Growing the Transition Network in Essex

Time is running out!

I have no idea how many protest rallies I have been on over the years. Our family rejoined the fray back in 2018 at the Cambridge Rise For Climate March. We definitely got caught up in the euphoria of new organisations like Extinction Rebellion and especially the groundswell of passionate youth and the school strikes. Some of the placards had some very good sayings on them. I especially liked the one in the photo below from the Cambridgeshire school strike in February 2019.

However, one saying that I have seen a lot that I don’t like is that Time Is Running Out!

What does that mean exactly Time Is Running Out? What is suppose to happen when time actually does run out? Scientists say we are in the age of the sixth mass extinction and I for one believe them. I think that time ran out a loooooooong time ago. I think the very term is misleading and maybe shouldn’t be used at all by ✌️Greens✌️

Far too many people still hold fast to the belief that we still have time to ignore the reality of the situation we are all in. They consider Greens and especially those ones that make a fuss and stop them from driving to work as just a bunch of fanatical hobbyists with nothing better to do with their lives.

As a species we are known for our amazing ability to work together for a common purpose and benefit. So why is it so difficult to bring people together to even agree, let alone respond to the greatest threat our species has ever faced? What really is that threat though? Is it climate change? Is it the mass extinction of millions of species? Is it that there is more plastic in the rising oceans than fish or is it the forgotten reality of mutually assured destruction from thermal nuclear exchange? After all, the simple answer is that the greatest threat our species has ever faced is, of course, our own behaviour!

OK, so we have our problems, who knew? But we also have our solutions and I think that deep down we all know what most of them are. What’s the saying? If you’re not part of the solution then you remain part of the problem. It doesn’t get any simpler than that!

Unfortunately, there are still those among us who are in denial and refuse to acknowledge or be part of the citizens’ response to climate change and the ecological emergency‼️ But I assure you citizens are responding. They are responding to the pollution, they are responding to lack of leadership, they are responding by growing their own foods and creating their own energy, they are responding by replacing harmful products and practices with solution-based thinking that regenerate and rewild our precious last few green spaces. Changing your shampoo and even your personal transportation device is a step in the right direction but we have a long way to go before we even start as a society to proportionally address the issues. I’m pretty sure I read Paradigm Shift required somewhere in a UN press release.

Back in the 70s in Southend I remember campaigning with the local Friends of the Earth group on the Save the Whales issue which almost everyone seemed to agree with us about and we had a lot of support. Then, however, the group started opposing the opening up of supermarkets in the town. Their argument was that supermarkets would put hundreds of local traders and their associated local supply chain companies out of business which, of course, they did. This was not a popular campaign like the whales which was a beautiful peaceful creature being slaughtered a world away. This was opposition to local PROGRESS! On reflection, I think that maybe instead of going to far away places to bear witness and protest the destruction of our natural world I should have stayed home and fought the opening of supermarkets, then the out-of-town shopping malls and all the other ways that Progress dismantled our local communities.

Resistance is fertile

People who have embraced the Transition Towns philosophy seem to agree about rediscovering a strong sense of community and that the time to just get on with it is long overdue. In fact many have been just getting on with it for quite some years. For them it doesn’t seem to be about just planting a few trees to offset their carbon footprint and then leaving them to fend for themselves and never even reach maturity. In fact it’s not just about individual changes at all. It’s all about tapping into the power of individual imagination and then working together with others in your community to reconstruct a fairer society built from realistic vision for our future.

“An invitation... Are you feeling curious? Critical? Excited? Daunted? The Transition movement is made up of people like you who are already feeling the benefit of connecting with others to take care of themselves, their community and the planet. Let us help you take the next step.”
- taken from

Transition Groups believe that the system that promised so much personal freedom, almost unlimited choices, and that million-to-one potential chance for everyone to make it to the top, is already collapsing from the bottom up. One phrase that I especially like is that they are attempting to “rebuild the plane in flight”.

If you have not heard about the Transition Movement thus far then the best place to find out all about it is on their website. The Transition web site is a fantastic resource which is all about getting your Transition journey underway. I know that it’s maybe not a great idea to send your visitors to other people’s websites but spreading awareness is kind of our thing. I am confident that once you have found out all you need you will visit us again. What we want to do is tell you about what our involvement with Transition has been so far and what we plan for the future. We want to share stories from Transition Groups that will inspire the people of Essex and beyond to get involved or start their own projects.

We believe that Transition Towns Network is one of the best solution-based community-led initiatives available. We attended their Transition Together Summit back in May 2022 and were blown away by the energy and positive commitment to reimagine and rebuild our communities. Their Transition model of collective visioning and bottom-up democratic action at the grassroots level has been growing from strength to strength across the UK and beyond since 2005. It was great to see how the movement had adapted to the restrictions of covid and that they had received a sizeable grant from the National Lottery people to help regroup and move forward. But, unfortunately, another thing we learned from the summit was that most of the groups on the Transition’s map in Essex seemed to have evaporated.

So working in partnership with we will be inviting the Greens, the third sector and other key community stakeholders across Essex to join us on the Transitions Together Vive online platform. Our aim is to encourage debate, brain storming and collaboration in a shared vision of a more positive future. We hope together we can design and fund resilience building community-owned projects that will benefit the whole Essex community and the generations yet to come.

“Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future.”
- Professor Stephen Hawking

We will do all we can with Boiling Frogs Blog to help our community build more resilience to the changes that are coming and we look forward to working together with old friends and new towards a future that we know deep within us is positive and possible.

Since attending the Together We Can Summit we have been keeping it simple, figuring out how best to help the Transition movement, especially here in Essex, what structure to choose bouncing our crazy ideas off unsuspecting stakeholders. Incorporating as a not for profit and trying desperately to find a bank account to put money in and that’s, of course, if we had any.

The next five years

I have worked on many projects over the years with shoestring budgets but this is a whole new level. We had to ask ourselves what is the reality of getting our strategy off the ground ourselves????? What route would we take? Seed funding, grants, lottery, etc….? I don’t believe we would qualify for seed funding because we decided the best structure for our ideas would be a private not for profit environmental blog so we aren’t technically a Transition group or community-led but definitely community-motivated.

Maja and I being a couple seems to be another barrier. We both love the idea of what our company structure offers us like a certain amount of independence to use our own imagination, experience, passion and all with the added advantage of fast decision-making for action. Unfortunately, though, according to most of the large funding bodies criteria it seems civil partners just can’t be trusted not to run off with the loot. Nevertheless, we have vowed to each other to try and keep our heads above water and keep on funding it ourselves until we find enough support from followers or that organisation/network with the pioneering spirit to make our ideas reality.

The First Essex Big Green weekend in 2022 hosted by the lovely people at Othona Bradwell and organised by Trust Links Southend and Southend In Transition cheered us up along the way and taught us that there where many passionate people in Essex working on environmental issues and Climate Change but they all wore different hats, followed different agendas and almost always needed funding support. We believe that the community needs something that everyone can make a contribution to, that is from and for the community and that doesn’t need handouts to survive or thrive.

“Where transition needs to go is about how do these initiatives become relocalising agencies?” (Rob Hopkins, Confronting Change in Southbank Centre, December 2010)

Couldn’t agree with you more, Rob!

Solution-based thinking at the community level must be freed from reliance on handouts. For it to take real effect it must be based on organic growth of services that are solutions in themselves and crate local revenue which is used to strengthen community resilience and promote localisation whether that is providing re-education, employment or funds for future projects. Transition groups that run as social enterprises with a good return will have plenty of unrestricted funding to expand and achieve more and more for their community without having to ask permission to do so.

Desperate for funds post covid we have in our community charitable and voluntary associations recommending so-called easyfundraising ideas by promoting unsustainable big brands and shopping online, AKA Business As Usual. But where’s the local, where’s the ethical and where are the solutions for healing a broken planet?

The Transition movement and its support network is perfectly situated to benefit greatly those of us in Essex willing to make a stand for people and planet. With support from the Transition Network our strategy can help instigate an Imagination Rebellion with dozens more new Transition Groups. These groups can take many forms but we will be encouraging bold and ambitious projects like cooperative community-owned solar generation and storage, food growing and distribution networks, forest gardens with urban and rural rewilding. We want to see hundreds more community projects and thousands more people acting greener. Over the coming months we will share the stories of people across the UK doing all we have talked about and much more.

Or should we just go back to protesting? What do you think? 


More to follow 🌍🌎🌍🌎🌍🌎🌍

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