Transition Streets: How to Get Started

What is Transition Streets?

Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save energy and waste right here and now. Program participants meet with their neighbors for seven sessions over a period of several months to build a sense of community on their street, and learn fun and easy ways to practice sustainable habits.

Each session is guided by a chapter of the Transition Streets Handbook. The handbook details actions, tips, and facts to empower you and your neighbors to increase your energy efficiency, cut down on waste, eat fresh and local, save money, and build a stronger community.

Want to see a Transition Streets group on your street? Awesome! Transition Streets is initiated and run by neighbors, so neighborhood leaders like you are the key to “living better together, one street at a time.”

Transition Charlottesville Albemarle has a small team of dedicated volunteers who will help you join or organize a group and get off to a good start. We can help by:

  • Publicizing Transition Streets all over town
  • Providing sample flyers, resources, and a printed handbook for each group
  • Connecting you with a volunteer Transition Street [TS] Facilitator who will answer your questions, cheer you on, and attend your first and last group meetings

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Email streets@TransitionCville.org and tell us what neighborhood you live in. We’ll connect you with a TS Facilitator who can help with the next steps.
  2. Click here if you want to download a printable version of this Get Started guide
  3. Recruit a friend to help you organize! There’s a bit of work to do, and it’s easier with a team. If we’ve heard from someone else in your neighborhood, we’ll help you link up.
  4. Download the Transition Streets Handbook: Go to http://handbook.transitionstreets.org/get-the-handbook-transition-initiatives. For “Your Official Transition Initiative’s Name” enter Transition Charlottesville Albemarle. Your TS Facilitator will provide your group with one printed copy of the handbook.
  5. Start reaching out to your neighbors. You want a group of about 6-8 households. (See below for specific ideas.)
  6. When you have enough people ready to start, set a date for your first meeting. If folks have busy schedules, try using www.Doodle.com to send a quick survey and pick the best meeting date. Be sure to include your TS Facilitator!

transitionLaunch

How to Get Neighbors to Join Your Transition Streets Group

Pound the pavement:

  • Knock on doors and distribute flyers (Click here to download a sample flyer)
  • Talk to your neighbors! (talking points below)
  • Put up a poster on your neighborhood bulletin board
  • Get on the agenda of a neighborhood association/HOA meeting
  • Ask for a story in your neighborhood newsletter or blog
  • Distribute flyers to grocery stores, libraries, community centers, etc.
  • Distribute flyers at street fairs, farmers’ markets or other community events
  • Contact institutions with local programs (e.g. churches, senior centers)

Use social media:

  • Send invitations to neighbors that you’ve friended on Facebook
  • Try out Nextdoor.com, a private online social network for neighbors (many people in Charlottesville are already using this network)

Don’t try to do it alone:

  • Ask a friend or community leader for help
  • Recruit “block captains” to be responsible for recruiting their block
  • Ask neighbors (personally) to ask their next door neighbors
  • Host a sign-up party, barbecue, or potluck with the help of people already interested

Transition Streets Talking Points

  • Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save money, conserve energy and consume fewer resources right here and now.
  • Transition Streets has been tried and tested in over 600 households in the UK & USA.
  • Transition Streets is a community partner of Energize!Charlottesville, the City’s two-year campaign to save energy as a community and win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.
  • Program participants meet with their neighbors for seven sessions over a period of several months to build a sense of community on their street, and learn fun and easy ways to practice sustainable habits.
  • Each session is guided by a chapter of the Transition Streets Handbook. The handbook details actions, tips, and facts to empower you and your neighbors to increase your energy efficiency, cut down on waste, eat fresh and local, save money, and build a stronger community.
  • Households save an average of $900/year on bills and expenses and reduce their household carbon emissions by an average of 1.3 tons!
  • But, the best part is getting to know your neighbors and building a more vibrant, connected, resilient and fun neighborhood!

More info

If you have any questions, or want to help us spread the word about this initiative, email us at streets@transitioncville.org or call our committee contact person Logan Blanco at 434-327-3571.

More info from Transition United States: http://transitionstreets.org/

Watch the Transition Streets video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=S94Owhn2fIM

Review: Rebuilding the Foodshed

By Nancy Carpenter

On June 26, Philip Ackerman-Leist, author of Rebuilding the Foodshed, discussed his work in an online “Community Resilience Chat” from Transition US and the Post Carbon Institute.  The main themes were: defining the term “Rebuilding the FoodShed”; how specialization affects the foodshed; the idea of local; what issues to review when starting to rebuild the food system; the Transition background perspective and examples of successful foodshed rebuilds.

The idea of rebuilding the foodshed incorporates reclaiming, renaming and “unsaming” the existing foodshed.  Specialization, in and of itself, is not problematic.  It becomes problematic in a foodshed when it reduces diversity in agricultural production.  Reclaiming involves building diversity and resilience back into the food system.

rebuilding-the-food-shed-350A little bit of history about the term “foodshed”.  It was coined in 1929 by Walter Hedden in his book, “How Great Cities are Fed”.  Hedden described a ‘foodshed’ as the ‘dikes and dams’ guiding the flow of food from the producer to consumer.   Hedden contrasts foodsheds with watersheds by noting that “the barriers which deflect raindrops into one river basin rather than into another are natural land elevations, while the barriers which guide and control movements of foodstuffs are more often economic than physical.”

There was a discussion surrounding the idea that local food production has come to be seen as the end all be all of food production.  There is a purist notion that whatever is local can replace everything which is almost guaranteed to fail due to the complexities of a local food system.  The fact that local is nested in regional-national-global food systems can’t be ignored.  Even though local is the most beleaguered, it is the most trusted food system and can be the most transparent and accountable food system.

There are many issues to consider when rebuilding the local foodshed and understanding that local in one area may not be able to address issues in another area is one of the first ones.  There are many variables: what does the society look like; health issues (poverty, obesity, and diabetes rates); farm ownership (and the percentage of minority ownership); farm workers issues; and processing center employee issues.  The travesties of the past are resulting in injustices today.  If the people involved in the production of food cannot afford the product, it can create a quagmire.

There can be a Transition perspective in collaboration with rebuilding local foodsheds.  One has to think of a foodshed as having concentric circles.  Home can be the innermost circle where an individual can have the most influence for change.  The circles outside the home could be the porch/balcony, the backyard or the neighborhood.  Also initiate activities such as composting on a local scale, creating food co-ops, in areas of food deserts build a grocery store out of straw bales ( yes this has been done), have winter farmer’s markets, or even advocate for public schools to educate students about becoming local farmers.

The presentation identified many successful local food systems. Vermont is a leader in food systems and the “farm to plate” movement.  Athens, Ohio was mentioned as a mature, complete local food system.  Northeast Iowa’s Luther College was recognized for their efforts in rebuilding food systems.  The front range of Colorado food system maximized efficiencies with the scale of production by looking at whether to be hyperlocal or expand.  Besides food systems based on production of fruits and vegetable, other food production, such as seafood should be considered.  Ocracoke Fisheries in North Carolina is operated collectively by local fisherman whose product would not stay fresh for the trip to the mainland.  They needed this processing facility to be able to harvest local seafood and provide economic opportunity.

This presentation was uplifting as it provided very concrete examples of how a foodshed can be reclaimed, renamed, and unsamed.  We do not have to accept the status quo as it relates to food production.  We do not need to create food fiefdoms but work together within those concentric circles for the larger perspective, statewide and regional.

Listen to the complete webinar (103 minutes) at www.resilience.org.

Nancy Carpenter is a Scottsville, VA, resident and an activist for peace and social justice. She has recently applied to represent the community as interim supervisor on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.