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…See More
"We have been exploring the establishment of a co-housing project which explicitly but not exclusively supports people with disabilities and are in contact with a national charity to see whether there is scope for collaboration. One issue that came up was whether…See More
For most people, Stratford-upon-Avon is about Shakespeare and tourists. It’s got a world-class theatre sitting by a pretty river, and old streets with old buildings offering all sorts of treats for visitors – of which there are millions each year. But it’s also home for 25,000 people, and…See More
Following the expansion of the Transition movement globally in the late 2000s, community groups and activists in Aotearoa New Zealand began establishing Transition Town groups following a similar model as the original Transition groups in the U.K. In the past two years, I was involved in a…See More
The UK election (due to take place in May) kicked off this week. Exciting I know. BBC Radio 4's flagship evening news show PM launched its coverage with a request to listeners to let them know how they would like the election to be reported to them. The request had…See More
'Transition Town: The Musical': Plans revealed for a new community crowdfunded musical
An opportunity for people to crowdfund a new community musical, which will explore questions and issues…See More
Nafeez Ahmed: Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system
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.
Kalu Yala, a sustainable settlement for innovators, may be the alternative real estate model the world needs.
"Dear Transition Agony Aunt. 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? LR
I think the first thing to say is that Transition groups have natural life cycles. Many groups have come into existence, slowed down, folded, restarted, and so on. Many groups just start and seem to just keep going, or go from strength to strength. There is no one way. A good way to think of this is to compare them to ecosystems. If you plant an oak tree and it dies, does it mean that oaks can’t survive in this environment, or was it not a very strong tree to begin with or a bad year? You obviously wouldn’t want to plant oak tree after oak tree in a situation year after year hoping that it wouldn’t die even though many before hand did. On the other hand, is it reasonable to assume that if one tree dies then oak trees can’t survive in this situation?
If you are wanting to start a Transition group in an area where one has previously failed then the first thing to do would be to find out why the previous one had folded. There are a wide range of reasons why a group may have folded and they are not always negative, so the first thing to do try to communicate the previous group. This can sometimes be easy if you live in a small area, by asking local people who were involved.
Another way to contact an old group is to do a google search for their name and see if they have a website or search Facebook to see if they have a group and contact them through that. If that doesn’t bring up a contact the Transition Network website has Transition nearby search function where you can put in your postcode and you will be given all the groups near to you and often you can contact them through their profile.
If you are successful in contacting them then it would be good to meet up face to face for a chat over a coffee to find out what had happened. Before meeting up it would be useful to read through our guide on how to start Transition to get an overview of what it entails and the ‘How groups develop’ document. Remember that people might still be emotionally invested in the group, so be sensitive and start off by asking what they achieved and don’t come to them with a ‘we can do it better than you’ attitude. Also it may be worth talking to couple to the people who were involved if possible as they may have different views on what had happened. When you meet up these are some of the questions that it would be useful to ask:
What did the group achieve?
What were the main challenges that the group faced?
How many people were involved and how did the group run?
Are there any projects still running that came out of the Transition group (often the core Transition Group ceases to exist as all the people are doing projects, we call this the donut effect)?
Why did the group end?
Do you think people would be keen to be involved if it was restarted with new people involved?
What do you think would help a new group to be successful?
This should give you a good idea of the history of the group and also the environment that the group was operating and the challenges that a new group may also face. If there have been issues that caused the group to split, then it would be useful to think about how those could be avoided, the new support framework we have developed may help you to think about how to be proactive in avoiding problems.
Often problems come from the group not being clear at the start how it is going to operate and not understanding the way that groups develop, these are all issues that are covered in our support section. Another problem that often occurs is that there are difficult people who just seem to create difficult dynamics in a group.
If you can’t contact existing group members, don’t let this put you off. You could arrange a public meeting that just states you are interested in re-starting Transition and asking any people to come along who would like to find out more, you may find that some of the old group members turn up. If they don’t then you would need to consider whether to take the Initiative and form a new Transition Group. If you are going to do this then you should read through as much of the support offer as possible to get an understandign of what it entails, crucially you need to have read the guides how to start Transition and How to start Transition: Developing an initiating group.
Transition groups are only a sum of their parts and the people involved. So each one is actually unique regardless of whether it is in the same place, this means that starting a Transition group in an area where there has already been one does not necessarily mean that it will have the same problems. The environment that you operate it may have the same challenges, but often it is how you respond to those challenges that is key and different groups do this in different ways. To return to the oak tree analogy, it may mean this situation is not right for oaks, or it may mean that particular tree planted in that way or at that time didn’t work, but another will. (There probably are some places that are unsuitable or hostile environments for Transition initiatives.
But it is too early in the experiment to say for sure what or where those are.)) So we would say listen to those whose footsteps you are following in and learn from them, but also realise that yours is a new project often with new people and new dynamics. It is essential to develop your group early on by working through the activities / worksheets of the support offer as this will help you to avoid problems in the future. So, we say ‘just do it and see what happens’ and good luck!
Today's Agony Aunt has been Michael Thomas, Transition Initiative Support Co-ordinator for Transition Network.
One of the most ambitious examples of The Power to Convene to come through a Transition initiative is Atmos Totnes in Devon, England. 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. Its recent community consultation reached over 2,200 people, and the next stage of consultation starts again soon. The project is being driven forward by Totnes Community Development Society, formed by members of Transition Town Totnes, Totnes Community Development Society and others. 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.
Last month our theme was 'Less is More'. We had one interview which I didn't get to post that month and so am posting it today. Jenny Rustemeyer is described on her website as "the woman behind thecleanbinproject blog; she's the one who said "ok" to Grant's crazy idea to live zero waste for a year". Making the film that documented the experience, also called The Clean Bin Project, apparently "cured her of her deathly fear of public speaking". I spoke to her from her home in Vancouver, where as well as being a mum, she is also a GIS Analyst for an environmental consulting company, and started by asking where the motivation and inspiration came from to try and live zero waste for a year.
"It started off when Grant and I were a little disgruntled with our work and felt like we needed a change and to take a break and go on a bicycle trip. We bicycled down the Pacific coast of the US. We spent about 2 months on the road living very simply. Everything we needed was with us on our bicycles and when we came home we were out of money of course, and we were also really struck by how much ‘stuff’ we had in our house and we wanted to simplify.
The theory is, less stuff coming in means less stuff going out. So we stopped buying stuff and tried to reduce our garbage as much as possible. To make it fun, we had a competition: the idea was that the person with the least amount of garbage at the end of the year wins. We’re kind of competitive!
And how did it go?
It went pretty well. Before the project, we would take our full garbage can to the kerb every week, just like every other family. By the end, we each had a garbage can that weighed about 4 lb, so you could fit our garbage for the year in your microwave.
How was it with your family? One of the things that’s always a challenge when somebody decides they want to try and change their lifestyle is that for the people in their immediate family it can feel like a bit of a threat or a bit of a dismissal of their way of doing things. How was it with your wider family? Did they think you were mad or were they very supportive?
They were supportive in theory, but sometimes it took them a little while to wrap their heads around the logistics of it. They still wanted to give us candies wrapped in plastic or material gifts and we really had to re-educate them and say – this year we really don’t want those types of things. Let’s give each other experiences or spend time together, and just avoid the packaging at all costs.
So we were really strict with our family and we would not allow them to give us that kind of thing. A lot of our friends thought – "oh, you can’t buy this for yourself, I’ll just buy it for you". For us, that was completely cheating, it was beyond the point.
What were the hardest things to do in daily life without contributing to your dustbin?
It definitely took a rethinking of the way that we grocery shopped, because so much food these days is really packaged. We’re very lucky in Vancouver as we have stores that have really good bulk sections. So we started shopping around the periphery of the grocery store, just in the produce and the bakery and the meat and deli department with our own containers, and in the bulk section as well. That shifted our diet. We started eating less processed foods and more healthy foods at the same time.
You’ve just released a film or recently released a film about it. Can you tell us a bit about it?
At that time Grant was transitioning from being a musician and working in film and music and things to starting to get behind the camera. He really wanted to make a documentary, so I wrote a blog and he started filming us. One of the best ways to inspire other people is to share your own story. If you just do it in your own house and never tell anyone it can never affect any other greater change.
So we made a film that we thought would be fun and entertaining and something that we would want to watch, and then when we were finished we put it out there to see what the reception would be. It’s been received really well. I think it’s heartening to see an environmental documentary that talks about serious issues, but also has positive solutions and lets you laugh at the situation as well.
How has it been received? You’ve been touring it all over place?
Yes. It’s toured all over the world. It’s played in New Zealand, it’s played in Europe, it’s played all across Canada. We actually bicycled the film across Canada. So it first came out in 2010 and that’s when we took 3 months and cycled across Canada for 100 days and showed it in 30 different cities.
What did spending a year doing that tell you about the fundamentals of or economy?
I was really struck by how consumeristic our society has become, and how our economy is really based on this idea that you must consume consume consume. Our lives became so much more enjoyable when we really simplified and didn’t have to think about – are we going to buy that next new gadget, because we just knew it was off limits for us. After the project of course we went back to buying things, but I think we became more conscious consumers, so I think it was a really good exercise for us.
There’s the element of what you were trying to do in terms of live with less and simplify, but of course there are lots of people who live with a lot less and don’t have a choice. I wonder what your reflections were on that in terms of choosing to live with less and not really having much of a choice. What’s the difference?
Sure. There’s probably more empowerment in having the ability to buy more things and then choosing that lifestyle. It’s also easy once you’ve amassed a certain amount of goods. When you own a couch and a table and a chair, it’s easy to say I don’t need any more stuff. We already did have a core amount of belongings and I realise it’s also a luxury to say "I’m going to always buy quality that’s going to last a long time rather than whatever’s the cheapest product, because you have to have some sort of wealth saved up in order to be able to afford to do that".
In some ways, some of these environmental movements are a bit of a luxury, but on the other hand, a lot of the things that we practised, anybody can do. Shopping in bulk and avoiding packaging has nothing to do with how much you have. It has to do with your environmental decisions and your personal health.
Next year in Paris is the COP 21 which is seen by many as make or break in terms of climate negotiations. A big part of that is around the wealthier nations consciously choosing to move to a lower carbon, lower consumption way of doing things. What, from your experience, would you say to ministers from developed countries who are feeling a bit reticent about that? What would your experience give them or empower them with, do you think?
I’m all about the individual action and the grassroots movement, I guess. But I think that the policy is the most important thing. That’s where you can have the most carbon impact, if you’re talking about things like the oil sands, me not using a plastic bag is a drop in the bucket compared to the carbon emissions that they’re creating. For real global change, it has to come from the top.
But on the other hand, I think the small actions speak volumes as to the way that you’re thinking. It breaks my heart when I see some kind of environmental leader using a disposable coffee cup, as if they don’t see the correlation between something like that and their policy. I think there’s a real disconnect.
Is there anything you want to say in terms of the film if people are interested in seeing it? How can they see it? Can they get hold of a copy?
With Clean Bin Project we do have DVDs available on our website. It is available for streaming also through our website if people would rather go digital. We really agonised about having DVDs or not, because it seems ironic to sell a product in a film about not buying things. So we went as environmentally friendly as possible with the cardboard packaging and we offered to recycle the disk at the end or to reuse it if people are done with it. But it is available through our website online.
The last thing I wanted to ask you was – the theme last month was ‘Less is More’. So strictly speaking, according to the criteria of a consumer society, the year that you spent consuming much less stuff, you should have been a lot more miserable, a lot more isolated, a lot empowered, considered yourselves a lot less attractive, all that kind of thing. How was it?
It was absolutely the opposite. Yes, I spent more time doing certain things, like making certain foods from scratch, but I also learned so many new skills. I spent way less time in the Mall. I spent no time looking online for things I was going to purchase. I think we had a better quality of life, and I really discovered a passion for making things myself and for empowering myself to run my own life.
When I ended up going back to work, just when we were starting the project again, I ended up simplifying my life there too. I went back to work 3 days a week instead of 5 and was still able to live the same quality of life and have more time off, because I wasn’t spending as much.
Now, I’m continuing the same thing. We actually just had a baby, so I’m trying to continue the same lifestyle. Obviously with him we’ve done everything as environmentally friendly as possible, we bought things second hand, cloth diapers, he eats the same food we eat so we don’t buy special packaged food or anything, and I think our life is simpler for it.
What does the Power to Convene look like in the work of Transition Stroud? Transition Stroud describes itself as "a dynamic group of volunteers who are supporting the local community to strengthen its’ local economy, reduce the cost of living and prepare for a future with less oil and a changing climate"? They were one of the first Transition groups to form and have an impressive portfolio of projects they've achieved over the years. Recently, the Power to Convene has become a key part of their work. I asked Simon Allen, James Beecher and Erik Wilkinson to tell us more:
Erik: "For me the key strategic development was the launch in November 2011 of the "Stroud in Transition" newsletter. The first paragraph stated its key objective of "providing news and information about what's going on not only in Transition Stroud but in the wider world of "Stroud in Transition". That first 12 page newsletter had articles on partner organisations such as Stroudco CSA and Wood U Waste. It built on good networking done at our events such as Winterfest, Eco Homes weekend etc - and it took us centre stage. All this good will and support from our partners was very evident when Seb, I and Imogen produced the Stroud in Transition Action Menu. The Twitter link on the newsletter consolidated our developing effective use of e newsletters and social media".
Simon: "At our 2013 AGM we got an all time low attendance of about 10 people, so for 2014 we decided to go much bigger and widen our invitation list to partner organisations, and also launch the Action Menu Leaflet at the AGM. It looks like we had a 12 month plan to get the leaflet done and then launch it at our AGM, in fact more by chance than planning the 2 things came together at the right time! At the AGM, speakers from some 11 organisations gave a 2 min shout on their work/organisation". [Here is a video of that event].
James: "With our film series I arranged several events 'partnered' with other groups (a film on supermarkets with the anti-supermarket group, a film on fracking with the anti-fracking group, for example). This has meant those groups can use the training I've been given in setting up a venue, save the money on hiring a member of staff for the night, and know that their event will be fairly well publicised. Of course, it also helps a little with cross-fertilisation of audiences. The book group has been pulling in new people too. It would be possible to write more about the films and book group with regard to 'convening'"
Erik: "We have also sought to "fill in the gaps" by supporting the development of new Transition action groups. We run a programme of "SkillsGain" workshops and if there was sufficient interest after the two hour workshop - then an ongoing action group was proposed. Through this approach a "Building Skills Action Group" and a "Building a Wind Turbine Group" has developed - and there may be a Joanna Macey group about to form. This approach has been successful also with Repair Cafes where a group in nearby Nailsworth has replicated/improved on Repair Cafes run in Stroud. The benefit is that it expands the number of active people involved with Transition activities (and reduces the pressures on core TS volunteers) - a drawback is that these groups may be less stable".
Simon: "We first adopted the strategy to try and partner with like-minded organisations in 2010, when Gail Bradbrook, who was new at that time, pointed out that there was an opportunity to create synergies between the many (and small) Stroud environmental 'Transition-like' initiatives through partnership and sharing of info and publicity….'we didn't have to do it all ourselves' ……others were already doing good stuff …but everyone was struggling with publicity and getting members.
James: "hubStroud is even more about cross-fertilisation. It was set up by TS, and can and does promote TS events along with others, but because it is 'arms-length' and has a purpose to promote the wide variety of events in Stroud, it has a larger following on Twitter, particularly a larger *local* following, and one it may have been hard for TS to reach otherwise. This year we're looking to finalise the coding and start offering it to other places to set up their own versions so this could be worth writing more about... take a look at the site and see if you're interested".
Erik: Another key issue/opportunity is that of insurance. Transition Stroud insurance arrangements have been attractive enough for a number of groups (including Stroud Community TV) to be more attracted to coming under the auspices of Transition Stroud. So we are currently looking at how Transition Stroud's insurance arrangements might be a marketing opportunity to promote and engage new transition action groups. However it will be critical for those groups to be absolutely clear what their responsibilities are under the insurance arrangements (risk assessments etc) and that they need to contribute to the cost of insurance. It may be that there are two types of action groups - those who have actively chosen to be insured and those who have not. It is important that groups do not think they are covered when they are not. We are in the early stages of developing this approach.
James: "It's also worth noting that there is a Local Development Plan process happening in the town centre which in presenting some interesting opportunities with regard to partnering. It is the local town council which is convening this, but TS has a 'power to input' greater than it would have done some time ago".
Simon: "Rather than re-create what others in Stroud were already doing, we have gone for a centre ground pivotal position and focussed on partnering, publicity through our e news letter (MailChimp list of 650 at present) , and as Transition Stroud we have only focussed on 1 or 2 big public events a year, plus film shows, and projects that others are not doing, e.g. Environmental training/ audits with students in secondary schools, back-to-bicycle initiatives (now been picked up by the NHS surgeries as Cycling on Prescription), Repair Cafes etc with the aim for these to become self sustaining and have an ongoing life beyond TS's initiation".
James: "There are challenges here - it's hard to keep everyone up to speed and it feels a bit like more and more of TS activity is administrative sometimes, with less expectation from ourselves that we will prompt projects. However, that's largely because none of us have the time... nonetheless, that means we've adopted a strategy as much out of necessity as design (though as Simon said, it was undoubtedly designed), which is worth noting at least".
We'll close with Simon's key insights around successful convening from the 2014 Transition Stroud AGM:
Recently Transition’s co-Founder Rob Hopkins responded to a critique of the Transition movement by Ted Trainer. Trainer’s critique was much discussed at the annual Degrowth Congress in Leipzig which I have blogged about already. Trainer’s critique suggested that there is little more to the Transition Towns movement than community gardens. Naturally anyone who knows much about Transition will know that’s just not the case. And Rob has made a very good response to this already many times.
In this blog I want to share with readers an exciting piece of new work that Transition Network is part of and which illustrates just one way in which it this global movement is grappling with really complex big issues relating to the future of economics and the whole way we produce and consume, live and work.
The Real Economy Lab is a new collective enquiry and movement building initiative. The Lab is being led by myself working closely with Peter Lipman, Chairman of Transition Network, Tony Greenham, a Transition Network Trustee and the Head of Business and Finance at Nef (the New Economics Foundation) and Alice Martin of Nef. Its supported financially by the Swiss Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer/FPH and Nef.
The Lab responds to the context in which our current economic system is patently failing to work for the wellbeing of people and planet. It’s an economic system intent and reliant on exponential growth on a finite planet and on the concentration of power and resources into the hands of the few.
But the alternative future is already (partly) here, emerging in pockets of light around the world. Aside from nearly 500 Transition initiatives worldwide, there is a vast and increasing array of practitioning and thinking around what is being called the ‘new economy.’ As Professor Gar Alperovitz, a leading thinker and practitioner in this area, has recently said “just below the surface of media attention literally thousands of grass roots institution-changing, wealth-democratizing efforts have been quietly developing.”
This includes movements as diverse as the many members of the Post Growth Alliance and New Economy Coalition, and the P2P, commoner, maker, sharer, buen vivir, collaborative economic, social solidarity, direct action, localisation and co-operative movements and numerous others. All of these groupings themselves include many individual initiatives or what we are calling ‘tribes’. And many are being supported by enlightened local government initiatives like those of Bristol’s Mayor George Ferguson in his support for things like Bristol Pound – an exciting initiative that Transition Bristol have helped create and nurture.
This ecosystem also includes numerous academic groups working up radically alternative ways of running our economies active in areas such as Economic Democracy, Associational Democracy and Pluralist Commonwealth thinking.
So what's the problem the Real Economy Lab seeks to respond to? Well, despite all this great work going on around the world, it’s hard to see how this plethora of work fits together into a broader ecosystem, let alone a coherent progressive force pulling in the same direction. How do the ‘tribes’ within this ecosystem relate to each other? How does the practitioning link or not link to various schools of thinking about how a new economy could function?
Without such an understanding its perhaps no surprise that there is little in the way of a concerted progressive movement working together to create to new economy. There is a feeling that if we could all point in the same direction we might be able to do what the shock doctrine regressives did so successfully in ensuring neoliberalism succeeded for so long.
In this context, the Real Economy Lab is focused on helping emerging global movements working towards the development of a new economics to connect the dots and help to ensure that their impact can be greater than the sum of their parts.
Our first, and current task is to create a mind-map of the international new economy ecosystem. We see this ecosystem made up of many ‘tribes’ that sit within a series of meta categories. Transition would be just one of these many tribes.
Through desk research and a wide international consultation we’re developing an information database and taxonomy to act as the basis of a mind-mapping of the international new economy ecosystem to understand what various tribes are doing and planning, why and how.
We’ve identified a number of meta-categories within each of which sit hundreds of separate, though sometimes connected, ‘tribes’. These categories are:
Based on our research and consultation we are building a database that will map for each tribe things like their:
Based on this taxonomy and database and utilizing tagging and qualitative research software to create diagrams of relationships between concepts, themes and ideas, the resulting mind-map will provide a detailed and highly interactive online platform which we hope will be of great use to these tribes in formulating their strategies and collaborations.
Imagine an evolving multi-dimensional map of ideas, principles, practices, and locations of everything going on in the ‘new economy’ world. Imagine being able to user-generate idea-maps relevant to your own inquiries. Or being able to see where tribes stand on a set of core principles for the new economy.
These idea-maps might suggest areas where more emphasis or a change of direction might be needed by tribes or networks. And anyone will be able to interrogate the mind-map to see linkages, gaps in practice or thinking, differences of opinion, opportunities for collaborations, requirements for funding or other resources and much much more.
The mind-map will serve as an interactive, iterative and evolving tool for this new economy ecosystem. It will seek to establish clarity and consensus on key principles and objectives for the new economy that can act as a foundation for the convergence of action. And it will highlight ways the various tribes might work together and will serve as the foundation for networking and collaboration towards the development of a convergence-alliance for the new economy.
Phase I of building the initial mind-map will end in May 2015, after a detailed consultation with leading international thinkers and practitioners in the new economy starting in February. Phase II, the launch of the mind-map platform, will planned for September 2015. Phase III, networking and collaborating with tribes to start the process of developing a convergence-alliance, will be concurrent with phase II and ongoing through 2015 and beyond.
We hope you will want to get involved in the Lab and would be delighted to hear from Transitioners and non-Transitioners on the issues above. Please contact jules on email@example.com
Jules Peck has had a life-long passion for heterodox economics and undertaken extensive work in this area with think-tanks and others. As well as being convenor of the Real Economy Lab, Jules is also a founding partner at strategy consultancy Jericho Chambers, a Trustee of the think-tank Nef, a member of the Advisory Board of Sir Richard Branson’s B Team, an Associate of The Futures Company, a Practitioner of Happiness Works, a Director of the Happy City movement and a member of the Transition Towns training and consulting strategy group.
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.
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
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
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.
'Transition Town: The Musical': Plans revealed for a new community crowdfunded musical
An opportunity for people to crowdfund a new community musical, which will explore questions and issues presented by oil dependency, sustainable energy and climate change, has been launched and is already attracting a lot of support. 'Transition Town: The Musical' is being produced by Regen SW, a not for profit organisation working to revolutionise the way we generate, supply and use energy.
The project is the brainchild of Matt Harvey, writer and host of Channel 4’s Wondermentalist, the award-winning composer Tomas Hewitt Jones and Chloe Uden, arts and energy programme manager at Regen SW.
The team, creators of this year’s hit Christmas show Rumpelstiltskin, are aiming to crowdfund £10,000 by early February 2015 to commence the estimated 18 month project.
Chloe explained “We want to bring as many people into this project as possible, so crowdfunding was an obvious choice. Over the past 10 years of working in the sustainable energy sector, I’ve seen how the arts can provide a space to deal with the emotional and human side of the story.”
Rob Hopkins, founder and figurehead of the Transition Towns movement and supporter of the new venture, explained “when Matt first mentioned the idea of Transition Town: The Musical, I couldn't help laughing. There was something silly about it, but at the same time something rather wonderful.”
Rob continued “doing Transition has many of the elements of great musicals: drama, moments of high tension, highs of great choral unity, moments when it all locks in beautifully and it feels more exhilarating than anything else, and the fact that it needs a whole cast, not just one or two heroes. This is something designed to be performed by communities, and I really hope it becomes the 'Billy Elliot' for community activists, the 'We Will Rock You' for community energy, and the 'West Side Story' of rooftop gardeners. The world needs this musical. Please support it!".
You can find out more and support the Kickstarter appeal here.
To start the new year we offer lots of inspiring news and new features. Our themes will now span two months and starts with getting started. We introduce our very own Agony Aunt, offer you a new year rubbish diet, find out what life is like without Amazon and announce plans for Transition Town -The Musical! Plus news of Transition Roadshow coming up in Cornwall, training on offer, events and book reviews.
Transitioners' Digest (December 2014)
The theme for December was 'Less is More',
How We Got Started
During January and February we'll be exploring the first element of our Support Offer, 'How to Start Transition'. We start with Richard Barnett of New Forest Transition who tells the story of their beginnings in 2007
The Transition Agony Aunt
A new regular feature, The Transition Agony Aunt, will answers a reader's question. The first one is about struggling to form working groups:
Have you got a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
How 'The Power to Convene' can transform Transition
Should the Power to Convene be the key role of what Transition groups do and how they function?
Transition Town: The Musical!
This is the working title for a sparkling new musical to be written by poet Matt Harvey and composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. The plan is to weave a witty, warm-hearted tale of dreamers and do-ers addressing the practical, emotional and philosophical questions thrown up by climate change and oil dependency. The premiere of the final show is planned for July 2016 and then a license will be available for other groups to perform the show. “We want to bring as many people into this project as possible, so crowdfunding was an obvious choice" said Chloe Uden who conceived the project. "Over the past 10 years of working in the sustainable energy sector, I’ve seen how the arts can provide a space to deal with the emotional and human side of the story.” Find out more and support their appeal on Kickstarter:
Results from the Transition Culture survey
The responses from the short survey as well as some reflections on what we might do about them.
THINKING OUT LOUD
How the BBC might hold the election to account, carbon-wise
How about putting short term economic responsibility, alongside longer term climate responsibility?
Responding to the Prison Industrial Complex with permaculture and resilience
Teacher, writer, speaker and designer, Pandora Thomas is a board member of Transition US, a founder of the Black Permaculture Network, a co-founder of Earthseed Consulting, and co-creator of the Pathways to Resilience programme. Read or listen to her inspiring interview:
The Rubbish Diet
Sometimes we make New Year’s resolutions that we don’t keep. The key, psychologists tell us, is to make the resolution simple, with stepped rewards along the way until the goal is reached. Bin Doctor Katy Anderson writes about the Diet and how you can Learn to Love Your Bin as a New Year’s Resolution.
If I Ruled The World
Asked by a local newspaper to muse on what he would do if he ruled the world, Rob Hopkins began by saying “that’s impossible” would be outlawed around the cabinet table.
My year without Amazon
Having decided a year ago that Amazon was so at odds with Rob Hopkins' values that he withdrew his support for good, he shares his reflections on how a year free of Amazon has been. (Spoiler Alert: it's been great).
Starting a Transition Enterprise
The first post in a series about the process of starting a Transition Enterprise. This blog by Mark Simmonds attempts to define a Transition Enterprise and look at the very early stages in the start-up “journey”.
Talking Social Economy in a World of Extremes
Frances Northrop of Transition Town Totnes on her visit to Sweden for the Annual National Transition Conference.
The Community Enterprise Checker and funding opportunities through Power to Change
With £150m as potentially available, and some go-early investment opportunities, we are encouraging Transition Enterprises to get involved with Power to Change.
• 24-25 January. London. The world's first Permaculture for Transition course
• Launch online begins again January 13th at the new time of 09.00- 10.30 UK time. This will enable people in Asia and Australia and New Zealand to take part more easily.
The Transition Roadshow comes to Penwith
6-7 Feb. Penzance, West Cornwall
There are lots of positive things going on in Penwith and this event will take things further with a focus on RE-thinking the economic future of the area.
Devon Convergence - Forum for New Local Economies
February 7. Exeter
Gathering the changemakers in Devon to meet, become acquainted, perhaps start collaborative relationships, and definitely learn about what's happening around the region to create thriving local economies.
Using Social Media for Events
21 January 8pm - online
Bringing together Transition Initiatives in the UK interested in exploring how social media can help their activities expand and flourish.
One Minute Review: Behind the Green Door by Rotor
An eclectic book, rich in objects that will challenge (or reaffirm!) what sustainability means for you in relation to how the world around us is built.
Don't Even Think About It by George Marshall
Unlike most books about climate change, which try to convince people using science, Don't Even Think About It examines why the science doesn't convince people. Drawing on research across many disciplines and presenting it entertainingly, he argues that these insights are critical to mobilizing public opinion on climate change. While Marshall’s book may or may not fix widespread ignorance about climate change, it does an invaluable service by showing us why we ignore this greatest of all threats facing our species.
Desert Island Discs, Totnes-style
The subject of a rather unusual version of Desert Island Discs in Totnes was Rob Hopkins. The Winter Concert, organised by two local choirs and others, invites a local person to choose eight tracks which are then performed interspersed with stories from that person's life. Well worth a listen:
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"For me, the most sustainable thing a person can do is continue to live! To stay alive and thrive and create and support systems that help affirm their own life. "
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Next newsletter is 6 February 2015
We are delighted to share Transition Network's Trustees Report and Financial Statement for 2014. It captures beautifully the bredth and depth of what we have been up to. Some key achievements covered by this report, and our work in the rest of 2014, include:
All this work is helping meet the urgent need to encourage and support people and communities to take effective action to build the transition to a low-carbon, socially-just, healthier and happier future, which is more enriching and more gentle on the earth than the way most of us live today. We hope you find it a useful and inspiring insight into what we do all day, and look forward to sharing 2015's even more inspirational Report with you.
While our theme in November was catching up, December's theme is 'Less is More'. In the newsletter we find out about the new Support Framework, we want to hear your starting out stories and your thoughts on Transition Culture. We offer several reflections on stuff and what happens when we don't have so much of it. Plus news from initiatives including the Round up; Training courses coming up and Book reviews. And since it's that time of year - we have our plan for a Christmas advert!
JOB: Conference Project Manager
We are recruiting for a project manager for our Transition Conference autumn 2015. If have the skills and interest to work with TN on a project/ freelance basis, then please email email@example.com
Details and application form will follow shortly.
Our New Support Framework
"Give it a go and let us know what you think" says Michael Thomas, Transition Network's Support Co-ordinator. "For the past 9 months we have been creating a new support framework which draws on the various resources that Transition Network has produced over recent years, experience gained from Transition Training and feedback from across the movement. We wanted to bring key information together, put a bit of structure around it and make it easier for people to find and use the learning that we’ve gathered from the fantastic ongoing social experiment that is Transition."
Are we doing Transition Culture right?
It's now 17 months since Transition Culture moved to its home at transitionnetwork.org. We have introduced a number of changes, in particular the monthly themes, the monthly Transitioner's Digest and the bigger editorial 'think piece' at the start of each month. As we reach the end of 2014, we'd like to hear how you are finding it, what you like, what you think could be changed, any suggestions and feedback. We have created a very quick survey that should only take you a minute or two, and your feedback will be very valuable in shaping what we do during 2015. Please let us know what you think by Sunday the 14th of December
Wanted: your stories of starting your Transition initiative.
Over January and February, the Transition Network website will be looking in more depth at the first step in starting a Transition initiative, namely Developing an Initiating Group. Site editor Rob Hopkins has the following request:
"We'd love to hear your stories about how your Transition group came together and what happened as you drew together the group to get it all going. Who started it? How did you organise yourselves? What happened? This is your opportunity to capture and share those early days." Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Unveiling the 2014 Transition Christmas TV Advert
Rob Hopkins puts on Transition glasses and has a look at the various Christmas adverts being put out by the UK stores. He then has a go at suggesting what a Transition Christmas ad might look like.
Looking Back Over 100 Years:
It is all too easy to imagine that prior to present-day consumption levels life was bereft of pleasure, fun, anything rewarding. As a way of challenging that Rob Hopkins shares a conversation he had with 99 year old Douglas Matthews.
Fukushima - the aftermath of a disaster
Debbie Warrener reports from her trip to Fukushima. She finds that there is so much about Fukushima that is hard to take in. "Fukushima strikes me as a gigantic mirror for the craziness of the times we live in – and how there are no easy answers and we have to find answers ourselves and together – at a citizen level. One by one. Making difficult decisions along the way."
How to think and live for yourself
One of the tasks that loom large as we strive to build more resilient, sustainable communities with a new paradign writes Sherry Ackerman, is reassigning value to the subjective and intrinsic experiences in life. We can begin to do this on our own, thus setting precedents for employers, teachers, government and others. We can do things that bring us pleasure — instead of just money or “stuff” — as a part of our regular routines.
The October/November 2014 Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
Around the UK from Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Harborough, Haverfordwest, Marlow, St Albans, Stirling, Stroud, Tooting, Totnes, Wivenhoe.
In Germany from Bielefeld, Essen, Wiesbaden, Witzenhausen and Würzburg. Budapest in Hungary, Réseau in Belgium, Bologna in Italy and South Carolina in the USA. Plus Montreal, Perth, and Winnipeg in Canada.
Transition Cobham Crowdfunder campaign
Cobham Community Garden's fence project aim to raise £2500 by 22nd December using Crowdfunding
Helping shape the planning process
Ian Jackson from Transition Belper tells an ongoing tale of engagment with the planning process.
Project Evaluation Tools
Over the last year 'Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities' has developed a set of evaluation tools. They are easy to use, tailored to your needs, abilities, and time, and offer ways to evaluate your projects or your Transition initiative.
Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything'
It is a powerful, deeply felt, painstakingly-researched book which takes the reader on an incredible journey and makes a radical yet common-sense case. So why is it that by the end Rob Hopkins felt underwhelmed?
One Minute Reviews is a new feature, where we review books or films in a way that will take you less than a minute to read. Here is the first one:
One Minute Review: Incredible!
Incredible!: Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution is the story of Incredible Edible Todmorden (IET), the food-growing project in Yorkshire which has inspired people around the world to look at their urban spaces in a very different way.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Resistance is essential, but it’s not enough. As we fight the injustice around us, we also have to imagine — and create — the world we want. We have to build real alternatives in the here and now — alternatives that are not only living proof that things can be done differently, but that actively challenge, and eventually supplant, the power of the status quo”. Naomi Klein https://solutions.thischangeseverything.org/#about
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This newsletter is published on the first Friday of each month.
Next newsletter is 9th January 2015