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Profile IconRob Hopkins's blog

Transitioners' Digest (Jan-Feb 2015)

Our theme for these couple of months has been 'The Power to Convene'.  It's been another busy couple of months.  We opened with…

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Profile IconTransition Network top stories

Join the Transition Bloc at the Time to Act March for Climate Change

The Time To Act March For Climate Change is nearly upon us, taking place on March 7th. Crystal Palace Transition Town have been asked to head up The "Transition Bloc" at the rally. This will serve as a rallying point for any other Transition…

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PlanetShifterMan posted a blog post
Yuri Smirnov commented on Yuri Smirnov's blog post 'Welcome to Vedic Russia Retreat, 2015!'
"My dear friends,Just a quick reminder - there is less than 5 days left till my Vedic Russia Retreat 25%-off offer will be expired. All details you may find here - http://www.spaceoflove.com/dolm_tour.htmIf you need more time to make your decision,…"
Profile IconRob Hopkins's blog

Have you done the Transition Health Check yet?

Believe or not the Transition Health Check is not about measuring everyone's blood pressure in your Transition group or seeing how fit you all are. It's actually a great tool for you to use to see how your group…

See More
Profile IconRob Hopkins's blog

Introducing the first book about Transition in Spanish

This month sees publication of the first new book about Transition not written in English, a landmark moment worth celebrating.  Guía del movimiento de transición ('A Guide to the Transition…

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Profile IconTransition Network top stories

Premier League rugby's 'Exeter Chiefs' commit to handling the Exeter Pound

Fascinating story from the Exeter Pound website 

The Exeter Chiefs have given their backing to a new local currency due to launch…

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Profile IconRob Hopkins's blog

Which great moments tell the Transition story?

When you talk about the Transition movement, what works, and just as importantly, what doesn't?  When you read things others have written about the Transition movement, what delights you, and what infuriates you?  Transition Network is undertaking a project with Jon Alexander of…

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Profile IconRob Hopkins's blog

The Transition Agony Aunt on Initiating Groups that can't agree on anything.

Dear Auntie.  Please help!  I am finding our Initiating Group's meetings very frustrating!  It seems to me that everyone wants something different, we can't even seem to agree on how to hold a meeting. It's driving me mad because it's paralysing the group…

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PlanetShifterMan posted a blog post

Event Transcription Excerpt and Database - Davis Mythic Roundtable by Bay Area Mythologist and Entrepreneur Willi Paul @ Davis Arts Center, 2/19/15

Event Transcription Excerpt and Database - Davis Mythic Roundtable by Bay Area Mythologist and Entrepreneur Willi Paul @ Davis Arts Center, 2/19/15http://planetshifter.com/node/2245See More
Feb 22
Stephen R. Beasley is now a member of TRANSITION IN ACTION SOCIAL NETWORK
Feb 18
Yuri Smirnov posted a status
"You're welcome to join the Alternative News Project - http://www.alternativenewsproject.org/index.php?referrer=vedicrussia"
Feb 18
Margie Campaigne updated their profile | Click here to update your own photo! | Create your Transition Resume
Feb 17
Margie Campaigne posted a status
"Green Irene is no more. Corporate pulled plug Jan.'13. Still offer Green Home Makeovers, maintain FB page: Margie's Green Home Consulting."
Feb 17
Feb 17
Sarah Sabine Stern commented on Sarah Sabine Stern's group 'heart and soul'
Feb 17
Sarah Sabine Stern posted a video

The Permie Song by Michelle Morgan - permaculture sustainable living

The Permie Song by Michelle Morgan. A happy song for kid's young and old alike, get dancing in the garden! This song can be heard in the documentary movie An...
Feb 17
PlanetShifterMan posted a blog post

Exploring Costa Rican Mythology. Conversation with Douglas Williamson, Earth Charter International and Willi Paul, Mythologist. Presented by NewMythologist.com

Exploring the Western vs. Indigenous Intersection in Costa Rican Mythology. Conversation with Douglas Williamson, Earth Charter International and Willi Paul, Mythologist. Presented by NewMythologist.com http://www.planetshifter.com/node/2244See More
Feb 16
Profile IconRob Hopkins's blog

Planning: the untapped power of community consent.

When planning consent is given for a development which local people bitterly oppose, is that the end of the story?  What options remain open to them?  As South Hams District Council planners grant the Duke of Somerset permission to close down the last working dairy farm in Totnes…

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Feb 16
Yuri Smirnov posted videos
Feb 15


Daily Transition News -- Scoop.it by Christoph Hensch

Sustainability Surprise Party - Transition Leader Network

We invite your creative participation in a bold new initiative: the global Sustainability Surprise Party. Its purpose is to bring the need for large-scale transformative change to the forefront of the public agenda in a way that vested interests cannot stop. During May 2014 individuals and organisations around the world will put on thousands of blogs, conversations and events telling the truth about the need and hopeful possibilities of transitioning to a life-sustaining society.

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

Nafeez Ahmed: Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system

Accepting Applications: Fuller Challenge Cycle Open Now! | The Buckminster Fuller Institute

The Buckminster Fuller Institute formally announces the Call for Proposals to the 2014 Fuller Challenge. Recognized as “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award”, the Challenge invites activists, architects, artists, designers, entrepreneurs, students and planners from all over the world to submit their innovative solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy. Entries will be accepted until April 11, 2014.

The Enterprising Ecovillager. Achieving Community Development through Innovative Green Entrepreneurship | Ecovillages Project

A handbook "THE ENTERPRISING ECOVILLAGER. ACHIEVING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INNOVATIVE GREEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP" focus on green business and entrepreneurship, offering a practical guide on how ecovillages can create business opportunities that adhere to the principles of truly green thinking. It gives an overview of the different aspects that should be considered by the aspiring ecovillage entrepreneur, and presents examples of successful business stories from various ecovillages around Europe. The book also strives to remedy the reluctance that many ecovillagers feel toward business. Furthermore, it demonstrates the ways in which ecovillages are ideally suited to run businesses that are compatible with the well-being of both people and planet, the businesses of the future. 

Building the World's Most Sustainable Modern Town

Kalu Yala, a sustainable settlement for innovators, may be the alternative real estate model the world needs.

Transition Culture -- Rob Hopkins

Transitioners' Digest (Jan-Feb 2015)

Our theme for these couple of months has been 'The Power to Convene'.  It's been another busy couple of months.  We opened with an editorial that set out what the term means and some examples of it, setting up the exploration that followed.  We then looked at different aspects of convening.  We talked to James Furse about the importance of good mediation in bringing people together.  Transition Stroud talked about how they increasingly use the idea as a lens through which to see their own work.  We heard how the Atmos Totnes initiative has been built around the concept.  Pamela Boyce Simms told us about her work using the Power to Convene to bring faith groups together.  

Transition Town Tooting in London, in an inspirational post, shared how they use imagination and creativity as key tools for convening their community.  "We looked to involve not just the community of Tooting, but the communities of Tooting" they wrote.  We heard about Transition Buxton's Economic Resilience Study, and how they are seeing that as the foundation for some serious convening.  Rob Hopkins looked into the power communities have to undermine unpopular and damaging planning decisions by withdrawing their consent

In parallel we also looked in more depth at our Support Offer theme for the two months, which was 'Starting an Initiating group'.  We asked a number of Transition initiatives to tell us their stories about "how we got started", hearing inspiring stories from Transition Stratford, Transition Black Isle and New Forest Transition.

Our Agony Aunt has also been on good form, answering questions about cohousing, when theme groups fail to formreviving failed initiatives, how to talk about peak oil, and how to manage groups that can't agree on anything. If you have any questions for her, send them to agonyaunt@transitionnetwork.org.  We also mourned the passing of the very wonderful Transition Free Press

We introduced our Transition Story project into which we'd love your input by Wednesday 4th March please.  Should only take you a few minutes, but it would be hugely appreciated.  We also explored in more depth the recent paper from UCL about unburnable carbon, speaking to its co-author, Christophe McGlade.  

Lastly, we reviewed a truly dreadful book called 'The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels', which somehow seemed to capture the essence of all that this month's theme wasn't.  Our theme for March/April is 'The Arts and Social Change', and for March we will be looking in more depth at the Transition Healthcheck.  If you have any ideas for things you think we should include, please get in touch. 

Have you done the Transition Health Check yet?

Believe or not the Transition Health Check is not about measuring everyone's blood pressure in your Transition group or seeing how fit you all are. It's actually a great tool for you to use to see how your group is doing, one that many Transition groups have already found to be really useful. It is very important to state upfront that the Health Check is there to help your group,  it is not a test that you pass or fail. Over the next few weeks we hope to hear from some groups who have already done the Health Check for their reflections.  

A healthy group

Interestingly the similarities between a healthy human body and a healthy Transition group are both about taking an holistic view of what is happening in order to prevent problems by checking that all the different parts are working well.  The Health Check is based around the following elements of the Transition support offer. It has been shown through research, actual experience and feedback that if a group covers these they are more likely to be successful, sustainable and healthy:

The Transition Animal

Sometimes we compare a healthy initiative to a healthy animal, different parts of its body representing different aspects of what makes Transition successful (see right for one artists impression of The Transition Animal, looking a rather like a four-legged Pikachu...):

  • The Transition Animal Four legs: A Transition initiative needs to have legs to walk and move in the right direction. The 4 essential legs needed to help make Transition a reality are; a well functioning group that gets things done and looks after itself, engagement with your local community, having  a range of partners and being involved in a range of networks and running practical projects that demonstrate Transition on a practical level.
  • Heart: We also need a healthy inner life when doing Transition and take care not to burn out. The heart brings values and principles that help us to take care of ourselves and each other - creating a positive culture, giving time to reflect together and checking on our energy levels and personal sustainability.
  • Vision: It is very hard to see where you're going without eyes, in the same way that it is difficult to see what it is you are trying to achieve without having a vision.
  • A wagging tale: A happy animal often has a wagging tail, so a Transition group should be having fun, enjoying what it is doing and take time to socialise.

All of these elements add up to a healthy animal, that is not to say that an animal cannot function if it doesn’t have all of these things, but it does make it more difficult.  This is the same for a group they can definitely function without some of these aspects, but it will be more effective and happier if it has all of these in place.

It’s not a test

As stated above the Healthcheck is not a test.  It is a tool that has been designed to help your Transition initiative to reflect on where it has got to through sparking conversations about what’s working well and what could be strengthened. It also helps you to celebrate your strengths and successes and to identify areas which might need more work, or skills, or resources. As it is linked into the new Support Offer, you can access support activities on our website for any of the areas that you want to spend some time on.

All about discussion

Many groups have found that using the Health Check raises lots of questions, and sometimes the discussion it starts supplies the answers. The focus is on the how your initiative is doing. This is not to say that you have to cover all of them, or you should feel bad if you aren't doing aspects of them as many groups take time to develop. Also, some aspects may just not be relevant for your group. The whole point of the tool is to help your group to come to its own conclusions about how it is doing and what it can do to develop in the future.

thrive training

Every Transition initiative is different in the mix of people involved, the opportunities and challenges of your context, and the external events that influence people to join, or not. We hope the result of doing the health check is that you celebrate what you have achieved rather than feeling overwhelmed with what hasn’t happened.  No initiative that we know of could achieve a perfect score- and we’d be worried if it did!

People like it

We have run the Health Check as part of the Thrive Training and in support workshops with groups who have been struggling and it has always been a positive experience with people getting a lot out of it. Recently we did a workshop on the health check at Penwith Roadshow and one person carried out the Healthcheck for 2 different groups she had been involved in looking at community engagement. One of the groups had been running a long time and one was relatively new. It highlighted how much more the older group was engaged in the community.

This showed that it can take time to build that engagement, but also that it would be worth looking at what the group had done to build that engagement to see what could be learnt. There is no reason why any group wanting to engage people around a positive project couldn’t use the Health Check - why not try using it with other groups you are involved with?

Many people have said it's given them a broader, more complete view of what Transition is - even if it's not possible to do everything. Others find that just reflecting together brings a lot of energy and learning which re-invigorates the group.

Try it out

So give it a go and see what you think.  You can download the health check here.

We recommend that Transition initiatives, whether the Core Group or whichever working groups feel it would be useful or both, do the health check once a year, though you can do it as regularly as you want, if you feel like it. We would love to hear from you what you thought of it and on the bottom of health check page is a short survey where you can feedback to us your comments and thoughts.

Introducing the first book about Transition in Spanish

This month sees publication of the first new book about Transition not written in English, a landmark moment worth celebrating.  Guía del movimiento de transición ('A Guide to the Transition movement') is the work of Spanish Transition activist and trainer Juan del Rio.  We will be speaking to him soon about the book, what it covers and what his hopes are for it, but for now I wanted to share the Foreword I wrote which looks at why Transition matters, and why this book matters.  I'd like to congratulate Juan on producing this book, the first Transition book in Spanish, and hope that it goes far and wide and does much to inspire people to get involved (you can order the book here).  

"It is a delight to be able to write an introduction for this book.  This is the first new book on Transition not written in English and not originating from the UK or the US.  That feels like something historic to celebrate in itself.  That it emerges from Spain, a country that has been so profoundly affected by the fallout from the economic crisis, feels especially appropriate. 

Transition is the quiet revolution going on around you.  You may not have noticed it but it’s there. It is a movement that doesn’t wait for permission but which just gets on and starts building the healthy human culture that we all yearn for.  When we started it, in my small Devon town of Totnes, we had no idea it would even have any kind of an impact there.  It has therefore been a process of near-continuous wonder to see it rolling out in what is now 50 countries worldwide.  To see this book manifesting as a result of the spread of Transition in Spain would have been unimaginable in those early days of Transition.

Juan del Rio

One of the great difficulties we have in designing a lower carbon, more resilient world is that we struggle to imagine it.  As a species we are fantastic at designing our own demise.  We make endless films in which humankind is wiped out by a virus, by mutant robots, by an alien invasion, by a zombie apocalypse, by huge intelligent apes.  We love it.  Yet where are the films about the culture that saw an avertable crisis coming and responded with imagination, creativity and collective thinking, and managed to alter the trajectory of history?  They barely exist.

Yet around the world, it is a story that people are just getting on with telling themselves.  I have the great privilege of seeing this happen in different places.  Time and again I see the power of people coming together, inspired by a shared vision, rolling up their sleeves and supporting each other to make it a reality.  And it’s not just the actual projects themselves, it’s what it does for the people who give their time and passion to making them happen that’s so thrilling. 

There’s the guy in Liege in Belgium who decided to start a community supported vineyard project.  They started a crowd-funding appeal which was very slow to start with, but by the end they had raised nearly €2 million.  “Lack of money ought not be an obstacle”, he told me. “This is Belgium, one of the richest countries in the world.  If the idea is good, the money will come.  Don’t be afraid”.  Time and again I see people keen to put their support, in all senses of the word, behind imaginative projects done with great imagination and good heart.

I travelled recently to Sussex in England to speak at the seventh birthday celebrations of Transition Town Lewes, one of the first Transition initiatives.  One of the people I met there was Chris Rowland (see video below), who founded a community energy company.  “Transition was something that saved me”, he told me.  “It meant that I changed my career, got into local community renewable energy, met loads of fantastic people, and did things which I never thought I’d do, including winning a major national award for community energy and having to stand up in front of 500 people in London and make a speech.  Seven years ago I just couldn’t have done that.  Transition has given me confidence to do things I didn’t think I could do, and that I really wanted to do”.


In the north of England I spoke to one of a group of women who have started a successful local food distribution system.  Running a business was not something any of them had planned on doing, but they found themselves inspired by Transition to make it happen.  She told me “we all just really wanted to change the way we live, and change our own personal lives and to change things and live different lives ourselves as well as a different life for our community”.  They now jointly run a thriving social enterprise.

A woman in Portugal with no experience of being involved in any kind of community activism or projects, and who was very shy and nervous, found that in her apartment block a project had begun to create a community garden in front of the block.  Getting involved gave her, for the first time, confidence to find a place in her local Transition group and start initiating things herself.  “It’s amazing”, she told me.  “I’ve been living in Portalegre for ever, 37 years, and I have felt my community and my city crumble, people turning their backs to each other.  This community garden we created tells me it is possible to do things with other people.  It is possible, we just need to wake up to each other again”. 

The community food garden in Portalegre: Credit - Luis Bello Moraes.

Everywhere I go I hear stories like this.  Why?  Because these are times that demand that ordinary people step up and make extraordinary things happen, and because Transition is designed to do a few key things that are all too rare these days:

  • It gives people permission to just start doing things: not that people need anyone to give them permission, but it can help to feel motivated and inspired
  • It gives their work a context: rather than just a series of one-off projects, Transition weaves things together, suggesting that a diversity of projects actually represent a historic wider moment of change at the local level
  • It gives them support: any project is just the practical manifestation of the dedicated, and often unseen, group behind it.  It matters that that group has a healthy group culture, clear ways of doing things, and strategies for support and reducing burnout
  • It balances problem and solution: it’s not enough to show people depressing climate change DVDs and expect them to be shocked into action.  It can distress and isolate people, and actually drive them away from the necessary changes. We need to present such stuff in the context of a wider programme of doing something about it.
  • You become part of a ‘Learning Network’: no one place knows how to do this, but if we can network thousands of communities doing Transition together, sharing their successes and failures, then it is between us that the solutions lie.
  • It’s positive: Transition doesn’t start by trying to blame people we don’t like or see as responsible, it’s about a positive vision of where we want to get, and mobilising everything we’ve got, including our sense of humour, to make that happen.

Transition is also very ambitious.  It seeks to change the way our local economy works, to change the food system to one with more local seasonal produce and a clearer link with local, peri-urban farmland.  It seeks to change the energy system to one that is 100% renewable, with huge advances is energy conservation, and with as much infrastructure as possible in local community ownership.  It seeks to re-imagine local economies as being far more circular, far more resilient and diverse.  Ultimately it seeks to change the culture of a place, so as to be more open to new ideas, new thinking, while constantly building practical examples that it can work in practice. 

Yet all too often we imagine that we can achieve these very ambitious aims on our Wednesday evenings as volunteers.  That way burnout lies.  It’s what I call the ‘tyranny of volunteerism’, meaning that we end up with people doing Transition who have skills, time and confidence, not something everyone in our communities has.  In the last couple of years we have seen a very welcome upsurge of the idea that if we are to really make Transition happen on the scale we need, then we need to be creating new livelihoods, new enterprises.  No-one else is going to do it. 

So we see Transition initiatives starting new food markets, new food distribution businesses, new community farms, new community energy companies, new enterprises to give people an experiential immersion in Transition, new local currency systems.  We also see the growing realisation that if we are serious about affecting the level of change we need to see, communities need to be able to take control of and own assets in their community, be it buildings, land or energy generation infrastructure.  How would an entrepreneur think about generating the scale of change we need to see in the tiny window of opportunity that we have?

In my community of Totnes, after a seven year campaign, we are close to signing a historic agreement whereby the community takes control over the development of an 8 acre site and become, in effect, our own developer. This represents a real step up, and it can happen everywhere.  It’s one of the things I love about Transition, the breadth of what people are doing, how distinct it is to each community, to each place, and how both smaller projects and larger ones help to tell a new story about the future we want to create. 

That in itself is profoundly political.  Yet it is not party political, nor is it explicitly political.  And that really matters.  This is a movement that seeks what we have in common, what brings us closer together, rather than what distinguishes and separates us.  This is a young movement still, and if this book inspires you to get involved in Transition then you will be part of shaping what it becomes.  As will this book. 

My gratitude to Juan del Rio for writing this book is immense.  People might ask me or others at Transition Network what Transition would look like in Spain, but I have no idea.  It’s not for me to say.  To see it emerging across Spain, and in other Spanish-speaking nations, rooted in the experience of the people and place is thrilling.  Take the insight and inspiration you find in these pages and use it to reimagine the place you live.  Use it as the foundation for new conversations with your neighbours.  Use it as a pair of glasses through which you see your neighbourhood in a different way, as a collection of possibilities, as a vibrant, thriving, resilient community.  By deciding to get involved you join a quiet, yet enormously powerful revolution taking place around the world.  Welcome on board.  Let’s do wonderful things.

Which great moments tell the Transition story?

When you talk about the Transition movement, what works, and just as importantly, what doesn't?  When you read things others have written about the Transition movement, what delights you, and what infuriates you?  Transition Network is undertaking a project with Jon Alexander of the New Citizenship Project who is helping us to shape the story the Transition movement tells about itself to the world.  And he'd like your help.  In fact we'll let him ask you himself:  


So what we'd love to hear from you, using the quick and easy form below, is the following:   

Firstly, what are some examples, whether videos, activities, blogs, images, events, whatever, of how you've seen Transition framed that really worked for you?  That really captured the spirit of Transition as you feel it. That resonated, or made you feel proud to be part of all this. 

Secondly, what are some examples of when it really hasn't worked, like when you've read or seen something about Transition that you felt really didn't get it, presented it in the wrong light, or used the wrong imagery and language?  The toe-curling stuff.    

Please take a few minutes to help us shape this important piece of work. Don't worry if some of the material you want to point to is in a language other than English - we'd love to hear from as many people as possible.  We'll be using this material to stimulate our ideas and discussions and won't be publicly highlighting either the positive or the negative examples you give us. We need to receive your material no later than Wednesday 4 March and we'll come back to you in a month or so to tell you how we've got on and invite further input into the project.

We'll be using this material to stimulate our ideas and discussions and won't be publicly highlighting either the positive or the negative examples you give us.


Please see the form below.

The Transition Agony Aunt on Initiating Groups that can't agree on anything.

Dear Auntie.  Please help!  I am finding our Initiating Group's meetings very frustrating!  It seems to me that everyone wants something different, we can't even seem to agree on how to hold a meeting. It's driving me mad because it's paralysing the group and it means we never actually DO anything. I'm sure we can't be the first group to come up against such a challenge.  Can you help? L.S.

In many groups starting up there’s a 'Forming Stage' where people figure out whether this group is right for them, find their place, and the whole group is finding its feet. This process is sometimes very polite, where everyone agrees – and sometimes it can feel messy and chaotic. Letting this process take some time is a really good idea – don’t feel you’re failing if you haven’t got anything to happen for the first few meetings.

Most groups need to go through a “storming” phase where you disagree with each other. It can feel really uncomfortable if you don’t like conflict, but it’s essential that the group can cope with different views, and figures out how to manage conflicting views and get to a resolution – your group appears to be getting it out of the way at the start!

One of the foundations of any group is to know what your purpose is, and this might be a good thing to focus on first. There may be different versions of what Transition is – in which case you might need to refer to the website, get some training, or check in one of the books about Transition. You’ll also be figuring out how you’ll work together – how often you meet, how the meetings are run.

And there’s a more invisible layer as people are getting to know each other and find their roles within the group – who looks after others, who makes jokes, who makes sure you get things done? All this is happening in the first few meetings – and it’s fine for it to take some time.

I also encourage groups not to worry if some people leave during this process – in a way it’s remarkable if a group of strangers can come together and find that they all want the same thing and can work together!  The suggestions below give a bit more focus to the three areas of group life – your purpose, your structures and your culture. There are materials in the project support offer to help you with these different areas. 

What are you here to do? What’s your mission statement? Do you have the same understanding of the process  and model that is Transition? What area will you cover? Here are the elements of the Support Offer which can help with the activities of the group:

  • Connecting and building good relationships with some of the other groups in your place
  • Engaging with people in your community through events and workshops
  • Doing some practical actions to inspire and create a Transition future
  • Developing your group’s vision of a post – Transition future (you won’t all agree on one vision! Learning to disagree and be at peace is also important!) 

But there are other things which are important, and which will help your group to work well and be effective. Research shows that groups which spend at least 25% of their time on these types of activity are more effective in the long run than those which only talk about tasks. 

You will also need to start creating agreements about structure – for example, how the agenda is created, roles for facilitating and time keeping, writing down decisions and actions, following up at the next meeting and so on. There are three elements which help with this aspect of running a group.

  • How to start Transition – developing an Initiating group
  • Forming and developing the group itself 

How will you work together? You might create group agreements – that you will arrive on time, not interrupt each other, be respectful in meetings. Many groups include a go-round at the start which helps people to feel included, and gives you a chance to support each other a bit – creating a deeper sense of belonging and caring.

  • Inner Transition – creating a healthy group culture which is positive, caring and energising. 

How you structure and facilitate these early meetings can really help, including naming the process you’re in – forming a new group that’s going to do things together and working out these three areas of group life. Above all don’t let the meetings get too stressful or tense if that’s possible – encouraging a sense of questioning and curiosity about each other, about the process, even some tactful humour, can ease some of the tension. And some groups just have to have a really big storm before they can set sail together!

Today's Agony Aunt was Sophy Banks.  Any questions for the Transition Agony Aunt?  Email agonyaunt@transitionnetwork.org

Top Stories from Transition Network (UK)

Join the Transition Bloc at the Time to Act March for Climate Change

The Time To Act March For Climate Change is nearly upon us, taking place on March 7th. Crystal Palace Transition Town have been asked to head up The "Transition Bloc" at the rally. This will serve as a rallying point for any other Transition initiatives and to welcome other Transitioners that turn up. As they put it, "the more people the merrier".

You can find out more about the march itself here, and make contact with the Transition bloc here and find out how to find them on the day.  For non-Facebook users, here's the website link for the march.  Let us know how it went!

Premier League rugby's 'Exeter Chiefs' commit to handling the Exeter Pound

Fascinating story from the Exeter Pound website 

The Exeter Chiefs have given their backing to a new local currency due to launch in the city this September.  One of the largest independent businesses in Exeter, the Premiership rugby club has committed to become part of Exeter Pound.

Not only will an image from Sandy Park feature on a special £E15 note issued to mark the Rugby World Cup arriving in the city, but the Chiefs have also pledged accept the Exeter Pounds and will look to spend them with their suppliers.

The currency will be launched in September before the tournament comes to the city in a bid to encourage people to support local independent businesses.  Chief executive Tony Rowe said: “I am very happy for Exeter Chiefs to work in partnership with Exeter Pound.

“We are an independent local business and, although one of the largest in Exeter, share their commitment to Exeter and keeping as much business as local as possible.

“I look forward to seeing an image from Sandy Park on one side of the £E15 RWC2015 note.”

Those behind the project have welcomed the support of the Chiefs at this early stage of development. Early commitments from people offering services from their own homes with a turnover of only a few hundred pounds a year are now joined by a business that last year turned over £12 million.

Daniel Hillier, local business owner and director of Exeter Pound, said: “The whole of the Exeter business community will take note of Exeter Chiefs’ support for the local currency.

“We welcome interest from all local independent businesses in the city, from large to very small and everything in between.”

Exeter Pound has invited local independent businesses to join them and other partners in a stakeholder meeting at Exeter City Council’s offices from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on Monday, February 23.

Gill Westcott, chair of the board of directors, said: “We want to hear from our stakeholders about how the scheme can be designed to best meet their needs, so as much money as possible circulates in the independent Exeter business community.”

The design competition for £E1, £E5, £E10 and £E20 notes closes in three weeks. People who live, work or study in Exeter are still invited to send in designs to be incorporated into the notes.

Pieces of art are welcomed from young and old, amateur and professional artists, designers, photographers and in any other art form that can submitted as a two dimensional image. Eight images are needed.

The competition judges, who all live or work in Exeter, are city council leader Councillor Pete Edwards, Dame Suzi Leather, most recently chair of Plymouth Fairness Commission, Dr Sarah Bennett, associate professor in fine art at Plymouth University, Si Paull, from local design company Sound in Theory, and Jon-Paul Hedge, editor of the Express & Echo.

For further comment please contact Ian Martin 07980 301058

February 2015 - Transition Network Newsletter

We hear how Belgians 'Changent le Monde' and the forthcoming musical gets funded. We have a number of fascinating articles on our two themes so far this year of The Power to Convene and How We Got Started. Some final articles from Transition Free Press. The Transition Agony Aunt solves your Peak Oil dilemma, online social media tips from REconomy and setting up a Reuse and Repair Centre plus Transition Roadshow in Bristol and a book review.


Transition Network 2015 International Conference
18-20 September
Venue: South Devon
Plus trainings and events in the 2 days leading up to and following the main event.
Details to follow shortly.

The Fierce Urgency of Now: 3 days in Belgium
"Something very powerful feels to me like it is starting to move" says Rob Hopkins. "I see it in the victory of Syriza in Greece on a platform of localisation, resilience building and sustainability as an antidote to austerity. I see it in the explosion of craft breweries, farmers markets, community energy companies and so on, in Scotland's moratorium on gas fracking. I also saw it in the two days I just spent in Belgium supporting the great work of the regional Transition hub “Wallonia-Brussels” there. The trip was also to support the Belgian release of the French language version of The Power of Just Doing Stuff (“Ils Changent le Monde”)."

Transition Free Press goes out of print
Sadly the innovative grassroots newspaper Transition Free Press will not be published this year. Announcing the news, Charlotte Du Cann writes that "We were hoping to relaunch this Spring with a bright new expanded edition but have been unable to raise sufficient funds to pay for our core costs."

Transition Town : The Musical
"We've met our target of 10k with your help" writes project manager Chloe Uden. "Over the remaining few days to 14 February when the Kickstarter closes we'll be working hard to encourage further backers to support the project to allow us to produce better quality products, and pay for materials to put on the production." There are lots of tempting Rewards on offer. For example there must surely be more groups willing to take the plunge and back the project by taking a license to use the script!


THEME: The Power to Convene

Atmos Totnes and the Power to Convene
One of the most ambitious examples of The Power to Convene to come through a Transition initiative is Atmos Totnes in Devon. It has brought together the site's owner Dairy Crest, a mainstream developer and a community, to plan the future of the former manufacturing site. Atmos Totnes have just put out this video, which tells the story so far, and offers a powerful taste of how The Power to Convene can feel when it goes well.

How Transition Town Tooting Convene Through Celebration and Imagination
From the Carnival down Tooting High Road in 2010 that looked to involve not just the community of Tooting, but the communities of Tooting, to current projects that are mid-process, and have begun with the idea of holding a space open to conversation, without articulating a specific outcome.

Pamela Boyce Simms on convening faith groups
Convener of the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub, which brings together and supports Transition groups from southern Connecticut to Virginia in the US, Pamela Boyce Simms is also a very active Transition trainer and is also involved in interfaith work. She wrote recently that “we often hesitate to override inertia and consistently and compassionately reach out to those who don't look like us, sound like us, think like us, and who rarely attend Transition events”.

What does the Power to Convene look like in Stroud?
One of the first Transition groups to form and have an impressive portfolio of projects they've achieved.

What Makes a Good Mediator?
Part of the Power to Convene is the ability to bring groups and people together to work in new ways. The story of the South Devon Cycle Link campaign and in particular the role of James Furse has many useful insights for this. "You have to share enough of yourself to bring people into their trust - it’s a combination of tact, diplomacy and determination" he tells Rob Hopkins.

Transition Buxton Take on Former Council Plant Nursery

How 'The Power to Convene' can transform Transition
Rob Hopkins suggests that the Power to Convene should be the key role of what Transition groups do and how they function


THEME: How We Got Started

Transition Black Isle
"The general feeling was that Cromarty was too small to sustain the energy needed, and all the active people were feeling burnt out (yes, I know, before we even started!)."

Transition Stratford
Stratford-upon-Avon is not just about Shakespeare and tourists - among the local residents are those concerned for the future of the town as much as for its past.

Mapping the Transition Movement in Aotearoa New Zealand


Some final articles from Transition Free Press:

Real Media conference celebrates independent journalism
On 28 February the Real Media Gathering will take place in Manchester, with speakers, discussions, workshops and networking on independent journalism and the alternative to a mainstream media which many feel is selling us short.

Accelerating transition, city by city
Amy Hall reports on a European research project hopes to find out what makes Transition Initiatives thrive and, in turn, support the change towards sustainable low-carbon societies

ENERGY: exploring biogas for communities
Suffolk-based group Transition Lavenham is considering launching its own energy project: making biogas from food waste, reports Transition Free Press energy editor Gareth Simkins

POLITICS: Citizens lobby for the climate
Hugh Chapman explains why he is behind another campaign calling for carbon pricing as a way to mobilize the transition to clean energy.



The Journey of Setting up a Reuse and Repair Centre
Sophie Unwin, Director of Remade in Edinburgh, shares her experience of setting up a Reuse and Repair Centre. From what inspired her in the beginning to what is working to this day. A story we can all learn from, and celebrate.

Making Events #Social
Events and social media sit hand in hand as means of enabling communities to revision their economic future and to share what they learn. This blogs offers some of the tips discussions from recent online skill shares on this topic.


The Transition Agony Aunt

On How to Talk About Peak Oil
Given that we are now seeing oil at below $50 a barrel, how is my Transition group meant to talk about 'peak oil'?

On Reviving Failed Initiatives
What's the best way to start a Transition group after a previous one has folded? And should you even think of doing so if you haven't been able to track down at least eight people who were involved in the folded group?http://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2015-01/transition-agony-aunt-reviving-failed-initiatives


Transition Roadshow comes to Bristol
14 March
The Transition@Trinity event is about creating connections for sustainability; between places, groups, projects, and themes. It is about finding the help you need, and making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. This will be a packed day of workshops and talks find out more here:

Our Support Framework - give it a go and let us know what you think



"The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels". Really?
Just as there was no “moral case for slavery” in 1860 there is no “moral case for fossil fuels”. But given the alarming rise, in the US and elsewhere, of the climate sceptic/pro fossil fuel lobby it feels important to look a bit closer at the arguments presented here.

The theme on the Transition Network website for March and April will be 'Transition & Arts'


More events

Follow Transition Network on Twitter

Be a Friend on Facebook

Film Reviews

Transition Youtube Channel

Resources — Editor's Picks

Find previous editions of the newsletter here

Read this newsletter online 

Subscribe to Transition newsletter:

This newsletter is published on the first Friday of each month. 
Next newsletter is 6 March 2015

Fancy some funding to run a Green Open Homes event?

Many Transition initiatives have run successful Green Open Homes events over the last few years, and for many it is a key point of their annual calendar.  The Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol has just announced a new round of funding for Green Open Homes events.  You can apply now for grants up to £2,500. Find out more here, or read on. 

The Green Open Homes network had a hugely successful first year, facilitating hundreds of homes to open to the public and inspiring some 10,000+ visitors that crossed the energy efficient thresholds. Run in conjunction with Bristol Green Doors, the network supports low carbon open homes events across the country by providing free advice and resources to organising groups. 

Green Open Homes partners, Bristol Green Doors, held their 6th successful event in 2014

For those hoping to run new or repeat events, we’ve got some great news – grants of between £500 and £2,500 are available for events happening before the end of May 2015. Applications will be assessed and winners selected on a first-come-first-served basis until the funding pot has run out. The total grant pot is £48,000.

CSE Project Manager, James Watt said:

“It was great to be able to support so many events across the Green Open Homes network in 2014 and we hope that this round of funding will build on the success of 2014, inspiring visitors to make improvements in their own homes.”

Grant application forms are available to download from the Green Open Homes website. The site also allows any group running an event to create their own page on the site where they can list all the details visitors will need and use the mapping facility to record the homes taking part. This is handy for groups who don’t want the hassle and expense of creating their own website.

To understand more about the open homes set-up and for information on how to go about running an event in your community, this short video is well worth a watch.

Transition Buxton take on former council plant nursery

Here is some inspiring news from Transition Buxton about their recent signing of a lease to take over a former Council plant nursery:

Background & History 

The Serpentine Community Farm (aka ‘The Serpentine Project’) is a partnership initiative being run by the Food Group arm of Transition Buxton C.I.C., in association with a number of local organisations including Buxton & Leek College, the University of Derby and High Peak Borough Council. We are also enthusiastically supported by Buxton Civic Association and Buxton Town Team. It is expected that, in the next few months, a new 'Serpentine Community Farm C.I.C.' will be established to include members of the project group of Transition Buxton C.I.C. and of these associated organisations. 

Our proposal focuses on an area of land running alongside the Serpentine watercourse to the west of the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton (subsequently referred to as ‘The Serpentine Project’). Previously the area had been used for the cultivation and supply of plants for the Pavilion Gardens. In recent years the area has fallen into disrepair and the owners (High Peak Borough Council) have been looking at ways to utilise the existing space.

There's plenty of work to do!

HPBC are interested in having partnerships with community organisations to transform run-down buildings into assets for the good of the community. Transition Buxton presented the Regeneration Committee with plans for transforming the area into a community education location and was given the opportunity to develop a business plan for the project. 

The HPBC have now issued Transition Buxton with a licence for volunteers to work on the site, covered by Transition Buxton insurance. A proposal has been prepared by HPBC officers to issue a 25-year lease on the whole site to Transition Buxton. We are hopeful that this will be considered, alongside our detailed business plan, by the appropriate Borough Council department and the cabinet in the first quarter of 2015. 

Work to date 

We were given a licence to start work within the ground-based area of the site, the buildings being still allocated as out-of-bounds, in July 2014. Since that point, we have had 10 Volunteer Days, primarily on monthly Sundays, but with Wednesdays  also included during the winter to try and include the local Public Service Students. We have had a total of 146 volunteers, contributing 462 volunteer-hours to the project. 


From the start we cleared the overgrown scrub that had taken over the site, and the debris left behind by the former occupants. We have cleared many thousands of plant pots (estimated 2000kg), with many more still in the buildings. These were uplifted by a shortwalk to be recycled into other products. We had received some funding for the purchase of tools for Volunteer Days, but mostly we have relied upon time and using whatever we can find on the site. In addition to this, we have been given a special Judges’ Award by the visiting judges of East Midlands in Bloom for the potential the site holds for the community and horticulture. 

We have reached the position where we will be able to construct a working Polytunnel by February of this year, and the start the process of growing. We hope to move all the produce out to raised beds by late spring / early summer. Other current projects include inoculation of the tree trunks we have felled in order to grow mushrooms and building a composting toilet (no facilities currently on site). 

Key aspects of project

  • To restore the area to a functioning market garden, producing fruit, herbs and vegetables;
  • To develop as a horticultural training/teaching centre for all ages and backgrounds, through the collaboration of a number of local organisations;
  • To involve the community in local food production with the aim of reducing dependency on imported food;
  • To employ conventional horticultural techniques and investigate potential new crops informed by permaculture principles in the development of the site, in order to become self-sustaining by 2019. 

We envisage the project developing in three key phases: 

Phase I (early 2014 – late 2015)

- Clear site of debris and make safe

- Renovate the greenhouse and construct polytunnels and raised beds

- Begin planting of produce


Phase I continues with preparation of the site for the spring 2015 growing season:

- Building of raised beds

- Rebuilding Polytunnel 1 using the framework already on site

- Building of a composting toilet facility

- Creation of a small pond to encourage pest predation

- Restoration of the greenhouse, by replacing broken glass and applying a safety film of plastic to the glass

- Building 'dead hedges' for site security & wildlife value, using on-site brash

- Laying paths

- Production of salads and other seasonal annual crops from early in 2015 to supply local restaurants and college kitchens

- Finalising the business plan


Phase II (2015 – 2016)

- Planting the larger trees and shrubs and perennial plants that will make up the forest garden

- Erect Polytunnel 2

- Establishing a teaching programme in association with local schools and the University of Derby / Buxton & Leek College 

- Start of courses / educational aspect


Phase III (2017 – 2019)

- Renovating buildings

- Continued development of the site infrastructure (i.e. green roof canopy), and teaching range & content 


Gardening The majority of the main restoration and planting of the site in the early stages will rely heavily on volunteer help, as well as students gaining valuable outdoor experience. We are currently in the process of forming a separate C.I.C. from the main Transition Buxton organisation in order to run the Serpentine Project. This will operate with 6 to 10 directors, all of whom would be volunteers selected for their relevant experience. Most of the individuals required are already involved and possess a broad range of valuable experience between them, and there will be space reserved on the Board for representatives from the University of Derby, Buxton & Leek College, HPBC as well as Transition Buxton members. Some of the roles outlined for the directors include Chair/Spokesperson, Public Relations Coordinator, Treasurer, Administrator, Fundraiser, with other roles to be developed in time. In the long term, we look to employ one grower / Centre Manager in charge of operations and day-to-day running of the centre. 

Plants / Crops

We need to take into account the somewhat unique climate of Buxton and its altitude to determine what will be productive but we can draw on the experience of local allotment holders to tell us what works. However, with a renovated greenhouse, 2 polytunnels, raised beds and a forest garden, we expect to produce a selection of salad leaves and annual vegetables through the growing season, alongside a range of other high-value and unusual crops from perennials, such as bamboo tips, wasabi, hosta greens, barberry and Sichuan pepper, as well as shiitake mushrooms grown on wood from the forest garden. 

Local supplier sources 

We have currently made use of local surveyors and glaziers to estimate the costs of potential refurbishment of the greenhouse and buildings. We have progressed so far by relying on volunteer labour and sourcing whatever materials are required from the site itself. This includes felling trees for use of timber and mushroom production, plastic pots for plant growth, old window frames for cold frames etc. We have operated so far with virtually no budget or funds.


It is envisaged that in time and with the increased use of the facilities by outside agencies, such as the University, that we will be required to employ a part-time manager alongside University staff/volunteers. In time, we hope to plant a larger amount and variety of food to supply local businesses and restaurants as well as the University catering courses. There is scope for a wide variety of courses at the site, primarily horticultural, but with the potential for food-related courses, such as introductions to preserving / drying / bottling of the crops. 

Photographs and video of the site can be found here.


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