Criteria for official transition towns

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Rimu's picture
Joined: 17 May 2008
Criteria for official transition towns

There are half a dozen official TT initiatives in NZ, but I am unsure what the criteria is that they were compared against. Below are the criteria that are used in the UK. Are the criteria here similar?

In the last TT newsletter, James Samuel floated the idea of having more of a peer review process rather than a list of criteria that some external assessor uses. What do you think of that idea?

Rimu's picture
Joined: 17 May 2008
Criteria for official UK transition towns

We've established a draft set of criteria that tells us how ready a community is to embark on this journey to a lower energy future. If you're thinking of adopting the Transition Towns model for your community, take a look at this list and make an honest appraisal of where you are on these points. If there are any gaps, it should give you something to focus on while you build the initial energy and contacts around this initiative.

Use this form when you're ready - and this isn't something you can rush - to tell us about your initiative, your core team and your response to the criteria.

We've introduced this slightly more formal approach to registering Transition Towns/villages for a couple of key reasons:

  • Our trustees and funders want to make sure that while we actively nurture embrionic projects, we only promote to "official" status those communities we feel are ready to move into the awareness raising stage. This status confers additional levels of support such as speakers, trainings, wiki and forums that we're currently rolling out
  • In order to establish coordinated programmes (such as combined funding bids to the National Lottery) we need a formally established category of Transition Initiatives that we're fully confident can support and deliver against such programmes.
  • We've seen at least one community stall because they didn't have the right mindset or a suitable group of people, and didn't really understand what they were letting themselves in for.

These criteria are developing all the time, and certainly aren't written in stone.

  1. an understanding of peak oil and climate change as twin drivers (to be written into constitution or governing documents)
  2. a group of 4-5 people willing to step into leadership roles (not just the boundless enthusiasm of a single person)
  3. at least two people from the core team willing to attend an initial two day training course. Initially these will be in Totnes and over time we'll roll them out to other areas as well, including internationally. Transition Training is just UK based right now, but that's going to have to change – we're working on it.
  4. a potentially strong connection to the local council
  5. an initial understanding of the 12 steps to becoming a TT
  6. a commitment to ask for help when needed
  7. a commitment to regularly update your Transition Initiative web presence - either the wiki (collaborative workspace on the web that we'll make available to you), or your own website
  8. a commitment to make periodic contributions to the Transition Towns blog (the world will be watching)
  9. a commitment, once you're into the Transition, for your group to give at least two presentations to other communities (in the vicinity) that are considering embarking on this journey – a sort of "here's what we did" or "here's how it was for us" talk
  10. a commitment to network with other TTs
  11. a commitment to work cooperatively with neighbouring TTs
  12. minimal conflicts of interests in the core team
  13. a commitment to work with the Transition Network re grant applications for funding from national grant giving bodies. Your own local trusts are yours to deal with as appropriate.
  14. a commitment to strive for inclusivity across your entire initiative. We're aware that we need to strengthen this point in response to concerns about extreme political groups becoming involved in transition initiatives. One way of doing this is for your core group to explicitly state their support the UN Declaration of Human Rights (General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948). You could add this to your constitution (when finalised) so that extreme political groups that have discrimination as a key value cannot participate in the decision-making bodies within your transition initiative. There may be more elegant ways of handling this requirement, and there's a group within the network looking at how that might be done.
  15. a recognition that although your entire county or district may need to go through transition, the first place for you to start is in your local community. It may be that eventually the number of transitioning communities in your area warrant some central group to help provide local support, but this will emerge over time, rather than be imposed. (This point was inserted in response to the several instances of people rushing off to transition their entire county/region rather than their local community.) Further criteria apply to initiating/coordinating hubs – these can be discussed person to person.
  16. and finally, we recommend that at least one person on the core team should have attended a permaculture design course... it really does seem to make a difference.
Bryan Innes
Joined: 2 Jul 2008
We could see this as a challenge

The set of criteria does not present too much in the way of barriers.
The main issue is that most people are unaware of them and do not have an action plan or the understanding of the need for one to get to the point of meeting the criteria.
To my mind we could design an educational process that galvanizes communities into action. A traveling circus that visits each community for a weekend and leaves it pretty much having reached the criteria.
Communities that have gone through this process would then have a very good chance of having themselves described as official. This gives us an incentive to be proactive in advancing the regions and then perhaps following up with project support.
The course would be paid for by the participants either directly as happens with a Permaculture Design certificate or indirectly through grants or fund raising that the local group organises.
Having a poor "score" gives us an incentive to lift the bar and create clear direction and pathways for new groups

Phil McCabe
Joined: 9 Jul 2008
Campbell Live -Official schmicial

Official schmicial was kind of how I was viewing the whole thing. Not wanting to conform and go through the processes and all that...? But the Campbell Live thing does highlight that the media and the institution and therefor the greater public (the very public we are trying to reach) may only recognize official initiatives.
The Campbell Live interviewer spent the whole day in Raglan. We gave her a lot of info including how many official and non official towns and cities in NZ and the world.
I think it was a very positive article and reality is that they only got a couple of facts wrong. Although there are around 600 TT Initiatives in the world and 50 in NZ, in the eyes of the outside world there are only 100 Transition Towns globally and only 6 in New Zealand. (They said 7 to include us as a 'credible' Transition Town I guess.) They also said we started a year ago when in fact it was more like 3 or 4 months.
Point being that, to maximize our influence and effectiveness, we might just need to get over ourselves and start walking through the process of becoming 'OFFICIAL'?!

Bryan Innes
Joined: 2 Jul 2008

I think you are making the same point as I was. 

We need to lift the bar and create a process to do so, a process which will engage all of the 50 or so NZ initiatives.

Phil McCabe
Joined: 9 Jul 2008
Come out of the hills

Yes Bryan, I think it is part of that "coming out of the hills" thing where if we want to get 'buy in' we kind of need to conform to some of the ways of the current system.
I would also venture to say, and maybe someone from one of the official towns might be able to comment, that walking through the process of becoming an official TT could be really beneficial anyway?
Look forward to discussing all this stuff in the next days!!

Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Surprisingly easy

I looked at the criteria to become official during one of the first times i went to the TT site.  At that time i looked at the list and felt a bit overwhelmed by it.  But about 4 or 5 months down the track i revisited that list, and realised that we had actually accomplished almost all of it.  It was a good feeling to quietly fill out the application and send it off. 

Becomming official has helped us a little bit.  We now have our own Charitable Trust (haven't done anything with it yet, but it's there, waiting for an opportunity) and a bank account will follow.  I have an article in the paper weekly, we have even been called by local reporters to give comment on local issues.  It's not a huge burden to apply, it feels good in a kind of 'haven't we done well' way, but it's not a big or important thing in itself.  Other than getting a couple of newsletter emails we've had nothing back for it.  Just a sense of following the process and being on the right path.

Nice to see Opotiki mentioned on Campbell Live in a positive context.  I was surprised that they only highlighted the official, i would have thought that the 30 or 40 towns registered here would have been more of an impact and would probably help people get in touch with a town near them.



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