Tag Archives: Totnes

Resilience in a Small English Town

9 Mar


Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement, did a case study of the transition movement in Totnes for his PhD thesis, Localisation and Resilience at the Local Level: The Case of Transition Town Totnes. Writing in a review of Hopkins’ thesis, Frank Kaminski note that Hopkins draws a broad general conclusion: “the Transition approach has been effective in generating community engagement and initiating new enterprises.” Beyond this Hopkins has noted that, Totnes

could supply nearly all of its own food needs, the only exceptions being foods that require soil types not indigenous to the region. As for energy, Hopkins shows that local renewables could meet half of total demand, and that efficiency measures could make up the difference. On the subject of housing, he says that demand could easily be met with local materials (e.g., straw bales, earth, lime, car tires and other recycled objects, hempcrete and cob) but that ramping up current natural building efforts to a commercial scale has proven difficult. Lastly, with regard to transport, Hopkins notes Totnes’ high level of automobile use and suggests that a crucial step in reducing it will be to sway people’s attitudes.

Kaminski concludes by noting that, while England “shares much of America’s oil vulnerability, it’s easier to get around there without fuel, since the area was settled long before the reign of the automobile.”

Local Currency: The Totnes Pound

8 Mar

I was leafing through Rob Hopkins’ Transition Handbook (thanks! CK) and came across a discussion of the Totnes Pound, local currency established in Totnes, UK, the first town to undertake the Transition. But you don’t have to have the handbook to read about it. You can google it and finds lots of stuff on the web.

And, of course, the Transition Town Totnes has its own write-up. According to that write-up, they started the Totnes Pound in 2007:

  • To build resilience in the local economy by keeping money circulating in the community and building new relationships
  • To get people thinking and talking about how they spend their money
  • To encourage more local trade and thus reduce food and trade miles
  • To encourage tourists to use local businesses

The basic idea is simple: “Totnes Pounds enter circulation when people choose to exchange their sterling currency into Totnes pounds at one of four places around Totnes. At present the exchange rate is 1TP for £1.” People can then use the Totnes Pounds at local businesses that accept them (roughly 70).

Such local currency does well during a recession:

As the country heads into recession the benefits of local currencies can really be felt. Keeping money within the community becomes even more important at making the local economy resilient. Most local currencies around the world have been successful mainly in times of wider economic recession. Here in Totnes we are lucky to have an established local currency already in place, making us well prepared for the difficult economic times unfolding.

Check it out. Nothing like your own local currency to create a sense of local sufficiency.

EDIT: Here’s a link to local currency they’ve been using in the Berkshires (USA) for a few years. It’s called BerkShares.