The Observer: An Excellent Introduction to the Transition Town Movement

This weekend saw an article published in the Observer, describing the Transition Town movement in Totnes, and how the Transition Movement began. It is an excellent introduction to the subject, and includes an interview with Rob Hopkins.

Totnes: Britain’s town of the future

Totnes in Devon might be the most forward-thinking eco settlement in the world. As fossil-fuel reserves dwindle and the economy contracts, will resident-led Transition Towns become the way that we all live?

Lucy Siegle, Observer, Feb 6th 2011

Totnes is an ancient market town on the mouth of the river Dart in Devon. It has the well- preserved shell of a motte-and-bailey castle, an Elizabethan butterwalk and a steep high street featuring many charming gift shops. All of which makes it catnip to tourists. A person might initially be lulled into the belief that this was somewhere with as much cultural punch as, say, Winchester.

But bubbling below the surface is a subversive hub of alternative living, a legacy of the radical goings-on from Dartington Hall, just down the road, where Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst’s vision of a rural utopia gathered steam in the 1920s. Indeed, there are more new age “characters” than you can shake a rain stick at, more alternative-therapy practitioners per square inch than anywhere else in the UK and the town was once named “capital of new age chic” by Time magazine.

My family moved here when I was 10. A child of relentlessly suburban mindset, I found the town’s granola outlook unsettling. I balked at the indigenous footwear worn by Totnesians – multicoloured pieces of hand-stitched leather called “conkers” – and longed for a world where it was not atypical to own a TV and talk about Dallas rather than nuclear disarmament. My fear growing up in this neck of the woods was that people would continue to get even weirder. So it was probably just as well that I had left when Rob Hopkins arrived in 2005 and let loose the Great Unleashing, aka the launch of Transition Town Totnes (TTT).

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