On Thursday, the 14th of February, twelve members of the South West Learning for Sustainability Coalition met in Totnes in Devon for a seminar about Transition Towns. The day-long seminar was arranged by Isabel Carlisle and William Scott and was both engaging and informative.
Ben Brangwen introduced members to the work of the Transition Network. He spoke about the how Transition Towns had developed from a small localized project based on the work of Rob Hopkins to a what it is today, a network of Transition groups, across Britain and Ireland.
Although the same principles of community level responses to carbon reduction and building resilience and happiness apply to all groups, each group approaches these issues in a way that suits their specific local context. Some groups have developed local currencies to help build and maintain local supply chains; other groups have different foci.
Ben talked about the way that academic research is addressed by the Transition Network. The protocol under development encourages an approach that aims to ensure that research that is undertaken is meaningful to both the researchers and the network. The Transition Network has collated over 200 papers in an online transition research repository to provide interested researchers with relevant background reading and this is available from the website. The concept of a Transition University was also discussed.
Isabel Carlisle talked about her work with Schools in Transition, which she initiated when she joined the Transition Network movement. She is currently working with three pilot schools (Wellington College (Crowthorne, Berkshire), KEVICC Co-Operative Trust School (Totnes, Devon) and Crispin Academy (Street, Somerset). The approach is to work with the school in a contextualised manner to identify what they need and to facilitate this. The Transition Network has the potential to help the schools engage with and become a central part of the local community.
‘Learning that leads to agency’ and ‘embedding in place’ are central tenets of the Transition Network’s Schools in Transition work.
Challenges identified by Isabel and Ben included the question of how to grow beyond the early adopters of the network and how to expand the Schools in Transition project.
Points of discussion raised by members of the Coalition included:
· how the network engages with other organizations with similar principles both in the community and in the schools it works with
· how the network engages with members of the local community that do not share their commitment to the principles of a sustainable future
· what the purpose of resilience is in the context of the Transition Network
The Coalition would like to thank the Transition Totnes for hosting this event that initiated frank discussions that were both thought provoking and informative.