transition towns totnes

If you replace the word ‘localism’ with ‘privatisation’, it is not that different in some ways from the Thatcher government’s agenda.

Cameron Big Society
Image: Political Scrapbook

I do however have some problems with this new localism agenda. As I listened to Blond’s talk, I thought, well is it actually true that we live in a country with not much society, that society has now disassociated? I remember just before the election hearing Eddie Izzard, who had just run all around the country, doing 50-something marathons for charity. He said he didn’t believe in ‘Broken Britain’.. everywhere he had gone people were much more community focused than he had expected. My experience from visiting Transition initiatives is that community is there, everywhere, sometimes more obvious than other places, but the point is that community will organise when it wants to, it doesn’t need permission from government.

In the short film at the top of this post, Cameron says “I don’t believe that civil society springs up of its own accord”. Well there are thousands of community organisations around the country, run mostly by volunteers, Transition initiatives, Low Carbon Communities, Greening groups and so on, none of them waited for permission from government. They certainly sprang up of their own accord. What matters is for the State to offer such projects meaningful support, and to remove the obstacles strewn in their paths.

Of course the cynic might point out that the reason for the Big Society is the sweeping cuts in public spending that are only just beginning. If you replace the word ‘localism’ with ‘privatisation’, it is not that different in some ways from the Thatcher government’s agenda. There is a challenge within it around what people are actually capable of doing in their spare time. Working full time, and also running a school? Working, managing a family, looking after an ailing relative, and running a Community Land Trust? Of course there are incredible people out there who do that, but it will have its limits unless people are supported in other ways too.

Source: Rob Hopkins,

Here is a short film about a recent event in Totnes, where people involved in TTT who had been in Copenhagen for COP15 and the Klimaforum shared their experiences. Thanks to the good people of the nu-project for making this film. Source: Rob Hopkins

Some photos of a lightening visit to Totnes, Devon the UK a couple of months ago, where I was gracefully given the time to discuss the permaculture worker cooperative research and development with a co-founder of Transition Movement and meet a have a few beers at the train station with the web manager for the network. Also visited the Schumacher College, and spent an afternoon in the library.

Totnes is an English town with a great heritage and an exciting future. The town is well worth a visit. Although the sign at the front of the Transition Towns Totnes entry spells-out, pretty clearly, that for those on a Transition pilgrimage, don’t expect too much. The Transition project has just started, projects are just now being implemented.

The message also made it clear, that Transition is something that only people of their own community can create. There is no formula. No simple framework. What the Transition people do is catalogue some of the ways they and others are trying to make sense of climate change and peak oil, and how that works for them.

I must admit, that I was extremely skeptical of Transition Towns Network, and have published some harsh things. However, I do think its a fascinating and relatively open process and encourage everyone to check it out and get involved.

BUY Local Food: How to Make it Happen in Your Community – Rob Hopkins “Local Food” – Book Launch


buy local-food

Rob Hopkins “Local Food” – Book Launch

Rob Hopkins “Local Food” – Book Launch

Source: Positive TV

4 Sep 2009

My Introduction to ‘Local Food: how to make it happen in your community’

local-foodSeptember 17th sees the release of the first in a series of ‘how to’ books published under the imprint of ‘Transition Books’ (due soon, guides to money, working with local government and cities).  Entitled ‘Local Food: how to make it happen in your community’ it is the work mainly of Tamzin Pinkerton (who was recently interviewed here at Transition Culture) with bits from me, and it is really quite brilliant.  Rather than being an intellectual exercise, it is really about the nitty gritty of setting up local food projects, drawing largely (but by no means exclusively) from the successes and failures of Transition initiatives around the world.  It is packed with examples, tips, links, ideas and inspiration for rebuilding food resilience where you live.  ‘Local Food’ is available from Transition Culture (and elsewhere) from September 17th, but you can preorder it now, and be among the first people to get a copy!  To give you a taste, here, in full, is my introduction to the book.  There will be two book launches, one in Totnes on October 1st, and another in London, to be confirmed.  I’ll keep you posted.

Echoes of a more resilient past.  By Rob Hopkins.

Local Food: How to Make it Happen in Your Community

For UK orders:


Rest of World:

For bulk orders contact Transition Books.

Local Food: how to make it happen in your communityLocal Food: How to Make it Happen in Your Community
by Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins

192 pages in two colours, 220 x 220mm

Published by Green Books

Local Food provides inspiration and practical advice for creating local food initiatives – showing how to restore and establish community networks to generate healthy, locally produced food.

Many people already buy their vegetables as locally as possible, eat organic and seasonal food when they can, and are perhaps even getting to grips with managing an allotment. However, with current economic pressures and mounting concerns about climate change and peak oil, there is a growing feeling that we need to do more to reduce dependence on the global market.

Local Food offers an inspiring and practical guide to what can be achieved if you get together with the people on your street or in your village, town or city. It explores a huge range of local food initiatives for rebuilding a diverse, resilient local food network – including community gardens, farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture schemes and projects in schools – and includes all the information you will need to get ideas off the ground.

Drawing on the practical experience of Transition initiatives and other community projects around the world, Local Food demonstrates the power of working collaboratively. In today’s culture of supermarkets and food miles, an explosion of activity at community level is urgently needed. This book is the ideal place to start.

You can read Rob Hopkins’ introduction to the book here.

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