Category Archives: Transition Culture

Transition ingredients cards go Italian

Transition Voices


The Transition ingredients cards, one of the outputs of The Transition Companion, are a great tool for looking at the Transition process, at how your group is using the ingredients and where the gaps might be.  Until now the only version available was the English version, but now, Pierre Houben, Deborah Rim Moiso and Martina Francesca have produced an Italian translation.  They’ve done a great job of dropping the Italian text into the original artwork, so the new cards can be downloaded, printed out, cut up, and are ready to go.  If anyone would like to produce a version in any other languages, get in touch and we can provide the files you’ll need.

New video: ‘The Power of Just Doing Stuff’

Transition Voices

Here is a short promotional video for The Power of Just Doing Stuff which is published next week.  You can pre-order the book here.  It was produced by Emma Goude who made In Transitions 1.0 & 2.0.   Please embed it on your Transition initiative pages, Facebook, tweet it, whatever.  We’d love to really get it out there.

A May Round-up of What’s Happening out in the World of Transition

Transition Voices

We’ll start this month’s round up in South Africa.  We loved this video from German TV about Transition Town Greyton, and the work they are doing.  Wonderful stuff.  Altogether now: “Stuff your bottles, clean up your town”…

This month’s round up comes to you with a new added source of material, Twitter.  There are hundreds of Transition initiatives on Twitter, and they offer a more intimate insight into what’s happening on the ground, stories that wouldn’t necessarily warrant a blog or make the local press, but which offer a great sense of what people are doing.  Hopefully you’ll agree that this month’s round up is all the richer for it.  Feels to me like the fullest and most vibrant we’ve yet produced.  

Let’s start in the UK, and head to St Albans.  You can catch up on the latest news from Transition St Albans here.  One of their key activities has been the rolling out of Transition Streets, which is already being done by 40 households in 6 groups, with another 7 groups forming over the summer.  Transition Wilmslow recently organised a work party to build raised beds at the Riverside Hotel in Colshaw.

Transition Town Berkhamsted ran an event called Modernising Money: why our system is broken and how we can fix it.  They may have tried to imagine a place where everyone used a local currency, where rather than being a complimentary currency, it was the standard currency.  Visitors to the recent Sunrise Festival didn’t have to imagine too hard, as the Bristol Pound partnered with the Sunrise Festival.  According to a joint press release:

Sunrise and £B have teamed up to make the Bristol Pound the currency for this year’s main festival.  We feel it is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word of the £B as a catalytic tool for positive change.  It adds another great element to the festival, an interesting and fun way to get people thinking about money and to experience the enjoyment of using a community owned currency.

Sunrise Festival described themselves as ‘overjoyed’.  The idea also attracted press attention, as the photo below attests:

bristol pound

Transition Belper have produced their most recent newsletter.   It captures the sense of a Transition initiative with a powerful sense that it is making change happen and that it is finding the whole thing rather thrilling.  Here’s a short passage from their newsletter:

Transition Belper continues to grow and break new milestones all the time. This week we will see the number of supporters for the group going above the 500 level, something the 5 guys who sat together in December 2009 and said ‘should we get involved in this new Transition movement’ should be very proud of. From a practical point of view work continues on the green spaces of the Belper Train Station, adopted in April 2012, we have just held the first Youth Market in Derbyshire, we have seen the launch of Totally Locally Belper and this weekend sees the first Eco festival to be held in Belper, all organised by Transition Belper.


The above-mentioned ‘Eco festival’ was actually called Belper Goes Green, and was their first ‘Transition Festival’.  At the end of the day they tweeted, “what an amazing effort, we are unleashed”.  Transition Town Stratford’s GardenShare scheme is going well, they recently tweeted “folk are busy harvesting delicious new potatoes and giant radishes”.

Bath & West Community Energy, the community energy company that grew out of Transition Bath, has formed a rather exciting alliance with Frome Town Council.  The Somerset Standard recently ran a story entitled Carbon neutral plan could see town generate its own electricity, which stated:

Now the council hopes to team up with a Bath-based renewable energy company to achieve the ultimate goal – a dramatic reduction in energy consumption and as much home-grown energy from renewables as Frome uses.

Speaking of Bath, Nathan Baranowski and Iva Carrdus recently wrote a fantastic article about how Transition is unfolding in the city. It is well worth a read.  I loved its concluding two sentences:

Our prayer for Transition is to let us move forward with pace and a balance of hands, head and heart in all that we do, so that we stay connected to ourselves and others as well as the planet we live on. And always bring tea and cake.

tp_posterTransition Reading now have a new Steering group in place.  Transition Social Reporter Kerry Lane wrote a great piece sharing a vision for resuse and repair in Shrewsbury.  Transition Sheffield ran an event to bring together Transition groups in and around the city to share their ‘Local Transition Stories‘.  Another excellent, in depth article about what Transition looks like in practice in a particular place was this article about Plymouth in Devon and what’s unfolding there Transition-wise.

TT-Forres in Scotland welcomes 16 Scandinavian visitors. Read more in the Forres Gazette.  TT-Marlow (Bucks) have set up a new monthly market in which anyone can set up a stall as long as they are selling locally made produce or are offering a local service.

beesTransition Louth recently held ‘The Festival of the Bee’, which included a wealth of bee-related events, including the Louth Concert for Bees (see poster, right).  It inspired the local paper to a cascade of dreadful bee-related puns, such as “Louth is soon to become a hive of activity as the town prepares to celebrate its first ever Festival of the Bee organised by Transition Town Louth and Louth in Bloom”, and talk of “making a beeline” to the event and how it was “buzzing”.

TT Honiton in Devon have created a new waste group and have also been busy with a clothes swap.  From TT Lewes, some growing tips for the forthcoming month of June.  TT Romsey teamed up with Riverford Organic Farm to organise a poetry competition for primary school children on the theme of growing your own. You can read the winning poem and some other entries here.

Transition Cambridge’s unveiled its Fruit Tree Harvest project, which they described like this:

There must be hundreds of fruit trees in Cambridge gardens producing unwanted or wasted fruit. The Food Group are planning a new project to tackle this situation.

They set out some of the things the project needs in order to be a success:

  • Do you have a fruit picker or a lightweight (bike friendly) ladder that you’d be willing to lend to the project?
  • Do you have a garden producing too many apples, plums or pears for your needs?
  • Would you like to join the harvesting teams?

Transition Town Totnes’ Food Hub takes more steps towards becoming a reality.  Also, Greg Barker MP recently visited the town and made this short video to reflect on the experience:

You can read the latest Transition Town Totnes newsletter here.  Transition Chester have got together with Friends of Hoole Parks and with Cheshire West and Cheshire Council to bring the Incredible Edible idea to Hoole, planting over 100 fruit bushes in the corner of Alexandra Park. Transition Chepstow presented to their local U3A group a talk called ‘What is a Transition Town and what has Transition Chepstow been doing?’  Transition Malvern Hills ran a repair cafe.  Social reporter Caroline Jackson wrote a beautiful blog about her local Transition initiative in Garstang , Lancashire.  She wrote:

As new initiatives go, I think Transition Garstang is a fantastic example.  It has made a space for itself in a place where there is already plenty going on and you could feel daunted by that alone.  It has partenered up and gained acceptance from all manner of local groups and has been willing to try things and take the risk of failure.  The future is full of new ideas and opportunities.  All I can say is thanks for giving me the time to learn so much about you.  Go Garstang!

James Smith has written a great piece on Transition Shrewsbury Green Doors 2013.  Over the next few months, two young film makers from Folkstone in Transition (Kent) will be asking local people involved what does Transition mean to you?  Transition Chichester held a stall at their recent Farmers Market. here’s a photo of it…


They also ran a Swap Shop event, which we suspect was actually just an excuse to try on lots of different silly hats, as this photo suggests:


To London now, and news of some of the groups there.  A couple of them have recently been celebrating the anniversaries of their setting up.  Transition Town Tooting just turned 5!  Here’s a great blog by a newcomer to the group, reflecting on the party, on feeling part of the project, and, of course, on the cakes that were made for the event (see below).


The Tooting group also recently organised a craft session in the local library where children learnt how to take prints from leaves.  Here are a couple of photos of the event:

Tooting Library 2

Tooting Library 1

Transition Town Kingston (you can read their latest newsletter here) held their 5th birthday party, which included an entertainer which they described on Twitter as being “a zany performer described as a cross between Brian Cox, Harry Hill and Lady Gaga”. Blimey.  Marilyn Mason, a key member of TT-Kingston, and not ”a zany performer described as a cross between Brian Cox, Harry Hill and Lady Gaga” has been praised for her work in the local community and nominated as an unsung hero.

Crystal Palace Transition Town are doing great stuff at the moment, and they just celebrated their second birthday.  Their birthday was celebrated at what sounded like a wonderful AGM event, which celebrated all the many projects underway in the area.  Here’s a great write-up of it. Here is a video they made that captures what they’ve achieved over the past year:

The day after their AGM, CPTT launched the Crystal Palace Food Market, which has been a huge success.


Inside Croydon, the local paper, wrote a glowing article about it, reporting on the market’s second week of trading:

The Crystal Palace Transition Town group got this market off the ground in less than a year.  They did this without a six-figure grant from the government.  They did so without needing any endorsement or assistance from a television celebrity.The market has been an immediate draw for local families.  It was achieved through the hard efforts of unpaid volunteers and by spreading  “word of mouth” digitally, online, via Twitter and Facebook, with some outlay on acquiring stalls and some printing and associated costs.  So many people attended the market on its first staging a week ago, that many of the traders were almost out of stock by 1pm.

Food-Market-Joe-the-Carrot-e1369742059720-200x300As part of promoting the event, CPTT’s Joe Duggan even rather gamely dressed up as carrot.  He may well not thank us for it, but here is a photo of him in his carrot-suit (see right).

CPTT will be hosting the official launch of The Power of Just Doing Stuff on June 18th, and one of the speakers at the event will be Agamemnon Otero of the wonderful Brixton Energy.  The event is open to anyone, and promises to be a really fantastic evening.  They write “It’s likely that this event will attract national media attention and a turn out from other Transition Towns and groups, so you might want to turn up early if you’d like a seat!”

Here’s a recent interview with Agamemnon:

Transition Ealing screened a film called ‘The Spirit of 45’, which they described as:

An impassioned documentary about how the sense of unity which buoyed Britain during the war years carried through to create a vision of a fairer, united society.  The film seems of enormous relevance to the Transition movement as we endeavour to rebuild community spirit in the face of the challenges of climate change and energy volatility.

With Spring turning to summer, and things finally starting to warm up after the coldest Spring for 50 years, London Transition groups are out doing some gardening.  Transition Brockley have been similarly engaged, tweeting “the sun is out, come and garden at Brockley Common from 10-12″.  Croydon Transition tweeted that “Thornton Heath Rec Community Garden is really coming along. Put in lettuces, peas, cosmos, sunflowers and a few squashes on Sunday”.  Transition Kensal to Kilburn have been back out working on their ‘community allotment’ on Kilburn Tube station, and tweeted “come and see the beautiful black tulips and the blossoming apple tree”.

The group also held an event to launch their ‘Edible High Road’ project where they decorated and delivered trees to participating shops.  There are some great photos of the event here.   Here is the group with some of their trees, on Kilburn High Road.

kensal trees

To Spain now, and on a recent Transition Training course in Barcelona (‘Curso en Barcelona de Transición Sostenible’), participants were asked “what is Transition?”  Here’s what they said (speaking Spanish helps):

From Brazil, here is a film about Transition Granja Viana spent Earth Day:

In the US, a magazine called ‘In These Times’ ran two fantastic articles about Transition, some of the best coverage I’ve seen.  Jessica Stites wrote a piece called Transition, Coming to a Town near you, which gave a great overview of Transition across the US, and included this lovely quote from one US Transitioner:

Between you and me, I don’t know if we’re going to solve the world’s problems.  [But] the underlying ethos is that the process needs to be fun enough to be worth doing anyway. I love that about it. There’s a bit of anarchy, which is wonderful. People who are attracted to it tend to be upbeat, optimistic, joyous people.

The second, by Polly Howells, looked at one initiative, Woodstock in Transition.  It included a quote by Katryna Barber, a member of the Woodstock Initiating Group:

Transition is like when you’re a kid with your friends and you decide to make a circus. The energy level is so exciting and inviting that more kids want to join you!

Here is a video of a talk by Gail England of Transition Town Montpelier about home food systems:

T-Marbletown (IL) have been busy organising two events, one a classic community pot luck aimed at community building and the other a 5 day retreat which held Transition training events, a regional mid-Atlantic Transition Hub meeting plus plenty of sessions in which members of the public could drop in on.

‘What is *Country X* doing to take care of their environment’? asks TT-Payson (AZ) who start their series with India and Australia.  TT-Charlotte (VT) plant out their second annual TT Garden ready for the summer reading bee tepee programme.  TT-Viroqua (WI) met to talk about the many benefits of an edible weed garden.

Transition Falls Church (VI) continues to grow strong writes Ronald Lapitan, a high school student and key member of the group who first heard of the Transition movement via the film Economics of Happiness and was inspired to start a project. Read his full piece in the Falls Church news press.

I have no idea where this video comes from other than assuming it is somewhere in the US, but it features various Transition folks helping someone dig over her garden, while the narrator points out that in 47 days time she’ll be eating greens from her garden.

Emily Zionts, a global issues teacher at Woolman, a non-profit educational community in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California, focuses the end of semester on Transition which forms part of their activist toolkit workshops.

You may have found that in your Transition group you struggle to get members to figure out how to use the website and upload stuff onto it.  Well, Transition Town Comox Valley (BC) in Canada have created a video tutorial to show people how to use their website:

… and another to show people how to use their discussion forums (or fora)…

Joe’s garage seems to be a regular haunt for TT-Comox Valley meetings where they met recently to discuss long term strategic aims and greater collaboration with like minded organisations in the valley.  The co-founder of T-Oakville (ON) gave a talk about the Transition model in Cobourg (ON). A public meeting followed shortly afterwards to discuss whether the local environmental group Sustainable Cobourg should become a Transition Town. Read more here and here. Transition Toronto recently ran a Container & Backyard Gardening Workshop.


To Italy now, and to Ferrara.  Ferrara in Transizione recently held an event they blogged about under the title The picnic and the magic of Fruttiprendoli.  It was basically a community picnic and fruit picking event, but it led to some interesting discussion as to how to translate the work ‘Fruttiprendoli’.  Pierre Houben from the group had a go:

The idea came from “Not far from the tree” project, could try with Fruitcatcher Fruitgrabber or something more fun that give the idea.  In Italy you have “Fruttivendoli” shops who sells Fruits and Veg (the true name with which they played) and you have “Fruttiprendoli”, people who grab or catch fruit or … I don’t know other words”.

So we might have a stab at Fruit Tree Harvest (like Transition Cambridge’s project described above) or Fruit Gleaning, or something.  Looks like they all had a great time anyway.

From Japan there’s this great article from the website DE, ‘Transition Towns’ lead the way in low carbon living, which pointed out that “followers believe that it’s communities – and not governments – that drive societal change to adapt to climate change and cut reliance on oil”.

Thanks everyone who sent in stories, do send in anything you’d like in the next one.  Happy Transitioning!

Launching ‘The Power of Just Doing Stuff’

Transition Voices


It’s now 12 days until the launch of The Power of Just Doing Stuff, all very exciting.  The full list of Transition Thursdays, launch events around the country, will be published later this week, but we thought you might like to know about the first two events where you’ll be able to get your hands on the book and hear more about it.  The first, on Saturday 15th June at the 2013 Schumacher Lectures in Bristol, will be a pre-launch, and then the actual formal launch will be in Crystal Palace, London, on Tuesday 18th June (yes, the first Transition Thursday is, in fact, erm, a Tuesday).   Do come along to either (or both)… Here’s more information on them:

Saturday June 15th, Bristol.  Beyond Sustainability – Towards a Regenerative Economy

bgwThe 2013 Schumacher Lectures, part of this year’s Bristol Green Week, are aiming to map out steps towards regenerative development – in the context of climate change, urban futures, environmental policy and new approaches to ethics in a deeply materialist world.  Here’s how the organisers introduce the event:

“Our speakers are among those leading this movement – cities expert Herbert Girardet; Satish Kumar – editor of Resurgence; Jane Davidson, former Welsh environment minister; Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement; Mary Clear of Incredible Edible Todmorden; European planner Michael Schwarze-Rodrian and Carbon Coach Dave Hampton. And to ensure that our spirits dance at the highest level throughout the day, we welcome back our favourite poet, Matt Harvey”.

You can book tickets here, and I will be doing a book signing at lunchtime.  It’s always a great event.

Crystal Palace Transition Town’s Power of Just Doing Stuff launch

artworks-000041160778-vz2wh2-originalThis launch event will be at The Grape and Grain, Anerley Hill, Crystal Palace, SE19 2AA London between 7.30 and 11pm on Tuesday 18th June.  It will feature a presentation by me about the book and stuff, as well as a short presentation from Brixton Energy (who feature in the book) about their community owned solar projects, mini-presentations from Crystal Palace Transition Town Projects (which also feature in the book), the launch of CPTT’s ‘Patchwork Farm’ project, music from brilliant local singer Franck Alba and the chance to informally network with other members of transition projects, and like-minded individuals from all over London in a real ale pub.   You can read more here.  As they say on their website, “It’s likely that this event will attract national media attention and a turn out from other Transition Towns and groups, so you might want to turn up early if you’d like a seat!”

Over the next few days we’ll be unveiling a very cool short promotional video, some ‘audio book’-style readings from the book, more information about the Transition Thursdays, details of a Twitter Q&A on the day of the launch, and more besides.  You can pre-order the book here.  Many people already have – my kitchen table will be a busy place…



Transition Culture is moving … do come with me!

Transition Voices


You will hopefully have read my post recently about the big changes underway here, with Transition Culture, in a couple of weeks, moving home and taking up its new residence at  It’s all going fine, falling into place nicely.  Many of you who are regular readers will also be subscribers, so you get an email notification each time a new article is posted.  We are keen that as many subscribers as possible join us in our journey across the waves of cyberspace.  I recently emailed all of the Transition Culture subscribers and got a response from nearly a half of you – mostly to say yes – thank you. According to Ed our webmeister, this is a fantastic response rate, but I reckon we can go further.  If you are a subscriber, you should have an email in your inbox.  We need to hear from you by this Thursday (June 6th).  The email is a very simple survey that will, literally, take less than a minute to do, unlike all those other email surveys that claim they will only take a minute and end up taking up half your morning (i.e. this one only has 2 questions in it).  In its new home, Transition Culture will be maintaining its edge while bedding it into all the amazing voices and activities from around the movement, and I hope you come with me and help me make it work.  Thanks. 

The new economic frontier is a chance for community resilience

Transition Voices


I spoke at the Hay Festival last week, a very well-attended and enjoyable session.  Every day during the Festival, the Daily Telegraph produces ‘The Hayley Telegraph’, a free magazine given away at the Festival, which includes articles by, or about, some of that day’s speakers.  Here is the article I wrote for the edition published the day I spoke.

The new economic frontier is a chance for community resilience

There’s a TV advert I remember from the 1980s that has stuck with me. It features a recently unemployed man telling his wife that he and his friend are “going it alone”, that “the bank says yes”, and that they are going to set up their own business. I think the ad was for a car or something. It captured the spirit prevalent during that decade, where business was the new frontier, anything was possible, and there were no limits.

I’m starting a brewery. I don’t know much about brewing, but with other driven and skilled people from the place I live we’re going to do it. We’re not going it alone, though: we are bringing our community along with us and inviting their support. We don’t need the bank, thank you very much, we have a local person investing in us, and plan to do a community-share launch so that the community gets the chance to invest in us, too. I think our brewery also captures a spirit that’s increasingly prevalent.

It is the spirit in which we don’t wait for an imaginary cavalry to come riding to our economic rescue, a spirit visible across the country in the explosion of local food businesses, pop-up shops, craft breweries, crowdfunding, community energy projects, and the revival of independent record shops. It’s a different, more suitable approach to economic regeneration than most, recognising that anything is possible, but within the limits of energy scarcity, austerity, and the reality of living on a finite planet.

Our brewery is part of a wider story. My town, Totnes in Devon, where it will be sited, is the UK’s first ‘Transition Town’ (there are now thousands around the world), a project I, along with others, initiated in 2005. It’s an experiment that shows a more localised and lower-carbon economy can be an opportunity for huge creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

A coalition of our town council, the local Chamber of Commerce and the Development Trust recently published an economic blueprint showing how shifting just 10 per cent of what we spend on food, installing just 10 per cent of the area’s potential renewable energy-generation capacity, and starting to retrofit the most energy-inefficient housing could bring £5.5 million into the local economy each year. It’s a shift from dreaming of inward investment to a focus on internal investment, where we build more economic resilience in the local economy. We become our own cavalry.

This is already visible in a number of projects. Totnes now has its own community-owned energy company, the Totnes Renewable Energy Society, which is initiating a variety of renewable energy projects in and around the town. Transition Homes, a community land trust, now has a site on which it plans to build 26 pioneering affordable homes using local materials. The Atmos Project, a community-owned industrial and provident society, is close to bringing an eight-acre derelict former milkprocessing plant into collective ownership. The town’s local currency scheme, the Totnes Pound, which inspired the successful Bristol Pound, is preparing for a summer relaunch with a full set of denominations.

In my book, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, I draw together the experience of people trying to catalyse this new economy around the world, from Brazil to Brixton, and from Sarasota to Sydney. It’s a thrilling tale. Our brewery might well turn out to be a sign of the times, just as much as that 1980s advert was.

You can now pre-order The Power of Just Doing Stuff here.  

Webinar: ‘Local Economic Blueprints: pioneering or pointless?’

Transition Voices

A couple of weeks ago, Transition Network and held a webinar that looked at Local Economic Blueprints.  I chaired it, and it featured Tony Greenham, Nigel Jump and Fiona Ward, and tried to feature Molly Scott Cato, but technology got the better of us there, although as  you will see, she does dip in intermittently by phone and by typed-in comment (for biographies of the speakers click here).  Here now is the video of the webinar, and I hope you find it interesting and useful.

Sir Quentin Blake and the power of illustration

Transition Voices


I was at Hay Festival last week and had the pleasure of spending an hour listening to one of my great heroes, the illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake.  His lecture was entitled In and out of the book – the uses of illustration (you can see the transcript of his talk here).  The first part of his talk looked at the role of illustration in bringing stories to life and in introducing children to the joys of reading.  It was the second half of the talk though which I found most fascinating.  He talked about the work he has been doing most recently in hospitals, and the power of illustration to help people in a variety of therapeutic situations and life transitions.  It really got me thinking about what role illustration could play in Transition in its widest sense.  

To start with, here is a film about an exhibition called As Large as Life which ran recently at the Foundling Museum which featured all of Blake’s work which I am about to discuss in more detail:

The work that touched me the most was called Mothers And Babies Underwater, completed last year.  It is a series of 50 large drawings for the walls of Centre Hospitalier in Angers, France.  Blake describes them thus:

“These were done for a newly-built hospital, and the illustrations are a way of saying ‘it’s going to be alright in a minute’”.

The drawings are celebratory, joyful, showing mother and baby swimming, or possibly flying, relaxed and free, and capturing the first moment they “meet each other at last as individuals”.  Blake refers to them as “a celebration of what’s going to happen and a reassurance that it is going to happen”.

He told a story of being called into a meeting with the Treasurer at the hospital to discuss the project.  He was expecting the Treasurer to tell him that there was no more budget or something, but he was told with enthusiasm that “what matters about this project is the exchange of looks between mother and baby”.  A pretty enlightened Treasurer I’d say, and these pictures capture that moment you first meet your new baby so beautifully… here’s a selection of them:



Screen Shot 2012-08-09 at 01.19.10


The next series of pieces was called You’re only young twice, and was painted for elderly mental health patients, to adorn the walls of the unit.  For these, Blake uses metaphor rather than being literal.  Here’s how Blake described them in his talk at Hay:

“[This] project was for a residential unit for elderly mental health patients, and I hoped that, as I was of their age group, they would not mind a little mild teasing. So I drew a parallel world, mostly in trees, where they could not only dance and sing and eat, but swing from branch to branch if they felt like it. I think they liked it: at least one patient exclaimed, “They are wonderful. They encourage us to do all the things we are not supposed to.”


A third series, Planet Zog, begun in 2007, was for a children’s hospital.  Again, it used metaphor, based on the idea that for young people going into hospital, away from home and family, can feel like an alien world, so Blake drew it so that it features a friendly alien planet and aliens and young people cheerfully swapping doctor and patient roles.


planet zog

The last series, and perhaps the most extraordinary and thoughtful, was produced for the Vincent Square Eating Disorder Clinic in London which works with adults with eating disorders, described by Blake at Hay as being for people who “needed to be reminded of the comfort of ordinary life”.  Entitled Ordinary Life, they take a different approach, based on lots of discussions Blake had with former sufferers from eating disorders.  They celebrate everyday life in subtle yet familiar ways, identifying the things that give everyone pleasure, with food playing a peripheral role.

Blake says of these drawings:

“Most of these pictures are what I call metaphorical in the sense that they are not real life. But these are for people who I think really want to be relaxed. They are people who are very tense about food, about their own appearances and tense about where they fit into things.  So what I wanted to have was pictures that were fairly relaxed and soft and slightly scruffy. The drawings don’t insist on food but there is food about as part of everyday life. I hope they are optimistic. There is a lot of humour in them but they are not making fun of anyone. They are a form of praise.”

In his lecture at Hay, Blake talked about Paula Brighenti, a former eating disorder patient and artist who said of these drawings:

“When an eating disorder patient withdraws from social contact, feels isolated and unable to trust others, it is enormously beneficial to be reminded of the possibility of a positive interaction with non-judgmental creatures. The association between being offered food and love, accepting food and trust, works to a very profound yet unobtrusive level”.

Here are a couple of them:




One example is the image below showing a young girl and a young woman trying on dresses together.  Brighenti picked out this image as the one that affected her the most.  She told Blake:

“It is this little girl that stays with me long after I move away from the picture. She talks to the girl I was and who somehow went missing as I was trying to imprison her body. It was her mind and heart that were eluding me. It was her joy I could not hold on to… She shows me that it is not perfection but imagination that nourishes our dreams.”


Blake is much praised, and rightly so, for his work’s power to inspire young people to read.  But what struck me from the work he described above, was the power that illustration has to also engender empathy and to support people at a range of depths.  There is such compassion in his work.  I guess from a Transition perspective the ongoing appeal of the front cover drawings on The Transition Handbook perhaps offer us a taste of how illustration can bring an idea and a vision of a different future to life.  I was very moved by Blake’s work, and it really stimulated for me an enquiry as to how illustration can better be used to bring Transition and what it hopes to be moving towards, to life.

I’d like to close with a small taste of perhaps how illustration can work in a Transition context to shift things in unexpected ways.  The Transition Handbook featured the article below, a vision from 2014 of a TV show where celebrities were locked on an allotment in Crouch End and not allowed off until they had learnt to grow vegetables.  The picture was the result of a giggly session in front of the book’s designer’s computer, combining a stock image of a model with one I had taken on some allotments in Bradford-on-Avon a few months before.  Here it is:


A silly story perhaps, and clearly from an illustration perspective not even worth mentioning in the same sentence as the great man Quentin Blake himself, but roll forward to 2013, a year ahead of schedule, and according to the BBC:

“[TV reality show] Big Brother housemates will have to grow their own food this year, the show’s producers have said.  The 16 contestants will have to cultivate their own potatoes and carrots and season their food with herbs from the garden”.








Transition Network conference news for 2013

Transition Voices


Transition Network has put on a big conference every year from 2007 onwards – first in Ruskin Mill near Stroud, then the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, in 2009 it was Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in London, then Seale Hayne in Devon, next heading North to Hope Uni in Liverpool, and finally back to BAC in 2012. We are about to break that pattern, so brace yourselves for the news that 2013 will not see a big Transition Conference. There are a couple of reasons why we’re doing this.

First, our little charity is right in the middle of a restructuring and expansion process that makes it really hard to devote the relentless focus needed to put on one of these events. Second, two important trends are pushing us to really question whether one big UK conference is appropriate:

  • we’ve seen a massive increase in European and wider international involvement in our conferences (and in Transition in general)
  • we’re hearing increasing number of requests for regional events rather than a big centralised conference


Consequently, for 2013, in terms of events for transitioners, we’ve decided to devote our limited resources to piloting a small UK-based roadshow – aka “Transition Thursdays” – over the summer, and to an event that gathers together all the National Hubs coordinators later in the year.

Transition Thursdays

In a nutshell, a Transition Thursday is an event hosted by a Transition Initiative (or group of Initiatives) at which Rob and perhaps others from Transition Network provide talks, inspiration, facilitated meetings, stories, Q & A’s. There’s also the option of including a training course or “support surgery” the following day(s) as required. Each “Thursday” will be co-designed with us to figure out what works best for your local circumstances.


Thanks to your responses to our call out for this event, we’ve planned seven of these events in 2013, and we’ll announce where they’ll be very shortly. The launch of our new book The Power of Just Doing Stuff coincides with this set of pilot Thursdays, so it’ll be a perfect opportunity to introduce this new material, our hopes for it and how that may translate into additional interest and involvement in your local initiatives.

National Hubs meeting 

In many countries around the world, there are National Transition Hubs doing an amazing job of catalysing and supporting Transition in their countries. The people who stepped up into these coordination roles understand just what an intense experience it can be, and how the pressures doesn’t really let up at all. This network of National Hubs is a crucial mechanism for spreading our Transition work, supporting local initiatives and for bringing learnings from other cultures into seasoning the Transition Stew. We’re planning a National Hubs meeting later in the year in France aimed at strengthening and resourcing this network so that local initiatives can benefit. It’ll be a closed meeting rather than an open conference, but I’m sure we’ll find time for some music and celebrate (particularly if the Spanish and Portuguese are there!).

So we’re very sad that we won’t be having our great big gathering in 2013 – they really have been a joy and inspiration to all of us. And we’re exploring whether these Transition Thursdays will expand into 2014 and help us engage more at the local level around the UK. Furthermore, with the growing internationalisation of Transition Network (and Transition generally), we’re hoping that by strengthening the network of National Hubs we can help a more geographically diverse range of local initiatives to flourish and spread. So what happens in 2014 is all up for grabs.

By taking these approaches, we reckon we’ll be getting up close and personal to more transitioners than if we had a single central conference, but of course the conference offers something wonderful and perhaps irreplaceable.  So watch this space, and it would be good to hear you thoughts: one centralised event or several decentralised ones? We’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’d like to see.

Please help … some homework for the weekend …

Transition Voices


We are currently making a short film to promote The Power of Just Doing  Stuff in advance of its publication next month.  And we really need your help.  We need short clips of you, or anyone, saying what the Power of Just Doing Stuff means to you/them.  You could film it on your phone, or any kind of video camera, but what we’re after is what you get out of doing practical projects rather than just sitting watching passively as the world unravels around you?  What kind of power do you feel you reclaim or discover through it?  Just one sentence, speaking to the camera, would be brilliant.  ”Doing stuff makes me feel like we can change the world”, “doing stuff brings the world around me to life”, “doing stuff is far more fun than dusting my collection of celebrity thimbles” … things like that.

We need them by Tuesday next week (May 21st).  Please contact Emma Goude (emmagoude (at) and she can give you details of the DropBox account to upload it to.  We want to capture passion, spirit, vision.  Please help!  There, and you were just wondering how you were going to spend your weekend … thanks!