Totnes Transition Town
In looking into the New Economy, how to exchange value with each other in a way that benefits everyone as well as the planet, the idea of cooperatives comes up a lot. Then there's the idea of a Transition Town, which seems to be a kind of cooperative on steroids, in a very interesting way. Here's a TEDx talk that begins to explain a little.
Start watching "My Town in Transition" at 2:29 to skip the introduction.
Below is a short summary of the video.
The people in Totnes realized that the town had lost all its major economic drivers, and was going to die a long slow economic death. They also realized that no one was going to ride up and save them, that they had to save themselves. And the only way to do it was 'if we harness the collective genius of the people around us'.
They started by holding a party called 'The Unleashing' to kick off a number of projects:
Nut tree planting project = urban food forest
A new local currency, the Totnes pound = reinvestment in local business
Local food directory = where can you buy local easily
Cohousing group = looking to build or renew local housing for people to live together who don't have traditional families.
Open eco-homes, open edible gardens = awareness raising so people can see how it's done
garden-share scheme = you have land but don't have time/energy to work it, matched with people who want to grow food.
In 2009, three years into the project, they did a survey. 75% of people in the town knew about it, 62% agreed with it, 33% were engaged at some level in it.
The projects grew quickly, and needed foundations. They developed a project support system called "Transition Town Totnes". It employs 1.5 people, and has brought 1 million pounds into the town so far. It has become a 'pillar of local culture'.
A do-ocracy = people who do the thing make the decisions
Originally Transition was conceived of as an environmental thing. In fact, it is actually a cultural thing. The operative question becomes: "How do you change the story of the place where you are?" Meaning, you can start lots of projects, but how do you see them all together?
Or, how do you get people to see clearly what could be done? It's about creating a vision/story for people to resonate with.
Can we discuss what the story should be for Taiwan?
So what is 'Transition'? It's a community response to peak oil/climate change.
One of the main methods is to create 'Transition Streets'. It turns out change sticks better if you get together with your neighbors, on a street-by-street basis.
What you do is, get 6-10 people together, and agree to meet 7 times in each others' houses. Each week you look at one topic: water, energy, food. Then you make pledges at the end of each session about what you're going to do.
Results: you cut carbon by 1.3 tons, and each family saves about £600. Five hundred towns have already done this, and it becomes a significant reduction. Which is great, but it turns out that the real benefit, according to participants, is that you build community with your neighbors.
The New Economy in Totnes:
Totnes Renewable Energy society 500 members, about to put in applications for two wind turbines on the edge of town.
Transition Tours, to manage the visitor who come to see their new things
Culture was created of people saying, "We need new enterprises for such and such, and people are creating businesses.
The 'Local Entrepreneurs Forum'. Brought together people with ideas with local investors and mentors to try to kick start the new economy.
New businesses include a micro-brewery and The Kitchen Table, a Caterers, sourced from local foods, which also creates local foods awareness.
The rules for the Local Entrepreneurs Forum are that it must
Promote local resilience
Be not purely for personal profit
Work within natural limits
Bringing assets into the local community
"Community resilience" is where the economic future of communities lies.
Other things to watch about Totnes:
"In Transition 2.0" http://www.intransitionmovie.com/
"In Transition, Part 1" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeaL8H8Sss4
More Cooperatives you can look into:
This Yes! Magazine article links to some other cooperative models that seem to be working so far including Mondragon in Spain, and Cleveland in the US.
And here's the link to the Transition Handbook. It's a .pdf file that opens in your browser, and you can save it on to your computer.