Transition Towns
Transition Network

TRANSITION TOWNS - an introduction - start here!
Peak Oil - & other key facts you need to know
Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) primer
Transition Culture - Rob Hopkins' blog
Transition Towns wiki + Transition Network
Notes from Transition Training (before I left!)

Permaculture - its principles are vital to Transition Towns
Inner Transition - the journey of apocalyptic awakening
Working with groups - World Cafe, Open Space etc
Transition training - notes.

Transition Towns... embody creative responses by ordinary people

  • who want to prepare creatively to meet the twin challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change that face us now.
  • who know we don’t have all the answers but know it’s important to have the conversation.
  • who see the need to build local resilience to cope with future shocks, energy brownouts, etc as oil becomes scarce.
  • who believe that we will not come through well unless we work together, building community and solidarity.
  • who see that whether we like it or not, we will have to re-localize, de-globalize, in most basic aspects of life, and that it is better to try to plan this than to let ourselves be taken unawares.
  • who are drawing on their individual creative resources to wean ourselves off our heavy dependence on oil in food production, transport, energy, manufacturing, businesses everywhere - our whole way of life.
  • who discover they are unleashing incredible riches of a community's creative capacities to face difficulty.
world map of TT initiatives Transition Towns...
emerged out of initial shock when the permaculture students at Kinsale, Ireland, learned about Peak Oil. They responded creatively by developing the first Energy Descent Action Plan, involving and engaging the whole Kinsale community. The initiative has now grown from just two towns in 2006 (Kinsale and Totnes, UK) to 30 officially designated Transition Initiatives and over 400 groups "mulling" (Nov 2007).
Thinking about TT

"It feels to me that one of the reasons [Transition Towns] has grown so fast is that it is positive in a time where it is hard to find positivity, solutions-based in a time when the problems are so glaringly obvious, and fun, in a time where we’re not supposed to have time for that any more." Rob Hopkins

The aim is to "re-localise" ie "de-globalize", community by community, planning practical alternatives to our fossil-fuelled energy-intense lifestyles, looking for best solutions generated by everyone, rather than waiting for hardships enforced from above, catastrophes, societal breakdown, and even martial law. We still have a "window of opportunity" to recreate communities that are vibrant, resilient and truly sustainable. But the longer we do nothing and expect "someone else" to act, the harder it will be when the global challenges press in on us, as they surely will.

Peak Oil describes the half-way high point in oil production. It’s not that oil is going to run out, but as the rate of new finds decreases, it becomes more expensive to extract.
• This looming scarcity can only lead to price rises, stiff competition for remaining reserves, and unthinkable patterns of behaviour - unless we think, plan and act, now.
• Fossil fuels are central to every aspect of our lives including food, transport, water, manufacturing, and healthcare.
• Peak Oil also threatens our ability to deal with the unpredictable effects of climate change.
• Peak Oil may well be here now - production has not risen since 2005, and prices are increasing.

We can’t control the speed of energy decline, nor can we predict its onset accurately at this point. However, we can choose how quickly and effectively to prepare and respond…

Energy Descent Action Plans.... An EDAP is a timetabled vision of how to move away from our dependence on cheap fossil fuels, rebuilding local resilience through re-localising, where feasible, all aspects of life. Given the likely disruptions ahead, a resilient community – self-reliant for as many of its own needs as possible - will be infinitely better prepared to weather the storms, if only those of price volatility, which are set to impact food supply, energy generation, transport fuels, healthcare and housing. See the EDAP, or visit Eat The Suburbs for more detail.

Permaculture seems to embody the way of thinking, acting, and living that embraces the Transition model most naturally. If you are not familiar with Permaculture, it is worth understanding and experiencing it, or something similar, firsthand.


The UK Independent front-page designs this year reflect a deep change towards global, holistic, responsible thinking - even if we have a lot further to go - and bad "global warming" science to let go of:

The Heat is on   World without Oil

Useful resources:
• Energy Beyond Oil, Paul Mobbs • Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide, Harrison Own • The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Shaping the Future, Peggy Holman and Tom Devane

            Transition Towns - the principles involved

The Twelve Steps

1. Set up a steering group and design its demise from the outset - this can happen when enough key interest groups have formed 7. Develop visible practical manifestations of the project - this significantly enhances people's perception of TT and their willingness to participate
2. Awareness raising - Peak Oil & Climate Change as twin drivers - films, talks etc - identify key allies, build crucial networks, prepare community in general 8. Faciliate the Great Reskilling - rediscovering lost abilities to solve problems, to achieve vital practical results and to work cooperatively alongside other people
3. Lay the foundations - network with existing groups and activists, acknowledge & honour their work and suggest how TT may act as a catalyst 9. Build a bridge to local government - nothing can progress very far without cultivating good relationships with local authority - who may well be keen to participate
4. Organise a Great Unleashing - to celebrate that the community is facing the issues - where the bad news is seen as a catalyst to bring forth positive response. 10. Honour the elders - the generation who lived through the war and before cheap oil remember how they managed and have precious wisdom and stories to tell
5. Form sub groups - the unleashed collective genius of the community needs to form smaller groups to develop different parts of the descent strategy 11. Let it go where it wants to go - "keep your eyes on the prize" and just act as a catalyst for the genius of the community to unfold
6. Use Open Space - in theory unworkable, in practice a highly effective way for TT to galvanize ideas, plans and committment in response to key questions and issues 12. Create an Energy Descent Plan - this is the goal to be for everyone involved in Transition Towns. We are constantly in tension between the pressure of events and our dreams.

The Seven Buts

1. ‘We’ve got no funding.’ Not really necessary when you’ve got enthusiasm and community involvement. Funders can also be controllers, which doesn’t serve the process.

2. ‘They won’t let us.’ Transition towns operate ‘below the radar’, removing fears, apparently held by some green folks that successful initiatives will get shut down. Corporate awareness of climate change and ecology is growing, and many people in power are inspired and enthused by these initiatives.

3. ‘I don’t want to step on the toes of other green groups in town.’ A Transition Town initiative will invigorate and unite existing groups in a common goal and sense of purpose. Liaising with existing groups will be useful in constructing an Energy Descent Plan. Email sent from Sustainable Redland to the Transition Town group: “I just wanted to feed back to the group after going to last night’s Transition City Bristol meeting and talk. Great bunch of people, informative talk… I got the impression that the Transition City bunch are probably way further along the road than us in really building guardianship of the planet into their lives, but despite that, there was no sense of 'us and them'. There was also a refreshing lack of angst about what the authorities in Bristol are/will be doing; it was 'ignore that, just get on with it'.”

4. ‘No-one in this town cares about the environment.’ While this may appear to be true at first, if you look deeper and seek out those involved in local food, crafts, history and culture (going to them, not expecting them to approach you), you’ll probably find more allies than at first you saw.

5. ‘Surely it’s too late to do anything?’ It may be, but also it may not be. Vandana Shiva says “The uncertainty of our times is no reason to be certain about hopelessness.”

6. ‘I don’t have the right qualifications.’ Well, if you don’t do it, who will? “What’s important is that you care about where you live, that you see the need to act and that you are open to new ways of engaging people.”

7. ‘I don’t have the energy for doing that.’ Although this may appear from the outside to be a daunting task, very often, developing environmental initiatives is like pushing a broken down car up a hill. Transition Towns is like coming down the other side – the car starts moving faster than you can keep up with it, accelerating all the time. Once you give it the push from the top of the hill it will develop its own momentum. And you are not alone. The energy is generated by the group and for the group. This is a new way of being together and organizing life together.

key page - last updated 10th Aug 2008

We've tried to acknowledge adequately those whose material we've used, but if we've fallen short, apologies, and please tell us! - it's all done with goodwill and hope, with the right intent and for the right reasons...


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