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

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

It was a tough call deciding which story to lead with in this month’s Round-up.  In the end we decided to start with this story from the Amazon in Brazil.  May East, Transition trainer extraordinaire, travelled there to give a Transition training.  The host was Mapiá Village, an intentional community created by traditional forest people with about 600 inhabitants which is the main village in the Purus National Forest (PNF).  She writes: 

Recently Mapiá Village hosted a Gaia Education Design for Sustainability programme - AmaGaia- with approximately 90 participants who are now trained in the social, ecologic, cultural and economic dimensions of ecovillages and Transition town processes. Participants ranging from 14 to 79 year old came from several river settlements, including Amazon indigenous communities and reps of government institutions working in the region. 

As part of the action learning process 8 working groups were created: Culture and Celebration; Education; Health; Governance and Infrastructure; Income Generation; Food Production; São Sebastião Farm Community; and the Purus Nation Forest. Each group created a collective dream and designed a strategy to be carried out during the next cycle, seeking to put in practice and locally adapt the contents learnt in the design for sustainability programme. 

The group learnt the participatory methods of Transition Towns and engaged in the process of visioning the future of the region. While back-casting they answered key questions on how a resilient local infrastructure might become a reality and how we may get there year-on-year through a jointly designed and meaningful map of concrete actions.

Amazon training

Our other favourite story comes from Portugal.  Between the 14th and 16th of June, the Ajudada Festival was run in Portalegre.  The event, organised by members of Portalegre em Transição and others, modelled a Gift Economy in practice, and Michael Plesse, one of the attendees, described the event as “a tapestry, a dynamic, that was really  amazing to watch, to  be part of, and see unfold!”  Here is the event's beautifil artwork, designed by Kim Geiser.  

Ajudada artwork

Here are a couple of videos about it:

Writing about the event in more detail, Michael wrote:  

“The town was literally filled with people from different countries, all working and exploring the aspects of a community- economy, "where everyone can play a part", celebrating the wealth of experiences, models, prototypes, and concrete actions in parks, meeting halls, schools, cinema-rooms, art-exhibitions, and more places  that were involving people, the public places in town touching common townsfolk in the city, through the heart, the joy, the sense of connecting, the invitations.

It was personally very moving to see, that all this was happening without the use of money - no entrance fees, no money required to eat in the beautiful cafeteria, with food prepared with care and love!  No workshop-fees, no presenter having to deal with money, possibilities for free accommodation, couch-surfing... and the like”.

transition streets newcastle

Transition Streets, the street-by-street behaviour change model, continues to pop up around the world. One of the most fascinating recent manifestations of the idea is in Newcastle in Australia. Here is a great powerpoint about their work.  One of my favourite stories is this, told by Jo from the Laman Street group: 

“Neighbours who previously complained about noise from the populated student house were now talking more constructively and even offered the students free tickets to the theatre as they recognised their artistic talents.  An overall sense of safety was created, particularly as Laman street is an inner city street that had a history of a number of late night assaults. People started recognising that the late night student house was actually a safety net for the street as they were generally awake all hours and could keep watch. And in one instance the students ran out of the house to protect a neighbour who was about to be assaulted. This was particularly positive for the students for they identified their need to be part of the project as a way to demystify the student household and build better positive relationships on the street”.

Transition Ireland and Northern Ireland are running a crowd funding campaign to raise money for a national Recognising Resilience award. Please support the appeal here.  

To Canada now, and the Port Alberni (BC) library and the local Transition food group are partnering up to create a seed library.  A great article in the Media Coop about the spread of Transition across the country, especially Vancouver, included the following taste of what’s happening there: 

"In April, Village Vancouver partnered with UBC on the New Economy Summit, a three-day event to contribute to a socially just and ecologically responsible economy. As part of the city’s Car Free Day in June, the group will set up a demonstration Transition Town with everything they would like to see in their neighbourhoods: seed libraries, solar panels, backyard chicken coops, collaborative gardening, composting and more”.  

 It also included one of the best summaries of “what is Transition?” from one of the group’s founder members:

 “If we had a mantra, it would be ‘Talk to your neighbours, see what happens”.

Gerd Wessling of Transition Germany, Austria, Switzerland (D/A/CH) got in touch to let us know about the Open Transition Netzwerk D/A/CH gathering 2013 will be September 27th – 29th in the South of Germany in an intentional community near Heilbronn/Crailsheim called "Schloß Tempelhof".  More details & registration will come up any day at this link 

It is an open invitation to gather to all those who are active in any Transition Initiative in the Transition D/A/CH region from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland; and who have an interest to help strengthen & define our DACH network, as well share their local TT experiences, work on various themes and methods around group forming/decision making/group facilitation and celebrate together out growing Transition family. 

In the US, T-Culver City in LA (CA) teamed up with Culver City Bike Coalition for a field trip to Downtown LA using bike and train travel combined. 

Culver city bike ride

And direct from Transition US here’s their monthly June newsletter.  There’s also a great article about How the Transition Movement Is Spreading to Towns Across America.  

To the UK now, and T- Berkhamsted (Herts) teamed up with Positive Money for this great-looking event:

Berkhamstead poster

T-Crouch End in London put on a Fruit and Fable trail, an opportunity to celebrate in tall tales and edible treasure in their community.  TT-Brixton have welcomed Yuki, a research student from Japan. Speaking of Japan, it's wonderful how people self-organise and translate Transition materials.  Within days of the promotional video for The Power of Just Doing Stuff being posted on YouTube (it has now been watched nearly 6,000 times, it had been reposted with Japanese subtitles:

Returning to Brixton, Brixton Energy Solar 3,  Brixton Energy’s latest share launch is now open to investors.  Here’s how Brixton Energy themselves describe it: 

"The solar panels for Brixton Energy Solar 3 will be installed on four buildings within the Roupell Park Estate: Hyperion House, Fairview House, Warnham House and the Community Office. The income from the project will be derived principally from the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, which is guaranteed for 20 years. Some of the energy generated by the project will be used on site with the remainder energy sold directly back to the grid. After operating costs are deducted, profits resulting from the sale of energy will be used to support local energy efficiency initiatives and provide Co-operative members with an annual return on their investment".

Brixton Energy Solar 3

You can download the share prospectus here.  The TT-Honiton in Devon’s planting group caught up recently to agree on their aims. They have compiled this great ‘all about our herbs’ page on relation to all the herbs they have planted on the New Street herb wall.  

The ongoing success of the Bristol Pound has inspired at least one other city to consider giving it a go. Recently, Oxford announced that it was considering the idea. Adam O'Boyle, who is leading the Oxford project, said: "Although we think Oxford is a great city, it could always be better. We were really impressed by what they're doing in Bristol in terms of increasing trade to local businesses, increasing the profile of the city." 

Transition Evesham Vale (Worcs) held a food festival as part of their local Mega Weekend.  We felt we had to include this photo because if ever a woman in a photo seemed to be thinking "help, get me out of here", it was our friend in this picture.  

Eversham Food Fair

Billinge & Orrell Transition Group’s Community Good Life Fair took place on Saturday 15th June at St James Social Club, Orrell.  Here’s how they described it: 

“There was something for everyone including stalls showcasing local community activities (Greenslate Community Farm, local clubs and community groups ), local crafts (artisan breadmaking, woodcraft skills, simple herbal remedies), backyard self-sufficiency (chickens, bees, veg growing and animal raising), a cycle workshop, money saving tips to reduce your household bills (buying co-ops, energy saving measures)”.   

Here is Transition Town Letchworth’s June monthly bulletin  and Transition Marlborough’s June newsletter.  Transition Marlborough also recently launched their Recycling Directory.  Over to them:

“This is more than a recycling directory and, although it was created for Marlborough (Wiltshire, England), the "reduce and reuse" tips and online links can be used anywhere. ... In keeping with the Transition ethos, we wanted to highlight Reduce and Re-use, to include Repair as well as Recycle and, wherever possible, keep everything local. Rethinking our rubbish is an important part of creating a sustainable future. There are ideas and tips for using less in the first place (minimising the use of diminishing resources) and ways to reuse items ourselves or pass them on for other people to use. Finally, if they cannot be repaired, there is information about recycling facilities, to avoid sending them to landfill”.

Transition Walthamstow opened their first Repair Cafe, at the Hornbeam Centre on Wednesday 26th June.  Transition Stratford's Garden Share scheme is now well underway.  Transition Town Clitheroe have also started a Garden Share scheme, and Susan Hawthorne (below), 46, who has offered her garden to the project, said: “It’s something that would encourage community spirit and togetherness".

Clitheroe garden share

This month saw the launch of the latest book about Transition,  The Power of Just Doing Stuff.  The first launch was a kind of pre-launch thing, in which author Rob Hopkins and Pruw Boswell, Mayor of Totnes attempted to ‘launch’ the book down the River Dart in a pumpkin.  The resultant video has been watched over 1,000 times on YouTube and has been reported to nearly bring on early labour and near- hysteria through giggling.

It was first formally presented in Bristol at Bristol Green Week’s Schumacher Lectures.  Earlier that morning, Rob appeared on BBC Radio Bristol, where he spoke with presenter Jemma Cooper, and chose 'Be My Baby' by The Ronettes, and 'Town Called Malice' by the Jam as the records he would play at an imaginary dinner party.  There was also a great piece about the book in the Bristol Evening Post The real formal launch event took place a couple of days later in Crystal Place, London. You can read Rob’s blog post about it, and here is his video about the day:

On June 20 Rob spoke at the Sir Patrick Geddes Commemorative Lecture in Edinburgh. Here is an audio/slide show mashup thing of the talk. The next day, members of Transition in Scotland organised a talk and workshop titled The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How Communities are Changing our Cities for Good

On 27 June Rob went to Sheffield (South Yorkshire).  Part of the day included presenting a copy of the book to Jack Scott, a leading member of the City Council, on the steps of the Town Hall with members of local Transition groups. 

Transition Sheffield

You can read more and listen to audio from the evening event at the Quakers Meeting House on Sheffield IndyMedia.  The following dates for Rob’s ‘Transition Thursday’ events throughout July are as follows: 

04 July                   Swaffham, Downham Market & Kings Lynn (Norfolk) (this Round-up is being edited on route to this....)

11 July                   Worthing (West Sussex) – see their poster here

18 July                   Louth & Horncastle (Lincs) – link here

25 July                   Marsden & Slaithwaite (West Yorkshire)

The publication of the book has also led to a flurry of media attention on Transition.  The best two, in our opinion, were John Paul Flintoff’s piece in the Guardian, called Local, self sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward? which was one of the most popular articles on the Guardian’s site for a few days, and which led to a big spike in visitors to the Transition Network’s website.  The other appeared at 2Degrees, and was called ‘What can business learn from the Transition movement?’  

There was also coverage in The Daily Telegraph, The Ecologist, Western Daily Press, Huffington Post,  Treehugger, and the wonderfully titled What Happens if We Focus on the 3%? (Spoiler: Local Economies Flourish) published on the blog Triple Pundit, to name just a few.  There was also a recent article entitled The Future of Energy on Virgin's website which name-checked Transition.  

Finally, we close with some recently-found rare footage of what Rob Hopkins looked like before he cut his hair, had a shave and got involved with Transition:


Please send us any stories you would like to see included in the next Round-up.  

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Inner Transition
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Energy
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Transport