Learn More Through Other City's Transition Streets Programs - from Their Leaders' Comments

Are you interested in knowing how Transition Streets has worked in other parts of the country?  Read my notes from a Transition US telephone conference call on May 13, 2015.  The call took place just before they were about to launch Transition Streets across the country.

The call was a debrief of Transition Streets programs piloted in a U.S. city or county.  Not all of the 17 cities in the pilot were represented on the call.  First, Transition US Director, Carolyn Statton, briefly presented the program.  Then the leader of each initiative on the call gave comments on their experience doing Transition Streets in their locale and how they adapted the program to fit their local situation. In closing, there was a Q & A period.  My notes have been edited for readability, but are not a complete text.  

Carolyn - Director of Transition US  -- This is a tested project between neighbors to implement – energy use, reduce waste & water uss, transportation, strengthens neighborhoods.  Strong supports during  emergencies. Reduces household energy bils, reduce carbon footprint

Piloted by 500 households in U.K.  Looking at benefits for U.S.

Handbook of 7 sections: 

Guides people through handbook to take action

  1. Getting started
  2. energy
  3. water
  4. food
  5. wast
  6. transportation
  7. celebration of accomplishments

TransitionStreets.org  - handbook updated and tips

Free to Transition Initiatives - $20 donation if not initiatives

Evaluation:  component– gives sense of how Transition Streets doing

Pilot leaders will give highlights:

 Bozeman – Chris & Nevada

Took off well – tied in with non-profits, Transition Labs consultation/ partnership with CO, implemented biodiesel to power public transport,

$450 in one month savings in a business, tied in with, company called Arcadia power – alternative energy can use all over U.S., will be present a Tesla car in a school

Missoula – Claudia

We had a group including our steering committee members, people interested in household conservation – comraderie and accomplishment in doing project.  We had meetings in each other’s homes and saw each other’s conservation practices, shared energy bills, educated on technical aspects of energy – reading meters and monitors, learned about chemistry of soil – I made a hugo culture in back yard, got involed with zero waste group, got involved at community level in waste management, possible to live in city and get off grid, shared online and local resources.

Berkeley –

We had 11 of us neighborhood do program – we were close in working together – exciting to do get to know our neighbors, now more than ‘hello’ only basis, went through handbook – icebreaker, facts are one thing, having real conversation inspires and helps us change, focus is good because we’re busy – taking the time to talk about the issues, one thing we did is look at each other as assets for gardening and saving water, some people experts in irrigation, bike repair, gardening, solar installer, lots of us have tools that sit, but we can now use each other as assets – we made a list and now we can lean on each other, we mapped or neighborhood and looked at it in a different way so we don’t have to vacation – we can do things more locally, we created a vision for our neighborhood, what do we want – more block parties, more trees, fewer cars – now we can take action on these things, lots we can do – inspiring – now we will meet to plan emergency preparedness 

San Diego

Jamie – we weren’t a Transition initative – I posted in next door.com – got 10 people and 7 of us met, wonderful to meet within a mile or two, I flyered people in the block but no one responded, diverse people with different backgrounds, addicting to share with like-minded individauls  = powerful and fun, community bldg., I started going to council and commission meetings, now politicians sending media to me, shot some things we’ve done, interview our pilot group meeting.  Really excited to form a Transition initiative.  Partnered with 350.org.  Lots of cities in the county will have a CAP – politicians like to do this, but has no way to implement.  Transition Streets can do the implementation, gets the message out.  Easy to talk to people and way more fun that I thought – people see the value.  In CA people focused on water, but opens to other conversations- consumer culture, etc.  Shared 170 environmental films – we’re now going to share with neighborhoods.  Interesting things to do in San Diego.

Humbolt county, CA

Larry – I need to explain we’re far northern CA in redwoods – rural.  120,000 people – we’re different from urban, 10 members of Transition Humbolt  did pilot– 300 members total.  We did entire manual over 7 wks.  We tried out curriculum and we will launch 4 roll outs in spring.  Seque into emergency preparedness (drought, em. Preparedness, look at your whole lifestyle and prepare, save money, etc).  We did energy audits – converted to LED’s immediate savings ($500 – 800 lightbulbs for free).  We’re upcyclling, rainwater collection, landscape, herbiculture, sharing expertise.  We’re doing event – an intercultural skill share with local tribes.  Trans streets helps commonalities, skill share – permaculture, tribal skills – save money, be more self-relieant.  We have google group, website, facebook.  Nextdoor social networking to get the word out to talk about energy, drought waste, food.  Thanks to Transition U.S. and good luck

Manitou Springs, CO

Elise -  we have Transitioners for 5-6 years but didn’t do anything – this big step to do something concrete.  8 households were involved – most people had info about Transition movement.  Highlight – newfound sense of community – no sense before.  We didn’t do lots significant, but now more connected.  We’re meeting every 2 weeks to work on projects together.  I am carb – free.  People with bikes don’t know how to get around – it’s complicated here.  We worked on this.

Charlottesville, VA

Locus – built sense of community – now we meet and open to whole neighborhood – 2 picnics, have skill share and tool share,  joined time bank for exchanges, connecting through Nextdoor – social network.



Q:  Ed in Sonoma, CA – it sounds to me like most people gathered were early adopters – did you try to expand

A.  Larry – in our pilot we put the word out and had a couple of novices to Transition and they became passionate and love the idea.  I am in a neighborhood that knows nothing – Homeowners association is hosting a presentation on Transition.  Best road in is emergency preparedness angle.

A. Elise – I want to add that we did have a newbie – she is now a cornerstone.  Knew nothing about sustainability.

A. Berkeley – few people were really influenced by the conversations – shopping at stores with lots of packaging – they thought about it.  Talked about less cars – more enjoyable.  Neighbor said that conversation changed me.  Lots of awareness, but a lot of people not thinking about this. 

 Carolyn (Director of Transition US) – seems like other peoples got involved.

Q.  Maureen – Chicago – please talk about the time for organizers. 

 A.  Chris – time is minimal – easy because work has been done already

A.  Larry – one thing we found useful, to divide facilitation and members took responsibility for one chapter – to prepare takes a couple of hours of research and add materials.  Need facilitator, time keeper, not taker.  Not more time than other group meeting.

Carolyn – we’re doing a facilitator’s guide.

Claudia – helps to do facilitator guide and train your facilitator before meeting.  Lots to do – have meetings once every two weeks, especially for energy meeting.

One thing that worked well – sections under chapter – get people with passion to report back on the sections – people automatically involved, can add own input.   Not just one person doing talking.

Talking stick – gets tricky sometimes.  Have a way to include everyone.

Q.  How did you work with local government.  We passed a Climate Action Plan –

A.  Jamie – go to council meetings, network with 350.org – new mayor – no budget for bikes.  They did press release before budge – called him out in public news conference – called him out before vote.  A little publicity shining light on them not doing what they say they’ll do.  Give them the opportunity to do the right think.  Now county approaching me to request Transition Streets implement – hard if you don’t have structure for books.  Do 501c3 – so they make it a reality.  Donations – transition us can highlight that they are doing good things.

Next Round from same people on tips and suggestions on starting

Transition Streets:

Chris – I think if you live in groundwork already community – all it took was an email.  200 members of Transitions – email.  Had lots of people to facilitate pilot

If a neighborhood not organized – time bank, church, or nextdoor.com   Showing Transition 2.0 on FCPan public t.v.  Enthusiastic neighborhoods.  Collect binders for groups to use.  Really good to get group norms/agreements was bonding.

Linda – I’ve done a lot of work – went door to door – intro letter of me, background on Transition and Trans Streets, leave on door, used nextdoor.  Lot more people at beginning, to handle dropouts.  Once you have a first meeting, look at dates and times.  Make it fun – wine, refreshments, potluck at end.  Local government – talking with emergency preparedness coordinator to work together.  Working with coalition on CAP to implement the plan as a subcommittee.  Twice a week meetings.

Jamie – I will go door to door, and making a conversation pit – solar power charging station on a tree, grey water, food forest.  I want to create a neighborhood conversation.

Larry – invite other groups in.  Daily acts to do a workshop – transition brought others in on drought relief and grey water.  Transition streets – show energy audit, do skill sharing, etc.  We’re promoting the curriculum as action oriented – help each other with gardens, water collection.  How to deal with government Using daily acts model.  We in Trans are a non-profit to ask government to hire us to teach on drought relief.  Rain catchment, grey water – we’ll got solutions to local problems – ask gov to help get the word out.  Put emergency preparedness – gets respect.  Really about self-reliance.   We’re writing our own chapter on emergency preparedness for hand book.

Advanced module of the Transition Streets maybe by Fall.   Collaboration occurs on phone between Carolyn and Larry.

Elise – we had very little attrition in group.  One things that distracted us in including people – people asked how much time and we did not have answer – suggest giving people how much time it could take.  2 hours every other week?  Maybe it takes 2 hours each to apply – before you recruit have a sense of the time commitment you want.

Any other comments?

Logan – connecting with government – in VA – they want us to partner with them.  Giving us opportunities.  Our concern is only 4 people willing to start new groups.  We’re having info sessions – 20 min facilitator training at end.  Appealing is to rotate houses – house tours spontaneously.  Summertime we’re having neighborhood picnics and tell people about this program.  City Council public comment – we’re presenting Transition Streets – short presentation.  Next time – propose a proclamation to support Transition Streets – ask how to do this from city.  In utility bill, send out info. 

Questions or comments to wind up:

Q.  Have people reached out to people of color.

A.  We reached out to Native Americans.  We look for crossovers/commonalities.  Some areas are like ghettos – explaining the concepts of self-reliance – grow food, soil, save energy, permaculture – that’s why we’re doing intercultural skill share.

We’ve gotten tips to reorient the curriculum to make it justice oriented for low income – food forests, result in savings.  If there are ideas, help Transition U.S. to do a chapter on this.  Transition Streets version 2 available this Friday.

Elise – government – we got Transitioners on city council and master gardener.  We submit article to newspaper on Transition town to recruit more people.  We realize that in community – we need a mobile app for sharing.  Ride sharing, etc.

More questions:

Tom – I heard the statement Pilot program –

Carolyn – we did this before the launch.  We had 12 groups pilot curriculum.  This phase is complete.  We how have curriculum – we’re offering it to public starting next Friday.

Robert – are there opportunities around election of 2016?

Danielle – are any Transitioners partnering with Habitat for Humanity.

Laurie – how to reach out to lower income – make it available in Spanish.  I heard about the low carbon diet –we did that here.  What overlap is there?

Jody – I will meet with habitat this week and will answer this question.

Jamie – challenging to get people of color.  Garden boxes – to teach Transition concepts.  Donations for project like this from Home Depot, etc.  I have done work with Habitat in Mexico using grey water and wet land project.

Overlap with low carbon diet – Transition Sts allows for dialog, openness.  Low carbon – people farther away, less reliant on each other.  Dialog and conversation is the most effective way to get people to hear each other and create change.

Election question – Chris – I stress reaching out to city, county, state legislators and express your thoughts.

On political landscape, talk with people locally on it.  We don’t have time to research, so talk local with people in community.


About the Movement

The Transition Movement is in well over a thousand highly diverse communities across the world - from towns in Australia to neighborhoods in Portugal, from cities in Brazil to rural communities in Slovenia, from urban locations in Britain to islands off the coast of Canada. Many of these initiatives are registered on the Transition Network website.


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To develop and advocate a vision and strategy for becoming a sustainable community

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Reestablishing an intimate connection between food and the people of the community.

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