After more Kagemusha to get my heart beat going, we transition to Rob Hopkins. Can you see what I did there?
He’s going to tell us a story, which has the potential to change, and is already changing the world. He’s a local boy, and the story is about Totnes, twinned with Narnia. Totnes has become a new age centre. Apparently there’s a new hormone called Totnesterone, where masculine and feminine come into perfect balance.
But Totnes has pockets of deprivation, and many important local businesses have shut down in the past few years. According to a local historian, the town is dying a slow death, and there is no cavalry coming to help.
He’s showing a clip from the new film Transition 2.0. Transition started with talks about Peak Oil, the second major challenge facing us, alongside climate change. Projects include the Totnes pound local currency, open eco-homes and eco-gardens, a cohousing group, a garden match scheme, among others. In surveys in the town, 75% had heard about what was going on, 33% had engaged. It has been picked up by groups around the world, and canoeists in remote areas of Canada have now heard of Totnes.
Transition Town Totnes was set up to help groups elsewhere get going, a ‘do-ocracy’ employing 1.5 people and bringing money into the town.
Two activities have really engaged people in telling the story of the town and making a difference: the Energy Descent Action Plan, and the Economic Blueprint. This maps the local economy. For example, £20m of spend on food in supermarkets goes out of the local economy. If 10% is retained in the town, that means £2m to boost the local economy.
Then there’s Transition Streets, on the premise that Transition sticks better if people work on it in communities. They may save tonnes of carbon, but people usually talk about the connections made with neighbours as the key benefits. Change happens through being contagious, viral and fun.
How can a new economy be made in the town? Other initiatives: Totnes Renewable Energy Society, sustainable homes built using local materials, a local entrepreneurs forum. The forum is looking for businesses that are: working within natural limits, bringing assets into the local community, and four other characteristics that Rob was proud to remember but I couldn’t type quickly enough. They invited the local political candidates to hustings, not for them to answer questions, but to talk to them about their ideas.
“Hippy town comes of age”, said the Western Morning News.
Rob’s best analogy for Transition is microrhizomes in a forest. Much of what Transition does is under the surface, so fruits aren’t always obvious, but results pop out unexpectedly. It has also spread like microrhizomes. There are now Transition initiatives in 34 countries, working in their own local contexts.
We don’t need the cavalry, we are already here. Cheers for Rob and his final quote from the Moomintrolls.