Posted by: Mike Grenville | 24 November 2008

Netherlands Starts Transition Groningen

Hugo Klip recently translated the Transition Initiatives Primer into Dutch, together with Jeanneke van de Ven from Flanders. This is Hugo’s report about the transition initiative in Groningen and a bit about what is going on in the whole of The Netherlands.
Hugo V.M. Klip

During our stay in the Findhorn Community last Summer my wife Eveline and I got so inspired by transition towns that we decided we would start transition town Groningen. Still in Findhorn I started to translate the Primer, knowing that a lot of my fellow countrymen would be needing it.

Although we’d studied the transition Handbook thoroughly, we still felt kind of absolute beginners when the date of the first transition evening came near. We had mailed about 70 people we thought might be interested, had distributed a leaflet, and had invited everybody we’d happened to meet and who had been willing to listen to our plans. We even had a simple website. Groningen has over 180,000 inhabitants, but we didn’t dare to expect more than ten people. So we were greatly surprised – and very pleased as well – when over forty people turned up.

After introducing ourselves, we first asked the audience to turn to somebody they didn’t know and tell them who they were and why they’d come. This was because the Handbook states transition town is all about knowing each other, working together, and knowing each other’s talents and skills. People really appreciated this.


After that I gave a short powerpoint introduction about what a transition town is and talked a bit about the challenges of climate change and peak oil. Then we started screening the Film ‘The Power of Community, How Cuba Survived Peak Oil’.

Jeanneke van de Ven, the Flemish woman who had co-translated the Transition Primer, had also made Dutch subtitles for this film. The subtitles had been put on a temporary copy of the dvd and this was the one we were using, with special consent of Community Solutions, the maker of the film.

When the film was finished, Eveline informed the audience about our plans to organise more awareness raising evenings, and she invited people to join us to form a steering group. Then she asked everybody to write on three post-its answers to the following questions: What does this evening mean to you? What is your wish for Groningen? What do you have to offer? This gave them an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts about the film and the information they’d got. That was the end of the official part.

People were enthusiastic and said this was what they had been waiting for. They had been feeling worried about global warming, pollution and other problems but thought that as an individual they could do hardly anything at all. Now they had found a group of like-minded people, willing to act. They appreciated in particular the inclusiveness and the emphasis on action. Eveline and I hadn’t presented ourselves as the leaders of some kind of new movement, but only as initiators.

The post-its expressed such hope, inspiration and willingness to help and act! Next day we typed them out and mailed them to everyone.

We now have a steering group of six people, giving their time to improve and maintain the website, to look for spaces to organise new awareness raising meetings, to write newsletters to inform people, and donating money to make a full colour folder… We had a talk with local government officials, who were very willing to cooperate – we’re going to give a presentation about transition town for their colleagues beginning next year.

We think newsletters are important to keep people informed and to let them know a lot is happening. Networking is crucial to make ourselves known to all groups and parties in town. Till next summer we’re going to organise awareness raising meetings at least once a month, as well as screenings at home for small groups of people who have missed the “big evenings”. The next meeting will me 9th of December.

Now we’re started. Everything is now running and we can be extremely busy at times, but we’re far from feeling it like a burden. On the contrary, we feel alive and inspired, happy to be doing something that really matters.



  1. […] GRONINGEN 6 december 2008 – In Engeland volgt men de Nederlandse ontwikkelingen op de voet. Zie voor een verslag van de eerste Groningse transition town avond van 30 oktober de Engelse site Transition Network News met het bericht Netherlands starts Transition Groningen. […]

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