6 Sep 2007
Transition Town Maidenhead in the News.
Here is a rather interesting article about the work of Vinnie McCann in Maidenhead getting Transition Town Maidenhead up and running with some rather prestigious members of his initial steering group! It is always interesting to see how the Transition model translates into different places. Sometimes articles appear that don’t really seem to have ‘got it’, but this piece has really grasped the concept and its “What is a Transition Town?’ bit from the Fact File is excellent.
**Maidenhead’s Future is in Your Hands.** From Business Monthly.
MAIDENHEAD MP Theresa May is backing an initiative to protect the town’s future by turning it into one of the first “Transition
Towns” in the country. The Shadow Leader of the House of Commons has joined forces with environmentalist Vinnie McCann who is getting backing for the scheme which encourages businesses and communities to plan for climate change and a future when oil wells run dry.
The marketing manager of Waltham Place Organic Farm says oil reserves have almost reached their peak and it will be down hill fast. Concerned for the future, he won the support of the MP when he told her how a handful of towns have already embraced it and 50 more are lining up troops to join the battle.
He is also pressing businesses to be involved saying: “There’s a strong business case for adopting more sustainable practices, and it’s gradually finding its way into mainstream business thinking. The emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and triple bottom line accounting – economic, social and environmental – may be steps in the right direction, and carbon trading could yield substantial cuts in global CO2 emissions. “However, none of these address the way that Peak Oil will make itself felt on businesses that have long supply chains, or serve markets in distant locales.”
Mrs May agrees with him that Maidenhead should be involved and said: “We need to take both climate change and the future of our energy supply seriously. Whatever people think about the science behind these issues I have no doubt that we need to plan carefully for a world in which we cannot rely on our traditional sources of energy. I welcome the initiative that Vinnie is taking to raise our sights on this issue and recognise the potential problems for the future. If we start thinking about these issues now we are more likely to be in a position to address them in time.” Mr McCann is gathering names of people and organisations to help him get the Transition Town project off the ground.
“We will be looking to local business and the council for support, to help us rebuild the resilience and self-reliance in our local economy and community that has disappeared during this era of cheap and abundant fossil fuels. For example, we will be looking at ways which can help reconnect local people with local produce using land c o m m u n i t y s u p p o r t e d agricultural projects. we need a restoration project for an environmental centre in Maidenhead itself. This could be the first project of restoration using
Transition Town planning and ethos leading to the building of an exceptional example for sustainable living both in its representation and function. There is a long way to go but it all starts here,” he said.
There are currently 17 formally designated Transition Initiatives, including: Totnes, Lewes, Stroud, Bristol, Brixton, Forest Row, Glastonbury, Forest of Dean and 50 embryo schemes.
“This is an interesting initiative aimed at getting communities to come together to think seriously about how they can at grass roots level plan for the future and start to make the changes that will be needed. For example, I’m already very supportive of the idea of using local produce where possible and this seems to me to be a good way in which we can all make a change. Some people may question some of the ideas used elsewhere like a local currency but it’s important to open our thinking as it is only by doing that that we can ensure we are aware of the future challenges and the way to address them,” Mrs May added.
Mr McCann is talking to business leaders including local business visionary Tony Buzan as well as campaigners elsewhere in the country about building a transition movement in the Thames Valley. He wants to hear from key individuals in the business and conservation. He has already earmarked Friends of the Earth and Countryside Protection of Rurual England for special attention.
The leading Transition Town, Totnes, officially launched towards the end of 2006. It already has many projects in place building up local resilience such as energy, economy, food and health. Other key areas like education, transport, textiles, psychology of change, waste and water are being scruitinised.
Mr McCann said: “Businesses that have a longterm perspective and are aware of the constraints fossil fuel depletion will have on the globalised economy need to be looking in general at oil dependency throughout their organisation.” One Transition initiative finding favour is called business exchange where one business’ waste is a raw material for another. For example, the building
trade discards huge amounts of wood that could be used by companies making wood chips for household boilers using that fuel.
Surprisingly another high profile way of building local resilience in the business sector is launching local currency. Totnes has complementary currency called Totnes Pounds which many businesses are using in payment for goods and services. “A Transition Town envisages a more localised future, where production and consumption occurs closer to home; where fragile supply chains that are vulnerable to surges in oil prices have become prohibitively expensive and have been replaced by local networks,” McCann explained.
He is planning an official launch in February after recruiting a steering group to get businesses, Maidenhead Chamber, the council and environmentalists involved and recruitment through the likes of Youtube. Ideally he would like special projects involving the
protection of agriculture and cycle schemes.
For further details about the initiative please contact Vinnie Mc Cann at 07787 184706 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Transition Network website at www.transitiontowns.org/ TransitionNetwork.
**What is a Transition Town?**
A Transition Town recognises four things. Firstly, that life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it rather than be taken by surprise. Second, that our communities currently lack the resilience to handle the severe energy shocks that peak oil will bring. Third, that we have to act for ourselves and we have to act now. And lastly, that by unleashing the genius of the local community to creatively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognise the biological limits of our planet.
**What is Peak Oil?**
Peak oil is the point at which the amount of oil being pumped into world economies reaches a maximum. From that date onward, there’s an inexorable decline.
**What is the Transition Town Network?**
The Transition Network’s mission is to inspire, inform, support and train communities as they consider, adopt and implement a transition initiative. They’re building a range of materials, training courses, events, tools and techniques, resources and a general support capability to help these communities.
**How does it start?**
Atransition initiative typically emerges within a community when there’s a confluence of awareness of both peak oil and climate change, an eagerness to take action, and a desire to learn what other communities have done. Internet-based research for community solutions to the challenges ahead will eventually bring up examples of many of the transition initiatives that are underway around the UK. Alternatively, seeing a presentation on this subject can generate a phenomenal amount of latent energy in individuals and groups and can spark off a progression of community action leading to a transition initiative.
**Who gets involved?**
Anyone with something to contribute can participate. Once the initiative has formed a core team, two key processes kick off: mapping the community for existing green projects and raising awareness within the community.