Swimby Musical

A talented team of artists, actors, musicians and students are making Something Wonderful in My Back Yard – A sparkling new crowd-funded musical about the Transition Movement!

Think of a musical and you might imagine the romance of West Side Story or the razzle dazzle of Chicago. But this new musical [currently being written] has a different setting and tackles a very different subject: how do a motley group of ordinary, argumentative people persuade their make-do-and-mend, muddle-through  market town to embrace community food and energy schemes and become more resilient?

Writer Matt Harvey and composer Thomas Hewitt Jones are well known in their fields – and their allotments – and have previously collaborated on The Same Flame (published by Boosey & Hawkes) and the musical Rumpelstiltskin, produced at the egg, Theatre Royal Bath, last Christmas and set to be revived this year at the MAC Belfast.

Matt and Thomas have been talking to people involved in community energy groups and the Transition network about to develop this heartening new story for our times.

You can download a FREE E-COPY of the SWIMBY Musical songbook right here! We’ve been working with lots of people to trial the songs and you can see all the songs being trialled here in November 2015 Early Material Show!


SWIMBY musical will produce:

  • Something Wonderful in My Back Yard : SWIMBY Musical a sparkling new musical for amateur groups telling the story of a community encountering some of the questions and issues around peak oil and climate change through catchy songs and exuberant dance numbers – we hope this touring show will be available after the July 2016 premier
  • A songbook and backing recordings for the show that will be available for community groups and choirs
  • Merchandise – Postcards, badges, tee-shirts will also be produced during the project.
  • Workshops / engagement tools – to support people in using the musical

To find out more or to get involved please visit our news page

We are still raising funds for this project and would be grateful for your support

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This project has been crowd-funded through Kickstarter as Transition Town: The Musical and is currently seeking funding for phase 2 of the project as SWIMBY: The Musical and we are very grateful to our 132 backers from 5 countries!

We are grateful for support from Regen SW, The Big Lottery, Arts Council England, NatraCare and NatureSave Trust.

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The Grassroots Directory

An A-Z guide to the most exciting community-led projects in the UK by Charlotte Du Cann and Mark Watson

246 more pledges needed

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A Short Midsummer Update

Please sign up a pledge to help get this book published.

Hello everyone – Greetings from grassroots Britain where, no matter how you vote (or don’t!), the key to navigating topsy-turvy times is to get together and do stuff that benefits everyone in the neighbourhood (and beyond).

Most of the projects starring in the Directory have been created in response to current crises, whether global climate change or local economic downturn: repair cafes that regenerate relationships between people as well as umbrellas and mobile phones, community-run bakeries and cafes where everyone can discuss what goes down in the area, local currencies that keep money in local circulation, tool libraries that share shears and stories, allotments that share beans and raspberries, alongside labour and laughs.

Here’s one of our favourite kind of hubs, the South London Makerspace, whose members own, run and maintain three workshop spaces with sewing machines, 3D printing, woodworking, laser cutting, electronics and more:

‘We’re not just a workshop; we’re also a community. We have regular social events, and meetups. Members are encouraged to work on their projects with each other, to collaborate and share skills and knowledge. We also take care of the workshops together. With no paid staff, everyone has to pitch in to keep things safe and tidy.’

Meanwhile as summer kicks in (rather soggily) and elderflowers are foraged and tables set for street parties, we are happy to report that The Grassroots Directory has passed the half way mark and is now 56% funded. We’ve had a busy month sorting out some great projects that have come through from the now long-running sewing cafe in Lancaster and the recently established Glasgow Pound to the just-renovated Real Junk Food Sheffield and the upcoming two-wheeled festival of Tour de Tooting on 3rd July.

This week we’re also going up to London to the Demain (Tomorrow) premiere. This is the documentary by Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent that has stormed France and had over a million viewers since it launched last December during COP21 in Paris. It’s a world-wide investigation into ‘the most successful experiments in agriculture, energy, habitat, economy, education and democracy, and pieces together a puzzle that might ‘tell a new story of the future’.

Here’s to finding that missing piece of blue sky…


Images: Brixton Pound fiver, designed by Jeremey Deller; Restart party in Belsize Library, by Jonathan Goldberg; Big Lunch, England 2016

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Your invitation to Green Drinks with Transition Farnham, this Tuesday, 21st June, 7.30 pm The Albion,  1 Hale Rd.

 Hi all,

This is to remind you that our next Transition Green Drinks starts at 7.30pm on Tuesday – tomorrow – in The Albion! The pub is a friendly one, family-run and has good food. Our numbers at GDs seems to vary quite a lot: last month we were only four, of whom one, Peppy, was a newcomer. Come along, it you can, as a meeting of 8 -10 people is more dynamic and we can fit snugly into one of the back rooms.

There is quite a lot going on: much preparation has gone into the Community Hive project, most of it shouldered by Chris Homes, and the project is by no means yet secure. I hope we will hear an update from Chris tomorrow. Angela has done sterling work generating interest among UCA graduate alumni in using the Makerspace.

Plans are afoot to develop some outreach “pop-ups” for the Repair Café; it appears that the real challenge is to demonstrate that alternatives to a “throw away” culture exist, are easily accessible and provided on a voluntary basis by skilled “fixers” in Farnham on a regular basis every second Saturday of the month. Just need to rewire the dominant default response: “if it’s broke, bin it” to “if it’s broke, fix it”.

Good news from FLF: they have permission for car-parking adjacent to the new social hub at their Dippenhall site. The new production site at West Farm, Runfold, is ploughed and harrowed ready for a green manure crop. Their Fete on 6th June was a success, raising extra funds and, importantly, a dozen new members to the CSA co-op.

Some Farnham Hoppers have just returned from a weekend away visiting the world’s finest hop museum at Poperinge, in the Westhoek hoplands, near Ypres, Belgium. Fantastic museum; we are mightily inspired! Farnham must have one! However, sad news is that there appears to be a near universal failure of our 2016 hop rhizomes. Urgent commiseration calls to all novice Hoppers required!  Interestingly, our nurseryman puts it down to a mild winter without an adequate “cold shock”; if this is a trend driven by climate change we are going to have to make some creative adaptations. Mike has offered to replace any failed hops next year: we do have a good relationship with our grower!

The spring season of Eco-cinema screenings finishes next month on Tuesday, 12th July, with Project Wild Thing, David Bond’s whacky attempt to reconnect children with nature.

Visit the websites/fb:



Repair Café; Farnham Local Food; Farnham Eco-cinema are all on Facebook too.

See you, tomorrow,  Rob.

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Latest Transition Network Newsletter

June 2016 – Transition Network Newsletter

Themes that include energy in an Entrepreneur Forum, an Energy company and local currency open this newsletter. Plus responding to linguistic diversity, collecting oral histories, reimagining sustainable business, reflections on 10 years transitioning, a film review, an events checklist and the Brexit/Bremain debate continues and there is more.


Demain Petition – please sign

The film Demain that has been received with great acclaim across Europe has so far not been able to agree a distribution deal for the UK. To help in negotiations with distributors, we have started a petition on Change.org to show them that there is a demand for ‘Demain’ to be screened in the UK. Please sign the petition:

The Magic of a LEF
A Local Entrepreneur Forum (LEF) could prove to be one really key piece of ‘technology’ for Transition groups. Here are 7 things a Local Entrepreneur Forum can unlock from the experience in Totnes.

BECBristol Energy Cooperative:
“it felt right for us to be ambitious”

Two directors of Bristol Energy Coop chat to Rob Hopkins about what they do and their ambitious share offer which aimed to raise £10.5 million for renewable energy projects in Bristol.

card and moneyWhat if: ATMs issued local currencies?
Would local money in an ATM be a fig leaf for a system that has run very low on legitimacy? Or could it offer us the possibility of ‘normalising’ local currencies?

Planning for People – an update from the Transitionese Translations Project.
Transitionese is the name we’ve given to a project aiming to expand the International Transition movement’s translation capacities and, therefore, to highlight and support its linguistic diversity writes Deborah Rim Moiso.



Crowdfunding for Transition in Belgium.
The Belgium national Transition hub, Réseau Transition, have just launched a crowdfunder to support their work. Here’s a beautiful video they made (en francais) as part of it…
oral storiesOral histories in Kilburn.
Transition Kensal to Kilburn recently came together with Brent Museum & Archives to do an amazing oral history project and exhibition. Here Carol Low introduces the report they’ve just published about it all.

On ‘renewal’: the story of Pocheco.
Pocheco is a remarkable business near Lille in France who are busily reimagining what a sustainable business could look like. We spoke to Emmanuel Druon and Elizabeth Dinsdale about how crisis offers us the opportunity to “change everything”.

StroudAn evening in Stroud: ’10 years and beyond’
Since forming in 2007, Transition Stroud has been extremely active, and as it enters its 10th year, is focusing on how best to move forward and how to put the best foundations possible beneath the work it has already done.


1 YT logoOne Year in Transition
This life-changing programme for young adults is now recruiting for its fifth year in the UK, and getting ready to welcome the new cohort of students in September. While we help people gain clarity about the work they want to do in the world, and get very practical around Transition Livelihoods, we also offer a deep inner journey towards courage and wisdom. The total cost for the four week-long residentials and a year of tuition fees is £3000.
1YT Portugal is now live http://um-ano.transicaoportugal.net/programa-1at/ and 1YT Sweden launches this September. Email Isabel Carlisle if you want to apply at:isabelcarlisle@transitionnetwork.org  You can find out more from our new website:www.oneyearintransition.org

Brexit or BremainBrexit/Bremain
Our reflections on the topic published in March generated much debate. As our next item on the topic before the Referendum coming soon (a debate with Just-IN Kenrick and Al-EX-is Rowell) will miss the newsletter we include it here as place to continue the discussion before the big day on 23rd June.

meetingActivity of the fortnight:
Planning and Putting on Events: a useful checklist and suggestions to help you create good events.

this changes everythingFilm Review
This Changes Everything
We take a look at Avi Lewis’ recent film interpretation of Naomi Klein’s book ‘This Changes Everything’ and find some key things missing.

“I’m just quite blown over really by the …. number of businesses that now are … making commitments now to get to zero carbon by a certain date.”
Andy O’Brien, Bristol Energy Coop

A record 63.5 GW of wind power was installed worldwide in 2015, demonstrating the maturity of the sector; and showing how renewables are supplying competitive, reliable and clean energy to fuel economic growth and cut CO2 emissions.http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/01/renewable-energy-smashes-global-records-in-2015-report-shows

Cities, communities and companies are leading the rapidly expanding “100% renewable” movement, playing a vital role in advancing the global energy transition. Distributed renewable energy is advancing rapidly to close the gap between the energy haves- and have-nots.
REN21 global status report

Continue reading

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It’s Green Drinks on Tuesday 17th May!

Your invitation to Green Drinks with Transition Farnham, this Tuesday, 17th May, 7.30 pm

The Albion,  1 Hale Rd.

 Hi all,

This is to remind you that our next Transition Green Drinks will starts at 7.30pm on Tuesday in The Albion! The pub is a friendly one, family-run and has good food. These gatherings are growing in popularity and our numbers are rising, but we still fit comfortably in one of the snug back rooms.

The meeting on climate change with Jeremy hunt has finally come and gone. Some of you attended and will have stories to regale us with, doubtless. The Herald has reported the meeting in this week’s edition.

Meanwhile, other things have been going on: most significantly Transition Town Farnham is now an official small charity and we’ve taken advantage of our new status to explore the possibility of occupying a vacant retail premises in the to-be-demolished Woolmead. So far on offer is the empty Iceland premises which we are negotiating to occupy subject to contract. We hope to secure this by the end of May. The space is large and our idea is to create a “community hive” which will allow for the incubation of various projects conducive to the Re-Economy of Farnham. We hope we’ll have about 4 – 6 months occupancy on a free rental, but we’ll need to find some set-up funding and sponsorship for running costs.

This is an exciting opportunity to raise the visibility of Transition Farnham and offer a space for the recognition of the wide range of community-building initiatives that Farnham already has.

On a related subject: what about some Transition Training for adults who have recently come on board, or are freshers interested in an introduction to the ideas of the movement?  We did do a weekend training workshop back in 2008; so another, if interest builds as a result of the Hive Project, may be appropriate. Polly Whyte, co-chair of TTSouthampton has contacted us to say that the Hampshire Sustainability Centre, East Meon, would be interested in hosting training courses and networking conferences for the SE Region TT groups and start-ups.  Polly has recently taken up the job of coordinating adult courses at the HSC and is keen for action on this. What do you think, folks? Another strand is to look at the prospect of developing a Youth in Transition programme specifically for and resourced by the SE Region.

Alongside our current projects – Farnham Hoppers, The Repair Café and the Eco-cinema: all of which thrive – we’re imagining what a Farnham local food eco-system might look like. This is early days, but exploratory meetings are ongoing and a workshop with potential stakeholders is planned. As you know FLF is relocating to an excellent new site and creating a local food eco-system would give FLF much better marketing opportunities. So it seems timely to do this now and start to consider Farnham’s foodshed as a defining feature of the town’s bio-region.

On the energy front: M & S have just launched a Community Energy Fund, so this might be a good time to consider launching a Collective Energy Big Switch campaign while the Hive is active this summer. Good Energy might be open to some collaboration and support for the Hive too.

Having just finished reading John Thackara’s new book “How to Thrive in the Next Economy”, I’m smitten with the possibilities of an ebike mass transit system for Farnham! It appears there are huge online ebike communities, eg. https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=21 is full of keen ebike hackers. Not only that, thanks to the work of Martin Brown, Farnham is now ebike retail capital of the UK, look at www.e-bikeshop.co.uk  In Scotland there is a cycle hack enterprise, so why not a Farnham Cycle Hack making DIY ebikes for the commuter and shopper? Or, you may prefer to simply fit a Copenhagen Wheel: either way, the sweat of cycling home from the town centre could be a thing of the past, not to say what it does for your carbon footprint – if you’ve made a Big Switch to green electricity!

I’ll post this reminder/newsletter on www.transitionfarnham.wordpress.com  The website gets regular posts now and is worth scrolling down to catch up on the monthly Transition Network Newsletter for the UK. There are other posts on events and topics that relate to global disruptors and community-led response.

See you Tuesday at the Albion.


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Transition Network Newsletter – May 2016

May 2016 – Transition Network Newsletter

New beginnings and a ‘Springtime Renewal’ theme plus a Digest of the previous theme of ‘International’ brings Transition news from far and wide. More on the success of Demain, the power of beer and was flying justified? Some ‘Good’ Bremain thoughts plus several insightful pieces on keeping your Transition Initiative healthy.

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Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought

Two recent reports that link Climate Change to the situation in the Middle East. Does the migration crisis have roots in the impact of CC?




These reports don’t necessarily mean that the Syrian drought has caused the present crisis, but they go some way to understanding why it was possible. There could have been positive remedial responses, like better farming practice and water management, which could have kept Syria stable and less vulnerable.

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