21 Stories of Transition

Emma Postill, Permaculture magazine | Thursday, 26th November 2015
Launched in time for COP21 in Paris, 21 Stories of Transition shows what 21 projects have done to move away from destructive, fossil fuel 'business as usual', demonstrating that it is possible to create positive change on a community-wide scale. Be inspired!
Author: Rob Hopkins
Publisher: Transition Network
Publication year: 2015
RRP: £10.00

Published as the Transition movement’s contribution to the COP21 negotiations beginning in Paris on 30 November, 21 Stories of Transition calls on us to step up and start building resilience in our local communities, as those within its covers are already doing. It reminds us that we needn’t wait in anticipation for the guidance and support of our world leaders;we can instead take inspiration from activities such as these that are already taking place all over the world.

Visual and compact, this accessible book presents 21 bite size case studies of successful Transition projects from around the world. Told by the people at the very heart of each project, the diverse selection of stories aim to be relatable enough to motivate any reader into joining or starting a project of their own after identifying with one of a multitude of situations and scenarios.

Urban dwellers might be inspired by Transition Brixton, London, England, who, following in the footsteps of Transition Totnes, set up a local entrepreneur forum, where community members have the opportunity to invest in local businesses in the form of time, money, space, support, and many other things.

Those with the land space and the vision might strive to emulate Transition Town Deventer, the Netherlands, who partnered with the Aardehuizen project to create the Netherlands’ first eco village: 23 houses built using local and natural materials, meeting 100% of its energy needs onsite, and creating a ripple of positive effects out into the surrounding locality.

Each story briefly describes the background or context of the project, its aims achievements, both qualitative and quantitative, and other key aspects, such as challenges, group culture, plans for the future, and why it matters.

The ideas and strategies revealed within provide an incredibly useful insight for those undertaking their own project, which can perhaps be appropriated for their own use. The mention of ‘other projects’ listed against each story is a nice detail – a sign of successful projects inspiring others into fruition.

One perspective I found particularly interesting came from the Surplus Food Café in Transition Bro Gwaun (Fishguard), Wales, which serves food harvested from the surplus of local shops and businesses. As they raise awareness of food waste, and the very local businesses they depend on cut down on their waste, the cafe risks going out of business. However they see their demise as their ultimate success!

Having been aware of the Transition movement for several years and having read Rob Hopkins’ 2013 collection of Transition case studies, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, this read is familiar territory, a dose of inspiration and encouragement nonetheless. For the newcomer, however, I can imagine discovering the world of Transition is a revelation. And in conjunction with the heightened environmental awareness surrounding COP21, a kick start into action. These stories need to be told far and wide.

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