Outside the Box – Totnes, UK

Too much education may have scrambled our brains to the point where we can no longer think outside the box. Case in point: we’ve lost the light switch. It’s got to be here somewhere, but not one of us can find it to turn off the hallway light before bed. We’re 26 people staying in one beautiful enormous house in Devon, and seven of us are currently trying to switch off one light.  And we’re failing. Turns out the light is actually motion sensitive, and as soon as we stop running around it goes to sleep on its own.

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But thinking outside the box is what we’re here for, spending a weekend in the town of Totnes learning about the Transition movement. We’re all MSc students at the London School of Economics, which explains the brain scrambling. After being submerged in theories about sustainability and local development all year we took the first train out of London after classes ended to see what can happen on the ground.

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P3232489Our hosts from Big Green Canoe are happy to show us around the town, a quaint English village in my eyes, that just happens to be re-thinking some basic principals of economics. We meet locals that are involved in Transition Town Totnes, an NGO with the mission of making a resilient economic, social, and ecological community, as well as members of projects they’ve launched. We learn about the local currency, the Totnes Pound, eat a locally catered lunch from The Kitchen Table while learning about local food initiatives, and visit the site of the future incubator for entrepreneurs exploring different types of economic models.

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After the hubbub of London Town it’s nice to breathe fresh air and talk about the challenges faced by real people in the pursuit of sustainability and resilience in their community. I bet most of them would have figured out that tricky light in no time. Nice to know some people can still think outside the box.

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