Friday, July 16, 2010

Initiating a Transition Town

While traveling through Europe and especially England, I visited a few Transition Towns. Totnes Transition Town , in England, is the stand out (which I have posted information about earlier on this blog) due to it being the original Transition Town where the founder lives and continues to spearhead and inspire collaborative programs and initiatives related to the Transition Town movement that ripples out through communities wanting to do the same around the world.

As mentioned before, while walking the streets of Totnes, I could sense there was something quite special about the town and was amazed and delighted to see the variety of community-owned shops; artisans galleries, speciality shops, bakeries, quaint cafes and resturants, independent bookstores, little groceries selling local foods, natural health stores, handcrafted wears and body shops and more. In a way it did remind me of my community, Durango, Colorado but on an even more localized, down-home, humbled wavelength. After visited Totnes and reading up on all the community initiatives happening, I also ended up viewing the In Transition: The Transition Town Movement Documentary at the local Sustainable Living Film Festival in Karlskrona, Sweden where I was studying Sustainability at Blekinge Institute of Technology. The documentary is great and I recommend you see it and even more get a bunch of community members together to watch it and get inspired to start your own Transition Town in your town!

And this is what I am interested in doing here in Durango, Colorado. I am in the process of researching the steps in which other towns have initiated a Transition Town movement in their own communities and I hope to share the steps and process of doing it here with you. I know in theory it seems like an easy thing to do- talking to people, getting a steering committee together, joining the network and connecting to other Transition Towns to share stories and processes about success aspects and such, but the initial stage of communicating to the community and getting support, involvement and momentum seems a little daunting. However, I realize, here in Durango, similiar initiatives are already happening with great non-profits like Four Corners Office for Resource Effieciency, the Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado and Turtle Lake Refuge, just to mention a few, as well as a weekly local farmer's market and great locally-owned and supported businesses, orgnizations and programs... yet it all needs some glue it seems. It seems, often, in a lot of places that there are great things happening, but they are not glued together in some sort of overall momentum building towards a shared vision.

A shared vision- the secret to success...

Visiting communities in Denmark and Germany that were initiating and establishing community renewable energy projects, it seemed that the key to their success- producing community supported renewable energy and profiting from it with good return on investment, was heavily related to them having a shared vision which built an image and town branding, like "Clean City..." or "Green City..." or "Fair Trade City..." that attracted tourists and residents and helped retain the young people that would continue to make that town or city a great place to live.

So what is Durango's vision? What does Durango want their image to be- their branding as a model city? I think this may be a first step that either leads to a transition town movement or maybe the transition town movement would help Durango discover???

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