Transition Town Totnes Bulletin – February 2014

Published on: February 5th, 2014

Read the latest Transition Town Totnes news bulletin for February 2014 - missed the email? Sign up to our bulletin on the front page of this website.

Transition Town Totnes


The start to 2014 has felt really positive at TTT, despite the rain. January has been a month of group meets and planning for this new year. In the office we have been concentrating on fund raising; we run on a very small amount of money but our basic overheads mean that we need to raise a certain amount of money every year to support all the fantastic work the Totnes community do across the town to build resilience. If you like what we do and feel able to become a friend of ours please see this page for info on how to donate to us - any amount would be gratefully received.

One successful fundraiser in January was a jumble sale raising money for the fruit and nut tree project who are super busy planting this month, both on Castle Meadow and up at the Follaton Arboretum. Thanks to all who helped out, donated jumble or bought something on the day.

Our project working with CAB and Totnes Caring to support older people in fuel poverty with advice on switching supplier, energy debt, energy saving measures such as draughtbusting, and accessing grants, is going well. If you, or someone you know could benefit from this support please contact Totnes Caring or Mary Popham at TTT to find out more.

Our Transition walks and talks start again this month, run by Hal Gillmore, a South Devon lad. I recommend anyone take part in one of these tours, they are by donation and cover not only Transition but also the fascinating history of Totnes.

The Reconomy Centre at the top of town is now open and thriving, and planning is going well for our third Local Entrepreneur Forum on May 13th with a pre LEF warm up to inspire being held on the 26th February.

Finally we are honoured to have been chosen by the European Association for information on Local Development (AEIDL) as one of 25 "promising local initiatives" that show how Europe can respond to current challenges including innovative projects, actions, approaches, systems, etc. As part of this we have been invited to a conference to showcase these, in Brussels on February 19th and 20th. Read more about that here.



  • TTT Arts Network - Halle-Loo-Jah compost loo competition at the Creative Salon, sharing gifts at the Monthly Moot, and Get Involved!
  • TTT's people-powered smoothies at Santa Sunday
  • The sun shines on fruit tree care days in Totnes
  • Needs, Networks and Maps: considering a community's genuine needs
  • Local producers' stall at Totnes Market
  • Winds of Change: a reflection on climate change and extreme weather events
  • Support School Farm CSA's fundraising
  • Help revive lost treasures at The ReStore!
  • Volunteer opportunities with Transition Town Totnes
  • Upcoming events including: Fall in love with Follaton - get together on Saturday 8th February

TTT Arts Network: Creative Salon and Monthly Moot

We had another great evening of our TTT Arts Network Quarterly Creative Salon on January 21st for our regular fundraisers to build community and raise funds to execute Transition Creativity Innovation based projects which we want to offer as a group for the good of the community at large and to grow new ways of living and working.

During the evening we updated all on our exciting Halle-Loo-jah Compost Loo Competition. Some of you will have seen the candidates as all the submissions were proudly displayed at the Eco-Homes event at the Civic in October 2013 as well as not one but two illustrated talks on the subject by Katheryn Trenshaw and Nicky Scott. We announced our winners in November - some as far away as Spain and Baja, California. We are currently aiming to raise funds now to ship our lovely Separett Compost Loo seat prizes that we managed to get gerously donated by the wonderful Richard S at Eco-Toilets, and to give these “Pay-it-Forward” prizes to the winners. The idea is that the winners are already converts to this eco-friendly alternative to water and compost wasting. Each winner gets to offer a fabulously designed seat that separates solids from liquids and makes the whole process more simple to another who in turn can build a new Compost Loo. Further, a wonderful journalist who fell in love with our TTTAN Halle-Loo-jah Competition has an article coming out in the February issue of Devon Life. Wonders never cease!

See the inspired contributions to the competition here.

January 28th's Monthly Moot was a wonderful mixture of an exciting new project by Adrian Porter with the new Re-Store Project at Dartington (see article below) as well as a film offering by Penny Bauer from Washington State (Transition Whidbey) with her Gifts Project. Sadly, our wonderful Transition Youth/singer Livvie got double booked with Grease rehearsals, so was unable to be there. A great shame but we hope to have another chance to share her wonderful talents.

The inspirations from the Gifts Project by Penny Bauer from Whidbey Island in Washington State USA led neatly into the Round Table sharing where we introduced ourselves and shared what our gifts are in the community, but also what we see the gifts are from each other (thanks Adrian!) and what gifts or support we need to keep our visions and initiatives alive and flowing in Transition times. There was a generosity of heart that we really enjoyed as appreciations were offered and receiving took place rather shyly at first.  It was contagious, however sweet and welcome as more and more of these exchanges took place.

It was the kind of evening that was not only inspiring but keeps on unfolding and revealing new layers of ideas and connections to each other.  Several collaborations were launched and many offers of support and brainstorming as well. Thanks to all who attended!


The new TTTAN survey is available for all to contribute to how things evolve over the next year and to say how YOU want to get involved!

Mark your diaries now! Tuesday April 15th  - Creative Salon Evening will start at 7.15 for 7.30 on April 18th (venue TBC).

Transition Town Totnes Arts Network (TTTAN) is inclusive, imaginative, practical and fun - supporting community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness. Please also join us on Facebook and Creative Community Devon and visit the TTTAN page on Transition Town Totnes Website.

Santa Sunday

TTT had a table at the first Santa Sunday in December, organised by the Chamber of Commerce. We borrowed a people-powered blender and offered banana smoothies, as well as crafts, jams, pumpkins and cake.

Fruit tree care day in the Town cemetery

The weather was unseasonably kind to us for a morning of clearing and mulching around the fruit trees in the Town cemetery on November 30th. We also planted two new apple trees, replacing those that had died, and were pleased to have the first of the many grafted fruit tree saplings now available in the Follaton Tree Nursery.

The cemetery fruit trees have been planted from 2009 onwards, and include apples pears, plums, and lone almond and quince trees. This summer there were a handful of plums and apples harvested, and we look forward to ever-increasing crops as these little trees mature. After the work was over, we enjoyed picnicking on the gravestones, relishing the distant view of Dartmoor on this sunny autumn day.

Fourteen of us enjoyed another pruning workshop on January 11th 2014, led by Charles Staniland, in the Follaton arboretum and Colwell wood orchards. His trust in the resilience of these trees encouraged us in our pruning efforts. We were again supremely lucky in clear sunny weather for an afternoon of tree care of trees planted between 2009-2012 in the Follaton arboretum.

The next planting event is in the Town Cemetery on Saturday February 22nd from 10am – all welcome!

Needs, Networks & Maps: tools to spark new community organising

On December 12th, a group met for a workshop to explore the question: ‘shouldn’t our local economy be focused on meeting the needs of our community?’, diving into the framework of fundamental human needs, developed by Chilean economist Manfred Max‐Neef, to inform a range of priorities and projects for communities. The workshop aimed to integrate these concepts, as well as ideas sourced from permaculture, network theory, and new economics, to provide tools to improve our effectiveness in sparking community-led change.

Julian Hall, of St Mary's Parish Church, Totnes, shares his impressions and the impact of the workshop:

An ecumenical discussion on community needs

On 12 December I attended an ecumenical discussion in Totnes Methodist Hall on how to define and address people’s fundamental needs, hosted by Hal Gilmore and Inez Aponte, of the Big Green Canoe project and Transition Town Totnes. There were representatives from several Totnes churches who collectively had a wealth of experience, much of it gathered in countries from around the world.

The meeting centered around a brainstorming session on exactly what our real needs – as opposed to our ‘wants’ - are. Often money is perceived as the answer to all our problems. Yet, as we all know by now, giving money to destitute people can actually exacerbate their problems, maybe by funding an addiction or creating a dependency culture. Advertisements would have us believe that we only need the right car, clothing or cosmetics to achieve lasting happiness, yet it always somehow eludes us. Confusing wants with needs ends in misery, conflict and disillusionment.

In the West at least, increases in the so-called standard of living come at the cost of irreversible damage to our environment and eco-systems, on which we all depend. Because such things do not appear on balance sheets, our perceptions and decisions are fatally flawed. Delegates split into groups and tried to think of as many human needs as they could, posting their results on big board. Examples included warmth and shelter, friendship, a sense of purpose, clean water, and a host of other things. I was amazed how many we found: the blackboard was plastered in stickers by the time we had finished. The next task was to assign these needs to certain basic categories, as  defined by the Chilean economist Manfred Max‐Neef, a founder member of the Club of Rome and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award. They include such things as subsistence, protection, affection, leisure and freedom.

Max-Neef wrote:
“One day I was in an indigenous village in the sierra in Peru. It had been raining all the time, and I was standing in the slum. And, across from me, another guy was also standing in the mud. This was a short guy, thin, hungry, jobless, five kids, a wife, and a grandmother, and I was the fine economist from Berkeley…and we were looking at each other, and then suddenly I realized that I had nothing coherent to say to that man in those circumstances, that my whole language as an economist was absolutely useless. Should I tell him that he should be happy because the GDP had grown five percent or something? Everything was absurd.”

For me, at least, the meeting was a ‘wake-up call’ to re-examine my priorities and think constructively about other people’s needs. It was also a classic example of collective problem solving, not just within the Churches but collaborating with groups of different backgrounds. It was surprising how much we all have in common.

I look forward to following up this initial session and hope that others will support this important initiative. - Julian Hall

Local producers' stall at Totnes Market

At the Food For the Future event organised by TTT last year, one of the ideas put forward was to have a stall for local producers, probably at the Saturday Totnes market. We are in the early planning stages and want to see what level of interest there is from producers in setting up a Local Produce stall.

It has been suggested the stall be run co-operatively, adopting the model of Tamar Grow Local, which means producers would commit to running the stall on a rota basis and share the costs and stall space with other producers' produce. The frequency of manning the stall would depend on how many others commit. (Non-producer volunteers could also offer their time)

The criteria for Local Produce is that made AND sourced within 30 miles of Totnes, potentially this could apply to non food items too.
Please get in contact with Sophie, the Food Group Co-ordinator, if you are interested in getting involved.

Winds of Change – an evening of connection

In December a small group gathered to reflect together on the impact of Climate Change – in the world and how we live in it. At a time when it might seem pointless to come together and talk about our inner responses to these times, the evening was a beautiful and for me a moving reminder of how important it is to do exactly that. And that in giving space to really notice how it is to be living with ever more extreme weather events and other depressing news stories we create precisely the opposite response to a system that goes on denying, distracting from or devaluing the significance of what is happening in our world.

The focus of the evening was on the super-typhoon Haiyan which ripped through the Philippines in November, devastating or damaging two thirds of the country. We had particularly noticed the potentially crazy-making combination of seeing images of the devastation alongside the “good” news that Britain’s economy is growing again – as a result of increased consumer spending made possible by ever more debt.

The evening started with gratitude and appreciation, moving to a space to honour what’s difficult or painful about being alive and aware of our shared situation. This was followed by coming back to a sense of our interconnectedness which can be seen as the source both of our sadness at the suffering of others and our strength and potential to create change. The final round was to share something of what we were taking away from the evening.

To help connect with the Philippines disaster Suzanne read some of the speech of Yeb Sano, the Philippine delegate to the UN conference on Climate Change that took place in Warsaw as the typhoon tore through his country. He spoke with tears of the dead, the orphaned and those working without food or rest to save others or retrieve bodies. At the end of his speech he announced he was starting a hunger strike in solidarity with those at home living without food, and in protest at the resistance of the meeting to create meaningful measures to address carbon emissions.

After hearing his words we shared the sense of challenge of staying open to information like that of Haiyan, and some of what we do to manage the feelings of powerlessness and overwhelm at such a disaster happening so far away. For some it was made meaningful through personal connections with people from the Philippines. For others the experience of changing and more extreme patterns of weather close to home makes it a reality.

We spoke of the intensifying of the destructive behaviour of the fossil fuel industry as accessible oil depletes and they attempt to keep business going with tar sands, fracking, and drilling in new, hard to reach and environmentally sensitive areas. We noticed that this time is so unique and historic – that we are living through the end-game of our current system- not just the past 50 years of oil based life, or few hundred years of industrialised society, but the whole material growth trajectory that we have been on, variably, for millennia. We spoke about the amount of suffering that this process is already causing – for climate refugees for whom there may be no liveable home to return to, for those affected by wars over resources, for the increasing numbers needing to access food banks in the UK as the rich hoover up more and more of the wealth.

We revealed our need to distract ourselves, to limit how much we listen to "news" of what’s happening in the world with its constant feed of negativity. We talked about how rarely we talk about these things in this way, with a space of compassion and shared intention to bring awareness to the inner process of staying open and alive. We acknowledged that it felt good to honour these times, the dangers, the suffering and the difficulty for ourselves by taking this time together. We acknowledged our own feelings of numbness, of not knowing, of fear for the future. We spoke some of our anger at the injustices and lies that are being perpetrated by those in power. And we noticed that what each person said could have been said by any of us – bringing the sense of a common humanity, our connection with each other.

For me it was peaceful, rich and deep, different to other Inner Transition meetings we have held recently. We will be creating more spaces for this kind of sharing in 2014. If you would like to hear about these or other events from the Inner Transition group please email us.

We wish you a joyful and rich time of letting go as the year turns, and many good things for 2014.

School Farm CSA update - match-funding awarded for fundraising!

Last week we had some brilliant news that we have been awarded match funding from the A-team foundation and the College for Enlightened Agriculture. This means that everything that has been contributed will be matched £ for £, and reduces our target to be raised to just £6,800!

We still have £4,500 to raise in the next 29 days so would still really appreciate your help to spread the word, become a supporter of the campaign or contribute if you are able to. Please post on Facebook, Twitter and direct your friends to our crowdfunding page. Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @SchoolFarmCSA, spread the word and tell your friends.

If you have any technical problems getting on to Buzz Bank you are not alone. Please get in touch with and we can work out another way to contribute.

Come mulch and learn with us!

From mid-February we are going to be back at the farm, and hoping you will join us to start growing the 2014 season. We will be holding regular volunteer days.

At this time of year there is plenty of weeding and mulching to do to get the beds ready for the plants. As the season progresses the types of tasks we are doing will change. As well as help on the growing side, there are lots of other skills that would help the farm, including taking photographs and helping with our newsletter.

Do get in touch if you would like to come and work with us on a regular basis, or just casually. Email

Volunteering opportunities with Transition Town Totnes

If your New Year's Resolution is to volunteer, then we have a variety of opportunities for volunteers to get involved and contribute to the activities of TTT. Things we need vary from smaller administrative tasks, to more complex research or business-related tasks, with one-offs and ongoing roles. The full list of opportunities is featured on the website.

If there is something that catches your eye, please contact us by email or phone to arrange how you can help us. We would love help from those with marketing, communications, fundraising or business administration experience, but don't let that stop you - if you have the time and enthusiasm please get in touch!

Read More →

Help revive lost treasures at The ReStore, Dartington

Local charity Refurnish Devons’ new social enterprise The ReStore, is looking for volunteers to help with jobs as diverse as repainting a 1930s wardrobe to making soft toys from old jumpers. The ReStore, established three months ago at the Dartington Cider Press Centre reclaims, repairs and resurrects furniture, as well as selling the work of local designers and makers who work in reclaimed materials. It aims to reduce waste by salvaging and repairing pieces that could have otherwise been landfill, and to provide training, knowledge and skills sharing.

Now the shop is inviting volunteers to help expand into new areas. “Whether you feel you have skills to share, or are wanting learn something new, and are interested to contribute to The ReStore, everyone is welcome,” said project coordinator Adrian Porter.Jobs could include repairing furniture, painting pieces, staffing the shop or working in the craft studio upcycling materials into craft items for sale. The project is also looking for assistance with developing a social media presence along with promotional activity.

If you're interested in learning new skills or even improving some of your own furniture, The ReStore is about to launch a series of workshops aimed at providing you with the ability to rejuvenate forgotten treasures. “We’re planning to cover upholstery, furniture painting, upcycling clothes and mosaic making,” said Mel Milne, a volunteer at The ReStore “but we’d also love to hear what people would like to learn about.” Take the chance to come and see what exciting and unusual things are already on show in the shop. Donations of interesting furniture, ornaments, tools and paint are also very welcome.

To find out more contact: or call 01803 868637. The ReStore, at Dartington, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 4.30pm

Upcoming Transition Town Totnes events

"Fall in Love with Follaton" Get TogetherFollaton Community Centre, Saturday 8th Feb, 12-1:30pm

Organised by Totnes Renewable Energy Society and their friends, E-cocars, Totnes on the Move, Transition Town Totnes and New Lion Brewery.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and soon it will be fun to be outdoors once again... to celebrate that spring is on the way, you are invited to stop by the Community Centre to:
• Check out the solar panels
• Share some veggie chilli
• Taste some locally brewed beer
• Free! – watch eco video animations by Anita Sancha (for kids and adults)
• Hang out with your favourite neighbours
• Discuss DCC’s traffic-calming proposal for Follaton Gateway with PRIOR

The solar PV panels at the Centre, installed with help from the Totnes Renewable Energy Society and Yokk Solar, have been generating electricity since June. The new display panel in the lobby will tell you how much!  Their energy output of 24MWh per year equates to the power needed to boil 1,200 kettles for six thousand cups of tea.

Would you like to have co-operative car hire on your doorstep?  No more insurance, MOTs, maintenance or parking hassles, just a car when you need one.  E-cocars, Totnes' community car club, is expanding by putting a car in each neighbourhood where it will be used by members. Would you like one at the Community Centre? Come and kick the tyres.

An electric bike would be a great way to nip in and out of town.  Brought to the streets by Totnes on the Move, groups of neighbours around Totnes are sharing community e-bikes – The Castle group is lending you their bike to test ride around the estate.

All these things very loosely tie in with Go Green Week (10th-16th February), which is happening at schools and universities across the UK, but the organisers simply hope that you have a great time!

*Will cancel if there’s heavy rain*
Contact Mandy Burton for further information on 07712 675775

Date Please follow the links for further details
Sunday 2nd February New orchard planting & tree care, Sharpham Estate. 10.30-3pm
Sunday 2nd February Forest garden planting, Follaton Arboretum 10am, Castle Meadow 2.30pm
Tuesday 4th February Incredible Edible lunch & work, Steamer Quay, 1pm
Wednesday 5th February Workshop: Planning Crowd Funding, REconomy centre, 3pm.
Thursday 6th February Building, Housing & Energy group meeting, TTT Office, 8-10pm
GUEST SPEAKER – Chris Bird, 9pm
Friday 7th February Sewing! Skillshare with Anna, ReConomy Centre 6.30-8pm
Saturday 8th February Fall in love with Follaton get together, Follaton Community Centre, Saturday 8th Feb, 12-1:30pm
Tuesday 11th February TTT Film Club, doors at 7.30pm, Methodist Church Totnes.
Saturday 15th February The Seed Swap, Birdwood House, 11am-3pm
Saturday 15th February Tree planting & care in Bridgetown, 10.30am-4pm
Saturday 22nd February Tree planting in the cemetery, 10am-5pm
Wednesday 26th February Supporting Local Entrepreneur event, Methodist Church Totnes 7-9pm
Friday 28th February Transition Walk, meet at TTT office, 2pm.
Tuesday 4th March Incredible Edible lunch & work, Steamer Quay, 1pm
Wednesday 5th March Food Group meeting
GUEST SPEAKER - Transition Homes. TTT office, 7.30pm
Every Tuesday Time to Breathe. Forge Yoga Centre, 12.30-1.30











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