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Transition Culture - an evolving exploration into the head, heart and hands of energy descent

Rob Hopkins's blog

Transition Streets: growing success for communities to conserve energy

Here is the second of my monthly pieces for the Guardian's Live Better Challenge:

When Gail Jackson put an invitation through every door on her street in St Albans, inviting her neighbours round to her house to discuss doing Transition Streets, she didn't really expect any of them to come.  "I ended up with 11 people crammed into my front room. I didn't know what to do with so many people," she recalls. She showed them a two-minute video about this community-level green initiative, and asked if they would like to try it on the street. Everyone put their names down.  "When do we start?" they said.

The Impact We're Having: Anthony Woolhouse on the West Solent Solar Cooperative

"And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected…"  

Spike Milligan

We hope to do better…. We have created the West Solent Solar Co-operative to generate renewable energy for, and by, the local community. The solar farm we are building will generate enough electricity for about 600 local households. It will produce in the region of 2.5 GWh each year and cost about £2.5 million to build. It will save Hampshire approximately 1,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. 

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Katrina Brown on resilience, impact and learning

Katrina Brown is a Professor of Social Sciences based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at Exeter University. The three key themes her research centres on are Resilience, Vulnerability and Development, Dynamics of Change in Coastal Social Ecological-Systems and People, Poverty and Carbon.  As someone who has published papers about community resilience, I was interested, in the context of this month's theme, in her thoughts on impact, resilience, and how we might measure it.   

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The impact of Transition. In numbers.

Here's something we'd love your help with.  How can we capture the impact of Transition in numbers?  We've done our best with what we can find, and we'd love to know what you would add from your local initiative. Any numbers you can put to your impact? Number of meetings? Amount of funding? Amount raised in a share option? Number of carrots grown on a train station? It's over to you.  Let us know (use the comments box below), and we'll publish the final version at the end of the month...

Andrea Felicetti on Transition as "radicals without rebellion"

At this year's Political Studies Association International Conference in Manchester, Andrea Felicetti of the University of Canberra presented a paper called Radicals without rebellion? A Case Study on four Transition experiments. In it he explored "whether and how social movements can promote radical positions whilst refraining from adopting an oppositional approach".  This was one of the first pieces of research I have come across that explored Transition's approach to politics, so we contacted Andrea and asked him to write an article for us, presenting his key findings in as accessible a way as possible.  We are delighted that he agreed to do so. 

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The Impact We're Having: Aveiro em Transição in Portugal

Aveiro em Transição is a Transition initiative in Portugal.  When they heard we were looking for tales of the impact Transition initiatives see their work having, they sat a group of people down who are active in the initiative and asked them the question.  Here's what they had to say. 

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Eamon O'Hara on the "important catalytic effect" of community-led action

One of the most fascinating recent studies into the impact of Transition was Local Communities Leading the Way to a Low Carbon Societya report published by AEIDL (Association Européenne pour l’Information sur le Développement Local.  It looks at Transition, permaculture and ecovillage networks, what it calls the "Silent Revolution", "a potentially powerful driver of pro-environmental behaviour change".  We caught up with Eamon O'Hara, who created the report, to find out more about it, and about his conclusions. 

The Impact We're Having: Zsanett and Zoltán of Transition Hosszúhetény

Hosszúhetény is the most populous village in Baranya county, in the south of Hungary, with 3400 inhabitants. It's situated in beautiful natural surroundings at the foot of the Zengő peak of the Mecsek hills.

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Why I despise self checkouts with a rare and unbridled passion

It's time for a rant about SACAT.  "About what?" you might most reasonably cry.  'Semi Attended Customer Activated Terminals', that's what.  In plain English, it's those self checkout things that are taking over shops up and down the land.  In 2008 there were 92,600 such units in use worldwide, by the end of this year it is expected to top 430,000.  In the UK, 32 million shoppers now use them every week, over one third of Tesco's store transactions every week are self checkout. I recently went to WHSmith at St Panchras station in London, the first shop I've been into that is 100% self checkout.  No staff.  I turned around and walked back out again.

Jo Hamilton on why monitoring and evaluation matters for Transition

What role does measuring and evaluating your impacts have to play for Transition initiatives?  How important is it, and how straightforward is it in a group that is already busy "doing stuff"?  Jo Hamilton is a researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute whose research focuses on those very questions. Together with colleagues Ruth Mayne and Kersty Hobson, she is currently developing a project called Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities (MESC) to develop and trial a range of tools to enable groups to self monitor and evaluate their work.  She's still recruiting groups and is running 3 workshops in April and May for groups who'd like more skills and insights on how to do this (more below). 

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