Monday, 21 April 2014


Following on from an analysis of the conventions around 'business' and 'growth':
Futures Forum: Crony capitalism and lemon socialism in East Devon........ The costs of "substantial growth and expanding business"
here is a look at an alternative from the Transition Town movement:

Here is Rob Hopkins, co-founder of Transition Town Totnes, 

explaining a few things to a council chamber in Norfolk.


government.flv - YouTube

Two central aspects of our work are relocalisation and building resilience:

Relocalisation - actively promotes the idea of going beyond the concept of ‘localism’. That is the devolving of political power to the local level; for example, as expressed in the coalition government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda. We work towards 'localisation’; seeing the meeting of our core needs locally (food, building materials, energy...) as offering huge potential to our local economies, while also reducing oil vulnerability and carbon emissions.

Resilience - in Transition terms goes beyond the accepted idea of resilience as being about ability to adapt to shocks, instead seeing it is a desired state; the rebuilding of which could be hugely economically advantageous to our local communities.

In practice, Transition works by inviting people to take ownership of the process; by not claiming to have all the answers but encouraging creativity, and by building networks with other organisations. It is based on the model of ‘project support’, that is that the role of Transition is to catalyse and support, rather than to hold and manage a wide range of projects. An essential part of the Transition method is visioning. We believe in a positive vision of the future and work to make it real.

How transition works - Transition Town Totnes

Where does the term 'relocalization' come from?

After viewing The End of Suburbia in 2004, the first activity ... was to host a day long workshop with the founders of the Post Carbon Institute – now renamed as The Relocalization Network. The Post Carbon Institute came up with the term “relocalization,” I suspect, to distinguish it from the term localization, which is commonly used in computer software, but is also used in response to economic globalization. “Economic Localization” concerns itself primarily with counteracting economic globalization.

Understanding Relocalization | relocalize.net

Relocalization is a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. 

relocalize: post carbon institute

"Relocalization is a contributing solution to our plight. It is both a process and a guiding framework for making changes in public behavior and town infrastructure towards making a community a sustainable community. Aspects of relocalization include: reducing use of single-passenger autos, building up and not out in order to reduce transportation distances, living in close proximity, growing more local food, having a town make its own energy, conserving energy in homes and buildings, and engendering a robust local economy via support of local businesses and returning light manufacture to towns.

Relocalization is the opposite of globalization. Globalization has taken manufacturing and farming away from its once local roots and concentrated it far away in the American Midwest or overseas. Globalization, the mall, and auto culture are of one piece. The result has been blighted, unattractive big box strips and commerce that makes lots of money for the corporations but robs the locals of sovereignty, identity, local color, and wealth."


They used to call it a "trade". What could you trade in the relocalized future?

It's hard for us to get our heads around, but sooner or later - and likely sooner - we'll lack the steady supply the goods and services 's produced by a fully functioning industrial economy. We'll need to produce that stuff locally. We don't know how to do this, but we can learn!

What could you do that you can barter with others? How could you concretely contribute value to others' survival or "surthrival"?

And from the standpoint of your needs, what would give you meaning and purpose and satisfaction if you were basing your contribution on it? Don't be discouraged if you don't know the answer to that question; it's not one we're seriously asked much and most of us have to grow into the answer. No shame and no problem.

Specially written for young people, here are some thoughts about how to find work and community security in an economy that's faltering.

Learn a practical skill, a trade to trade


This will be key to any relocalisation - and has been touched on at this blog:
Futures Forum: Norman Borlaug and the “Green Revolution”: a centenary
Futures Forum: 'Mega farms'... for Devon...?
Futures Forum: 'A Farm For the Future'
Futures Forum: Fossil-fuel Free Farming at Bicton: A model farm for the next generation
Futures Forum: Fresh and Green: open day Sunday 7th July

One of the key researchers in this area is Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow at Post Carbon Institute, author of a number of important books that have helped us understand our predicament. Last year, he co-authored a very important paper, which I highly recommend to you, “The Food & Farming Transition: Toward a Post Carbon Food System.” Here he maps the pathways to a much-needed revolution in agriculture.
 In a paper titled, “What Will We Eat When the Oil Runs Out?,” Richard says,
"To get to the heart of the crisis, we need a more fundamental reform of agriculture than anything we have seen in many decades. In essence, we need an agriculture that does not require fossil fuels…”
The Local Food and Farming Revolution


There are hard-headed business cases for 'going local':

That means a radical relocalization of manufacturing and agriculture, and a radical shortening of supply and distribution chains, and small producers that make efficient use of resources. 

Center for a Stateless Society » Capitalism’s Running Out Of Water — And Everything Else

As a first step, the team decided to consolidate less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments into full truckloads. To promote truckload delivery, the yogurt maker established order minimums for customers and began requiring 48 hours' advance notice of order revisions. It also undertook route optimization based on reports it received from Ryder. As a result, the company was able to eliminate more than four million miles and some 2,500 truck trips from 2006 to 2007, reducing its CO2 per ton delivered by about 40 percent. 

On the road to a smaller carbon footprint – Logistics – CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly

To effectively assess “how much a product or service is sustainable” we need to look at the “social”, “environmental”, “economic” and sometime also “cultural” impact, during its entire life cycle. It means that the procurement and the supply chain management must take into account not only the price, the quality, the time to market, etc., but should also be able to report and reduce the embedded energy, pollution and GHG, water usage, scarce resource depletion, provide proof of respect of labor and fair trade, health safety, take care of global needs and so on. 

IACCM Ask The Expert - Sustainable Supply Chain & ICT


The founder of the Transition Town movement has completed his PhD thesis:

Localisation and Resilience at the Local Level: The Case of Transition Town Totnes - By Rob Hopkins 

It focuses on two key aspects of the Transition approach, resilience and economic relocalisation, with the aim of analysing whether and how they can be implemented in a locality based on the Transition approach, and assessing what socio-economic and community-related structures would be necessary to implement such a process.

It was also found that the obstacles to resilience and relocalisation lie not, as was hypothesised, in a lack of skills or an absence of community cohesion, but in issues of governance and the need for increased social entrepreneurship. It was found that what researchers call the ‘Value Action Gap’ (i.e. the gap between people’s declared sympathies and intentions and their actions) exists in Totnes as much as anywhere else, but that some of TTT’s projects, such as Transition Together, are working imaginatively to overcome this and to reduce emissions.

A more resilient community, it is argued, would be one more in control of its food and energy production, as well as being one that enables inward financial investment. It also argues that the government focus on ‘localism’, the devolving of political power to the local level, ought to be expanded to include ‘localisation’, the strengthening of local production to meet local needs, a shift which would financially benefit local communities. It argues that the key challenge for Transition initiatives such as TTT is going to be scaling up from being ‘niche’ organisations to become economically viable organisations with a broad appeal and engagement, and also articulates the need for ‘Resilience Indicators’ which would allow communities to measure the degree to which their levels of resilience are increasing”.

Localisation and Resilience at the Local Level: The Case of Transition Town Totnes » Transition Culture

Here's a study from 'outside' the TT movement:

Clare Power: The importance of context: relocalisation and the Transition network

The concept of ‘relocalisation’ requires global organisations to embrace radically different ways of operating. Relocalisation is considered to be a way of building resilience in communities (Rees, 2010), largely through ‘meeting needs that can be met locally, locally’ (Hopkins, 2010, p. 445) and is a cornerstone of the Transition Network. As each Transition initiative is responsive to its particular local conditions and contexts the ‘face of Transition’ will be unique, to some extent, in each community. Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition network suggests that, as cheap energy becomes a thing of the past, relocalisation offers a ‘tremendous opportunity to rethink and reinvent local economies’ (Hopkins 2010). The Transition network, which is currently one of the more prominent relocalisation movements in the world (Bailey, Hopkins & Wilson, 2010) provides a case study in a strongly networked, context specific, movement for change that has had rapid uptake since its inception in 2005


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