How did the Transition Movement begin?

The Transition movement emerged from the work of Permaculture educator, Rob Hopkins, and his students at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. In early 2005 they created the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan, which was later adopted as policy by the Town Council. It was the first strategic community planning document of its kind, and went beyond the issues of energy supply, to look at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of food, farming, education, economy, health, and much more.

After moving back to the UK to complete his doctorate, Rob decided to take the Peak Oil preparation process beyond the classroom and into the community. He started Transition Towns Totnes in early 2006, and it took off like a rocket. It has since spread virally across the world as groups in other communities quickly copied the model and initiated the Transition process in their own locale.

The Transition Network was established in the UK in late 2006, to support the rapid international growth of the movement. In 2007, increasing high levels of interest in the States led to the launch of Transition US.

What is the Transition Movement?

The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and “environmental” groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience. They succeed by regeneratively using their local assets, innovating, networking, collaborating, replicating proven strategies, and respecting the deep patterns of nature and diverse cultures in their place. Transition Initiatives work with deliberation and good cheer to create a fulfilling and inspiring local way of life that can withstand the shocks of rapidly shifting global systems.

It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: How can our community respond to the challenges and opportunities of peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis?  This small team of people begin by forming an initiating group and then adopt the Transition Model with the intention of engaging a significant proportion of the people in their community to kick off a Transition Initiative. They start working together to address this BIG question:

“For all those aspects of life that our community needs in order to sustain
itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (in response
to peak oil), drastically reduce carbon emissions (in response to climate change)
and greatly strengthen our local economy (in response to economic instability)?”

What is a Transition Town (or village /city/forest/island)?

It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?

They begin by forming an initiating group and then adopt the Transition Model (explained in the Transition Primer at length, and in bits here with the 12 Ingredients for Transition and and even barriers to making Transitions) with the intention of engaging a significant proportion of the people in their community to kick off a Transition Initiative

A Transition Initiative is a community (see examples of Transition Communities) working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:

“for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?”

After going through a comprehensive and creative process of:

  • awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a community lead process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon
  • connecting with existing groups in the community
  • building bridges to local government
  • connecting with other transition initiatives
  • forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)
  • kicking off projects aimed at building people’s understanding of resilience and carbon issues and community engagement
  • eventually launching a community defined, community implemented “Energy Descent Action Plan” over a 15 to 20 year timescale

This results in a coordinated range of projects across all these areas of life that strives to rebuild the resilience we’ve lost as a result of cheap oil and reduce the community’s carbon emissions drastically.

The community also recognises two crucial points:

  • that we used immense amounts of creativity, ingenuity and adaptability on the way up the energy upslope, and that there’s no reason for us not to do the same on the downslope
  • if we collectively plan and act early enough there’s every likelihood that we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.

Final point

Just to weave the climate change and peak oil situations together…

  • Climate change makes this carbon reduction transition essential
  • Peak oil makes it inevitable
  • Transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and attractive (as far we can tell so far…

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