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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 06, 2010 11:22PM

Some history lessons.

From a discussion by Mark Sedgwick of the work of EF Schumacher, author of
Small is Beautiful

Schumacher was influenced by a variety of ideologies, among them traditionalism and also Steinerian Anthroposophy. 'Schumacher was an appreciative reader of Traditionalist works but was not himself a Traditionalist,' Sedgwick writes. 'he was a disciple less of Guenon than of Gurdjieff(like Pauwels) following a spiriutal path within Buddhism and finally converting to Catholicism...Traditionalism is one of the main sources of Schumachers antimodernism. "Modern materialistic scientism..." he wrote elsewhere, "has destroyed even the last remenants of ancient wisdom, at least in the Western world."

"Schumacher, a British economist of German origin, attacked contemporary economics for its obsession with size and disregard of nonmaterial objectives, which meant that "innumerable qualitative distinctions are suppressed...and thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumph.' In his Regne de la Quantitie (The Reign of Quantity) 1945), Guenon (main architect of the Traditionalist ideology) argued that one of the central characterists of the kali yuga (dark age) was the replacement of quality by quantity.

Now, Sedwick gives us some additional information.

'"Traditionalist antimodernism is not what made Small is Beautiful a success, however...What was most appreciated were the elements of the book that argued for conservation of natural resources---arguments that helped launch the Green movment that was to characterize much of the late Western 20th Century.

"Already", wrote Schumacher, "there is overwhelming evidence that the great self balancing system of nature is becoming increasingly unbalanced." "Infinite growth in a finite enviroment is an obvious impossibility."

"These views" Sedgwick writes "derive not from Traditionalism but from Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiners version of Theosophy. This had inspired the Soil Association, a British group that Schumacher joined in 1949, and that was one of the earliest bodies to press for what would later be called an ecological approach to agriculture.

"Schumachers views also derived from British industrial politics: he spent the latter years of his life working for the British National Coal Board, the state owned holding company for the British coal industry, and in the 1960s had been assigned the task of marshalling arguments against the British goverments proposed closure of loss making coal mines. (Shumachers principal argument was that by the 1980s oil reserves would be starting to run out and coal mining would then return to its earlier importance."

(Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World, pp 212-213, Oxford University Press 2004)

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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 06, 2010 11:34PM

Now, Google Soil Associaton and Transition Town and see what Google provides.


A discussion of Shumacher here


The timing of Small of Beautiful was appropriate as it coincided with the 1973 oil crisis. The 1970s was a time of concern that natural resources were running out fast and Schumacher’s arguments chimed with that thinking.

“Nature knows when to stop. We haven’t learned that yet.”

However by the 1990s, predictions of resource depletion had not materialised, shifting environmentalists’ attention from resource consumption to pollution. The pendulum has swung back recently with current concerns over peak oil, peak plutonium, peak fish and peak pretty much everything else. So Schumacher’s ‘depletion of capital’ argument has become very relevant once again.

As with all such controversial and groundbreaking contributions, there was a backlash from mainstream economists, including a 1996 book entitled “Small is Stupid” which made the case for economies of scale and economic growth.

One issue with any book of this era is that the impacts of information revolution had not been anticipated. PK Prahalad has demonstrated that providing mobile phones and internet access to very poor third world farmers and businessmen can allow them to compete more effectively by allowing them access to vital information such commodity prices and weather reports. Whether information technology is a type of appropriate technology or a violent technology destroying local culture is an interesting question, but one which can never be considered by the man himself.


Google 'peak oil' and 'schumacher' and see what you get.

An example of social networking


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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 06, 2010 11:44PM

From Peter Washingtons book, Madame Blavatsky's Baboon

"Anthroposophy..has emerged as the unexpected victor in those long ago guru wars between Besant, Tingley, and Steiner. For although the Anthroposophical Society itself grows only slowly and has like Theosophy a largely elderly membership, its influence has increased out of all proportion. This owes something to the spiritual revival of the later twentieth century; and something to the carefully structured organization established by its founder but most of all to Steiners interest in Green issues and the central place taken in his philosophy by the relationship between ecology and religion.

'The major strength of Steiners teaching noteably lacking from Theosophy--is its practicality. If Steiner has a theory for everything, he also has a way of putting it into practice. Relating a grand cosmology and psychology to ecology, he situates mankind at the heart of a complex universal eco system in which spiritual and biological forces have equally important roles to play; but he also takes account of physical existence at the mundane level: eating, sleeping, farming, making.

'Encourage by the success of the Green movement, the Anthroposophical Society has rencently set up its own bank to lend at low rates of interest to ecologically sound projects: organic farms, small light industries, crafts, and heritage projects. The movement has also invested heavily in Steiners educational, therapeutic and medical enterprises, all of which sit well with contemporary attitudes toward ecology...

(Washington, page 387)

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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 06, 2010 11:53PM

In the footnote to the chapter quoted above ("Climacteric" from Peter Washington's book Madame Blavatsky's Baboon, additional information is given about the Anthroposphy sponsored bank.

(Footnote 11) 'The bank is included in a whole group of financial institutions registered under the name, Mercury Provident, plc. The British Anthroposophical Society has moved in from the social and political fringes. It recently began negotatiating with the Department of Education and Science to register its own technical institute, Michael Faraday College at Brighton, as the first 'Green' City Technology College, under a new government initiative to promoste scientific and technological education. The Prince of Wales has also taken a keen interest, visiting farms funded by the society and championing their forms of alternative medicine. (Washington, page 435)

Washingtons book was published in 1993 and reissued 1995.

Since then, there have been some changes.

A search on Mercury provident and Anthroposophy



A profile of Triodos Bank
This article by Andrew Bibby, in a slightly different form, was first published in the Observer, 2004

The specialist bank well known for its pioneering work in developing ethical investments in Britain is currently finding itself forced to defend its reputation in a High Court action brought by a former business customer. [update below]

Triodos Bank has built up a track record for its role as banker for a range of social and community-based ventures and for its work in developing the idea of ‘ethical' share issues. It is responsible for the technical and fulfilment aspects of the current Café Direct issue, launched by the fair trade company in February 2004 and already half way to its £5m target. Café Direct shares will be tradeable on the Ethex (Ethical Exchange), another innovative recent Triodos initiative.

Triodos describes itself as a bank which lends only to organisations that ‘create social, environmental and cultural value', and its latest newsletter reinforces its progressive credentials with, among other things, a discussion of sustainable farming, a critique of current world trade rules and publicity for a community-controlled village shop. It is unfortunate for the bank, therefore, that it has a dissatisfied customer prepared to confront it in the High Court. The civil case pitting property developer Ashley Dobbs against the bank, which has been stewing for several years, finally began at the High Court on March 16 this year (2004).

The case concerns the Crickhowell ‘televillage', an innovative development of 39 homes in this south Wales town which was designed to attract teleworking pioneers. Ashley Dobbs, now in his forties, began property developing in his early 20s before, among other things, following up interests as an underwater photographer and documentary film-maker. He was an early telework enthusiast and helped found what is now the Telework Association.

Dobbs' dispute with Triodos hinges on the bank's decision to withdraw support for the Crickhowell venture, pushing his company Acorn Televillages into receivership in 2000. He claims that, despite some problems with contractors, the development was fundamentally profitable and that the Acorn assets subsequently sold off by the receivers for £2.1m have since been shown to have been worth much more. He also alleges that Triodos actively worked in the period before receivership to undermine his position. He is representing himself in the High Court in the £18m case, which also has Acorn's two administrative receivers as defendants.

Dobbs says he chose Triodos as banker because he identified with its environmental principles. His views have changed. For Triodos, he says, “I would place an ‘u' and an ‘n' before the word ethical.”

Triodos is strongly contesting his case. “We don't accept the claims he's making. We're confident we have a good case and that the Court will recognise this,” says Charles Middleton, Triodos UK's managing director. The bank says that it will make a full statement at the end of the case.

The Ashley Dobbs case relates to decisions taken by an earlier management team at the bank. However, the current attention will inevitably focus attention on Triodos's background. The bank's British office is in a fine old building overlooking Clifton Downs in Bristol but Triodos has its head office in the Netherlands and is regulated by the Dutch central bank. Triodos also operates in Belgium and Spain.

Triodos's roots (like the UK bank Mercury Provident which it took over in 1995) are in the anthroposophy movement. The term refers to the ideas of the Austrian spiritualist thinker Rudolf Steiner who died in 1925 and whose interests included education, ‘biodynamic' agriculture, eurythmy (movement as art) and therapeutic medicine. Triodos Bank's statutes committed it to anthroposophical principles until 1999 when this formal link was dropped, and in recent years the bank under its current head Peter Blom has embarked on a policy of reaching out beyond Steiner adherents and of broadening its appeal. Nevertheless Triodos's origins are reflected in the fact that most of the Dutch directors come from within anthroposophy, and Triodos continues to be the banker for many Steiner-inspired projects.

The bank describes itself as a ‘transparent bank' and spells out in detail all the UK ventures in which the bank has given overdrafts or loans in a sixteen-page brochure ‘Inspiring Change'. However Triodos has to overcome something of a problem of transparency in its own structure. Behind the single Triodos brand is a parallel legal structure in the Netherlands: Triodos Bank NV is legally separate from Triodos Holding NV, which operates as an international fund manager, provides microcredit in developing countries, and runs a significant venture capital operation in the Netherlands. The two companies are ultimately both controlled by Foundations, with strong roots in anthroposophy and with overlapping membership. The Bank's Foundation issues dividend-earning but non-voting ‘depository receipts' which are held partly by private investors but also by a number of Dutch commercial companies.

Charles Middleton's appointment as head of Triodos in Britain in 2003 followed a managerial hiatus. Glen Saunders, UK managing director at the time of the Crickhowell affair, has since left the bank and his successor Mark Hayes (a well-respected figure who previously set up Shared Interest, the ethical savings co-operative) stayed only a few months before parting company after a disagreement, unspecified but not believed linked to the Ashley Dobbs case.

Hayes's departure was more likely to have been linked to his discomfort with another legacy issue from the early days of Triodos's operation in Britain, the treatment of former Mercury Provident investors. About 560 people had taken advantage of two early ‘ethical' share issues to invest a total of about £1.3m in the British bank. At the time of the 1995 takeover they were given replacement stock in a new subsidiary Triodos Stockholding plc, with an initial pledge that the stock value would be tied to the parent bank's own share value. Unfortunately this arrangement failed to allow adequately for UK/Dutch exchange rate movements, so that by 2001 Triodos Stockholding found itself technically insolvent. As a consequence, ex-Mercury Provident shareholders were asked to agree to a variation in the terms of their stock, reducing the value of their investment by 16%-20%. It meant that £50 originally invested in Mercury Provident became converted in 2003 into Triodos stock worth about £42.

Charles Middleton, who has brought in several new senior managers for the UK bank, will no doubt be wanting to look to the future rather than dwelling on past problems. He comes from a banking background, having joined the bank from Barclays where he held senior management positions for the bank in Africa, the Caribbean and India. He speaks with obvious passion of the potential for developing the bank's distinctive values in Britain, where it currently has about 23,000 account holders and about 550 borrowers. Triodos's next event is an annual meeting for investors, borrowers and friends next month [Apr 2004], when a range of invited speakers will be exploring ‘how values-driven businesses and organisations can reach wider audiences without compromising their principles'. In this respect, Triodos's efforts to reconcile its role as a profit-generating commercial business with its desire to encourage an ethical approach to money certainly makes it a fascinating case study in its own right.


The recent High Court case between Triodos, the Bristol-based ethically minded bank, and Crickhowell televillage developer Ashley Dobbs has ended with the judge finding in the bank's favour.

Triodos, who acted as banker for the innovative Crickhowell development, had been criticised by Mr Dobbs after his company, Acorn Televillages, had been forced into receivership. But the High Court judgment exonerates Triodos's actions and those of its senior management at the time. In his judgment, Mr Justice Lewison describes Mr Dobbs as a ‘man of vision' who nevertheless lacked the necessary financial management skills for the project. Triodos, he says, had acted with ‘sympathy and forbearance' towards Acorn.

The Judge did find Triodos technically liable for a breach of its responsibilities towards remedying snags on the estate, although he suggested that this merited only nominal damages of £2. Ashley Dobbs, who has the right to further legal action in this respect, describes the judgment as “disappointing” and says that he is considering his next steps.

Update, Dec 2009. At the court of appeal in 2005, the appeal judges clarified the law in relation to bank guarantees (such as Ashley Dobbs had offered Triodos), in situations where loan agreements were subsequently subject to amendment or revision.


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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 07, 2010 12:18AM

Twelve Steps to Transition (sometimes known as 12 ingredients)

Read all 12 steps here




The twelve key ingredients to the Transition model
To begin with, it is important to note that although the term “Transition Town” has stuck, what we are talking about are Transition Cities, Transition Islands, Transition Hamlets, Transition Valleys, Transition Anywhere-You-Find-People.

These ingredients are not designed to be followed slavishly - like a good recipe in the hands of a creative chef, sometimes you'll need to switch the order around, substitute certain items, change the emphasis, add some spice! And that's what Transition Initiatives are doing - taking these ingredients, putting them in different orders and adapting them to local conditions. An example of this is Transition Town Bridport's interpretation of the 12 ingredients.

Great Unleashing seems to be some sort of catch phrase--some huge event or other.

It is one of the items in the 12 steps


. Organise a Great Unleashing
This stage creates a memorable milestone to mark the project’s “coming of age”, moves it right into the community at large, builds a momentum to propel your initiative forward for the next period of its work and celebrates your community’s desire to take action.

In terms of timing, we estimate that 6 months to a year after your first “awareness raising” movie screening is about right. The Official Unleashing of Transition Town Totnes was held in September 2006, preceded by about 10 months of talks, film screenings and events.

Regarding contents, it’ll need to bring people up to speed on Peak Oil and Climate Change, but in a spirit of “we can do something about this” rather than doom and gloom. One item of content that we’ve seen work very well is a presentation on the practical and psychological barriers to personal change – after all, this is all about what we do as individuals.

It needn’t be just talks, it could include music, food, opera, break dancing, whatever you feel best reflects your community’s intention to embark on this collective adventure. Some examples (web pages and videos) of unleashings are:

Langport, England
Sandpoint, ID, USA
Norwich, England
Brixton, London, England
Narberth, Wales
Forest Row, England
Lewes, England
Chepstow, Wales


(Corboy note: To get in the mood to attend one of these, I personally suggest
dusting off a great old song by the Dead Kennedys entitled California Uber Alles' and rewrite it as Transition Uber Alles'

The orginal went this way:


California Uber Alles"

I am Governor Jerry Brown (insert new name here)
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...(Prime Minister)

Carter Power will soon go away (Obama Power)
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school
Your kids will meditate in school!

California Uber Alles (Totnes, Devon Uber Alles)
California Uber Alles (Totnes, Devon Uber Alles
Uber Alles California (Uber Alles Green, Green)
Uber Alles California (Uber Alles Green, Green)

Zen fascists will control you (Peak Oil wankers will constrict you)
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face

Close your eyes, can't happen here
Big Bro' on white horse is near
The hippies won't come back you say
Mellow out or you will pay
Mellow out or you will pay!(Sort and recyle or you will pay!
(Sort and recycle or you will pay!-Corboy)


Now it is 1984
Knock-knock at your front door
It's the suede/denim secret police (Its the hemp cloth secret police)
They have come for your uncool niece

Come quietly to the camp
You'd look nice as a drawstring lamp
Don't you worry, it's only a shower
For your clothes here's a pretty flower.

DIE on organic poison gas
Serpent's egg's already hatched (Your carbon foot prints too damn big)
You will croak, you little clown
When you mess with President Brown (new name here)
When you mess with President Brown (new name here)


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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 07, 2010 12:50AM

One persons attempt to have a dialog with Transition Towns Co Founders

(Dated Wednesday November 28th 2007)


The owner of this blog wrote:


Wednesday, 28 November 2007
The Invitation

Many hundreds of man-hours are being invested in preparation for a hypothetical situation that is extremely unlikely to occur any time in the forseeable future. Why are so many people being 'focused' on a hypothetical scenario when there are other, more tangible threats to our Communities?

The ethos of Transition Town is internally focused, yet global legislation is currently being drawn up, which will potentially 'flush away' the local initiatives that TT is driving forward.

Is there more to 'Transition Town' than is currently being disclosed ... or is it simply a case of well-meaning ecologists dreaming of sustainable community while being oblivious to the geo-political realities. Only time ... and a greater regard for intellectual transparency ... will tell.

In 2005, I attended a presentation by Naresh Giangrande on 'Peak Oil'. The presentation incorporated the standard Campbell/Simmons/Ruppert hypothesis on 'Peak Oil' but was presented as FACT.

During the Q&A session, it became apparent that Naresh possessed limited oilfield knowledge. At the end of the evening, I approached Naresh and suggested that perhaps the issue of 'Peak Oil' should be opened up for debate. He declined the invitation. Subsequent suggestion, to both Naresh Giangrande & Rob Hopkins, that the issue be debated publicly were rejected.

Over the next two years Transition Town trotted out a series of 'Peak Oil' protagonists (not an oil industry representative amongst them), to promote the eschatological scenario of a world without oil.

Eventually, Changing Times, a Lewes based organisation who focus on providing a vehicle for questioning received wisdom, arranged the debate that Transition Town Totnes had successfully avoided for the previous two years.

In the aftermath of the Lewes debate, I tried once again, to encourage the Transition Town founder, Rob Hopkins, to participate in a similar event, so that the population of Totnes may have the opportunity to hear an alternative view on the issue of 'Peak Oil'.

The following Email was sent to Rob Hopkins (cc: Naresh Giangrande) on Friday 14th September 2007.


Hi Rob,

I believe it is now more than two years since I first broached the proposal of a public debate with either yourself (or Naresh) on the subject of Peak Oil. Although the basic premise of TT philosophy is based upon “an understanding of Peak Oil and Climate Change as twin drivers …”, you have (perhaps understandably) been reluctant to acknowledge the validity of counter proposition. However, I am sure that you will be aware of my participation in the recent Peak Oil debate, hosted by Changing Times, in Lewes, Sussex, on Tuesday September 4th.

Mike Grenville, representing the Transition Town Community, made some very interesting comments and observations during the course of the evening but it was very apparent that some of the information which I presented was new (by his own admission) to at least one of the three TT members who had come along in support of Mike. It was interesting, if rather surprising, to learn that, according to the event organisers, both Mike Grenville and the Lewes TT community had elected not to promote awareness of this debate, either on their respective websites or via their respective mailing lists. If this is the case, it is really quite startling and raises the question as to whether those who actively seek to promote the hypothesis of Peak Oil are wary of their hypotheses being placed under scrutiny!

As Lewes is but a satellite of the Totnes initiative, it would seem most pertinent to continue this debate in Totnes. Consequently, I propose to hold a similar event in Totnes on the evening of Friday 18th October at St. John’s Church, Bridgetown. As prime movers in the TT movement, I would like to invite either yourself or Naresh to present the case for Peak Oil; I would then present the counter view.

If either of you are unable to participate in this event, perhaps you would like to recommend an alternative Peak Oil or TT campaigner to present the case for Peak Oil.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you would like to discuss the proposition further.

Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing from you

The exchange of Emails which followed this invitation ... speak volumes!

Ian, the owner of this blog describes himself:

"An ex-oilfield executive who has lived and worked in the Middle East, mainland Europe and the USA, Ian has spent the past ten years studying mythology, alternative history, secret societies, esotericism, … and deep geopolitics! Ian does not represent or speak or write on behalf of any organisation; consequently all views expressed are based upon his personal knowledge and research. "

Here is a description and review of a Ruppert documentary about Peak Oil



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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 07, 2010 03:46AM

'A Year in the Life of an Organic Banker'



Every year we hear the UK’s organic farming sector has expanded even further. But the industry isn’t without its challenges, or immune to the problems that have rattled conventional agriculture. As the UK’s only dedicated organic farming bank manager, Triodos Bank’s Ian Price is closer than most to the issues and their effect on farmers across the country. Here, he reflects on an eventful 2007.

January starts with the Soil Association national conference in Cardiff, with the challenge of peak oil - or the pinnacle and subsequent decline of crude oil production - outlined by Transition Town’s Rob Hopkins. Organic farmers face rising fuel prices and associated costs, and can’t afford to ignore the issue.

excerpt from an article published in Triodosnews 29

"triodos" "transition town"

More Google citations here


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2010 03:51AM by corboy.

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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 07, 2010 04:17AM

In its 12 step (or 12 ingredient) organizing model, Transition uses community get togethers and movies and yes, uses the concept of peak oil as focal points for concern.


Screenings of key movies (In Transition 1.0, Inconvenient Truth, End of Suburbia, Crude Awakening, Power of Community) along with a facilitated question and answer session at the end of each, are very effective. (See Transition Initiatives Primer (1MB pdf) for the lowdown on many of these movies – where to get them, how to access the trailers, what the licencing regulations are, doomster rating vs solution rating.

Talks by experts in their field of climate change, peak oil and community solutions can be very inspiring.


Michael Ruppert is one such


Remember however the former oil industry employee who tried to debate and exhange e-mails with Transition Towns cofounders and got no response. Persons with actual experience, but whose testimony does not mesh with the ideology of TT are apparently experts who are not considered inspiring enough.


A wikipedia article on Michael Ruppert, who has his own theory concerning Peak Oil and who is listed as being interviewed in a couple of the movies recommended by Transition for its events.

Ruppert has had a most interesting life, but no experience working in oilfields or engineering technology.


"Ruppert appears in the documentary films Peak Oil - Imposed by Nature [12] and *The End of Suburbia"

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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: margarets ()
Date: May 07, 2010 06:10AM

A google search on "transition town" and "cult" yielded some interesting results.

It's hard to know whether those saying TT is a cult are perhaps covert climate-change-deniers or oil-industry advocates, and they are trying to undermine the movement. Or whether people are using the word 'cult' in the full-on, sense, or just in the sense of "hoo boy! these people are REALLY passionate about their cause!" or "hey, these people won't change over to MY way of thinking, something MUST be wrong". Or whether it's a case of a few bad apples. The environmental movement is so large, there are bound to be a few nutjobs and opportunists in it.

I know from my own experience with activists that some of them are overly zealous and intolerant. I can totally see someone getting kicked out because they don't agree with the group's premises and aims. I might do the same if I was running a group - it would be annoying and counter-productive to have to deal with a dissenter all the time and anyway, why are they even in the group if they think it's bunk?

I don't think TT's refusal to communicate with the oil industry is a red flag. For one thing, it's the oil industry - they've got ethics issues up the wazoo and plenty of other opportunities to get their views out. We don't expect the Cancer Society to communicate with the cigarette companies. We don't expect everyone who is anti-smoking to have experience in medical research.

So far, there's no evidence that TT is doing any of the usual cult stuff like mind control, exploitation, isolation from family and friends, etc.

So I think it's too soon to say whether TT is a cult or even any more questionable than any other political movement (of course the ethical standards in politics are so very low as to give TT A LOT of room to manoeuvre!).

Just my two cents.

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Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: margarets ()
Date: May 07, 2010 06:42AM

Hey! I just found out that TT is active in my city! It's very new, and this city is kind of overloaded with environmental groups, so it will be interesting to see how they compete for 'market share'.

I will go to some events, see what they're like, and report back.

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