Transition Communities

Rob Hopkins“Transition Communities” have caught on in a big way from their humble beginnings in Totnes in England in 2006. The main mastermind was Rob Hopkins.

Hopkins was teaching permaculture in Kinsale, Ireland, when he encountered the concept of peak oil. He and his students were shocked at the looming prospect of a world without cheap energy, and at the absence of serious plans to deal with the repercussions. Any number of environmentalists and authors were saying the world had hit peak oil, or were close to it, and the descent down the other side of the curve would be disruptive, if not catastrophic.

Hopkins’ brainwave focused on the idea of dealing with the problem by focusing on a community, dealing with one community at a time, not waiting for somebody or the government to act.

Transition HandbookHe saw this as a bright opportunity, a chance to re-examine what was good about life before cheap oil.

Following the pioneering of the Transition Model in Totnes, Hopkins helped build the Transition Network “to inspire, inform, support, network and train communities in Transition.” The network supports global initiatives in places ranging from small villages to urban centers, providing resources, information and training courses. Initiatives can be established in any place when a group of people, locally embedded and self-organizing around the principles of Transition, establish an “Initiative.” From this initial core, subgroups are formed to focus on specific elements of the Transition process, from say farming or recycling to renewables or the psychology of change.

The Transition Model is less a back to nature approach, more a move to examine what might work from the era prior to cheap oil. The idea is that with reduced gas-powered transport or oil-based products, a Transition community’s citizens would live within cycling distance of one another in a township built upon complete self-sufficiency. This community would have extremely localized infrastructure for agriculture, clothes making, metal working and the other basics of life.

The aim is a “Powerdown.” The aim is to build local and resilient communities in terms of food, energy, work and waste.

As the network says, the vision holds that decarbonized local communities will be resilient in their capacity to “hold together and maintain their ability to function in the face of change and shock from the outside.” Transition is modelled to be a self-organizing community-led model, for people to “act now and act collectively.”

Since 2006, the concept has taken off with Transition Communities cropping up in many places around the world. From observation, the idea works best in small towns and communities, rather than in cities, at least for now.

The Transition Network is on their second handbook and second documentary. A lot has happened in five years in this new world of local, sustainable communities.

In Transition 1.0 – From oil dependence to local resilience

Rob Hopkin’s Transition Handbook 1.0

Founder of the Transition Network spreading throughout the world, Rob Hopkins talks about Transition Town Totnes and moving towards a post-peak oil society. His book The Transition Handbook, the first book, gives an account of the founding of Transition Town Totnes, and the global spread of Transition towns. He shows you how to start the Transition process in your community, and why it is important that communities are resilient to the coming decline of oil as an energy source. He also includes the facts about peak oil, and puts a persuasive argument for acting now, rather than later. See for ‘The Transition Handbook: from Oil Dependency to Local Resilience’.

Edible Landscapes – London

Resources to take action

Check out the following sites for details of transition communities and their goals: