An Introduction to Transition Streets

Jim Attenborough

Transition Streets is a process designed to bring neighbours together with a view to saving them money, reducing their environmental impact and getting to know their neighbours.

This scheme was originally started in Totnes in Devon but has now spread internationally.  Visit https://www.transitionstreets.org.uk/ for more information.

The scheme works like this:

Members of the community who express an interest in the scheme are provided with letters to deliver to their neighbours to see who is interested in taking part.  Once there are 8 – 10 interested parties, neighbours come together to form a Transition Streets group in their road.  The initial meeting is facilitated by a member of Transition in Kings (TiK) in one of the members’ homes.  At this initial meeting all members are provided with a free and comprehensive workbook filled with tips, information on government grants and practical suggestions on how to reduce waste and improve efficiency.  Some of these actions are free to do, some require investment and some can be eligible for government grants.

There are seven meetings and members of the group decide for themselves when to have them – monthly/bi-monthly etc – and whether to have a break at Christmas or in August when members may be away.  Aside from the initial facilitated meeting and a wrapping up meeting at the end, there are five meetings in between, themed as follows – energy, water, food, waste and transport.

During the trial scheme that TIK ran in 2015 with thirty-four households, apart from the information in the Transition Streets handbook, there was a great deal of information passed between members of the groups – different members had experience with heating controls, solar panels, electric vehicles, applying for grants and funding, reducing energy consumption and growing food.  This was a real plus as it added to the wealth of information contained in the handbook.

Each household can save £500 a year with ease and some will save more, especially if they use the money saved to invest in further efficiency measures.  Ideally this money would be spent on local goods and services to aid the local economy.

One of the new ideas we introduced in our “version” of this scheme was a thermal-image camera survey of participants’ homes which identified missing insulation and poorly performing windows and doors.  We took pictures of problem areas and emailed them to the owners so they could look into improvements and show contractors exactly where the issues were.

Some of these groups continue to meet socially, which is no doubt helping to combat the loss of community spirit and loneliness that is a fairly constant criticism of our society, although I would say Kings Langley fares better than most in this regard, but we can still improve on this.

If you would like to take part and reduce your expenditure, get to know your neighbours better and reduce your impact on the environment, please keep an eye out for announcements regarding our new round of Transition Streets later this year.

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