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Transition Towns – Localization vs Globalization

January 19, 2011

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

Here’s how it all appears to be evolving…

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 here at length, and in bits here and here) 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 (lots of examples here) 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…)

Find out more how to start your own Transition Town initiative: http://www.transitiontowns.org/

Transition Towns (also known as Transition network or Transition Movement) is a brand for environmental and social movements “founded (in part) upon the principles of permaculture” [1], based originally on Bill Mollison’s seminal Permaculture, a Designers Manual published in 1988. The Transition Towns brand of permaculture uses David Holmgren’s 2003 book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. [2] These techniques were included in a student project overseen by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. The term transition town was coined by Louise Rooney[3] and Catherine Dunne. Following its start in Kinsale, Ireland it then spread to Totnes, England where Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande developed the concept during 2005 and 2006.[4] The aim of this community project is to equip communities for the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil. The Transition Towns movement is an example of socioeconomic localisation.

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