Noel has been involved with Transition Towns since the beginning. He says "Don't measure ourselves against what's going on in Totnes as it's a market town of 8,000 people in south Devon compared to Liverpool,a post industrial city."
Totnes is idyllic, utopian and rural like Glastonbury,Lewes and Stroud. It has a bohemian, new age reputation and a readymade receptive audience. Nonetheless, not everything has worked perfectly.
What has gone well is nut tree planting of which 12 groups have been formed and planted over 100 nut trees in public spaces.
Transitioning is a social process and brings the community together. It is low cost. For example, nut trees have been donated sometimes and local people look after them. It is a good grassroots project.
Food projects have been good. A garden share project has worked well where people let others grow food in their garden. There is an allotment campaign and 20 more have been provided by the Council. Totnes would like another 100.
A planning process has been set up to influence local policies.It brings Transitioning into the mainstream. There is a download available relating to this on main T.T. website.
Schools and children are seeing how climate change affects young people. It is about positivity,to reimagine a positive future for the school agenda.
There has been success in engaging with businesse the oil vulnerability analysis. People are giving out low energy lightbulbs and swapping waste. This gives good credibility to the movement. Businesses are also giving donations to build a library within the local one for books on green issues.
The Totnes pound has made people aware of adaptation. It's a local currency scheme flagship project,a novelty which has grabbed people's attention.700 businesses take them and there are 2,000 in circulation. It is not a perfect project because it is under resourced and needs a solid volunteer base. They need electronic as well as paper money. Lewes and Lampeter are looking into the currency.
It is good to keep money in the local area. It develops local loyalty to spend with small local businesses.
Other projects arew a local sourcing of food directory (now in it's 2nd edition) and complimentary health directories.
Things that T.T.'s could do better are engaging with local government in Totnes although Stroud and Forest of Dean have engaged more effectively with local government. It is quite central to keep engaging new people, not to have it too closed off or internal. Connect with chamber of commerce and have stalls at events. Provide oppurtunities to engage in.Have to provide the space to keep it an open process. Also let it come at it's own pace.
In Totnes they are unique because things seem to stay with the main core who take all the decisions and are accountable for everything. They would like to see more schemes like giving out long life lightbulbs.
People should engage with similar groups,creating ' synergies' is very useful.Cities like Liverpool,Brighton,Bristol,London (Brixton) and Nottingham need to talk amongst themselves.Cities are a completely different process. They already have mass transit in place.
People could grow food more in cities i.e. guerilla gardening In Havana,Cuba lots of food is grown on road verges.
There must be fresh energy.It is so important to engage schools and mainstream groups.
Some ideas for future meetings include:
Food in the city
Power in the city
Composting in the city.