Transition initiatives model change in how we live, where we live. Voluntary and community-led, they raise awareness of the interconnected nature of the challenges we face, harnessing human imagination and creativity to shape a positive vision of a low carbon future. Growing virally worldwide since 2006 they create a coherent framework for communities to face global challenges in the eye, believing such a future can be preferable to the present: healthier, happier, more resilient, localised and more collaborative.
Inspired by this approach I initiated Transition Town Tooting, in March 2008 to look at low carbon solutions to food, energy, health, transport and the arts. I found parallels between working in the arts and transition towns: they both involve working with the imagination and facilitating creative processes within the public domain. If our ‘stories’ of the future are predominantly apocalyptic and dystopian, how do we create more positive ones to live by? The immense practicality and coherence of this approach appealed to me - backcasting from where we need to be, rather than forecasting from within the existing paradigm. Inventing ictional scenarios is what artists are trained to do, taking risks and dealing with uncertainty.
In May 2009 I was instrumental in bringing the national Transition Towns conference to a London arts centre (BAC) and for getting MPs Ed Milliband and Sadiq Khan to come to connect with it there. In Spring 2012 I undertook an artist writer residency at BAC for Playing For Time.
The 5th National conference took place again at BAC. Ruth Ben Tovim gives an account here of the incredible 4 hour process to bring to life a living breathing Transition Town Anywhere, complete with shops, food growing, a council chamber, banks, schools, a festival, swimming pool and transport hubs.
Working at a local level I'm inspired to find I can bring all the parts of my experience to date into this new form of social entrepreneurship. It becomes easier to commit to and observe long-term changes working at a local level. And it's surprising fun.