Raise opportunities for experimenting new practices to encourage their dissemination
From Energy Cities Wiki
A transition is a movement towards the future. Once the course has been set, the paths to reach it have to be found.
We know how to invent a technology in a laboratory and improve it with trials. It is tested again and again until the desired product is obtained and marketed. The latest fad is about urban technologies that are supposed to make cities “smart”. But a city is not a collection of technologies. It is a complex interaction of interests, habits, desires, constraints and opportunities and each city is a specific case.
Here, the “laboratory” is the city itself. Its “engineers” are the local authorities, its inhabitants and socio-economic players. They are the city’s intelligence. New neighbourhoods, decentralised energy systems, short food circuits, and new modes of transport: how many trials, adjustments and experiments have to be carried out before a satisfying solution can be obtained and disseminated?! So make way for initiatives!
Raise opportunities for experimenting new practices to encourage dissemination. The target groups are: households, companies, students, grandparents, farmers, tradespeople, town planners, architects and energy experts. The idea is to mobilise all intelligence around practical initiatives aimed at preparing the city for a desirable future in which energy is used cautiously. Local authorities must also have the right to experiment, which is not the case in all countries.
• Publicly displaying the local authority’s desire to encourage new individual, family, social and economic practices.
• Advertising the findings of these new city “engineers” demonstrating, for example, that the changing of practices is possible and desirable.
• Creating events and places encouraging people to change their habits like testing an electrical bike, buying locally, leaving their cars in the garage, producing their own energy, measuring consumptions etc.
Citizens build their own neighbourhood in Tübingen!
In the 1990s, following the decommissioning of two French Army barracks, Tübingen decided to densify the city and make it livelier by launching a property self-development programme. Plots of land were bought and an urban design competition organised, which led to the setting up of “Baugruppen”. These are groups of future residents that got together in order to build their own blocks of flats and to participate in the construction of their neighbourhood. The City examined all the “Baugruppen’s” applications in accordance with such criteria as social diversity, quality of life and sustainable development. For example, some groups committed to limiting the energy use in dwellings to 30% below the applicable standards.
In 2010, with close to 6,500 residents and 2,000 new jobs created, the French neighbourhood is now a highly distinctive area owned and run by its residents!
The Transition towns movement
Change-makers at work!
Everything started in Totnes (United-Kingdom). This medieval town of 23,000 inhabitants was not expected to become what some people call today “Britain’s town of the future”. Things changed in 2005 when Rob Hopkins, a permaculture teacher, chose this small town as the birthplace of the Transition movement. Some 900 Transition cities are now convinced that local communities should be driving the transition towards a post-carbon society. Community cooperatives, shared local and sustainable production and a common action plan aimed at reducing Totnes’ carbon footprint are just examples of the few hundreds initiatives taken by citizens to engage the transition towards a “better and less vulnerable future”.