In our regular Academy at Ecobuild slot, I chaired the Towns in Transition seminar, this year including Bury St Edmunds, Derry and Totnes, the three previous finalists in our Great Towns category. The presentations respectively by Ian Poole (St Edmundbury Council), Carol and Anthony Whitty (Transition Town Totnes and Totnes Town Council) , John Kelpie and Tony Monaghan (Derry City Council), showed up the diversity and progressiveness of each place, but they also showed up some common strands too.
Historic layers of place are important, not just the now or the future, and how the inheritance is dealt with can contribute success. Having some kind of aspirational vision and principles are also important as a shared vehicle for taking people forward, albeit in a continuous debate or dialogue. Also I felt, the role of institutions and accountable mechanisms was important, as all three identified from completely different recent perspectives. The search for community enlightenment seemed to go hand in hand with community empowerment.
I hope many of those present will continue the debate at the Academy’s Derry Congress on 10 May 2012.