Transition Towns (network)

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Totnes, Devon, England: a transition town

A transition town is a grassroot community project that seeks to build resilience in response to peak oil,[1] climate destruction, and economic instability. Local projects are usually based on the model's initial '12 ingredients' and later 'revised ingredients'.[2][3] The first initiative to use the name was Transition Town Totnes, founded in 2006. The movement is an example of socioeconomic localisation.

Etymology[edit]

The term, "transition town", was coined by Louise Rooney[4] and Catherine Dunne.

The transition model can be applied to any place where people live. The generic term is "transition initiative", even though "transition town" is in common usage.[2]

Transition Network[edit]

Between late 2006 and early 2007 the Transition Network was founded as a UK charity. It trains and supports people involved with Transition initiatives. It disseminates the concepts of the transition model. Also, the organisation assists the grassroots initiatives to network with one another.[5]

Features[edit]

The main aim of the project generally, and echoed by the towns locally, is to raise awareness of sustainable living and build local ecological resilience in the near future. Communities are encouraged to seek out methods for reducing energy usage as well as reducing their reliance on long supply chains that are totally dependent on fossil fuels for essential items. Food is a key area, and they often talk of "Food feet, not food miles!" Initiatives so far have included creating community gardens to grow food; business waste exchange, which seeks to match the waste of one industry with another industry that uses that waste material; and even simply repairing old items rather than throwing them away.

The Transition Network website contains a listing of the initiatives that have registered there.[6]

While the focus and aims remain the same, the methods used to achieve these vary. For example, Totnes has introduced its own local currency, the Totnes pound, which is redeemable in local shops and businesses, helping to reduce "food miles" while also supporting local firms.[7] This idea is also planned to be introduced in three Welsh transition towns[8] and in Maleny Australia, the Baroon Dollar as a part of a regional transition towns project.[9]

Central to the transition town movement is the idea that a life without oil could in fact be far more enjoyable and fulfilling than the present: "by shifting our mind-set we can actually recognise the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant — somewhere much better to live than our current alienated consumer culture based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth."[10][11]

An essential aspect of transition in many places, is that the outer work of transition needs to be matched by inner transition. That is in order to move down the energy descent pathways effectively we need to rebuild our relations with our selves, with each other and with the "natural world". That requires focusing on the heart and soul of transition.[12][13]

Influences[edit]

Influences include permaculture concepts as described in Bill Mollison’s Permaculture, a Designers Manual (1988) and David Holmgren’s Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2003),[14] as well as David Fleming's work on community, culture and resilience.[15]

History[edit]

Permaculture designer Rob Hopkins in conversation with Silver Donald Cameron about Transition Towns.

In 2004, permaculture designer Rob Hopkins set his students at Kinsale Further Education College the task of applying permaculture principles to the concept of peak oil. The output of this student project was the ‘Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan'.[16]

This looked at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of energy production, health, education, economy and agriculture as a "road map" to a sustainable future for the town. Two of his students, Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne, set about developing the Transition towns concept and took the far-reaching step of presenting it to Kinsale Town Council, resulting in the historic decision by councilors to adopt the plan and work towards energy independence.[citation needed]

Hopkins moved to his hometown of Totnes, England, where he and Naresh Giangrande developed these concepts into the transition model. In 2006 Transition Town Totnes become the first Transition initiative.[17]

The initiative spread quickly, and as of May 2010, there are over 400 communities[18] recognized as official Transition Towns in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Italy and Chile. The term transition towns has morphed into transition initiatives to reflect the range and type of communities involved - e.g. villages (Kinsale), neighbourhoods of cities (Portobello, Edinburgh), through council districts (Penwith) to cities and city boroughs (Brixton).[19]

In the United States, transition initiatives have sprung up in many communities. Transition US is the national hub and has a vision "that every community in the United States will have engaged its collective creativity to unleash an extraordinary and historic transition to a future beyond fossil fuels; a future that is more vibrant, abundant and resilient; one that is ultimately preferable to the present". Transition US is a resource and catalyst for building resilient communities across the United States that are able to withstand severe energy, climate or economic shocks while creating a better quality of life in the process. They are accomplishing this mission by inspiring, encouraging, supporting, networking and training individuals and their communities as they consider, adopt, adapt, and implement the transition approach to community empowerment and change.[20]

A large number of state sites have also been set up using the Ning social networking platform. These state sites, under the umbrella of a national Ning site,[21] were set up to help facilitate, network, inform, monitor, and house regional and organizational Transition initiatives and further the rapid spread of the Transition Movement while networking related organizations, projects, ideas and activities. In addition, many Transition initiatives can be found on the WiserEarth community.[22] These social networking sites have now begun to spread worldwide.

Energy descent action plans[edit]

A key concept within transition is the idea of a community-visioned, community-designed and community-implemented plan to proactively transition the community away from fossil fuels. The term "community" in this context includes all the key players - local people, local institutions, local agencies and the local council. With a website devoted to the plan and the publication of Totnes' Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP), the definition of the concept of transition towns has recently seen a significant development.[23]

Growth and official status[edit]

The number of communities involved in the project is increasing with many localities in the process of becoming "official" transition towns.[24]

As of September 2013, there are 1130 initiatives registered (462 Official, 654 Muller) in 43 countries.[25]

Popular culture[edit]

Transition towns has featured in the plot line of the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers,[26] which illustrates the media attention and rapid growth the movement is generating.

Economics[edit]

As of 2010, transition initiatives are generally including the global financial crisis as a third aspect beside peak oil and climate change. Two themes of the transition model are local communities being resilient and sustainable. This can be applied to economics as well as the environment.

One path that is being perused is the creation of local complementary currencies. Existing or developing Transition currencies include:

International elements[edit]

There are transition initiatives all over the world now, and much of the material has been translated and adapted to other languages/cultures. These translated materials are linked from this page, and cover Portuguese, Danish, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Irish.

Publications[edit]

Transition Network, the charity based in the UK whose mission is to "inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they adopt/adapt the transition model in response to climate change, peak oil and economic contraction" has released a number of publications. These are designed to help communities through the varying stages of their initiative.

The books listed on the Transition Network books page include:

  • The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience - by Rob Hopkins
  • The Transition Timeline: for a local, resilient future - by Shaun Chamberlin
  • Local Food: how to make it happen in your community - by Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins
  • Local Money: how to make it happen in your community - by Peter North
  • Local Sustainable Homes: how to make them happen in your community - by Chris Bird
  • Local Communities and Local Councils: working together to make things happen - by Alexis Rowell[27]

In 2008, the Transition Handbook was the joint 5th most popular book taken on holiday during the summer recess by the UK parliamentary MPs.[28]

See also[edit]

  • Open Source Ecology a network of farmers, engineers and supporters, whose main goal is the eventual manufacturing of the Global Village Construction Set, an open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "12 Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  4. ^ http://www.localplanet.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=191&Itemid=49
  5. ^ "About Transition Network". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Morris, Jonathan (4 June 2007). "Town poised for its own currency". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Towns banking their own currency". BBC News. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Money worries: town prints its own". ABC News. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Transition Town Westcliff website
  11. ^ Who we are and what we do by Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman. Transition Network. February 2009.
  12. ^ Inner Transition
  13. ^ http://www.thedirt.org/node/3702
  14. ^ "Permaculture". Transition Town Ashland. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  15. ^ David Fleming obituary in The Ecologist
  16. ^ "Kinsale 2021 An Energy Descent Action Plan – Version.1. 2005". Kinsale Further Education College. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "The Transition movement: Today Totnes... tomorrow the world". The Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Transition Initiatives Directory
  19. ^ "About PEDAL". Portobello Transition Town. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "About us". Transition US. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  21. ^ see transitionus.ning.com
  22. ^ see Transition Initiative Groups on WiserEarth.org
  23. ^ "Transition in Action". totnesedaporg.uk. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "Money for climate project". The Nelson Mail. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  26. ^ The Archers website - Transition Ambridge
  27. ^ Transition Network books page
  28. ^ 'Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging', Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 31 May 2009

External links[edit]