from uncertainty…to something better

By now, Totnes & District’s Local Economic Blueprint has become a significant document for communities confronting uncertain times. tells us: Totnes is a market town and civil parish at the head of the estuary of the River Dart in Devon, England within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Totnes has a long recorded history, dating back to AD907 when its first castle was built; it was already an important market town by the 12th century. Indications of its former wealth and importance are given by the number of merchants’ houses built in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

In 2013, a coalition of partners under the banner The Totnes REconomy Project, examined the potential impact of marginal increases in local production and consumption of goods and services as a stance against the uncertainty of the times including climate change affects, a weak economy and loss of traditional jobs due to de-industrialization.

The Blueprint estimates the potential value of localizing four key sectors of the economy (pop ~10,000),where there is a realistic opportunity to compete with global supply chains.

Here’s what they found:

  • Food and Drink – If we spent 10% more in local shops than in supermarkets than we do at the moment, we would add £2 million to the local economy.
  • Making Homes Energy Efficient – Retrofitting activity on our homes is worth £26 – 75 million underpinning 70 – 700 jobs across the supply chain.
  • Renewable Energy – Our local renewable assets could generate over £6million worth of energy each year for householders and community investors.
  • Care and Health – By 2031 we will have nearly twice as many people over the age of 85 compared to now. In the face of uncertain public healthcare, It’s essential we make smart provisions so that adequate health and social care is available.

The Blueprint tells an encouraging story of a local economy focused on people, their wellbeing, and their livelihoods. An economy that better respects resource limits. It calls to action local organizations and businesses, and invites them to help turn the blueprint into reality.

The idea of transition is something that’s inspiring much activity at Terrapin. Last Spring we participated in Synergia Institute’s MOOC offered through Athabaska University: Towards the Next System — Transition to a Cooperative Commonwealth. A chance meeting with a fellow participant at Toronto City Hall led us to join a Toronto-based economic transition roundtable where local projects are being discussed and supported.

In a world where global affairs frequently leave us feeling powerless, the Terrapins turn to local projects and examples of local community organization for inspiration and direction. We’d love to hear about transition projects going on in your community. Leave us a comment.