Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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After eight years of frenzied blogging at this site, Transition Culture has moved to its new home. Do come and join us, but feel free to also browse this now-archived site and use the shop. Thanks for all your support, comments and input so far, and see you soon.

7 Nov 2011

Competition time! Use your creative skills and win a copy of ‘The Transition Companion’

First of all, a quick update – the REconomy project is proceeding well, and we have busy compiling a set of resources that we hope will be useful for all Transition initiatives. These will help you build a new local economy where you are, and will cover leadership, strategy and visioning, starting up new enterprises and connecting with existing businesses and other partners. We are creating a new website and linked social media (along with opportunities to meet in person) that will support wider discussion and sharing of ideas and practicalities across the Transition network. After all, we’re not exactly sure how to go about this, the process is emerging as we go and we are all learning together. There will be more news on this website launch within the next few weeks. Meanwhile we have a word/language challenge that we’d like your help with…

In previous discussions (such as this one) we have used the term ‘Transition Enterprise’ to identify one which has the attributes we feel are desirable in our new local economies, and we have drafted what we feel this attributes might be. “We’re not sure that this term ‘Transition Enterprise’ works well – it feels a bit exclusive when we consider that we want our resources and ideas to be used by communities everywhere, not just Transition initiatives. We feel that ‘social enterprise’ doesn’t fully capture all the aspects we wish to see, not do terms like ‘community enterprise’.

On the other hand we do want to be able to distinguish this kind of enterprise from other more traditional organisations. So our question is, can you think of a term that could be used to represent the ideal aspects such as Sustainable, Resilient, Social, Community-based or Local? It can be a new made up word, an acronym, whatever… Please post your suggestions below, and the one we like best will be chosen on Friday 18th November and will win a signed copy of ‘The Transition Companion’.  Thanks!

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Finn Jensen
7 Nov 10:01am

How about ‘Community economy’ to show that the project is owned, runned and for the benefit of the community – what some call the cooperative movement? Any surplus from the enterprise will be reinvested into the community – creating local jobs. It is when we create jobs that transition becomes real for a lot of people.

mike jones
7 Nov 10:10am

Rooted enterprise.

Marc Siepman
7 Nov 10:26am

F3 enterprise / F3 economy / F3 whatever. A prefix that stands for Fossil Fuel Free – Sustainable, Resilient, Social, Community-based, Local, Transition inherently flows from it.

7 Nov 10:39am

trenterprise tentertives suresocobloc, yes I like that last one…


John Fellowes
7 Nov 10:50am

Lightship Enterprise? Sunship Enterprise? Flagship Enterprise?

Ok, beam me up.

Mark Simmonds
7 Nov 11:00am

As I start this comment, I’m not even sure that it will contain a suggested name. As a co-operative and community enterprise adviser I spend much of my time explaining all these different “organisational types”, what they mean to different audiences and especially the confusion that arises between them and the legal forms that are used to incorporate them. As a result I am reluctant to add another organisational type to the mix. However I’ll have a go as I wouldn’t mind a free companion :)

One of the challenges here is that so many possible terms are loaded by reason of history, politics or even the fact that some words are perceived to be the “property” or “brand” of some movement or organisation. Other terms such as “social enterprise”, I would suggest, are evolving as to what people understand by them.

I personally like the term “community enterprise” – an enterprise owned and run by, and for the benfit of, a community (other definitions exist). This term has no connotations of sustainability or resilence however, over the tendency for such enterprises to produce sustainable businesses (in all senses of the word). Most of the Transition related enterprises I’m aware of are “co-operatives” but not all.

Another challenge is to include small craftsman/sole trader type enterprises, which are vital parts of a community and have a mutually supportive relationship with it, but show no community involvement in their governance.

I sense a desire to avoid “Transition” in the name as with the many Transition initiatives who “avoid” the Transition brand with names such as “Sustainable X”, “Low-Carbon Y” “Incredible Edible Z” and also the transitory nature of Transition by definition.

Whatever term arises, I would advise creating a restrictive definition for it. As soon as you create a line in the sand, you’ll find a worthy enterprise which is the wrong side of the line. Better to have broad principles around people care, earth care and fair shares which allow communities to develop novel approaches without worrying that they won’t qualify. I would particularly advise against prescribing the use of profit – this has been a headache for social enterprise. After all what’s wrong in giving all the profit to shareholders if those shareholders are the community from which the profit has been made? It’s their money.

So at the end of my ramble, I haven’t really got a suggestion, but would like to suggest a strap-line to whatever it is (with apologies to Schumacher) [insert name here] – enterprise as if people mattered.

7 Nov 11:24am

Local livelyhoods.

Horacio Drago
7 Nov 11:58am

Resilient enterprise

How about BRASS ventures? BRASS as an acronym – Building Resilient And Sustainable Societies. And ‘Ventures’ because it sounds more exciting to me than ‘Enterprises’.

Iain Baines
7 Nov 2:17pm

not sure about the enterprise bit – I know we are creating jargon, but it sounds like jargon.

How about “positive trading”

Andrew Ramponi
7 Nov 2:33pm

I think Transition Enterprise is okay, any ideas of exclusivity will only breed if the language and behaviour of those on the ground suggest lack of willingness to co-operate and share.

Otherwise you could come up with a name that doesn’t actually describe what the service/product is about at all. Like Apple, Amazon, Google, Virgin etc… (thinking big here!)and let the Transition Enterprise work and message unfold into the name.

josiah Meldrum
7 Nov 2:35pm

I get the feeling this isn’t going to win me the book, but how about:

Transition Enterprise

If I understand correctly you’re looking for a term to use on Transition publications and on a new Transition website – or at the very least for a name to appear on material that has emerged from Transition; it would make sense to me to use Transition in the name*.

I think the mistake would probably be to expect new and existing enterprises to use the new moniker (whatever it is). Most won’t and those that do will find it probably has little local value. Better that enterprises recognise they are Transition Enterprises and make use of the resources and networking opportunities on offer than be defined by it (or try to use the new term as their point of difference).


*(I’m guessing that you’re possibly thinking of setting up a new social enterprise – ahem – Transition Enterprise… to deliver this support and networking, that you need to market it to a wide audience across the community and social enterprise sector and that you feel Transition might close more doors than it opens?)

Henrique Lourenço
7 Nov 4:34pm

Soresus Enterprise, that is, So for social; Re for resilient and Sus for sustainable.

Sophie Balch
7 Nov 5:21pm

I’m going to through in the phrase ‘permeconomy’. It could be permeconomy venture or permeconomy enterprise. I shan’t say why.

Stuart Packer
7 Nov 5:51pm

Transition Endeavours, Transition adVentures, Neighbourhood Endeavours, Locally Grown adVentures, Forward Leaning People.
That’s it! Putting brain back to sleep.
Transition Enterprise is just a tad jargonatory for me. I could live with it though :)

Blake Poland
7 Nov 6:45pm

Although there is an established literature on “community economic development” (see great paper by Boothroyd on which of the 3 terms is emphasized in different forms of CED), in light of the new emerging challenges, what about something like “New Community Economic Development”? Or new social economy enterprise…

michael Dunwell
7 Nov 7:32pm

This is really wearing me down. What about something that flies, swims and appears to be more or less indestructible, like a “Duck”?

Flora Barone
7 Nov 7:50pm

So glad you’re opening this up — terminology, language, and the emotional “frames” they elicit are essential to growing a movement!

What words can we use to describe outcomes that are on par with “resilience” and “transition” in absolute brilliance?

I agree that “enterprise” is a good term but doesn’t quite achieve the resonance level we’re seeking.

How about allying with the Positive Futures Network (David Korten et al.) and their phrases “local living economies” and “vital economies” -?


Jo Homan
7 Nov 9:07pm

like BRASS venture because it sounds down to earth and substantial. It reminds me of getting down to “brass tacks” (the nitty gritty of something – sounds essential/important/valuable) and of making money (where there’s muck there’s brass). Then there’s being bold and brassy and something coming with brass knobs on – both positive, confident images.
I also don’t have a problem with transition enterprise or social enterprise or community enterprise. I agree with Mark about the problem of there being so many different names for people to get their head around.

However, I too would like a copy of your book … my suggestions:

social venture
civic venture
civic enterprise
civic biz
civic business

(But I don’t think these sound as cool as “BRASS ventures”!)

Brad K.
7 Nov 10:20pm

Resilient Quarter. Where “quarter” is ‘a district of a city having some distinguishing character; “the Latin Quarter”‘ ( The distinguishing characteristic would be the sustainable, resilient approach to local food and necessity security.

Quarter isn’t a pejorative term, it doesn’t directly invite use as a resource, but it doesn’t imply a forbidding or exclusive nature, either. And it does imply a place where people live or work.

Or maybe Market Quarter. The place to go to, when the globalized infrastructure fails.

7 Nov 11:50pm

How about Green Clubs or Decentralized Economy Units(Deconits) or Horizontal Economic Engine Parts(HEEPS)or Fresh Start Dropout Cells(FSDC)(Pronounced Fizz Dics) or Pre-epocalipse Survival Schools or The Right livelihood Guilds or Green gangs or The Do it yourself army or Oil burners Anonymous Meetings (OBAMs)

Gillian Livingstone
8 Nov 12:30am

You could try ‘cottage economy’, drawing on the fine tradition of small scale enterprises acting, both individually and collectively.

Any word that suggests an alternative to growth and global markets can’t be bad. At the same time, I would suggest ‘enterprise’ is too atomised and we need to be thinking of partnerships and joint ventures; hence economy.

And finally I like the consonance of the ‘cottage economy’!

Rachel Roddam
8 Nov 1:37am

We have intentional communities… do we have Intentional Enterprise?

Mark A
8 Nov 2:03am

‘Pillar Enterprises’ or ‘Cornerstone Enterprises’ – suggesting they are important/critical. In Transition context, they inherently embrace the importance of the social, environmental and economic ‘mini-pillars’ that support resilience and long term sustainability. I also think these names are conducive to visual depiction when attempting to communicate them.

I was inspired by ‘Rooted Enterprises’ which is my personal favourite!

8 Nov 3:47am

A Common Enterprise is a common good. A permaculturally designed social enterprise, intended to deliver products, goods, even profit but more in general a wide range of benefits and by-products, to the local community or network. It is a diverse enterprise, designed to adapt the inputs, the outputs and the interactions to the local resources and needs, leveraging the local strengths and addressing the local weaknesses. It is a living enterprise capable of evolving with the community.

Jude English
8 Nov 11:46am

I would agree with Mark Simmons, there are already a great many ways of legal structuring any new organistion. The issue for transition is really one of the social marketing of an idea of social change Community Interest Companies are a relatively simple and finincially accessible way of saying what is inside the Tin .

For example Bristol Food Localisation CIC (Community Interest Company)or Bradford City Farm CIC or Bolton organic Brewery CIC all give an immediate flavour of the identity and meaning of the enterprise .
CIC’s themselves can be co-operatively run or run as partnerships , They can also be seen as a halfway house on the way to full blown co-operative’s for organistions at the beginning of thier journeys.

8 Nov 11:56am

I think Gillian’s suggestion of ‘Cottage Economy’ is inspired with its reference to William Cobbet and his anti corporate stance. It reminds us that while we are presenting a new model we are treading a well worn path.

Simon Robinson
8 Nov 1:54pm

How about either Integral Enterprise or Integrated Enterprise to show how they are integrated into local economies? Also, the word Integral is closely associated with the word integrity which is very nice.

8 Nov 2:25pm

This is going really well! Some great ideas… keep ’em coming…

Mark Simmonds
8 Nov 2:59pm

One thing worth reinforcing is the difference between legal forms and organisational type. In this comment thread we are really concerned with the organisational type (for example social enterprise or co-operative), which is related to the ethos, principles, governance and democracy of the enterprise. You can think of it as a brand if you like.

The legal structure on the other hand, although related to the above, is how the law regards the enterprise, for example company, CIC, PLC, Society, Partnership, Unincorporated Association, LLP etc. Apart from the unincorporated association and partnership, it is actually a new person in law that you create to be the legal vehicle for your members and the enterprise.

So for example you could call your enterprise community supported agriculture, a social enterprise, a transition enterprise and a co-operative – these are all organisational types.
The legal form of the same enterprise could be an unincorporated association, company, CIC, society etc. the most appropriate choice will depend on your exact circumstances.

You only have one legal form, but as many organisational types as you want including any new ones created here you might want to adopt.

You never know; I might get a consolation prize, for informing the debate?

jim foy
8 Nov 6:40pm

Why not just plain “Peoples Enterprise”, after all that is who it is for and by.

Jim H
9 Nov 12:04am

I’d love a copy….however it’s pretty tough to better any of the previous attempts…

Locally Placed Enterprise/Business
Locally Embedded Business/Enterprise

…well that’s about it from me.

9 Nov 12:16am

I have just now found that “The Common Enterprise is community-building initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation”

I am not posting any link intentionally.

Perhaps the terms “Common Enterprise” are too close with that?

9 Nov 1:45am

Some more naive attempts – my excuse is that English is not my first language :-)

[local] resilient enterprise – resilienter

[local] living company – [local] livco

[local] living enterprise – [local] li[v|f]enter

[local] co-resilient enterprise – [local] co-resilienter

[local] co-resilient company – [local] co-res company

[local] joint diverse enterprise – [local] joint diversenter

Yvonne Magyar
9 Nov 6:23am

How about TRANSITIVE Enterprise –
TRANS (for transition)
I (for Initiatives)
TIVE (positive/active)
Interpretation is more subjective however at its core is the idea of community action around Transitional Initiatives that build a resilient and sustainable economy.

I would love a copy of the book by the way

Erik Buitenhuis
9 Nov 6:48pm

Call it a company. It comes from the Latin for “with” and “bread” and thus refers to people you’d be happy to break bread with.

Erik Buitenhuis
9 Nov 6:50pm

PS. In case that wasn’t clear, I’m a fan of reclaiming words that have lost their original meaning (like ecological sustainability). “We speak the language of the outside, but with our own meanings.” Frank Herbert

Simon Robinson
9 Nov 6:58pm


How about “Companion Enterprise” to capture you understanding of the original term but still creating a new term to distinguish this new form of company from traditional companies?

10 Nov 6:17pm

loconomy – local economy – might already mean something else ?

I agree with some of the other comments about the danger of adding more layers of complexity on top of existing terms that are reasonably well understood like CIC/Co-op etc.
not a big fan of the word enterprise, or even economy, and wonder if we need a new word in the Engl language, or to take one from a different language which fits better.
avoid transition, so that others can use the term.

Got the book happy to donate it to someone else.

Jo Homan
10 Nov 10:34pm

While watching “In Transition” last night, it occurred to me the that the OOOOBY brand (is it a ‘brand’?) might be worth hooking onto. OOOOBY stand for Out Of Our Own BackYard So:


mind you it does make me think of Scooby Do and boobie prizes.

Mark Simmonds
11 Nov 11:13am

I was mulling over this last night in an attempt to get to sleep and realised that, in workshops, I do already use a term to describe the enterprises coming out of Transition and that is Transition Trading Initiatives. So even though I said I wouldn’t, that’s my suggestion.

Nayeema Eusuf
13 Nov 2:21am

local renaissance economy

John Fellowes
14 Nov 10:25am

I had some brilliant reasons to call them Embedded Enterprises, but then found the term has been used in a book (which I haven’t read). Earthwise Enterprise, my next bright idea, has been used by specific companies (does that matter?), as has Harmony Enterprise. To me it’d be good to emphasise that a company is grounded in the economy of nature, implying stability and safety rather than lofty idealism (and risk), so terms like Earthright and Earthen came to mind. But perhaps, if it’s to be defined by specific ‘Transition’ criteria, then Transition Enterprise is as good as any.

Brad K.
14 Nov 3:44pm

As what you propose Transition Enterprises to be is guidance and support,

Local Core

Then the people involved would be a

Local Corps

Or even
Transition Core
Transition Corps

And I really hope that there is a significant focus on engaging people, currently farming or willing to take up farming as an occupation, in sustainable practice farming. Any transition activity that overlooks the generation of lore a farmer needs, that isn’t reading the instructions off the back of a Monsanto package, they are overlooking a necessary element in regional development.

Call it
Local Farms


14 Nov 7:14pm

‘do like BRASS, plus combine with Network Enabled Community Kindled then by doing ‘it’ proof would be implicit. :)

15 Nov 4:05pm

Many thanks for all the great suggestions, REconomy project members are currently engaged in the difficult debate of which term to use… as part of this debate and in the name of trasparency i’d like to post my comments here too and perhaps some of the other REconomy members will do the same;

the three that work best for me are;

Transition Enterprise – irrespective of it’s connection to Transition the term Transition Enterprise for me is good. The term is open rather than exclusive… i’d suggest it’s Transition itself that is at risk of being classed as exclusive rather than the term Transition Enterprise…not sure we can shake this by calling the enterprise something different. on a different note i like what Josiah has to say on this
Intentional Enterprise – least baggage of the lot (IMO) and open enough for the user to give it their own meaning
Community Enterprise – lingering link to communism and tends to overshadow other elements of the enterprise i.e. environmental aspects but do like it


Nick Osborne
15 Nov 4:19pm

Thanks Shane. Here’s my thoughts on it, as another a member of the REconomy team:

Crikey, what a head-scratcher! Nothing like trailblazing into uncharted cultural territory…

having given this quite a lot of thought and read through the blog responses, here’s a collection of my responses:

– coming up with a new name like apple/google not such a good idea as too many terms already and we are all suffering from terminitis with a heavy dose of jargonivis thrown in

– is it enterprise/organisation/venture/quarter/cic? etc? enterprise seems like the best term to me cos of: common use, positive, innovative associations, can be done in a diverse number of ways (profit/social etc), so seems most inclusive term to most diverse range of audiences

– given that the rest of the REconomy site is being framed in terms of building New Local Economies, it should really be something which fits with this concept

– the descriptors which probably most accurately describe what we are after might be too permacultury and far out and so alienate many potential audiences we want to include e.g. living local enterprise/economy?

– I’m acutely aware of wanting to avoid adding to the jargon & new acronyms as much as possible. plus acronyms can sound a bit naff too? BRASS sounds like the best option to me? here’s a couple of others I’ve come up with:
CREST Enterprise: Community, Resilient Enterprise for a Sustainable Transition
TRESSLE Enterprise: Transition to a Resilient Enterprise for Sustainable, Social Local Economies
too much blah I think in these, still naff!

– my personal favourite is probably Integral Enterprise, because the concept of integral includes the notion that the enterprise integrates with the community, environment, wider economy and that then includes all of the things like sustainable/community/local/resilient and this can be like an umbrella concept for all that we want it to mean. Plus the concept of Integral is one that fits with the changing times and an ecological world view around connectivity, diversity, autonomy etc. however, the disadvantage of using Integral is that it is yet more jargon which needs explaining/unpacking

– but then having said that, whatever term we use, whether it be Transition/Integral/acronym, it will need explaining and unpacking, because we are basically defining a new type of enterprise here. So we could just call it New Enterprise, to go with New Economy?

In conclusion, my preferences in order:
1- Transition Enterprise: cos it builds on and spreads the Transition brand, does have already existing associations with it, which already convey part of what we want it to mean. Also conveys the transitory nature of what we are doing, that the forms taken by Transition Enterprises are evolving and unlikely to be an end form, but will be equipped to adapt to these changing times. Also cos of the lack of any better name
2- Integral Enterprise: for reasons given above. Disadvantage is that it is another new term
3- New Enterprise: simple, unjargony, fits with new local economy concept that we are using in the rest of the site

I hope that helps?

Sharon Proske
17 Nov 2:13am

A few ideas:
Transition Community Enterprise
Transition Permaconomy
Community Permaconomy
Permaconomy Enterprise