Transition Town in Thames - whats it about, whats it done.

The TransitionTownThames group grew out of a series of conversations in late 2007. These drew from the growing Transition Towns movement, that at that time was, literally, exploding out of Totnes in the UK.

The Transition thinking was formulated about a two-pronged recognition - that climate chaos was underway, and owed much to human activities, particularly in a dependency on fossil fuels; and, that oil, like all fossil fuel sources, is finite and will soon become depleted to a point where it is no longer a cheap and disposable product. The attached document [12 steps] is about the formal stages recommended by the international Transition "movement". To date [December 2009] Thames has chosen not to adopt this approach, in part because of the slightly unusual circumstance of the town, and the desire not to duplicate activity, but to strengthen it.

The usual Transition way is to encourage a rapid re-localisation of activity, stressing and focussing on strengthening the way a community links together. Many Transition initiatives major on setting up farmers' markets, organic food co-ops, recycling at the dump, alternative money systems, community gardens and so on. Thames already had got many of these sort of initiatives underway.

The most obvious things the Thames group has done has been to focus on information and awareness raising. There has been an effort to reach out to a wider group than those core people who have already established the Transition bridgehead, as it were - people involved in the Seagull centre, the Organic Co-op, the Community Garden, Earthbuilders, the Women's Loan Fund and many more. One way has been to bring commentators along from outside the community, and we have brought Michael Field [formerly with sustainable floorcovering giant Interface, and more recently Sustainability Manager for North Shore City], media business commentator Rod Oram [Sunday Star Times; Radio New Zealand; and much more], and Jim Salinger [Auckland University lecturer, climate scientist, IPCC member, formerly with NIWA]. These speakers have generally spoken both publically and had sessions with the Thames Coromandel District Council. Another way has been to show films, including A Brief History of Oil, The Power of Community, and Age of Stupid.

However, perhaps the most important thing we can do is to link the existing groups together, co-operating wherever there is a shared vision, acknowledging the complementary nature of the work being done, and seeking new opportunities for effective working towards a more creative and resilient community, where the various challenges of the next 50 years can be met locally as much as possible, where all age groups can find meaningful and satisfying work and activities, where the rich cultural heritage is acknowledged, celebrated, and continued, and where energy, water, recreation, learning, economic, and food needs are being addressed and satisfied locally and inclusively of all sectors of the community. The result will not only be a stimulating and satisfying community in which to live and work, but also one where there will be a degree of insulation to soften the impacts of national and international events.

In 2009 the TranstionTownThames group was delighted and honoured to receive the remaining funds from the former EnergyFuturesTrust who decided that their work was somewhat overtaken by events, and that the Transition group showed the promise for working inclusively and diligently in ways that furthered the original purposes of the EnergyFuturesTrust. Thank you to them.

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I see Transition Towns as an answer to the question What can I (or we) do about climate change and Peak oil. That answer is local, positive and action based, it is a forum for us to discuss how we would like to live and a vehicle for getting there.

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