Transforming the Future

TODAY from 6pm – Final presentations at the Birdwood House Totnes

Reflection and summary

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Transforming the Future: a design perspective
Monday 30th March to Saturday 4th April

This last week has been fantastic. There was a reciprocity of exchange and generosity of time and energy that characterizes much of Transition Town Totnes’ community.  There was a sense for me of adding value to the two projects Sustainable Makers and ReFurnish, to TTT, but also to each other and as individuals. Just five days has generated an enormous amount of work…

For more go to ‘post-workshop-reflection-and-summary’

Written by Alice

April 9, 2009 at 1:25 pm

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Transforming the Future – Pilot Project Presentation Saturday 4th April

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by Ian Grout and Janey Hunt

How did this event happen?
It began as a conversation between Transition Towns Totnes Arts and Glasgow School of Art Product Design, which started this time last year. It has become a collaboration between art, design and essentially society.  What I found interesting about the proposal to bring designers to Totnes was a means to expand our understanding of the resources and tools that we can use  in re-designing our community.

This re-design is necessary because of climate change and the decline of oil reserves that will necessitate a change in the way our community’s look and function environmentally, economically and socially. It is the ambition of Tranistion Town Totnes not only to prepare for that change, but also to build a more resilient and happier community.  This project is one way that this can begin now.

Who are we?
A diverse group of artists and designers (see who are we?). We share a common belief that design can’t change the world, but can be part of a world that is changing.

Why are we here?
In connection with Transition Town Totnes and the Transition Movement, to understand more clearly how to work with an emerging ecologically aware society. Also to try to design with a more sensitive understanding of the diverse perspectives of living, to engage empathetically in designing with a changing society. In short to begin to ask ‘what will be the role of design in an ecologically aware society?’ and ‘how such an ecologically aware society would value design?’.
We couldn’t conceive of doing this without actually being here, to quote Carl Jung;

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed”

That there has been chemical reaction is without doubt, and we hope that we leave behind at least as much as we take away.

What is the long term plan for Transforming the Future?
This is a pilot of what we hope will be a larger scheme next year, with Totnes and other Transition Towns around the UK. Out of a choice of 8 projects, two were selected for this pilot that encompassed Transition Town Totnes aims and that were pre-exsting social enterprises.

These are Sustainable Makers which was founded by Richenda Macgregor, Natalie Elder and Jon Middlemiss. Richenda has been working with the team this week (Carl, Alex, John, Andy and Will).

The second project is ReFurnish, with Liz, Ben, Keith, Janey and David Banks.

The format for this evening is that each team will make a short presentation, and there will be time for discussion. There will be liquid refreshments available at the end.

The Projects

ReFurnish (download ReFurnish Final Presentation

Sustainable Makers (download Sustainable Makers Final Presentation)

Photos of the presentations can be found here

Some Thoughts…

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“Here is what I have decided:  the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.  And the most you can do is live inside that hope.  Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.  What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it:  elementary kindness.  Enough to eat, enough to go around.  The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.  That’s about it.  Right now I am living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal dreams.

A note from Richenda


I walked in today.

I find myself eagerly anticipating, and as I walk past a magnificent old bee hive, I begin to think and worry about bees.  Bees are disappearing and none of us know why.  I reflect on the possibility of the explosion in use of WIFI and mobile phones and the simultaneous decline of bees.

Can there be truth in it?
Walking into headquarters is like walking into a police investigation unit.  A group of designers dedicated to the task in hand, using the tools of their trade.

coloured pens
apple mac’s
post-it notes
i phone
And copious amounts of mind maps….

The room is transformed
Our journey has been documented, analysed, extracted, distilled, linked – Mostly with the word;


Carl and I demonstrate how bees communicate by re-enacting the bee dance and we discuss cross-pollination.

How do we begin to talk to each other?
How do we begin to share the tools of our trade?
How do we begin to learn to listen?
By spending time?
A willingness to learn?
An acknowledgement of each other’s value?

The hand talking to the head in equal partnership.

I reflect on the serendipitous and synchronistic nature of our learning trajectory, and wonder if Gaia is giving us a helping hand.

A voice inside me says:

NA…Too much fucking hippy shit…..

Day 4 Word Mapping with Alastair Fuad-Luke Friday 3rd April

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Today we had the company of Alastair Fuad-Luke for the afternoon. He came in to help us focus our thoughts and prepare our presentations for the public tomorrow. Using the simple but wonderfully effective process of word mapping using a ‘word wheel’, the whole team was able to concentrate and visualise their thoughts:

Alistair Fuad-Luke introduces the word wheel

Everyone is allowed to write only one key word which best describes how they view this project:


Then everyone has to draw one line to connect two words together. The words with the most lines to/from them are circled. These are the key words*.

The final map
Missed off words which are also important:

Written by Alice

April 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm

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A message from Ian:

The Refurnish and Sustainable Makers participants have been mapping ideas, developing concepts and formulating strategies for the communication of the outcomes. Each team has 20 minutes to present on Saturday. The teams also came together in a small workshop to discuss and explore bridges between the 2 projects and to project generic outcomes that may be of use when considering similar projects. This was thought to be of value for the project stakeholders themselves, education institutions and the Transition Town movement and would be an added element in the presentation.

We also began work on the overall presentation preparation developing the most appropriate ways in which to engage with the audience which will be diverse and have differing perspectives to bring to bear on the project. We will be working late into the night.

Alistair Fuad-Luke helping plan the presentations

Written by Alice

April 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Promoting Our Presentations

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The culmination of this weeks pilot project on Saturday 4th April is an evening of celebration, presentations and interactions with members of the general public and Transition Town Totnes. Will very kindly put this poster together and Janey handed them out around town this afternoon:

Promotional Poster

Day Three – Sustainable Makers group summary

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From Andy:

We had a very productive, exciting and interesting day today. We met Richenda Macgregor again first thing this morning and worked on some further ideas, based on what we produced yesterday. Yesterday we discussed opportunities and concluded that it would be beneficial to meet some more of the people directly involved in the Sustainable Makers. This led to our group meeting both Doug King-Smith and Toni Spencer . Doug is part of the Bowden House Community and his main craft is working on wooden sculpture, which he sells as decorative art.  We arranged to meet Toni today, who is also part of Sustainable Makers, and is one of the key 6 founding members. Her area of expertise is wild food and use of the land for foraging. Both meetings were extremely useful and have provided us with a great insight into how people directly involved with Sustainable Makers and Transition Town Tones see, feel & hope the future development of this movement will take not only them but hopefully (which is the reason we are here) other people too.

wood working demo

Written by Alice

April 2, 2009 at 5:48 pm