The Association of Town Centre Managment invited Transition Cambridge to run a workshop entitled "When the Oil Runs Out" at their Summer School in Cambridge on 30 June 2011. We started out by pointing out that it's not about oil running out, but about cheap oil getting scarce and oil prices rising. After a quick round of introductions, we gave a short presentation on peak oil and climate change, highlighting some of the challenges for town centres. We then brainstormed the challenges and opportunities associated with peak oil and climate change, and we showed some examples of things that transition towns have done or might do. We invited participants to note down a few things that they could realistically do to reduce their vulnerability to peak oil and to take advantage of some of the opportunities that may present themselves. We finished by giving them a resource sheet to find out more. The workshop was only 40 minutes long so this is a very preliminary consideration of how these issues will affect town centres, and what town centre managers can do. We hope it provides food for thought!
These came out of a group brainstorming session. Many of these were both challenges and opportunities.
Challenges: getting people out of their cars (changing the mindset); planning towns so that people can meet their everyday needs from a central/localised area (to help public transport and build economies of scale); on-shoring i.e. supplying things from the UK and bringing manufacture back to the UK so that it isn't cheaper to import granite for building from China - this creates business opportunities - i.e. local sourcing; internet retail (challenge to town centre shops).
Opportunities: as petrol gets more expensive, people are likely to travel to out-of-town shopping centres less, and town centres more; lifestyle changes e.g. working from home; shop'n'drop and local delivery services with several stores combining so that fewer trips are needed to make deliveries; carclubs such as streetcar to reduce number of cars (though cars also need to be electric and use renewable energy).
Here are some of the ideas that participants came up with:
http://transitionculture.org blog by Rob Hopkins, a founder of the transition movement
http://www.transitionnetwork.org for news on transition initiatives and projects in the UK and worldwide
Resources about Peak Oil: http://www.energybulletin.net; http://www.theoildrum.com
Rob Hopkins (2008) The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience Green Books
Rob Hopkins (2011, in press) The Transition Companion
Alexis Rowell (2010) Communities, Councils & a Low-carbon Future Green Books
The Power of Community – about how Cuba responded to the USSR cutting off its oil supply A Convenient Truth – Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil In Transition – about Transition initiatives and projects
This workshop was designed and facilitated by Anna McIvor and Liz Serocold. Please get in touch if you would like us to run a similar workshop for your organisation. With special thanks to Ben Brangwyn whose presentation we adapted for this workshop, and to Emma Thornton, Head of Tourism and City Centre Management in Cambridge, who kindly agreed to meet up with us to explain how town centre management works and what it aims to do.