A July Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition
Here are two great reasons why we are starting this July round-up with DE4 Food in Derbyshire, a great social enterprise which features in the recently-published The Power of Just Doing Stuff. Firstly, as their 'patchwork farming' approach gains strength, they recently added the local Tansley Primary School Gardening Club to their list of local producers. Here is a photo of these latest additions to the local farming community hard at work:
Secondly, at this time of year when any of us who garden are starting to drown in courgettes, which rather seem to all come at once, they have kindly produced and made freely available a book of Favourite Courgette Recipes. They are also a great food hub model that you may find inspiring.
To Australia next, and thanks to Graeme Stuart for sharing the news that T-Newcastle in NSW, Australia received a Highly Commended (runner up) at the Sustainable Cities Awards for their rollout of the Transition Streets project. The project was the subject of an in-depth interview on the Transition Network's website this month. Here's the certificate they won:
... and here are Graeme and Cathy from Transition Newcastle (subjects of the afore-mentioned interview). at the awards ceremony, receiving their award from Costa Georgiadis (of Gardening Australia) who, frankly, looks like he's been making good use of the hospitality bar:
From South Africa, here's a great short video about Transition Town Greyton, a lovely use of animation to communicate what Transition is all about...
Our thanks to Bart Vanden Driessche, namens transitie Vlaanderen for this update from the Flemish region of Belgium:
"You could compare Transition Ekeren to a small river, sometimes it flows along gently, and sometimes there are rapids. Today we are accelerating, even while we’re in the middle of the summer holidays. Lots of opportunities are presenting themselves, almost organically.
The reason: We have been sowing a lot of ideas in the past few years with transition cafés and workshops, by presenting ourselves at public and local events and most of all through personal testimonies. The desired outcome has now arrived and a lot of questions are flowing in our direction. We can only manage, with some effort, because we are so motivated. We have to discuss, choose, weigh and prioritise. This is sometimes difficult, because we want to give everyone our attention.
Our short-time and not-so-distant-future planning:
1. After the permaculture course, which 15 of us have successfully completed last year, we now have to implement the group-project we designed: Care Centre Hof De Beuken has put a part of their garden under our care to turn it into a garden for dementing elderly people. When this project is implemented, they will have a garden based on permaculture principles, with the purpose to stimulate the senses of dementing people by letting them smell, feel, see, hear and taste the garden. This social and ecological project goes further than just the permaculture course. We are working on a sheltered area in the garden where visitors can work or just hang out. We are also planning a number of pergola’s, together with the staff and directors of the centre. We regularly welcome schools and other visitors and inform them about dementia, permaculture, transition,…
We will soon be visited by a group of cyclists, members of Groenplus, who will hand us a ‘green feather’ for this initiative. The biggest challenge in this project is to involve the residents in such a way that the project can be handed over to them, the users and owners of the garden.
2. In September, we will organise a pop-up give-away store at a local flee-market, with information about transition, some workshops and a prototype "repair café".
3. In October, we are planning a gathering for all interested people (residents, organisations and politicians) with three creative ‘bee-hives’ and a potluck dinner.
In the longer term, we are exploring the feasibility of a CSA farm, the feasibility of a edible Ekeren project in cooperation with local schools and the feasibility of a platform in Ekeren for nature and environment: a talk and action project with 2 parts, a reactive part where we make an inventory of possible threats to the liveability of out district and look for answers to these threats, and a second, active part where we try to act upon opportunities that present themselves. The goal of these 3 themes is to investigate and act upon the liveability of Ekeren".
To the UK now, and Susan Murray of TT-Lewes writes to the Sussex Express in reaction to Nigel Lawson being given centre-stage at a local event where his climate change denial talk went completely unchallenged. TT-Totnes continues to have a fantastic series of free community sessions covered here in Ode to the joy of skill sharing. Also in Totnes, TTT co-founder Rob Hopkins was interviewed in a cafe in Totnes ...
TT-Peckham (SE London) with funding and support from the local council’s Sustainable Transport Team created a fantastic map which highlights all the parks, gardens, food and growing projects in the area. They then organised a walk around to visit all the sites one Sunday in July..
Crystal Palace Transition Town are moving towards a rather exciting project, creating an 'Edible Bus Station'. They recently tweeted "Great meeting earlier with @EdibleBusStop. Exciting plans for the worlds first Edible Bus Station taking shape!". Also, their Local Food Market goes from strength to strength. Here are some great photos of it, guaranteed to make you feel rather peckish. Here's a taste (as it were):
CroydonTT and Friends of Thornton Heath Rec have been getting together to work on a food growing space every Sunday. This month saw the official opening of their new community garden.
Brixton Energy launched Brixton Energy Solar 3 this month, which reached its target (see image below). Agamemnon Otero of Brixton Energy wrote to say:
"I am writing to you on this momentous day, as we finish the third share offer! Implementing not only a 52 kWh system on another estate in Brixton which runs the community office and community centre and communal lighting but has successfully delivered six 15 week internships and eight paid work experience placements. Fuel poverty measure like draught-proofing have reduced participating residents bill by 30%. And last but not least this project in the lowest economic area in Lambeth saw the highest investment from the community. 20% of investors live in the blocks on the estate and the Tenant Management Organisation has invested as well!"
The day the event was launched Brixton Energy were visited by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey (launching his call for a "community renewable energy revolution"), and Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker. Here are their reflections:
Transition Cambridge held their Summer Festival, of which they tweeted "At our Summer Festival this Sat: Grow your own, permaculture, bee-keeping, knitting, energy saving, cakes + more!" Sounds great. You can also get a sense of how busy they are with upcoming events here. Here's the Festival poster:
In the US, a member of TT-Viroqua (WI) got chatting with someone following a swim in a local outdoor pool. The resulting abundance of ideas which re-visioned the future of the pool for the benefit of the wider community used a tried and tested Transition method of turning a potential problem in to a fantastic opportunity! Here's a video called "Boppin' with Oak" about which I know very little, other than assuming it is from the US, and in it some bloke explains to Oak what Transition is:
Jay Navarro of DHiT (The Hague in Transition) in Holland wrote with this update:
"Just wanted to let you know that in The Hague we've set up a Transition Towns group with the aim to connect, catalyze and facilitate other (existing and potential) transition initiatives in town.
At the moment we are working or strengthening our internal structure. We've grown extremely big in very little time. Even the local municipality has approached us for Masterclasses and we've been invited by Drift (Dutch Research Institute for Transition) to participate in an international conference on transition. Also the public, our fellow citizens, have gotten notice from us and are approaching us for various types of collaboration and support. However, if we want to live up to the expectation of ourselves and others we have to get ourselves together. You must know what a challenge it is to manage such a bottom-up structure.
Please take a look at what we have done and maybe you can share it with the rest of the network for inspiration. Our site is in Dutch, but we have some English material as well on a Ted site and our FB.
The group recently did a Guerilla Gardening Flashmob. Here's a video they made of it:
... and another rather cool video about their other urban gardening projects ...
Here at Transition Network, we welcomed Hide Enomoto of Transition Town Fujino in Japan who (along with Paul Shepherd) was instrumental in the setting up of Transition Japan. They recently published the Japanese language version of The Transition Handbook, which was beautiful, and which you read backwards!
Transition Bielefeld in Germany took advantage of the recent spell of good weather and held a solar oven workshop. Here they are, hard at work ...
In New Zealand, Transition Auckland recently published this video capturing two recent events they published:
In July, another four 'Transition Thursdays' took place, which took Rob Hopkins on the road (well, the train actually) to visit Transition initiatives in East Anglia, Worthing in Sussex, in Lincolnshire and finally in Slaithwaite in Yorkshire, to give a boost to their work and to give The Power of Just Doing Stuff a push. For each one he made a short film, capturing the events of the day. So, in chronological order, Swaffham and Downham Market:
... Worthing in Sussex (which included an attempt at launching a copy of The Power of Just Doing Stuff into the sea in a boat ...
... Louth and Horncastle, complete with rather fine banner in the street ...
... and finally to Marsden and Slaithwaite in Yorkshire ...
Lastly, our gratitude goes to Corinne Coughanowr, Transition France for this story from Greece:
In the northwest corner of Greece, Transition is emerging in the small town of Konitsa. Perched on the side of a hill, the town of 4000 inhabitants overlooks a wide valley of fields surrounded by mountains. Having avoided the full-scale “progress” adopted by larger towns and cities, Konitsa is free from shopping malls, huge chain stores, and swirls of highways with their attendant traffic.
Nevertheless, the impact of the economic crisis, while less severe here, is growing. The central square, surrounded by several streets of shops, was deserted on the Sunday in early July when we arrived. Normally, the cafés would be bustling with Greeks who come from the cities to spend a month or more in their hometown and the surrounding villages. “People can’t afford even the bus fare anymore,” I was told.
Even worse, the town is down to two pastry shops, only one of which is doing well. Knowing the sweet tooth the Greeks have, I took this as a very bad sign. With salaries cut, high unemployment, and rising prices for goods and services, people just don’t have the money to spend at cafés, restaurants, and sweet shops.
Local initiatives to cope with the crisis include vegetable gardens, which are even more widely relied upon these days, efforts to coordinate the crops being planted by the farmers, and informal exchanges of services.
After talking with a few friends in town, we decided to organize a Transition event. In the spirit of Rob’s new book, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, we put the “doing stuff” first, in the form of a repair café, to be followed by a short presentation on Transition Towns and why local is the way to go, and then finished off with a world café to encourage ideas of how to make this happen.
Eleni, who runs a linens shop, posted our announcement all over town and seemed to have spoken single-handedly to about 95% of the townspeople about showing up to our event. Antonis and his family very generously agreed to lend us the upper floor of their restaurant and to manage the “café” part of the event.
On the big day, the sewing section of the repair café was so popular that it took off by itself and started EARLY! A sewing machine, recovered swatches of material, and plenty of ideas showed up, and several young women learned from more experienced seamstresses how to use the sewing machine.
At another table, screwdrivers and electrical wire were deployed, and three of us successfully solved a problem with a reading lamp. The talk on Transition and how it could apply to Konitsa was well received, in particular the reasons why local products would be helpful to the local economy.
In addition, we presented the results of a quick assessment of all the local businesses in the shopping district around the main square. Out of about 150 shops, about 35 were empty. Almost 50 involved food, either sold directly in bakeries, small supermarkets, butchers, greengrocers, and the two pastry shops, or served in grills, restaurants and cafés. The remaining businesses included services such as hairdressers or electricians, shops with clothing or other consumer goods, and offices.
In the final segment of our five-hour event, twenty of us participated in a short world-café-style discussion to imagine Konitsa in twenty years. The topics included: jobs and businesses, food and agriculture, and energy and transport.
Some of the ideas shared at the end of the evening were to:
- Renovate old cars and use them in a car-sharing scheme.
- Promote greater use of bicycles, and even horses and mules.
- Plant more fruit trees such as Damascus plums, which grow well in the area and require less work than other tree fruit. They can also be dried or transformed into jams and sweets.
- Transmit skills and promote local jobs for young people so they don’t have to leave the area to find work.
- Increase the number of local products made in Konitsa, in particular food products, and promote their use by the local restaurants.
It was great to see all the energy and enthusiasm at this first Transition event, and it will be interesting to see what grows out of these “seeds that have been planted.”
And before we go, here are a few good articles about Transition you might not have seen. From the 2 Degrees Network, What can Business learn from the Transition movement?. On the blog Blue & Green Tomorrow is a piece called Transition is the only ethically defensible thing to do, and on the Mother Nature Network is a Q&A with Rob Hopkins.
If you have any stories you'd like us to include next month, do let us know. Thanks.