Transition town

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Transition Network
Formation2007; 12 years ago (2007)
FounderRob Hopkins, Peter Lipman and Ben Brangwyn
PurposeSupporting Transition initiatives
Location
  • Totnes, England
WebsiteTransition Network,
Transition United States,
REconomy Project

The terms transition town, transition initiative and transition model refer to grassroot community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil,[1] climate destruction, and economic instability.[2] In 2006, founding of Transition Town Totnes, in the United Kingdom, became an inspiration for other groups to form. The Transition Network charity was founded in early 2007, to support these projects. A number of the groups are officially registered with the Transition Network.[3] Transition initiatives have been started in locations around the world, with many located in the United Kingdom and others in Europe, North America and Australia.[2][4] While the aims remain the same, Transition initiatives' solutions are specific depending on the characteristics of the local area.[5]

Etymology[edit]

The term, "transition town" was coined by Louise Rooney[6] and Catherine Dunne.

The transition model can be applied to different types of places where people live, such as villages, regions, islands and towns. The generic term is "transition initiative", which includes transition neighborhoods, communities, and cities, although "transition town" is in common usage.[7]

History[edit]

From Kinsale to Totnes[edit]

Totnes, Devon, England: a transition town

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'.[8]

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, developed the Transition towns concept. They then presented their ideas to Kinsale Town Council. The councilors decided 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 early 2006, Transition Town Totnes was founded and became the inspiration for founding of other Transition initiatives.[9]

Transition Network founded[edit]

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

In early 2007,[10] the Transition Network UK charity was co-founded by permaculture educator Rob Hopkins, Peter Lipman and Ben Brangwyn. Totnes based, it was initiated to support the Transition initiatives emerging around the world. It trains and supports people involved with the initiatives. It also disseminates the concepts of transition towns.[11]

2008 to present day[edit]

In 2008, the number of communities involved in the project had increased with many localities in the process of becoming "official" Transition towns.[12] This was also the year that the Transition Handbook was published.[11]

The initiative spread and by May 2010 there were over 400 community initiatives recognized as official Transition towns in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Italy and Chile. The term transition initiatives became common 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).[13][14]

By September 2013, there were 1130 initiatives registered (462 Official, 654 Muller) in 43 countries.[15]

In March 2019, the Transition Network encourage initiatives worldwide to reflect on their group's process with its 'health check' resource.[16][17]

Influences[edit]

Influences include permaculture[18] concepts as described in Bill Mollison’s Permaculture, a Designers Manual (1988) and David Holmgren’s Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2003),[19] as well as David Fleming's work on community, culture and resilience.[20]

Organization[edit]

Each transition town or initiative has a high level of autonomy. However, to be called an official initiative certain criteria must be met. Additionally, there is nothing to stop an 'unofficial' initiative using ideas inspired by Transition towns. Further, there are various 'hubs' to coordinate work at a regional level.[citation needed]

Transition Network[edit]

The Transition Network (TN) is a UK charity set up to support Transition initiatives. It has published books and films, trained people and facilitated networking.[11] The TN's website contains a listing of the initiatives that have registered, some of which are officially recognised.[21]

Some of the material has been translated and adapted to other languages/cultures, including Portuguese, Danish, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Irish.[22]

TN has run seven conferences: Nailsworth (2007), Royal Agriculture College, Cirencester (2008), Battersea Arts Centre (2009), Dame Hannah's at Seale Hayne (2010), Hope University, Liverpool (2011), Battersea Arts Centre (2012)[23] and Dame Hannah's at Seale Hayne (2015).[24]

Transition US[edit]

In the United States, transition initiatives have been started in many communities. Transition US is the national hub. Its stated vision is "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".[25]

The stated aim of Transition US is to be 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 plan to accomplish this 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".[26]

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, were set up to help facilitate, network, inform, monitor, and house regional and organizational transition initiatives. Thus, furthering the spread of the transition movement while networking related organizations, projects, ideas and activities.

Guidance for new groups[edit]

Some projects use the TN's guide the '12 ingredients', or the 'revised ingredients', when setting up their group.[7][27]

Features[edit]

The Transition Network's (TN) stated aim is to promote awareness of sustainable living and building local ecological resilience.[28]

Peak oil and local resilience[edit]

The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resiliency by Rob Hopkins provides much of the framework behind the Transition Initiative and outlines ways for local Transition Towns to get involved.[29]

Transportation[edit]

Communities are encouraged by The Transition Network 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 (see environmental calculator).[citation needed]

Food production[edit]

According to The Transition food is a key area for transition, sometimes the slogan "Food feet, not food miles" is used. Initiatives so far have included creating community gardens or replacing ornamental tree plantings with fruit or nut trees, to grow food.[30]

Waste and recycling[edit]

Business waste exchange seeks to match the waste of one industry with another industry that uses that waste material, sometimes referred to as industrial symbiosis. It is suggested that this process can help companies increase profitability by reducing raw material and waste disposal cost, reducing carbon emission, making their by-products a source of revenue to be bought by other business.[31][32][additional citation(s) needed] It also suggests that repairing old items rather than throwing them away should be considered.[citation needed]

Psychology[edit]

The Transition Network proposes an alternative from business as usual, or from 'shocked/doomladen' reactions to peak oil and an end to unlimited economic growth.[33] According to Southend-on-Sea in Transition,

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."[34]

A theme of the Transition Network is acknowledging the emotional impact of changing to a low energy world. Some Transition Network groups have 'Heart and Soul' groups to look at this aspect.[35][36]

Energy descent action plans (EDAP)[edit]

Transition towns aim to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and one way they do this is by developing an EDAP. The term "community" is defined here as including local people, local institutions, local agencies and the local council.[citation needed] The first comprehensive plan was created for Totnes in 2010, entitled Transition in Action: Totnes & District 2030.[37]

In France, where the movement is called Villes et Territoires en Transition, the association négaWatt provides a theoretical support to the transition movement.[38]

Economics[edit]

After the 2008 global financial crisis, the Transition Network added financial instability as further threat to local communities (alongside peak oil and climate change). It suggested a number of strategies could help, including fiscal localism[39][40] and local food production.[41] Further, it sees the creation of local complementary currencies as reinforcing moves toward sustainable low carbon economies as well as being socially beneficial.[42] Additionally, Hopkins also wrote that the movement does have an understanding of global economics and is critical of its systemic problems such as being "growth-based".[43]

Some transition towns have been involved in launching local currencies including the Totnes pound, the Lewes pound, the Stroud pound and the Brixton pound.

To help further these aims the Transition Network setup up the REconomy Project, circa 2012.[44]

Launched in 2007 the Totnes pound, which was redeemable in local shops and businesses, helped to reduce food miles while also supporting local firms.[45]

In 2008, the idea was also considered by three Welsh transition towns, including Cardiff.[46]

The Stroud pound and Totnes pound became defunct in 2013 and 2019 respectively. As of November 2019, the Lewes pound and Brixton pound are active.

In popular culture[edit]

Transition towns have been featured in the plot line of the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers. This is an example of mainstream media attention the movement received a few years after being founded.[47]

Publications[edit]

Books[edit]

A number of books have been published on specific topics, including: how communities can develop their Transition town initiative. Unless stated, the following books were published as a collaboration between Green Books and the Transition Network (under the label Transition Books):[48]

  • The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience (2008) – by Rob Hopkins[29]
  • The Transition Timeline: for a local, resilient future (2009) – by Shaun Chamberlin[49]
  • Local Food: how to make it happen in your community (2009) – by Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins[39]
  • Local Money: how to make it happen in your community (2010) – by Peter North[40]
  • Local Sustainable Homes: how to make them happen in your community (2010) – by Chris Bird
  • Communities, Councils and a Low Carbon Future What We Can Do If Governments Won't (2010) – by Alexis Rowell[50]
  • Transition in Action: Totnes & District 2030 – an EDAP (2010) Transition Town Totnes – (scripted) by Jacqi Hodgson with Rob Hopkins[37]
  • The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times (2011) – by Rob Hopkins
  • The Power of Just Doing Stuff (2013) – by Rob Hopkins

In 2008, the Transition Handbook was the joint 5th most popular book taken on holiday during the summer recess by the UK parliamentary MPs.[51]

Films[edit]

Two films have been created by the movement about the movement. They document the progress of various initiatives:

  • In Transition 1.0 (2009)
  • In Transition 2.0 (2012) Emma Goude (Director), Transition Network and Green Lane Films (Production)[52]

Critique and research[edit]

In 2008, the Trapese Collective published a critique called The Rocky Road to a Real Transition to which Hopkins replied. The debate was partly about how social change is brought about.[53][43]

A number of academic paper have been published looking at the concept's progress:

  • Scott Cato, Molly; Hillier, Jean (9 December 2011). "How Could We Study Climate-Related Social Innovation? Applying Deleuzean Philosophy to the Transition Towns". Rochester, NY: 9. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

See also[edit]

Books[edit]

Organisations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Flintoff, John-Paul (15 June 2013). "Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward?".
  3. ^ "What is a Transition Initiative? - Transition Network".
  4. ^ "Transition Initiatives Map - Transition Network".
  5. ^ Scott Cato, Molly; Hillier, Jean (9 December 2011). "How Could We Study Climate-Related Social Innovation? Applying Deleuzean Philosophy to the Transition Towns". Rochester, NY: 9. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "The Local Planet".
  7. ^ a b "12 Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Kinsale 2021 An Energy Descent Action Plan – Version.1. 2005" (PDF). Kinsale Further Education College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  9. ^ "The Transition movement: Today Totnes... tomorrow the world". The Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  10. ^ Viljoen, André; Bohn, Katrin (25 July 2014). Second Nature Urban Agriculture: Designing Productive Cities. Routledge. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-317-67451-1.
  11. ^ a b c "About Transition Network". Transition Network. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Money for climate project". The Nelson Mail. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory".
  14. ^ "About PEDAL". Portobello Transition Town. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  16. ^ Experiment
  17. ^ Health check
  18. ^ "The Urbanite Magazine - KEYNOTE: POWER PLAY". web.archive.org. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Permaculture". Transition Town Ashland. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  20. ^ David Fleming obituary in The Ecologist
  21. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  22. ^ "Translations". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  23. ^ "A write-up of the 2012 Transition Network conference. The best yet. - Transition Network". archive.org. 5 March 2016. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Our Story". Transition US. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  26. ^ "About us". Transition US. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  27. ^ "Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  28. ^ Flintoff, John-Paul (15 June 2013). "Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  29. ^ a b "The Transition Handbook". Green Books. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  30. ^ Warhurst, Pamela; Dobson, Joanna (26 May 2014). Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution!. Matador Publishing. p. 200. ISBN 1783064870.
  31. ^ "Industrial waste account to boost industrial symbiosis | Yale Environment Review". environment.yale.edu. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  32. ^ "What is industrial symbiosis? | WRAP UK". wrap.org.uk. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  33. ^ Who we are and what we do by Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman. Transition Network. February 2009.
  34. ^ "LIFE BEYOND OIL – THREAT OR OPPORTUNITY?". Archived from the original on 18 August 2013.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  35. ^ "Inner Transition". Transition Town Totnes.
  36. ^ "Heart and Soul Transition PDX Working Group Meeting #3 - The Dirt!". 14 November 2010. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  37. ^ a b "Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP)". Transition Town Totnes. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  38. ^ "La notion de negaWatt". ecoquartier-strasbourg.net. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  39. ^ a b "Local Food: how to make it happen in your community". Green Books. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  40. ^ a b "Local Money How to Make it Happen in Your Community". Green Books. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  41. ^ "Transitioning the financial crisis". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  42. ^ McIntosh, Malcolm (2013). The Necessary Transition: The Journey Towards the Sustainable Enterprise Economy. Greenleaf Publishing. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-906093-89-1.
  43. ^ a b Hopkins, Rob. ""The Rocky Road to a Real Transition": A Review. » Transition Culture". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  44. ^ "Finally! It's here! The REconomy website goes live! - REconomy". reconomy.org. 29 May 2012.
  45. ^ Morris, Jonathan (4 June 2007). "Town poised for its own currency". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  46. ^ "Towns banking their own currency". BBC News. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  47. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 - Archers - The Archers - Transition Ambridge". 30 December 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  48. ^ "Books".
  49. ^ Information on The Transition Timeline, from the author's Dark Optimism website
  50. ^ "Communities, Councils and a Low Carbon Future What We Can Do If Governments Won't". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  51. ^ Madeleine Bunting. "Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging, 31 May 2009". the Guardian.
  52. ^ "In Transition 2.0 (2 February 2012)". Transition Network. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  53. ^ "The Rocky Road to Transition" (PDF). Trapese Collective. 2008.
  54. ^ Petitions can be submitted to city councils