Transition round-up summer 2012

Updates on the Transition movement: Spain conference, political support in Sweden, and celebrations in the UK

The first Transition Conference took place in Spain in April. Over 150 people from all over Spain, travelled to Zarzalejo, Madrid, to meet and share ideas. With the theme ‘Building the future we want’, many local and positive solutions to achieve a more sustainable and resilient communities were discussed.

Transition in Sweden got a big boost from their Environment Minister Lena Ek. She was quoted as saying: “It was so great to get back to Stockholm after the UN climate negotiations to discover all these Transition initiatives. This is exactly what I hoped would start in Sweden, as transition must begin locally.”

In the UK a day-long interactive celebration of local wellbeing took place in Tooting, south London in May, called Treasuring Tooting. From the open waters of Tooting Bec Lido, the group travelled through twelve different destinations in Tooting, including the quiet hush of the library, the grandeur of the Bingo Hall and bcommunity places of worship. At each stop on the walk one of the 12 ‘keys to wellbeing’ were experienced and celebrated.

For the following nine days, Transition Town Tooting took over an empty shop on Upper Tooting Road where residents were invited to take part in re-imagining their world, exchanging stories, ideas, skills and food.

In Portugal Filipa Pimentel, who is coordinating the networking of the national Transition hubs, described how the economic crisis is shaping the way that Transition is emerging. She said that it made a deliberate decision from the outset to base itself on the concept of the gift economy: “There are two reactions to a crisis. If you really believe that the crisis will go away, you hold on and you hold your activities and you wait. If you believe that it is here to stay, you start to adapt. What Transition initiatives have done in Portugal is to accept that it is here to stay.”

Transition Initiatives in Portugal have been developing ways to organise low cost events, and to develop relationships with councils not based on asking them for money, but asking them to share resources. The aim is to decouple money from the message of Transition, to, as Filipa puts it, “try to reduce money exchange in everything we do.”

Launched in April, the Transition Network REconomy project will help build the capacity of Transition initiatives to grow a new kind of local economy. The framework includes: leadership – how to build a willing coalition of local strategic organisations, including the councils and Chamber of Commerce for example; visioning – how to then develop a collective vision for a local economy; working with existing businesses – how to help them transition to a new economic paradigm; and starting new enterprises that aspire to meet Transition principles. Phase one of the project is working with 10 Transition initiatives around the UK.

The first Transition groups to be active for five years have been celebrating their achievements. In Forest Row a screening of the documentary In Transition 2.0 included an auction of promises to raise funds for repair of the village hall roof.

In Lewes an event in the community Linklater Pavilion brought together the different topic groups involved to tell their story of the inspiration that brought them together, what they had achieved and their future plans. Groups included the Lewes Pound, a food group that has a launched weekly food market, and the energy group that spawned Ovesco – one of Britain’s first community-owned renewable energy providers.