The story of transition, part three

Final four short films about Transition.

PLEASE read the closing comment by Rob Hopkins!

A series of 10 delightful short films, courtesy of Transition Culture – For the introduction and the first three films, click here, for the next three click here.

Film Seven – Transition Town Totnes’s Transition Streets Origin: Transition Town Totnes

In December 2009, Transition Town Totnes, the UK’s first Transition initiative, was chosen as one of 20 community  groups in England and Wales to win the ‘Low Carbon Communities Challenge’. Its project, ‘Transition Streets’, was awarded £625,000. In the last 18 months, nearly 500 households have participated in Transition Streets, each, on average, cutting their carbon emissions by 1.5 tonnes.

About a third of those have gone on to install solar photovoltaic systems. However, the main benefits that people who have participated talk about are the social connections they have made and how they now feel so much more a part of their community. It has also acted as a platform for all kinds of other initiatives as neighbours start to get a taste for working together.

Film Eight – A Small Pennant Flag Origin: Transition Town Monteveglio (Bologna, Italy)

Transition Town Monteveglio (TTM) was the first Italian Transition initiative. In 2009 its local Comune (local Council) passed an amazing resolution that offers a stateof-the-art taste of what it looks like when a council really ‘gets’ peak oil and climate change, stating: “… a view of the future (the depletion of energy resources and the significance of a limit to economic development), methods (bottom-up community participation), objectives (to make our community more resilient, i.e. better prepared to face a low energy future) and the optimistic approach (although the times are hard, changes to come will include great opportunities to improve the whole community’s quality of life)”.

It has led to all kinds of initiatives and projects, including a local currency and renewable energy installations. Our object here is the Comune’s official pennant.

Film Nine – A Small Bag of Topsoil Origin: Transition Norwich’s food initiatives

It is one thing to start local food projects, but quite another to think strategically about how those projects sit in the larger context of the intentional relocalisation of the area. Transition Norwich, together with East Anglia Food Link, produced a study called ‘Can Norwich Feed Itself?’ which worked out that it could, albeit with a simpler diet, but that it would need certain new infrastructures put in place. This included a new mill to enable locally produced grains to be milled, two CSA farms (hence our object, a soil sample from their first CSA site), community gardens and research into varieties of beans and oats that will grow well in the area.

A successful application to the Local Food Fund enabled these to become a reality. It is a fascinating example of why we need to think strategically about the localisation of food. As Tully Wakeman, one of the co-ordinators, told me: “A trap a lot of NGOs fall into is over-thinking about vegetables (yet) only one tenth of what we consume, in calorific terms, comes from fruit and vegetables… where is the other 90% going to come from? Growing vegetables in gardens, allotments, community gardens and so on offers a degree of food security and can happen relatively rapidly.

However the other 90% requires the rebuilding of the infrastructure required for growing, processing, cleaning, storing, milling and distributing grains and cereals, and that takes longer and requires more planning”.

Film Ten – Beer, A Bottle of Sunshine Ale Origin: The Lewes Community Power Station

The Ouse Valley Energy Service Company (OVESCO) is one of the offshoots of Transition Lewes focused on the installation of renewables in and around the town as well as promoting energy conservation and local economic resilience. In 2011 it took on its most exciting and ambitious project to date installing a 98kW solar photovoltaic array on the roof of local brewery, Harveys. This will turn the building into one of the first community-owned solar power stations in the country.

The 544 photovoltaic (PV) panels will generate 93,000kWh of green electricity each year – enough to save more than 40 tonnes of CO2 annually.

A community share launch event took place in April 2011 attended by 300 people. Within five weeks the target of £307,000 had been reached. Money invested will be repaid in full at the end of the 25 year scheme, or earlier at the request of the investor and subject to conditions. While the investment is held a dividend will be paid after the first year which is expected to be around 4%.

Our object is a bottle of ‘Sunshine Ale’, a special commemorative beer brewed to celebrate the launch of the scheme. Very nice it is too.

A final few words from Rob Hopkins.

Whittling down to these 10 objects has been very difficult but I hope what you have gained is a sense of something infectious, reaching beyond the idea of small individual initiatives, and arguing that localisation is the best way for the places in which we live to return to health. Various learned writers and academics have tried to encapsulate what Transition is, but I still think the best description of its spirit comes from Tove Jansson in Comet in Moominland in 1946, who wrote: “It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off  in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. (You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end).”

Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network and blogs at

4 thoughts on “The story of transition, part three

  1. Many around here now are installing solar panels.. I think that this is the way we shall all have to think of going in the future Paul.. pooling together our resources… Energy efficiency is only one way at the moment.. But I see we are all going to have to grow our own more in the future and like we said before Paul Co-operatives of not only sharing Food, but other skills I think will have to be pooled together in order for communities to thrive.. I try so hard to be optimistic, and people laugh at me when I say there may come a time you cannot buy anything as supermarket shelves will soon empty if the economy takes a downward spiral. But projects like this one are using their foresight..I do not see a way forward though without some Major shift and upheaval in our way of living for we have forgotten the values, and we need to start again in many respects to regain the imbalance we have created..


    1. Sue, I don’t disagree with anything that you say. Funnily enough, the last few days have seen me in an untypically pessimistic mood that slipped into the Post that I wrote for tomorrow. Height of all ironies, what kicked me out of that mood an hour ago was WordPress/Google auto inserting a link on another person’s Blog back to a piece from Robert Holden that I published on the 28th Nov. (see )

      You can see how I connected with your thoughts expressed above. The only way forward is to optimistically embrace change. My dream is to get something started up here in Payson, AZ. Here we are, a community of around 12,000, 80 miles NE of Phoenix up at 5,000 ft. in the high Rim Country. We have a number of superstores such as Safeway, Walmart, Home Depot and like 99% of America the place is built around the assumption of petrol for cars (sorry ‘gas’) and diesel fuel for transport.

      The consequences of peak oil, climate change and the resulting social consequences are beyond grasp but, in my heart, I know these consequences to be unstoppable. In a sense the consequences are upon us and will continue becoming more evident in the New Year.

      Uniquely fascinating times!



      1. Yes Paul Uniquely Fascinating Times… I wish you well in getting a project up and running.. I hope that your community will take heed.. and Listen not only to you and others but to their own hearts… for as the changes take place many will become unsettled and fearful .. We need to keep that Calm within and Trust our own instincts like no other time… Sue


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