Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Climate change: the Transition Town movement is fundamentally about reducing our carbon footprint

One of the founding aims of the Transition Town movement was to address climate change: 

The terms transition town, transition initiative and transition model refer to grassroot community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil,[1] climate destruction, and economic instability.[2]

Transition town - Wikipedia

This has evolved to take on other sustainability issues:
About the Movement - Transition Network | Movement of Communities
Transition Network | Transition Towns | The Circular Economy 

Transition towns are local communities proactively preparing for an oil-scarce future in a warming world by reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and helping mitigate climate change by re-localizing, shifting production closer to home and creating functioning communities with the idea that strong neighborhood networks will help towns to weather future energy shocks. 
Transition towns address the issues of peak oil, climate change and economic instability by creating a strong, connected, self-sufficient community. 
The Transition Movement began in the British town of Totnes in 2006 and grew to thousands of people, initiatives and projects working in Transition across the world today.

Transition Towns - Everything Connects

As Rob Hopkins said in 2015, this has become a 'movement': 

Jon Alexander of the New Citizenship Project argues that Transition has come to the end of what he calls its ‘Response’ frame (which has run through all our materials to date back since the start of Transition – you know, “Transition is a response to peak oil, climate change, economic crisis, etc. etc.”) and would find it more effective to focus on a ‘Movement’ frame.

The Transition Story: Time to stop talking about climate change?

And has taken on many inter-related initiatives:
Transition towns | Environment | The Guardian

Becoming quite a flexible beast: 

And if you look at the Transition Town movement, it was launched in a way to scale out rather than scale up — to be replicable. It’s light touch framework can be used by groups and also adapted to make it their own. So it has transformed, for example, from a movement in response to peak oil in the UK to being used as a response to social challenges in Brazil and Spain. I’m not sure it explicitly sees itself as design thinking, but the thinking that informed the launch of the Transition town movement was about how can we create something that has enough of a framework for people to organise around, but flexible enough for local circumstance.
The Transition Network also have a cheerful disclaimer: you take part in a project with the knowledge that it might not work. There is also the Quaker model of notes and queries, which allows groups to revisit what they are doing and then make the suitable adjustments for systems to evolve.

“Utopia is all around us” | Red Pepper

Fundamentally, though, it is still about reducing our carbon footprint, as outlined by Transition Stroud a couple of months ago: 

THE TRANSITION Towns movement seeks to create a network for sustainable change in order to achieve a low carbon lifestyle. The movement was founded in 2006 and within a year Stroud had joined, which made it the world’s 5th Transition Town (TT). There are now over 1000 transition initiatives worldwide.
Transition Towns address the problems and opportunities caused by climate change on a practical day to day level. This sums up the organisation's motto ‘inspiring action for a sustainable future.’
“Climate Change is the key issue for it impacts on our very existence,” Erik Wilkinson, one of Transition Stroud’s eight volunteer directors, explained. “It also provides us with positive opportunities to work for a future with affordable sustainable energy.”
The organisation say that these forward-thinking ideas can help build a Stroud that is resilient to the environmental damage brought about by the modern world. To achieve this, 11 different initiatives have been set up throughout the Five Valleys including the Repair Café, Plastic Action Group, Edible Stroud, climate change workshops and film evenings.
For example, the ‘Live without plastic’ workshop presented by Claudi Williams, gave lessons on how she and her family has lived without plastic for over a year.
Currently TS are pushing forward their Zero Waste Action group to minimise waste in the home and support Stroud’s battle against single-use plastics. Residents are encouraged to take part in a variety of workshops including how to make zero waste toiletries and celebrating a zero waste Christmas.
Erik explained that it is hoped through co-operation as a community: “A future with less waste, better transport, less plastic, more locally grown food and a stronger sense of community can be achieved - do join us.”

How does Stroud benefit from being a Transition Town? | Stroud News and Journal

It's happening everywhere, as reports from the last 12 months show:

Regenerative agriculture in Manitoba:

At the February Prairie Organic conference in Brandon, a number of speakers spoke about the principles of regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agriculture improves soil health compared to sustainable agriculture which only maintains the soil as is. Since our soils have degenerated considerably over the last 150 years, regeneration is a good strategy.

Within the Transition in Ungersheim, there are critical factors that have improved participation, increased awareness, and led to greater exposure outside of the village. Those critical factors are: using the Transition concept as a vision, creating a story of the 21 actions for the 21st century, using publicity as a communication tool, participatory democracy as a decision-making tool, top-down and bottomup collaboration, demonstrating successful actions, and gaining access to resources for actions.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, said: “The council is committed to playing a leading role in making Reading a cleaner and greener town and further reducing our carbon footprint.
“Innovative projects like Refill Reading, where community groups and the council work in partnership, give everyone a chance to take a single action which can potentially have a massive positive impact on the environment and I am delighted to see council venues taking part.”
The Refill Reading campaign is an initiative of Transition Town Reading, an organisation working to create a more sustainable town through community-based projects.

More than six million disposable coffee cups sent to landfill every year in Reading | Reading Chronicle

Retrofitting suburbia in Melbourne:

The nascent Transition Towns Movement (known as TTM) provides one of the more well-known social movements to emerge during the last decade in response to overlapping energy, environmental and economic crises.
Whereas the more established Ecovillage Movement has generally sought to escape the urban context to establish experiments in alternative living, the TTM, motivated by similar concerns, tends to accept the challenge of transforming urban life from within the urban boundary.
In the absence of progressive political leadership, might the TTM niche or something like it need to play a role creating new urban landscapes? What potential has this movement for changing the regime? What are the challenges it might face? And could cities ever become interconnected hubs of Transition Towns at large?

Retrofitting suburbia | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne
Ellen Dunham-Jones: Retrofitting suburbia | TED Talk
11 Urban Design Tactics for Suburban Retrofitting | Build a Better Burb

The Repair Economy in Edinburgh and Ghana:

While manufacturers such as Apple are increasingly designing products in ways that make them difficult for users to fix, according to Greenpeace, true heroes are stepping up. Remade in Edinburgh represents civil society rather than tech and creator Sophie Unwin has turned a former bank branch into a re-use and repair superstore. This social enterprise is where you can go to learn how to fix your own tech and extend its lifespan. It’s a similar idea to the many repair cafes, sometimes associated with the Transition town network.
To some, this will seem nicely mindful but unlikely to make a significant difference. I disagree. I think repair on a high street level, from person to person, can be a significant intervention and actually mirrors some of the entrepreneurial behaviours we have seen in Ghana and other informal reprocessing economies. The way to make a dent in digital castoffs is to get stuck in.

Reduce, reuse, reboot: why electronic recycling must up its game | Environment | The Guardian

Seed swapping in Worthing:

Inspirational talks, workshops for children and adults, and a wide variety of stalls helped make the annual Sow and Grow seed swap and spring fair a great success.
Worthing deputy mayor Paul Baker and head teacher Phillip Potter officially opened the Transition Town Worthing event
Ron Marsh, aka Recycling Ron, from West Sussex County Council’s waste prevention team, wore his ‘rubbish’ costume to highlight household waste recycling.
Transition Town Worthing aims to engage residents and encourage them to respond positively to challenges by creating a healthy human culture.

Seed swap proves inspirational for all ages - Worthing Herald

Plastic Free in Penzance:

A Cornish town has become the first community in the UK to be awarded “plastic-free” status after dozens of residents and business people backed a grassroots scheme aimed at helping clean up oceans and beaches.
As part of a campaign being run by the marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), Penzance has been given “plastic-free coastlines approved” status.
Shops, cafes and visitor attractions have reduced single-use plastics and children and adults have taken part in beach cleans. The town’s status was confirmed after the town council voted to support the initiative.
Another 100 communities across the UK are taking part in SAS’s plastic-free coastlines scheme and working towards the status, which has been inspired by the fair trade and transition town schemes.

Penzance wins first plastic-free status award to help clean up beaches | UK news | The Guardian

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