21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns

 
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
how a
movement of
communities
is coming
together to
reimagine
and rebuild
our world

21 stories
of transition
harvested by rob hopkins
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
“What the Transition movement does incredibly
 well is small-scale experiments which are practical,
 which resonate with local people, which look as if they’re
 doable, and that can engage people at a practical and
 meaningful level. It connects up the big issues and the
 local issues and shows you that change can happen
 at a local level”.
 Julian Dobson, author of ‘How to Save Town Centres’

“I was deeply disturbed and sad about the state
 of the natural world and society. Getting involved
 with Transition Pasadena has meant going from despair
 to community and being able to follow a passion and
 get help with it. It changed my relationship to
 the problems”.
 Laurel Beck, Transition Pasadena

“We don’t need governments to show us how
 to make the changes we need, but we do
 need governments to work with us to create the
 conditions within which change can flourish,
 scale and be embedded at a societal level”.
 Peter Capener, Bath & West Community Energy
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
“
We produced this book as the Transition
movement’s contribution to COP21 (the 21st
‘Conference of the Parties’), the United Nations’
climate change negotiations in Paris in
December 2015.
We invited Transition groups to send us the stories
they’d like us to share. From those, we selected the
stories that make up this book. They represent the
experiences of people from all around the world
who have stepped up. We offer these 21 stories in
the hope that regardless of decisions taken by world
leaders, at COP21 and subsequently, they will inspire
you to step up too.
We hope also that this powerful and heady taste of
what is bubbling up from the ground will enthuse
decision-makers with new courage, new ideas and
new possibilities.
Something brilliant and historic is already underway,
and our message to the Obamas, Camerons and
Merkels of this world is that it’s already happening
without them, and they need to support and enable
it, but even if they do nothing, it will continue to grow,
because it’s the future.
The future is being written now, and these stories offer
inspiration and clear direction, whether you’re reading
this before, during or after the talks in Paris.
Rob Hopkins, Transition Network
October, 2015
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
21 Stories of Transition
How a movement of communities
is coming together to reimagine
and rebuild our world.
First published in Great Britain
in 2015 by Transition Network
43 Fore Street
Totnes
Devon
TQ9 5HN
00 44 (0) 1803 865669
info@transitionnetwork.org
www.transitionnetwork.org
Designed by Jane Brady
www.emergencydesign.com
Printed by Cambrian Printers
With thanks to Pocheco for
providing mailing envelopes
www.pocheco.com

©Transition Network 2015

4   21 Stories of Transition
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
Contents
A Transition Manifesto                               7
When history calls us to step up...                  9
An Invitation                                        9
It’s not just about carbon                           10
10 threads that run through our stories              12
Map showing locations of the 21 Transition stories   15
   1. The Million Miles Project                      16
   2. The Rise of Community Energy                   18
   3. REconomy in Luxembourg                         22
   4. EcoCrew Environmental Awareness Programme      28
   5. The Rise of Transition Currencies              31
   6. Pasadena Repair Cafe                           37
   7. The Surplus Food Cafe                          40
   8. The Casau Community Garden                     42
   9. Caring Town Totnes                             44
   10. Zarzalejo Futuro: future scenarios            48
   11. The Lambeth Local Entrepreneur Forum          52
   12. Transition Town Media’s Free Store            56
   13. Aardehuis (Earth House) Project Olst          59
   14. Greenslate Community Farm                     64
   15. Potager Alhambra                              67
   16. Les Compagnons de la Terre                    70
   17. Harvesting Rainwater in São Paulo             76
   18. Crystal Palace Food Market                    80
   19. Transition Streets                            86
   20. Scaling up Transition in Peterborough         90
   21. Ungersheim, Village in Transition             93

                                                          21 Stories of Transition   5
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
thank you
In many ways, the real authors of this book are all the people who made its stories possible:
Catriona Ross, Wendy Price, Peter Elbourne, Marion MacDonald, Richard Robinson, Martin Sherring and
all at Million Miles project and Transition Black Isle Scotland. Agamemnon Otero, Peter Andrews, Peter
Capener, Chris Rowland, Howard Johns, Andrew Collenette Community Energy. Ministry of Sustainable
Development and Infrastructure for supporting the Transition movement, Katy Fox for her catalyst support
to all our initiatives in the Transition platform, Norry Schneider, Marko, Pit, Sophie and Alex from TERRA,
Abbes, Eric, Luis, Patrick, Mireille, Martina and Frenz from TM EnerCoop, Karine, Gary, Eric, Caroline,
Stephan, David and Steve from Kilominett zero, the City of Esch for their support to the first REconomy
Centre in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Nicola Vernon and Marshall Rinquest of Greyton Transition Town
South Africa. Ciaran Mundy, Tom Shakhli, Charlie Waterhouse, John Elford, Melanie Shaw, Michael Lloyd-
Jones, Mark Simmons, Eric Luyckx, Michèle Vander Syp, Marianne Lambrechts Local Currencies. Scoops
Adamczyk, Sherine Adeli, Arroyo S.E.C.O. Network of Time Banks, Laurel Beck, Bob Brummel, Therese
Brummel, Maelane Chan, Qrys Cunningham, David Cutter, Eric Einem, Mimi Fitzgerald, Mary Gothard, Rob
Haw, Laura Henne, Sylvia Holmes, Peter Kalmus, Michael Kelly, Ginko Lee, Tera Little, Greg Marquez, Adelaide
Nalley, January Nordman, Throop UU Church U.S. The volunteers, staff and all the businesses and people who
donate food, time and money to the Transition Café Fishguard and Transition Bro Gwaun’s other projects
Wales. Dominique, Johanne Christian, Sylvie, Marie Hélène, Melanie, Kitty, Maryse of Salies en Transition
France. Frances Northrop, Fiona Ward, Carole Whitty (Caring Town Totnes), Bob Alford (Totnes Caring),
Phil Norrey (Devon County Council) England. Andrea Ortiz, Jose Manuel Fenollar, Vero Hernandez-Jimenez
and everyone at the Future Scenarios initiative, the Oasis experience, the CSA and Zarzalejo en Transición
Spain. Duncan Law, Colin Crooks, Hannah Lewis, Emma Shaw, Jay Tompt and everyone who attended and
made Lambeth Local Entrepreneur Forum happen England. Julie DiRemigio, Rhonda Fabian, Ellen Morfei,
Emma Medina-Castrejon, Sari Steuber, Marie Goodwin, and all the wonderful Free Store volunteers! U.S. Paul
Hendriksen, Aardehuisproject Olst Netherlands. Mandy Wellens-Bray and all at Greenslate Community
Farm England. Sébastien Mathieu, Julien Bernard and all at 1000bxl en Transition Belgium. Christian Jonet
and all at Liège en Transition Belgium. Isabela Menezes, Monica Picavea, Dimas Gonçalvez Reis, Katerina
Elias and Edison Urbano of Transitions Brasilândia and Granja Viana Brazil. The founders and managers,
Karen Jones and Laura Marchant-Short, and all the many stall holders at Crystal Palace Food Market England.
Aaron Hodgson, Alicia Martin, Allan Evans, Ben Ewald, Cathy Stuart, Christine Bruderlin, Emily Grace, Gillian
Harris, George Stuart, Graeme Stuart, John Merory, Julie French, Karen Toikens, Lesley Edwards, Liza Pezzano,
Mary Stringer, Maureen Beckett, Max Wright, Phoebe Coyne, Rebecca Tyndall, Tony Proust, Will Vorobioff,
Banyule City Council, The City of Newcastle, Hunter Water, Kingston City Council, all the Transition Streets
contacts and participants and members of Transition Newcastle, Transition Banyule and Transition Streets
Kingston who supported Transition Streets Australia. To the many dedicated, hard-working Transition Town
Peterborough Volunteers who inspire our community and live transition daily, with gratitude especially to
Fred Irwin and Joan Michaels Canada. La Comune d’Ungersheim, Jean-Claude Mensch, Marc Grodwohl,
Roger Wintherhalter and the MCM, Jean-Sébastien Cuisnier, Xavier Baumgartner, Marie-Monique Robin
France. All the Transition initiatives who sent in stories that didn’t make the final 21, Michelle Colussi,
Carolyne Stayton, Anna Guyer, Angie Greenham and Trenna Cormack. The whole Transition Network team,
in particular Sarah McAdam, Sophy Banks, Amber Ponton, Ainslie Beattie, Sam Rossiter and Filipa Pimentel.
Special thanks to Peter Yeo and Roger Ross.

6   21 Stories of Transition
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
21 Stories of Transition   7
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
Transition is
sometimes referred
to as “hope with its
sleeves rolled up”.
“Hope” caravan in Place Louis Morichar,
Brussels (part of a project by Karin Vincke).
8Photo:
    21 Stories  of Transition
        Jane Brady
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
When history calls
us to step up...
What an extraordinary time to be alive this is. The systems that are
meant to support and provide for us, and to enable us to flourish and
thrive, are failing us spectacularly. This is increasingly self-evident to
people, wherever they are within those systems. Yet all over the world,
in creative, passionate and brave ways, and motivated by a tangible
sense of what’s possible, people are coming together and creating
something else. Something so much better.
There is a global movement, driven not by think tanks or political
parties, but by communities. It signposts a global movement towards
resilience at a local level. This book will dazzle you with tales of personal
responsibility and cooperation, and the idea that the changes required
to re-imagine a positive future are not only top-down but also bottom-
up. Grassroots movements are literally growing the foundations
for a more positive, fairer, inclusive future that begins within the
local context.
This book contains inspirational stories from around the world of
people who stepped up. We present it in the hope that regardless of
decisions taken by world leaders, it will inspire you to step up too. We
hope also that this powerful and heady taste of what is bubbling up
from the ground will enthuse decision-makers with new courage, new
ideas and new possibilities. The future is being written now.

AN INVITATION
We invite you while reading, to seek out the familiar in these stories.
The people in them aren’t superhuman, or heroes. They are just people
like you, who stepped up because these are times that demand that
we do so.
This movement is almost certainly already underway somewhere near
where you are, and if it isn’t, perhaps you might gather a few people and
get it started.
As a citizen, we’d like to invite you, if you are inspired by the
possibilities this booklet has placed into your hands, to have 10
conversations with neighbours, with work colleagues, or with friends.
Tell them what it was in these stories that moved you, that you found
interesting, and see how, together, you might support more of this stuff
to happen.
As a decision-maker, we’d like to invite you to consider what positive
steps you might take to reimagine your role as being a community
enabler, clearing the path for more initiatives such as these, supporting
them in whatever ways you can.

                                                                          21 Stories of Transition   9
21 stories of transition - harvested by rob hopkins - Transition Towns
IT’s not just about carbon
It is vital that our leaders cut carbon at the scale demanded by
climate scientists. But while the Transition movement started as an
experiment in how to cut carbon, it has evolved into so much more.
In our 21 stories you will read of 39 communities in 15 countries who
have achieved the following in just a few years. These figures barely
scratch the surface of the actual impacts, nor do they capture the deeper
shift from despair about the future to hope that runs beneath them.
As you read these stories, consider some of the less tangible aspects of
building community resilience. What figures might we have put here
for the number of relationships built, the increased sense of belonging
people feel to the place and people around them, or the number of
new skills learned?
Between them, our 21 stories have...

                                            raised £5,435
inspired                                    in pledges to
18,527                                                              put £1,032,051 created 43
                                            support new             worth of
hours of                                    emergent                               new social
volunteer                                                           complementary enterprises
                                            enterprises             currency into
input
                                                                    circulation

Harvest time
at Terra CSA,
Luxembourg.
see page 22.
Photo: Transition Luxembourg

10   21 Stories of Transition
supported
                                                                       19 farms
                                                     harvested
                                                     over 500kg saved 21
                         saved                       of fruit AS tonnes
                                                     WELL AS
                         1,352,277  led to 74,196 vegetables of food
                         miles      more miles                     from
                                                     for over  550
                         of car     being walked households landfill
                         travel                                    per year
                                       run 13 Seed   per week
Raised over
£13,155,104.88       produced          Exchange Fairs
for investment                         a year                Worked with 350
                     17,800 MWh                              school children
in renewable         of renewable           begun work leading to
energy               electricity a          on building      improvements
    led to 131,049   year, saving           projects with in schoolwork
    more miles       7,450 tonnes of        a value of       and health
    being cycled     CO2 annually           £5,150,371

                                                             21 Stories of Transition   11
10 threads
                                that run
                                through
                                our
                                stories
                                As you read through our 21
                                Stories, a small sample of what
                                thousands of Transition groups,
                                and a far greater number of other
                                community activism groups
                                are doing around the world,
                                you may notice certain threads
                                or common themes running
                                through them. Given that similar
                                stories can be found in towns,
                                cities, villages, organisations,
                                universities, schools, faith groups
                                and businesses around the world,
                                what might some of those threads
                                be? While all our stories tell of the
                                journeys towards personal and
                                community resilience, here are
                                10 other threads that we’ve also
                                noticed. The changemakers in
                                these stories are:
                                Reclaiming the economy
                                Around the world communities
                                and movements are building a
                                new economy, rooted in fairness,
A Transition                    equality, inclusion, a recognition
workshop with                   that we live in a world of limits.
                                As communities we can set about
architects and                  bringing assets into community
planners at                     ownership, inviting community
                                investment, supporting local
Luxembourg                      currencies, playing our role in
Institute of Science            creating a vibrant economy that
                                works for everyone.
and TECHNOLOGY.
Photo: Rob Hopkins

12   21 Stories of Transition
Starting local                         doesn’t someone do something             Whole new career paths can
Place matters in each of our           about this?” The expectation is          open up for people, who find
stories. Local is the scale where      often that change is something           themselves doing things that they
tackling the huge challenges           that starts somewhere else,              would never have dreamt of.
we face becomes possible.              generally initiated by those we
It’s the scale where we can            elect. But as you’re about to see        Nurturing a caring culture
feel involved, and can make a          in our 21 stories, people and their      Why do people do this? For all
difference. These stories show         communities are stepping up,             the groups featured in these
communities starting where             coming together to take a more           stories, the motivation for getting
they are: celebrating their place’s    active role in shaping their own         involved, for taking action, is
distinctiveness, its quirkiness, its   future.                                  rooted in caring. Care for their
culture, and building the future                                                friends, family and neighbours,
from those foundations. It’s a         Crowd-sourcing solutions                 for their community, their place,
shift we can already see underway      All of these stories tell of solutions   for the wider world around them.
in the explosion of local food,        and activities that were only            It’s there in creating dignified
community energy and                   possible because people came             work with a Living Wage, it’s there
cooperatives. It’s the future.         together to create them.                 in voluntary projects and new
                                       They could not have emerged              businesses, in projects to help
Sparking entrepreneurship              from one person working alone.           nature, old people and children.
Where are the best places to           By coming together, finding ways         It’s there in how we take care of
look to for the creativity, the        of working together, inviting ideas,     the living world. People bring that
innovation, the flavour, the taste,    being emergent and flexible, the         desire to care to every one of these
the community, the future of the       solutions emerge clearly.                projects, as you are about to see.
new economy? Our stories tell
of new enterprises being born,      Supporting each other                       Telling sticky stories
being imaginatively supported       None of the stories you are about           Few of the stories here tell of
by local people, offering new       to read happened by magic. They             people doing what’s expected of
opportunities for local investment, emerged from people working                 them. As changemakers, they have
and thinking ambitiously about      together in groups, usually as              all paid some thought to creating
their role in reimagining the local volunteers, in their spare time.            a story that people will tell each
economy. How might you apply        As you will see, this is not without        other, that become infectious.
entrepreneurial thinking to the     its challenges. Each group finds its        The town that prints its own
challenges your community faces?    own strategies and approaches for           money. The village that uses seed
                                    looking after each other, for giving        diversity to rekindle its indigenous
Reimagining work                    each person the support they                language. The food market that
Including qualities like enjoyment, need. Paying attention to this is           reconnects the producer to the
self development, a sense of        a key aspect of success.                    buyer in a way that enables new
belonging and dignity in the work                                               conversations and relationships.
we create are essential to making   Reskilling                                  The stories you’ll read here are so
life meaningful and fun. What we    Another strong thread running               sticky, you’ll soon be sharing them
see in Transition are people and    through these stories is an                 with your friends...
projects that deliberately meet     openness to re-skilling, to noting
material needs while also creating that people and groups may not
a positive experience, one where    have all the skills they need to
how we do things is as, if not      achieve what they want, but are
more, important than the things     open to learning them. You will
themselves.                         read about people who never ran
                                    a business before learning how
Stepping up                         to do it, groups realising they
As our communities unravel and      need help in resolving conflicts,
our economies serve the interests   communities recognising that
of fewer and fewer people, we       they need to understand how the
often hear people say “why          planning system works.

                                                                                              21 Stories of Transition   13
40Kw solar
                                installation on
                                Lycée Théorore Deck,
                                the first Lycée en
                                Transition in France,
                                Ungersheim.
                                Photo: La Comune d’Ungersheim

                                heading to a
                                swop shop at
                                the local school,
                                greyton, south
                                africa.
                                Photo: Candice Mostert

                                jam-making
                                workshop run
                                by transition
                                kensal To kilburn,
                                london, uk.
                                Photo: Jonathan Goldberg

                                transition workshop
                                in luxembourg.
                                Photo: Transition Luxembourg

14   21 Stories of Transition
21 stories
of transition
1.    The Million Miles Project
2.    The rise of community energy
3.    REconomy in Luxembourg
4.    EcoCrew Environmental Awareness Programme
5.    The rise of local currencies
6.    The Pasadena Repair Cafe
7.    Fishguard’s Surplus Food Cafe
8.    The Casau Community Garden
9.    Caring Town Totnes
10.   Zarzalejo Futuro
11.   Lambeth Local Entrepreneur Forum                1
12.   Transition Town Media’s Free Store
13.   Aardehuis Project Olst                                           2
14.   Greenslate Farm                                                      5
15.   Potager Alhambra                                        14
16.   Compagnons de la Terre                          7            18       13
17.   Harvesting Rainwater in São Paulo                            11 16
18.   Crystal Palace Food Market                          9              15
19.   Transition Streets in Australia                                      3
20.   Scaling up Transition in Peterborough                                    21
21.   Ungersheim, Village in Transition

                                                                   8

                                                      10

                              20
                               12
                    6

                                                                                        19
                                    17            4

                                                                                    21 Stories of Transition   15
1.
The Million Miles
                                                      Photo: Julian Paren

                                  Group: Transition Black Isle,
                                  Scotland.
                                  Local population: c. 13,000

Project
                                  Group started: 2009
                                  Other projects: Two
                                  community gardens (Loch
                                  na Mhoid and Culbokie), an

Is it possible that a             annual Potato Day, practical
                                  gardening skills sessions,

bottom-up, citizen-led
                                  a bicycle hire enterprise,
                                  Black Isle Active Travel Map,

approach could actually
                                  community wind energy
                                  project, 3 food markets at
                                  different locations.
make a substantial impact
on levels of car use among      Project aim
                                The aim of the Million Miles
a mostly rural population?      project was simple: to cut car
                                travel by a million miles (1% of the
Transition Black Isle set       current total) through promoting
                                greener alternatives. This was
out to find out.                done through 3 main approaches:
                                1) Active travel (walking and
                                cycling), 2) Greener car travel and
                                3) Public transport.

16   21 Stories of Transition
“
Background
The Black Isle is a peninsula in
the Scottish Highlands bound by
the Cromarty Firth and the Moray
and Beauly Firths. Many of its         Message for COP21
residents work in the nearby city
of Inverness, resulting in high         Local groups are best placed to devise and
levels of car use, and the resultant
levels of carbon emissions.             run campaigns to change behaviour, cut
When it was announced that the          carbon emissions and create community
Kessock Bridge, the peninsula’s         cohesion. To do this most effectively they need
main connection to Inverness,
needed repairs which would halve        improved national and regional transport policies.
its capacity for cars, Transition       Marion McDonald, Million Miles Project Manager
Black Isle decided to use it as
the opportunity to try and do
something about the levels of
car use.
About the project                       Greener Car Travel: Energy            have new bike racks, the highland.
The project was funded through          efficient driving training courses,   liftshare.com website continues
the Scottish Government’s               highland.liftshare.com liftsharing    to be used, the volunteer cycle
Climate Challenge Fund, and             website, journey-matching.            trainers are still busy, Transition
co-ordinated by Peter Elbourne                                                Black Isle continue working with
and Marion McDonald. It was             Public transport: Bus                 other groups to try to improve
launched on 28 August 2012 and          vouchers, out-and-about events,       the infrastructure for cyclists, and
began with a baseline survey to         bus bike racks.                       Black Isle Bicycles now exists as
get a clear picture of the current                                            a social enterprise, renting out
levels of transport use before work    Achievements and legacy
                                       In the end, the project led to a       bicycles and promoting cycling.
began. Over the next 3 years it
ran a wide range of events and         reduction of 1,352,277 miles,          Challenges
workshops with the support of          saving 718 tonnes of carbon a          One of the key challenges the team
the local authority and a wide         year, but it achieved much more        faced was how to measure the less
range of other organisations and       besides.                               tangible impacts of the project, for
authorities.                         Outcomes                                 example the harder-to-measure
                                       • 5,369 people attended 471            benefits of an active lifestyle,
The project was intentionally                                                 and the many positive changes
designed to last 3 years, in             events over 30 months
                                                                              people experienced other than
recognition of the degree of           • 600 people attended a Black          just carbon reduction. Anecdotal
sustained consciousness-                 Isle BikeFest                        evidence shows that during and
raising required to shift travel       • led to 74,196 more miles             after the scheme, a deeper cultural
habits, possibly one of our most         being walked                         shift in attitudes towards lift
entrenched behaviours.                                                        sharing took place.
                                       • 44% of respondents stated they
Activities included:                     were now cycling more
  Active Travel: Community cycle       • 131,049 more miles cycled as a
  trainers, 471 cycling events such      result of the project
  as Bike Buses to get children to     • Black Isle Travel Map delivered
  school and Dr Bike sessions,           to 8,300 households
  loans of folding bikes, supporting   • Lift Share scheme now has 726
  applications for cycle paths,          members, 23% of people now
  Black Isle Bike Fest, a cycling        lift share more.
  conference, downloadable route
  cards and a travel map.            As well as the impacts of the work
  A ‘slow cycle club’ in Cromarty,   itself, there was also a longer
  aimed at improving health          lasting legacy. The active travel
  and led by a retired GP, proved    map and route guides are still
  particularly popular.              widely available, many villages

                                                                                            21 Stories of Transition   17
the rise of
                                        2.
community energy
Energy generation is something done by huge energy
companies, right? Wrong. Community energy is one
of the key ways communities can start to take back
control of their economy, and their energy supply.

18   21 Stories of Transition
the community which can, in             “Not many years ago we
   Community Energy                                  turn, lead to infrastructure and         were a few enthusiasts from
   Groups: Over 5,000 in the                         cultural change2. Decarbonising          Transition Bath sitting
   UK, many more elsewhere.                          our energy system requires               round a table with a
   Amount raised from                                decentralised renewables,                great idea. Now only four
   community share offers                            which leads us to far greater            years later we have been
   plus commercial finance:                          opportunities for community              recognised as one of the
   £13,155,104.88                                    investment and involvement.              leading community energy
   Amount of electricity                             And it brings people together,           companies in the country”.
   generated: 17,800 GWh,                            and creates opportunities for            BWCE’s Peter Capener on
   enough for 4,000 homes                            conversation, for parties, for           receiving ‘Community Energy
   Amount of CO2 saved: 7,450                        relationships. And it’s change           Organisation of the Year at the
   tonnes of CO2.                                    people can see happening around          Community Energy Awards
                                                     them, which means the changes
                                                     we need to make don’t seem so far
                                                                                            Brixton Energy, which grew out
                                                     off and impossible.
Context                                                                                     of Transition Town Brixton, has:
Around the world, the idea that                      Some UK examples:                       • installed 134.24 kW of solar
communities install, own, and                        Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint,                 energy across 3 schemes
enjoy some of the benefits of                        Keymer, Ditchling Transition            • raised a total investment of
renewable energy is growing                          started HKD Energy. They have:            £182,000 from local people
fast. In Germany over 50% of                           • installed 307 solar panels            through three share offers
renewable energy being installed                         on Downloads School
                                                                                             • Saved around 1275 tons of CO2
is in community ownership. In the                        Sports Centre
UK alone, over 5,000 community                                                               • Benefitted from 290 hours of
                                                       • generated 80,000 kWh of
groups have set up community                                                                   volunteer input.
                                                         electricity per year, saving
energy schemes since 20081.                              42 tonnes of carbon per year       They are currently planning
Many of these have been                                                                     Brixton Energy 4, bringing the
                                                       • raised £100,500 in shares from
Transition groups, and the                                                                  electricity (solar-generated!) back
                                                         local people, with 83% of the
schemes they have come up with                                                              to Electric Avenue, one of the
                                                         investors living within a 4 mile
have varied widely in terms of size.                                                        area’s best-known streets.
                                                         radius of the school.
Community energy                                                                             “This project means a lot
around the world                                     Bath and West Community                  to us and our residents as
In Japan, the Fujino Electric                        Energy, which emerged from               it brings with it valuable
Company has inspired another                         Transition Bath and Transition           work experience for some
40 communities to start their                        Corsham:                                 of our youth as well as an
own energy companies, and in                                                                  investment opportunity
                                                      • have installed 3MW of solar PV
Belgium, many Transition groups                                                               for residents and local
                                                        in their own community
are involved with community                                                                   investors alike”.
                                                        energy projects
energy to varying degrees. For                                                                Mary Simpson, who has lived
example while Champs d’énergie                        • have supported the installation
                                                                                              in Brixton Hill for 26 years
originated mostly from Gelbressée                       of 3MW of other community
en Transition, Ferréole pre-dates                       energy groups solar PV
Liège en Transition, but now                          • are in process of supporting the
has many connections to the                             development of a further 10MW
group. Our next story includes a                        of other community energy
community energy co-operative                           groups solar PV
in Luxembourg.                                        • have raised and helped raise
Why it matters                                          £10 million through community
This surge in community energy                          shares for their and their
projects is a powerful story.                           partners projects
The offer the potential for                           • have re-distributed £65,000 of
greater democratic control,                             profits back into local carbon
for shared benefits and for                             reduction and fuel poverty
greater active participation of                         projects over the last 2 years.

Photos: (Top) Jonathan Goldberg, (Bottom) Peter Andrews                                                   21 Stories of Transition   19
West Solent Energy                                   Once the loans from local people                  “This just makes sense.
Co-operative, started by                             that made it possible have been                    I learned about solar panels
members of New Forest                                paid off, revenue will go into a Low               and wind turbines twenty
Transition, have:                                    Carbon Local Development Fund                      years ago so I’ve always
 • raised £2 million in shares                       which will support a range of                      had an awareness for clean
  from local people                                  local projects.                                    energy and the benefits it
                                                                                                        can bring. So it’s fantastic
 • installed a solar farm that will                  The Ouse Valley Energy                             to see it happening on my
  generate approximately                             Services Company (OVESCO)                          doorstep, and to be able to
  2.5 GWh each year will save                        was formed in 2007 by members                      be a part of it”.
  approximately 1,000 tonnes of                      of Transition Town Lewes. It’s                     Fay Gordon, resident of
  CO2 each year.                                     first project was installing 545                   Loughborough Estate, Brixton
                                                     solar panels on the roof of the                    and Brixton Energy investor
Transition Malvern Hills’                            local Harveys Brewery. Since
Malvern Energy Co-operative’s                        then, with the support of over 250
first project was installing solar                   shareholders, they have:
panels on the Malvern Cube (the
                                                       • put up 5 solar installations with
town’s youth centre). A 30kW
                                                         a capacity of 191 kWp, with an
solar array was installed, and
                                                         annual output of 185MWh
most of the energy generated is
sold to the Malvern Cube at a                          • saved 110 tonnes of CO2
reduced rate.                                           per year
                                                       • raised £441,000 of community
Transition Bro Gwaun
                                                        investment.
(see p. 40) are part of a 50:50 joint
venture with a local farmer for a                    They are currently working on a
225kW wind turbine which will:                       5MW solar farm, and through the
  • produce around 528,000 kWh                       UK Government’s Peer Mentoring
    per year                                         Scheme have supported 20

                                                                                                      “
                                                     neighbouring communities to
  • save around 290 tonnes of CO2
                                                     replicate their model.
    per year.

                                                                                                      Message for COP21

                                                                                                       Validate and nurture
                                                                                                       local action through
                                                                                                       the policies, rhetoric
                                                                                                       and personal action
                                                                                                       you take, start by
                                                                                                       looking to your own
                                                                                                       community(ies) and
                                                                                                       get involved in change,
                                                                                                       to whatever level or in
                                                                                                       whatever way is feasible.
                                                                                                       Peter Capener, Bath & West
                                                                                                       Community Energy

Members of Totnes Renewable Energy Society. Photo: Jane Brady
1
    Department of Energy and Climate Change          2
                                                         Capener, P. (2014) What is Community
    (2014) Community Energy Strategy, full               Energy & Why Does it Matter? Community
    report: http://tinyurl.com/nw6ecba                   Energy England. http://tinyurl.com/p4d7sc8

20     21 Stories of Transition
Bath and West
Community
Energy’s
installation
on Lewis House
in Bath.
Photo: GB Sol

Installing one
of Brixton
Energy’s solar
schemes.
Photo: Jonathan Goldberg   21 Stories of Transition   21
22   21 Stories of Transition
REconomy in                                                                            Group: Transition
                                                                                       Luxembourg (National Hub).

Luxembourg
                                                                                       Local population: 543,202
                                                                                       Year Started: 2014

In the country with                                                                  Background

the world’s second
                                                                                     Transition is a relatively new
                                                                                     arrival in Luxembourg (it started

highest per capita gross
                                                                                     in 2011). Initially emerging from,
                                                                                     and supported by, Centre for
                                                                                     Ecological Learning Luxembourg
domestic product and                                                                 (CELL), the groups are founded
                                                                                     on the idea that collective
among the highest per                                                                action induces concrete and
                                                                                     significant systemic change.
capita GHG emissions,                                                                Transition Luxembourg, the
                                                                                     recently established national
a new collaborative                                                                  hub organisation, now receives
                                                                                     funding from the Ministry of
economic model is                                                                    Sustainable Development and
                                                                                     Infrastructure to support its rolling

emerging based                                                                       out of the Transition approach
                                                                                     across the country.

                                                              3.
on the REconomy                                                                      The Cooperatives
                                                                                     So far, three new co-operatives
approach and                                                                         have emerged through the work of
                                                                                     Transition Luxembourg:
co-operative values.                                                                  EnerCoop: Founded in 2013,

And it works.
                                                                                      through Transition Minett (South
                                                                                      of Luxembourg), it has so far
                                                                                      installed a solar project of 26,000
                                                                                      kWh/year – a second one of
                                                                                      similar size is in development.
                                                                                      These projects are funded
                                                                                      through share launches, raising
                                                                                      €50,000 for each project through
                                                                                      shares costing €100 each. For
                                                                                      the first project, they all sold
                                                                                      out in a matter of weeks. Under
                                                                                      Luxembourg’s laws, these are the
                                                                                      largest individual installations
                                                                                      for which you can get a
                                                                                      guaranteed feed-in fee (which
                                                                                      is vital for such projects). They
                                                                                      are committed to being “100%
                                                                                      green, citizen-led and local”, and
                                                                                      working with local enterprises
                                                                                      to obtain services and source
                                                                                      equipment that is produced and
                                                                                      assembled as local as possible
                                                                                      (such as sourcing their solar
                                                                                      panels from Germany rather
                                                                                      than China).

Photos on previous page: (top left) Transition Luxembourg /EnerCoop
(Bottom right) Peace Advocate Photography, others: Terra CSA. This page: Terra CSA                 21 Stories of Transition   23
A solar project
     installed by
     EnerCoop.
     Photo: Transition Luxembourg

 Terra: In early 2014, three         The role of Transition
 friends who wanted to start         According to Norry, if Transition
 a Community Supported               hadn’t taken root in Luxembourg,
 Agriculture scheme close            probably none of the above would
 to Luxembourg city were             have got started: “It is the positivity
 struggling to find land. They       and positive storytelling that
 put out a call to see if anyone     Transition brings which inspires
 had land, and were offered a        people to take action, and which
 beautiful site overlooking the      creates the willingness of people
 city, and two months later they     to share and to network”.
 started growing, a sequence of
 events described by Transition      The three co-operatives very much
 Luxembourg co-ordinator Norry       share a sense of having the same
 Schneider as “miraculous”. A        roots, seeing themselves as part of
 year later, and Terra have 153      the same family, each giving the
 members who received a weekly       other profile and publicity.
 box of vegetables, as well as 84
 ‘co-operators’, who support
 the group.

 KiloMinett0: Began in 2015
 and promotes local production
 through a Transition house that
 will open soon, with a shop,
 restaurant and bar that will also
 be serving as a meeting point
 and support space for Transition
 initiatives, and as an incubator
 for local food enterprises in
 the area.
                                                                               One of Terra’s
                                                                               co-founders,
                                                                               Marko
                                                                               Anyfandakis
                                                                               harvesting
                                                                               tomatoes.
                                                                               Photo: Peace Advocate Photography

24   21 Stories of Transition
“
Message for COP21

 Trust the citizens. Usually our leaders don’t do it; they buy services
 from large enterprises because those are serious guys and they know
 how to do things, and they don’t look locally for resources, knowledge
 or networks. Trust and empower citizens to undertake sustainable
 local projects, and give some power back to them.
 Norry Schneider, Transition Luxembourg

                                                                  21 Stories of Transition   25
26   21 Stories of Transition
what is
REconomy?
Like Transition, REconomy is about building community cohesion,
ecological sustainability, and resilience by transforming local
economics. How? By creating the conditions for new economic
actors and relationships to emerge –local entrepreneurs, cooperatives,
investors, supporters of all kinds, community ownership and
accountability, complementary currencies, gift circles, sharing libraries.
Everyone is included.
www.reconomy.org
Photo: Peace Advocate Photography

                                                                             21 Stories of Transition   27
Chesadeck
                                    Rinquest, aged
                                     5, insisted on
                                      planting his
                                    own fruit tree
                                      with Charity
                                     GreenPop.org.

                                                              4.
                                        Photo: Candice Mostert

                                                                  EcoCrew
                                                                  Environmental
                                                                  Awareness
                                                                  Programme
                                                                  What kind of a role
                                                                  could Transition
                                                                  play in communities
                                        building an
                                           outdoor
                                                                  recovering from
                                         classroom                the past impacts of
                                     at Green Park,               apartheid, a present
                                    reclaimed from                where its young people
                                being the municipal
                                   dump by Greyton                need support, and
                                   Transition town
                                       and EcoCrew.
                                                                  the future demands
                                       Photo: Marshall Rinquest   of climate change?
28   21 Stories of Transition
About the project                         the plight of African penguins
  Group: Greyton Transition          Their EcoCrew environmental               and Greenpop, a national tree
  Town, South Africa.                awareness programme,                      planting charity to support
  Local population: 2,780.           co-ordinated by Marshall                  their work in South Africa
  Year Started: 2012                 Rinquest, offers children between         (replanting an ancient
  Other projects: South              8 and 18 years outdoor activities         milkwood forest on the south
  Africa’s first plastic bag-        both during and after school.             coast) and in Zambia (to help
  free town, Incredible                                                        reforest part of the country
  Edible Greyton, Air Miles          Activities include:                       devastated by illegal tree
  Forest (local carbon/flights        • Claiming back and                      felling).
  offsetting), a Community              rehabilitating a large section       • Setting up a trial humane
  Natural Building Programme,           of the municipal dumpsite,             education programme aimed
  River Bank Clear-ups,                 turning it into a Green Park,          at inspiring empathy in
  Bartering system,                     planting 500 trees as part of          children for themselves, their
  Trash to Treasure Festival            the Greyton Fruit Forest, and          friends, parents, teachers and
  (at the town dump).                   building an outdoor classroom          the environment.
                                        using ‘Ecobricks’ (plastic
                                        bottles packed with non             As well as the schools, Greyton
                                        recyclable plastic waste).          Transition Town is able to do
Background                            • Learning about permaculture         what it does due to a wide range
Greyton Transition Town is the          and creating organic food           of partnerships such as with
first official Transition group in      gardens in all six local schools,   Greyton Conservation Society,
Africa, initiated in December 2012      the produce enabling the            Greenpop (a national tree planting
by Nicola Vernon, who said “as          schools to give good meals to       charity), local council and regional
a driver for social integration it’s    their poorest students.             government.
the best I’ve encountered in 30
                                      • Setting up ‘Swap Shops’ in local     “I was always more
years of working in social welfare”.
                                        schools: spaces where children        conscious about these
Greyton is a beautiful town, visited
                                        and their parents can bring           issues than my peers, and
by many tourists, but like many
                                        clean, dry, recyclable waste and      I wanted to pass that on.
places in South Africa, one that
                                        receive vouchers, which they          The kids we work with
still bears the scars of apartheid.
                                        can exchange at an on-site            respond in the same way.
As Nicola says:                         shop, to purchase essentials          They now think twice about
“The Group Areas Act of the 1950s       such as clothes, toiletries,          what they eat and what they
declared some of the town’s             blankets and school clothing.         throw away”.
people, those with a darker skin      • Collaborating with other              Marshall Rinquest
than the others, to be ‘coloured’       organisations such as The Two
and therefore to be removed to the      Oceans Aquarium in Cape
outskirts of the town where they        Town to participate in a
were placed cheek by jowl in mean       ‘penguin waddle’ along the
little houses on a rocky slope with     coast to raise awareness about
little soil”.

                                     “
The division this caused is still
visible today. Many residents
suffer from poverty, poor
education, unemployment
and deprivation. Greyton
Transition Town is unusual in        Message for COP21
being resourced by some of the
profits of two businesses it has       Anything is possible if you just put your mind
established, an EcoLodge, offering     to it. We are always persistent in what we do.
affordable accommodation, and
a vegetarian/vegan restaurant.         Whoever you are, as an individual, you can
While the GTT team run projects        make a change, people will see, people will
with universal appeal, much            follow, because it’s about the way you do
of the focus of their work is on
environmental and humane
                                       these things.
education in local schools.            Marshall Rinquest, Greyton Transition Town

                                                                                         21 Stories of Transition   29
Riaan Strydon,
     Greyton
     Transition
     Town volunteer,
     teaching
     EcoCrew
     youth about
     permaculture.
                                                                                          Photo: Nicola Vernon

Achievements and legacy              their students can actually           by the end of this year
Like many Transition groups, they    become leaders and motivators       • Funding has been found for
could always do with more people,    for a better, more humane and         two full time and one part time
more manpower, but still what the    environmentally conscious             member of staff.
group has achieved is remarkable.    society.
As Marshall Rinquest puts it:                                           Future plans include an eco-
“People on low incomes come           “Most problems with               village within the town, with
to our fresh local produce barter      historically disadvantaged       natural building approaches,
table and they can connect with        children in South Africa         renewable energy and an
people and see how we can assist       stem from their lack of          integrated community at the
each other as people, not saying       hope. They are not               heart of its design.
“I’m black and you are white”,         motivated to study when
or “I am rich and you are poor”,       there is so little opportunity
but seeing beyond that line as         – only unemployment or
humans. It’s not just a place          a low paid job as a waiter,
where you can barter, it’s a space     gardener or domestic help.
where you can see what we have         All our children now have
in common”.                            the EcoCrew to aspire to,
                                       it gives them hope and has
Teachers report better grades,         lifted the whole school”.
improved behaviour, less bullying,     Rodney Cupido, Head of Emil
truancy and detention amongst          Weder High School
not only the eco-crew members
but the whole school. Parents        Outcomes
report healthier, happier, more
respectful children. The children     • In two years the number of
feel motivated, hopeful and             children participating in the
more confident. The school and          eco-crew programme has
teachers have started looking           grown from 70 to 200
beyond matric to a point where        • This is expected to reach 350

30   21 Stories of Transition
5.
The Rise of
                                               Photo: Jane Brady

Transition Currencies
How Transition currencies are
reimagining money as “wonderful
invites to us all to step into a
better future”.
                                   21 Stories of Transition   31
The Bristol Pound, launched
  Number of Transition                in September 2012, represented
  currencies: 11 in 5 countries,      a major leap forward for the
  many more in development.           concept. It generated massive
  Amount of Transition                media interest, and was hugely
  currencies currently in             supported by Bristol City Council,
  circulation: £1,032,051             with the new Mayor of the city,
                                      George Ferguson, announcing he
                                      would be taking his full salary in
                                      Bristol Pounds. Since then it was
Background                            also announced that local people
Local currencies aren’t a new idea.   can pay their Council Tax in Bristol
They have been a feature of life      Pounds and can use them on
back through the centuries, and       the city’s buses. Thanks to a deal
around 2,500 such schemes, in a       with Good Energy, customers can
variety of forms, exist throughout    also now pay their energy bills with
the world today. Although they        Bristol Pounds, and will soon also be
take a variety of forms, the basic    able to use them to buy train tickets.
idea is to enhance the ‘Multiplier                                             Launch t-shirts. Photo: Brixton Pound

Effect’, the observation that money
spent with local businesses
circulates more times and leads
to greater benefits for the local
economy. The Brixton Pound
calls itself “money that sticks to
Brixton”. They are ‘complementary
currencies’, running in parallel to
national currencies, rather than
a replacement.
‘Transition Currencies’
in the UK
What are increasingly referred to
as ‘Transition currencies’ began
with the Totnes Pound in 2007,
initially modelled on an 1810
Totnes Pound banknote. That,
in turn, drew its inspiration from
previous alternative currencies
such as the Wir and the Worgl
from the 1930s, and Ithaca Hours
and Berkshares (both from the
US), more recent manifestations
of the idea.
The Totnes Pound, in turn,
inspired the launch of the Lewes
Pound, initially as a One Pound
note, and then in a full set of
denominations which included
a £21 note. This was followed by
the Stroud Pound, and then by
the Brixton Pound in London.           “People ask why we have                   “We have the seminal Brixton
The Brixton Pound was the first to      a £21 note in Totnes. My                  Pound £10 note featuring
also feature a Pay-by-Text system,      response to that question                 David Bowie. It’s possibly
enabling people to use Brixton          is ‘why not?’”.                           the world’s most famous
Pounds on their mobile phones.          Rob Hopkins                               local currency note”.
                                                                                  Michael Lloyd-Jones at the
                                                                                  Bristol Pound

32   21 Stories of Transition
Jeremy Deller,
winner of the
2004 Turner
Prize, designed
this £5 note to
celebrate the
Brixton Pound’s
fifth birthday,
described
by Charlie
Waterhouse of
the Brixton
Pound as “the
most amazing
currency
notes ever
produced. No
exaggeration”.
Photo: Brixton Pound

                             Ex-banker
                       turned activist
                        Mehul Damani
                            describing
                         the design of
                           the Brixton
                            Pound AS a
                         reflection of
                         the diversity
                         and vibrancy
                            of Brixton.
                                Photo: Brixton Pound

                       21 Stories of Transition   33
The launch
                                     of Grez en
                                   Transition’s
                                local currency
                                      ‘Les Bles’,
                                     April 2015.
                                  Photos: Michèle Vander Syp

34   21 Stories of Transition
“
                                            Message for COP21

                                             We believe the evidence is clear; achieving a
                                             low or carbon negative society requires localized,
                                             more transparent economies based on local
                                             ownership. The Bristol Pound is a powerful systemic
                                             driver that shortens supply chains, reducing
                                             dependence on the fossil fuel intensive transport
                                             infrastructure. It also sends a message about what
                                             the economy is there to serve. It’s empowering,
                                             democratic and delivering change here in Bristol.
Transició in Querétaro’s ‘Kuni’ currency.
Photo: Transició in Querétaro                Ciaran Mundy, Bristol Pound

The level of media coverage                 by Turner Prize-winning artist        The Bristol Pound issued a new
generated by the launch of the              Jeremy Deller to celebrate the 5th    suite of notes in July 2015, and
Bristol Pound led the Bank of               anniversary of its launch (p.33).     on tiny writing on them it read
England to publish a statement                                                    “Keeping money out the Cayman
clarifying its legal understanding          The global spread of                  Islands (a well-known British tax
of local currencies. It also led            Transition currencies                 haven) since 2012”. The story of the
to the formation of a Guild of              The idea is spreading                 rise of local currencies is a story
Independent Currencies to                   internationally too. Liege            that is only just beginning.
support the increase in interest            en Transition in Belgium
from elsewhere. The Exeter                  launched ‘Le Valheureux’. Grez        Outcomes
Pound, created through a coming             enTransition, also in Belgium,        Amount of local currency in
together of Transition Exeter and           launched Les BLÉS, and Transició      circulation (where data
Exeter City Council (for who the            in Querétaro in Mexico launched       is available):
successful launch of an Exeter              the Kuni (Kuni means “to knit”          • Bristol Pound, £800,000
Pound is their second highest               in Otomí indigenous language),
                                            a local currency whose notes            • Totnes Pound, £13,800
economic priority), launched in                                                     • Brixton Pounds, £150,000
September 2015. As well as the              are circular, and very colourful!
usual suite of notes featuring well-        Montreuil en Transition near            • Lewes Pound, £20,000
known local characters, they also           Paris called theirs the ‘Peche’         • Stroud Pound, £7,000
launched a £15 note to celebrate            (named after the peaches which
                                            the town is famous for growing),        • Les BLÉS, £2,500
the coming to Exeter of the Rugby
World Cup.                                  and Vilanova en Transició in Spain      • Le Radis, Ungersheim
                                            launched a Transition currency            (p. 86) £6,600
More are in the pipeline as                 called La Turuta. There are no          • Number of businesses in
the idea becomes increasingly               doubt many others we haven’t yet          Bristol accepting the Bristol
mainstream. The Kingston Pound              heard about too.                          Pound, 850.
is coming soon, with schemes
also emerging in Plymouth,                  Why Transition
Hull, Oxford, Liverpool, Cardiff            currencies matter
and Southampton, although                   The rise of local currencies is a
interestingly, few of those of formal       powerful story. In a time where
links to local Transition groups.           money feels out of control,
                                            something done to us by others,
At the time of writing, the                 something that shuts down
Brixton Pound just released an              possibilities rather than opening
extraordinary £5 note designed              them up, local currencies are ours.

                                                                                                21 Stories of Transition   35
The 2015 new issue of Bristol Pound notes from an exhibition poster: PAPER Arts

  “The pounds Sterling in our                             “It’s easy to imagine such
   pockets are monochrome,                                 notes being fetishized as
   dull and in thrall to history                           audiophiles do vinyl”.
   and hierarchy - designed                                Dan Crane, New York Times,
   to remind us that ‘our’                                 August 9th, 2015
   money isn’t really ours at
   all. Brixton Pounds are the
   exact opposite. Joyous and
   empowering, they remind
   us that we can all make
   positive decisions about our
   spending, and make a real
   difference to the community
   around us. They’re
   wonderful invites to us all
   to step into a better future”.
   Charlie Waterhouse, Brixton
   Pound designer

36   21 Stories of Transition
Photo: Sylvia Holmes

Pasadena Repair Cafe
“I can’t believe the guy who built the
                                         6.
 Mars Rover just fixed my electric shaver!”

                                              21 Stories of Transition   37
Group: Transition Pasadena,
  Los Angeles, USA.
  Local population: 139,731
  Year Started: 2010
  Other projects: Throop
  Church Learning Garden
  (winner of the Mayor’s Green
  City Award for Urban Nature
  2013), Free Food Garden,
  ‘Low Energy Living is Fun’
  workshops, ‘Mulch for
  the People’, The Work That
  Reconnects’ workshops, Fruit
  Trees in Public Places, Cool
  Roofs, ‘Just Doing Stuff
  Town Fair’.
                                                                                            Repair cafe
                                                                                       during pasadena
Background                                                                                   earth and
In 2010, Therese Brummel,
cofounder of Transition Pasadena,
                                                                                          arts festival.
                                                                                                Photo: Sylvia Holmes
heard about a Repair Cafe in the
Netherlands and thought it was
something that could work well in
Pasadena, a suburb of Los Angeles.     isn’t the repair of things, it’s the   the group: “You feel part of a
In June of that year, Transition       creation of community.                 community that is getting on
Pasadena ran its first Repair Cafe.                                           and doing things, and recycling.
                                       According to Greg:                     There’s a sense of welcome. A
Transition Pasadena works on a         “I announce to those waiting for
“build it and they will come” basis,                                          different sense. No-one wants
                                       tools to be sharpened that they        anything from you. People just
with members with ideas for good       are sitting in the story telling
projects finding that the interest,                                           come together and help each
                                       chair, which in most cases is all      other. There’s a welcome. We’re
support and enthusiasm generally       that is needed. People launch into
comes in behind their ideas.                                                  glad to see people when they turn
                                       personal stories that draw smiles      up with their broken stuff”.
                                       and much needed empathy from
 “I was deeply disturbed and           those nearby, making the fulfilling    Outcomes
  sad about the state of the           of this often neglected area of our    Since inception in late 2010: 4676
  natural world and society.           lives as important as a sharpened      volunteer hours in the gardens,
  Getting involved with                pair of scissors”.                     500 kilos of fruits and vegetables
  Transition Pasadena has                                                     harvested, 2670 volunteer hours
  meant going from despair             How does a Repair Cafe find its        for Repair Cafe 831, volunteers
  to community and being               repairers? According to Sylvia         (major projects only), 2638 public
  able to follow a passion and         Holmes, “we just ask. There’s          attendees, 20 projects (mostly
  get help with it. It changed         the San Gabriel Valley Hackers,        ongoing), 32 planned workshops,
  my relationship to                   people who work at the nearby          30 ad hoc workshops, 9 film
  the problems”.                       CalTech (California Institute of       screenings, 65 steering meetings,
  Laurel Beck                          Technology) … they come. People        400 subscribers to newsletter, 360
                                       just know people. We make it fun”.     Facebook Likes and Followers,
Repairing tools … or                   Wider connections                      2 retreats and 3 study groups.
community?                             The Repair Cafe also has a close
The Repair Cafes are generally run     relationship with the local Time        “Our planet needs help,
at a different venue each time, and    Bank. People earn Time Dollars           and Repair Cafe is a small
there are between 9 and 10 each        while repairing things, and              event. Yet much can be
year, and the number of items          someone from the Time Bank               accomplished in many
being brought for repair increases     sits with a laptop and records           localities by as few as
each time. Greg Marquez from           transactions during the day.             two people; repairer and
the group talks of how the most        According to Laurel Beck from            repairee. Energizing the
important function of the Cafes

38   21 Stories of Transition
sense of belonging and
  becoming more fully one’s
  self within the community
  is crucial to mobilizing our
  individual energies”.
  Greg Marquez, Transition
  Pasadena
Group culture
As Sylvia Holmes from the group
told me, “We’ve learned to be
careful about how many ideas we
have because they’re a lot of work”.
Transition Pasadena periodically
consider whether a more formal
approach to governance would
help with conflict resolution and
the management of their wide
variety of projects, but so far the
group embraces a horizontal
structure with no leaders or
followers – everyone’s ideas have
equal weight. “Our strong bond
gives us the strength to pursue
projects we’re passionate about”,                                               REuseable
says Sylvia, adding “It can be a
bumpy road, though we seem to
                                                                                signage –
make it”.                                                                        chalk on
                                                                             blackboards.
                                                                                  Photo: Sylvia Holmes

                                       “
                                       Message for COP21

                                        It can transform a relationship to serious
                                        problems to something empowering that
                                        actually enriches your own life. That’s reason
                                        alone to get involved. You get permission
                                        to do meaningful work, with support, and
                                        it’s fun!
                                        Laurel Beck, Transition Pasadena

                                                                           21 Stories of Transition   39
The
Surplus
Food Cafe
The cafe that
sees going out
of business as a
sign of success,
and whose

                                                                                    7.
daily menu is
determined
by what local
businesses
throw away.                            Photo: Transition Bro Gwaun

                                     to feed pigs, and realised how        a questionnaire afterwards. The
  Group: Transition Bro              much perfectly good food was          overwhelming feedback was “we’d
  Gwaun (Fishguard), Wales           being thrown away, and that that      like a cafe please, with low cost
  Local population: 3,419            presented a huge opportunity.         meals”.
  Year Started: 2008
  Other projects: The                The seeds of an idea                   “This project is more than
  TBG shopping bag, bike             TBG’s Ann Bushell began thinking        just a way of reducing food
  maintenance, new allotments,       that there was a potential business     waste. It’s an experiment –
  a 225kW community wind             opportunity in looking at this          an attempt to put carbon
  turbine, regular stall at local    ‘waste’ in a different way, and the     reduction, sustainability
  farmers market.                    idea of the Transition Community        and community resilience
                                     Cafe/Surplus Food Project was           at the heart of a social
                                     born. The local Co-operative            enterprise and to make it a
                                     supermarket manageress pointed          viable business suitable for
Background                           out an empty building opposite,         a low growth, sustainable
Every year the UK throws away 15     owned by the Co-op, which had           society. It depends as much
million tonnes of food and drink,    become a local eyesore, and             on non-monetized ‘income’
half of which was perfectly edible   suggested the group apply to            e.g. from gifting, community
when thrown away. Over a million     take it on. Their first question        exchange, reusing and
people now rely on food handouts     was whether a cafe serving food         recycling, and volunteering
and Food Banks.                      harvested from local surplus            as it does on financial
                                     was something the community             income”.
Two members of Transition Bro        wanted. So in a local pub, they ran     Transition Bro Gwaun
Gwaun (TBG) were visiting local      two meals, invited the community
shops looking for food waste         and then asked them to fill out

40   21 Stories of Transition
“
Work then began to turn the
derelict old budget off licence
into a thriving community cafe.
The community rallied around to
help, a local builders’ merchant       Message for COP21
donated thousands of pounds
worth of supplies and many local        If world leaders came to the cafe for a visit,
volunteers offered their time. The
idea of a cafe serving surplus food     we’d show them all the entries in our Visitors’
hit a nerve, and the group started      Book which tell how excited people get about
attracting lots of press coverage.      what we’re doing – how a simple, small, community
They presented the idea at Hay
Festival’s Future Green Dragons         project can be so effective in changing attitudes,
event and won, bringing a prize of      modelling a new approach and enthusing people
£10,000 home with them.                 to do something similar – and that people think
About the project
                                        there should be lots more initiatives like ours.
The cafe opened in June 2013,           Chris Samra, Transition Bro Gwaun
staffed by a mixture of 25
volunteers and a small number
of paid staff. Perfectly good food
is collected from local shops and      They have to deal with people’s          function anymore. That would be
businesses and used in the cafe.       expectations of what ‘surplus            a success”.
Any that can’t be used is sent to      food’ will look like on a plate. Also,
a biodigester or used for animal       if they are donated 40 bottles of        Outcomes
feed. The cafe’s chefs need to be      sugared fizzy drinks, do they serve      The Cafe strengthens the local
flexible and to think on their toes.   them because they are a high-            economy and improves social
One week they might get a mass of      carbon food that it’s a shame to         capital by providing training,
leeks, and on the week they were       waste, or bin them because they          employment and work experience
interviewed for this book, they had    are unhealthy? Their commitment          opportunities for local people,
just been given 160kg of bananas!      to serving healthy food means            particularly the young, the
                                       that they don’t serve burgers and        disabled and the long-term
As well as providing quality and       chips, which excludes some of            unemployed. It also:
affordable meals, the cafe plays       their potential audience.
an important role in providing                                                   • prevents an average of 600 kilos
training opportunities for local                                                   of food going to landfill
                                       Achievements and legacy                     each month
young people. Many of their            The cafe offers affordable meals
volunteers have gone on to get         for everyone in Fishguard, but            • makes carbon savings of 21
jobs afterwards in an area where       it also produces food parcels for           tonnes per year.
opportunities for work experience      people in actual food poverty
can be hard to come by.                through the local food bank               “For me, the key learning has
                                       scheme, and also through the               been the range of people
Challenges                             local Credit Union. Unlike most            you can involve in a project
It’s not a project without its         new enterprise models emerging             that is visible and which
challenges. Some local cafes           through the Transition movement            makes common sense to
have expressed the concern that        however, the Surplus Cafe is one           people. You can have all the
the Surplus Food Cafe might            that is happy to design for its own        awareness-raising meetings
undercut them. As Chris Samra,         demise. As Trustee Tom Latter              in the world, and you just
one of the TBG’s Trustees puts it:     puts it:                                   get all the same people
“what we are trying to get across                                                 turning up. But the people
is the idea that we need to change     “Already we are seeing local               who come and work here
agendas, and that means everyone       businesses giving us less food, as         as volunteers come from a
re-evaluating how they operate         they become more aware through             huge range of interests and
in the context of climate change,      working with us, they produce              backgrounds – many just
which can be challenging. What         less waste. We like that idea of           enjoy the social interaction”.
we serve is so different to most       working our way out of business,           Chris Samra
cafes anyway that we’re not really     that the ultimate sign of success
a threat”.                             for us would be that we can’t

                                                                                             21 Stories of Transition   41
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