On Wednesday 28th June we launched The Power of Just Doing Stuff, the latest book about Transition, in the Civic Hall in Totnes. Well, strictly speaking, it wasn't the first Totnes launch. That took place a couple of weeks before, when I narrowly avoided dunking Totnes Mayor Pruw Boswell in the River Dart whilst attempting to 'launch' the book down the river in a pumpkin. The resultant video, which has been reported to have nearly brought on premature labour and other medical ailments through hysterical laughter, has now been watched over 1,000 times on YouTube.
So anyway, this launch that wasn't the first Totnes launch was still a blast. Pruw introduced it, I spoke about the book and told some of the stories from it, and we had music from Charlie Mgee's Formidable Vegetable Sound System (which was, erm, basically Charlie Mgee and his delightful ukele-driven songs based on permaculture principles). For me, one of the highlights was the first public taste of the forthcoming brewery project, New Lion Brewery (which will be launching a membership in September) and its first ale, brewed specially for the occasion. It was called The Power of Just Brewing Stuff. Paul Hawksworth, who brewed it in his garage, had spent the three hours just before the event feverishly bottling and labelling 70 bottles, all of which sold out very fast, both as a delicious drink and also as a highly collectable, limited edition bottle (which you can see in the photo above)!
I was fortunate in that I had taken one bottle to use as a prop during my talk, because by the time I had finished speaking, all the bottles were sold! I took it home, and had it a couple of days later, and I have to say that for me, it somehow encapsulated all that is good about Transition. It was different, unique, not like anything I have tasted before. It was an interesting hybrid of different influences, some traditional German white beer flavours, lots of hops, a dash of the creativity and unconformity that runs through the thrilling craft brewing scene in the US and further north in the UK. It was also flavoured with locally harvested elderflowers, and with a low alcohol content of 3.2%, took its social responsibilities seriously too. It was a beer shaped and flavoured by the unique coming together of people, place and circumstance that Fosters or Budweiser just couldn't manage. The invitation, come September, will be to get involved, come to tastings and help us refine and shape a fantastic new social enterprise.
New Lion Brewery pitched its ideas to the 2012 TTT Local Entrepreneurs Forum and now stands on the verge of taking on a premises, employing a brewer and launching a membership. It represents the Power of Just Doing Stuff, taking the step across from "wouldn't it be great if" to "so it's us then I guess". As part of the promotion of the book I have been travelling around the country doing 'Transition Thursdays'. The first one was in Crystal Palace in London, where the amazing Transition group held a great event in a packed pub, having spent the afternoon showing me around many of their projects. The second was in Sheffield, where I got a great taste of what Transition looks like in that setting. This week I'm off to Swaffham in Norfolk, where I'm told one of the treats awaiting me is to read extracts from the book over a backing track. That's certainly a first. What I get to taste on these trips is the creativity bubbling up everywhere in response to uncertain times. It's a heady brew, that unique, place-specific, hand-tailored, delicious, engaging and accessible thing we call Transition. It may turn out to be one of this town's finest (low carbon) exports.
Rob Hopkins - Transition Network