack on a local currency voucher scheme might generate a spillover effect that reduces confidence in other physical instruments, like banknotes".
At the moment, the schemes are small enough, and the notes sufficiently recognisable and distinct from legal tender that it's not seen to be much of an issue. That distinct difference is summed up when they write:
"their (local currency notes) design must differ from Bank of England and S&NI (Scotland & Northern Ireland) banknotes to avoid breaching the Forgery and Counterfitting Act 1981".
The second is a reasonable fear that a very large local currency scheme could fail, and if people were dependent on it as a payment system it could "lead to a reduction in access to payment services". It hypothesises that if one such scheme collapsed it could "trigger a run on others". For now though, the Bank is sufficiently confident that the one-for-one backing of these schemes with sterling, in part at least, mitigates the risk.
It also notes that "users do not benefit from the same level of protection as banknote holders". This is true. If, say, the Bristol Pound, were spectacularly badly run and spent the money that currently backs it, people would be unable to redeem their notes for sterling if they wanted to. The Bank's concern is that in such circumstances people might turn to the Bank with "an incorrect expectation of recompense from the Bank in the event of a scheme failure". It suggests that local currency schemes make this clear in their terms and conditions. They have also, in a set of Frequently Asked Questions on their website, set out their position on this.
The Bank still has a way to go in its understanding of local currencies. Some aspects of it is really doesn't get. They write:
In principle, local currencies could affect the stance of monetary policy if the aggregate amount of spending in the economy, and hence pressure on the price level as captured by the consumer prices index, is affected as a result of the schemes. This could arise, for instance, if the net impact of local multiplier effects were to significantly boost economic activity; or, on the other hand, if the reduced trade with non-local suppliers were to make scheme participants less competitive, resulting in significantly lower levels of economic activity at the macroeconomic level.
But the point of local currencies isn't that they will feverishly increase economic activity and push up inflation. They are generally introduced in order to increase local production, and to enable the utilisation of local resources that sterling isn't so effective at enabling. It also is concerned about efficiency, that local producers are not as effective as large scale producers. But the whole thinking that underpins local currencies is that one of the key reasons that a large retailer like Amazon is more 'efficient' is because its environmental and social costs are excluded, whereas in the local economy that is far less likely to be the case.
The report offers a fascinating and very useful overview of local currencies. If I were to take the liberty of summarising it, I would say that it offers a somewhat nervous support for the notion of local currencies, acknowledges that at the moment it's all a bit hypothetical given the size of the schemes, and raises a few valid, but rather far-fetched concerns which either just aren't going to happen or are based on a misunderstanding of the process of intentional localisation.
For Tony Greenham, this report is "a very positive thing which the Bank approached with an open mind. I'm pretty pleased with it, although I would argue that the Bank has yet to really grasp the positive potential of local currencies". It is certainly a fascinating piece of work. Personally, I look forward to its third or fourth iteration when local currencies have become much more widespread and mainstream, and by which time the Bank of England will be thrilled and delighted with their potential, as we can see today in Brazil.
The first online version of the Transition Launch training just took place. How did it go? Can something as experiential as Transition Training ever work successfully online? Naresh Giangrande reflects on how the course enables people from anywhere in the world to take part in Transition Training at a pace that suits them, and without the need and expense of travelling long distances. In this guest post, he asks "what if a Transition training happens across the whole world?"
What happens when you learn in your own home instead of having to go somewhere? What happens when you can learn in your own time at your own pace? And what if you can put into practice what you learned and got feedback from your fellow learners as you went along? We put these questions to the test in our first, now completed, Launch online.
The next Launch online begins on January 15th, 2014.
Launch online enabled a diverse group to assemble that could never have learned together otherwise, and made the Transition Launch available to many who could never have attended a face to face training.
We had participants from Iran, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, France, the UK, USA, Canada, Senegal, Spain, and Malaysia. There was care not to ‘step on each other’s cultural toes’, and constant wondering about our identities and needs, even more so than on a face to face training. English as a second language participants were valued and appreciated for their unique experience. Transition is going on in Iran - really? I think we collectively realised how different – and the same - we all were, as we faced very diverse cultures and situations.
The technology enabled us to connect and deepen in how we worked together in a way that I never thought possible in an online environment. There were times when for some strong feeling emerged and were able to be expressed and acknowledged. We had facilitated discussions together and presentations where we screen shared the presenter’s desk top which enabled us to share visuals and voice. We were able to get into small groups together for a while to make discussion and sharing easier, and then come back together in the virtual main ‘room’.
We had forum spaces which were always open in between webinars that allowed discussion to take place at any time and about any topic. The technology, while stretched at times to the limit, enabled a wide range of different ways to learn and interact. We got to know each other, and were able to share some of our deepest feelings and hopes and dreams while still being physically separate.
We are able to get different presenters onto the training about their passion, and their work. This diversity of approach I think made the training richer than one delivered by just one or two people.
We certainly learned lots about online facilitation and how to enable a group to work in an environment where sharing and learning isn’t always easy. We needed to be very clear about all of our communication, both in what we sent to participants and in the webinars themselves. Every question, every exercise, and every discussion had to be very carefully constructed to enable everyone to get the most out of this course. That was certainly one of the big challenges for the facilitation team.
We also thought hard about ensuring good participation in between the webinars. Some discussion like the one about fracking emerged on its own and was an important topic for many around the world all facing emerging fracking industries and wondering what to do about it. Questions arose about groups and how to make them work better, how to revived a dormant Transition Initiative, and how to resource a Transition Initiative. I see the ability to explore together with a group of people over a period of time one of the ‘something specials’ of online training.
We reached many people who never would have had access to training. We learned and expressed more than I dared thought possible online. We had a vibrant, if erratic, forum discussion community. And we were able, though the help of Gaia University, to learn more and faster about how to work online. We opted to ‘share ware’ with Gaia U rather than buy and develop our own platform. This flowed from our own re thinking of our relationship with ‘virtual stuff’.
Many thanks to all who helped make this happen, not least of which are the first participants. One participant, Silvia in Canada, wrote a series of blogs about her experiences. You can read those blog posts here. We covered much of the same material that world have been covered in an online training. We had fun and some profound moments, and judging from the feedback this course was enjoyed and appreciated immensely.
The next Launch online begins on January 15th, 2014.
The Big Debate: how should Transition initiatives respond to austerity?
November's immersion in austerity has taken us in numerous directions. We've had James Meadway's 'Austerity Basics', which have given us a grounding in the thinking behind the whole approach. We've heard from a Conservative MP on her take as to why austerity is necessary and could be the spark for all manner of community enterprise. We've heard from food journalist Felicity Lawrence about the impact the austerity cuts are having on the safety and regulation of our food. We spoke to Jeremy Leggett about the importance of challenging the stranglehold the Big Six energy companies have over our energy supply. Pam Warhurst of Incredible Edible Todmorden told us how they are seeing urban food production in the context of a response to austerity. Prof Tim Lang told us about how food policy needs to reevaluated in the light of austerity. Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall shared her thoughts on what we can learn from the austerity of 1939-1945 that might apply today. Frances Northrop at Transition Town Totnes about how TTT are seeing their work in the context of austerity. Our Social Reporters also reflected on the subject (for example here). We heard how Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition are responding to austerity, and Jason Roberts told us about lessons from the Better Block project.
Ever wondered what austerity actually means? Where the idea comes from? Whether it actually works? With the help of James Meadway, Senior Economist at new economics foundation, we have a series of answers to the most commonly-wondered-about aspects of austerity.
Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP's 7 Thoughts on Austerity
MP for Totnes shares her thoughts on austerity, why it's happening and how we might respond to it. Plus some some challenging comments from readers.
How Austerity's "Relentless Drive to Deregulate" Impacts the Food on Our Plate
With food writer and Guardian investigative journalist Felicity Lawrence Rob explores how austerity measures are affecting what ends up on our plate. She talks about the re-emergence of slavery in the current food system, the impact of the huge slashing of trading standards budgets, and emerging real social justice problems.
"Make No Mistake, This is An Energy Civil War"
Jeremy Leggett's new book 'The Energy of Nations: risk blindness and the road to renaissance' is an inspirational, page-turning telling of the evolving tale of peak oil, climate change, and economic crisis, and how the three issues intertwine and interweave.
Food Banks are “the First Response, Not the Final Response”
Pam Warhurst is a community leader, activist and environment worker who is one of the founders of Incredible Edible Todmorden. She shres her thoughts on urban food production, austerity and food banks.
"Dire Times Are One of the Only Moments When Structures Get Laid Bare"
An interview with Dr Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London. For decades he has been at the forefront of debates around public health and the role that food, and food policy, play in that.
What can we learn from the austerity of 1939-1945?
Writer and garden designer Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall wrote a book called 'Thrifty wartime ways to feed your family today'.
How Transition Town Totnes are Responding to Austerity
Frances Northrop, TTT Project Manager on what does austerity look like there, and how is Transition Town Totnes responding to it?
We've heard from all sorts of people, and now we'd like to hear from you. How do you think Transition initiatives should be responding to 'austerity'? What are you doing in your initiative?
In the run up to Christmas, the website will be exploring our relationship with "stuff" from different angles.
Here is the first about 'The day I closed my Amazon account'
In Transition2 movie: View Online Free
You can now see the entire film for free on YouTube. Copies of the DVD can still be ordered in a beautifully packaged edition or just the disc in a plain cardboard cover.
New Film Review Feature
We have added a film review section on the website for films of interest to Transition Initiatives. It includes details on the film and where to obtain a copy and how to obtian a screening license. The ability to add comments will be added soon. For comments and additions contact Mike Grenville (see below).
The September/October Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
It's a bumper roundup this month, as we're doing 2 roundups at once, seeing as we were unable to do one last month. As you'll see, it is packed with news and stories from around the world, showcasing the huge diversity of what Transition groups get up to.
Transition Network Hits the Road for Regional Meetings
Transition network hits the road to visit the South East and East Anglia Transition Initiatives to find out what's been going well and what is challenging for them.
REconomy is Recruiting a Trainer
We want to help TIs secure the resources they need for REconomy activity. If you want to help us do this, and you’re a trainer with fundraising experience and love of Transition, find out more here:
More news here
TRANSITION FREE PRESS
Celebrating the marvel that is Transition Free Press
An inspiring short video based on the editorial in the Winter edition of Transition Free Press.
Looking For A News Editor
Since Alexis Rowell has been appointed Managing Editor TFP are looking for a new News Editor.
The A-Z of the winter edition
If you can’t get your hands on a real-life copy of the sparkling new 4th edition in your neighbourhood, check out our on-line version.
STORIES FROM OUR SOCIAL REPORTERS
Inner Worlds Week
As the energy of nature withdraws to the roots the social reporters also pause to take a look inside.
One of those November days…
You don’t often get people talking openly about despair, but in this post Ann explores what we often try and ignore.
Hope against Hope
The role of religion in Transition is an important one for Caroline, that and ‘just doing stuff’.
How Sustainable is Transition, Really?
Sophy Banks explores the tension between taking actions and getting things done and our need to slow down and invest in ourselves and our relationships.
Be the Change You Want to See in the World
Kerry shares her key learnings about Inner Transition from her involvement in People and Permaculture and encourages our two movements to work more closely together.
The Snail of Doom
Along with The Worm of Doubt, Jan Martin introduces us to the Snail of Doom and how he came into her life.
Powerful Doers of Stuff
You all know the ones we mean. Those people in our communities who make everything happen…
OI! You! Me ole fruit (‘n veg) or, Redbridge reborn
Diana introduces us to Toni Dipple the driving force behind Organic Ilford and the recently formed Transition Redbridge.
Posts from the Edge
Every other week or so we explore the fertile edge of creativity with no set topic and no fixed format.
Planet Earth’s Most Playful
Mike Jones descirbes the rich edge between Transition and play and shares some very exciting new projects in Totnes.
Global and local stories of trees beautifully told by Chris Bird.
Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a…
Caroline tells her story of the car conundrum we all have to face.
Battening Down the Hatches
Ann challenges us to be prepared.
The Transition Social Reporters are a small voluntary group of writers who are always looking for more people who want to tell their stories of Transition. Do you write? Are you interested in a variety of topics? Want to try writing a post or two to see how it feels? If so we need you! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities:
An invitation to participate in a knowledge exchange project
How is your Transition Initiative or Low Carbon Community Group doing? Would you like to trial a range of resources that will enable your group to self-monitor and evaluate your activities? ‘Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities’ (MESC) is a 12-month Knowledge Exchange project running from 1st December 2013 until 30th November 2014, and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. MESC brings together researchers from the University of Oxford, members of UK low carbon community groups, Transition Network, and Low Carbon Communities Network, to co-produce and trial monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools. We are now inviting up to 25 UK-based Transition Initiatives, local energy groups, and low carbon community groups to trial selected monitoring and evaluation resources and tools over a six month period in 2014, with support from the project team.
Real World Economics - Kick-starting the new economy on your doorstep
7-8 December, Bristol
Launch online January-March 2014
starts 15 January 2014
The online version of our very popular face to face fundamentals course in the skills and practices of Transition.
More events here
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"The whole purpose of any movement is to become ‘we’ in the largest sense of the word. There is no ‘they’ there."
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This newsletter is published on the first Friday of each month.
Next newsletter 10th January 2014