What are Transition Towns?
The Transition Network is a charitable organization whose role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support, and train communities as they self-organize around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild local community resilience and reduce environmental impacts. Peterborough is a city of around 80,000 people on the Otonabee River in Central Ontario, Canada, 125 kilometres (78 mi) northeast of Toronto. The Transition Town Peterborough website explains concisely the goals typical of the Transition movement. Transition Town Peterborough (TTP) is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization focused on reducing our community-wide dependence on fossil fuels while increasing local resilience and self-sufficiency in food, water, energy, culture, and wellness with economic localization.(1)
How the Movement Started
The transition concept emerged from the work of Rob Hopkins and his students at Kinsale Further Education College in the UK. With a background in permaculture design, Hopkins and his students looked at the challenges of shifting social, environmental, and economic conditions to develop a blueprint for communities to move forward. Hopkins wrote the “Transition Handbook” in 2008 which has become a revered reference tool for the movement.
While the Transition model is not a cure all, it does offer some wonderful practical suggestions and solutions for moving communities forward with a clear direction and purpose. Hopkins argues, “it’s the opposite of us sitting in our armchairs complaining about what’s wrong. Instead, it’s about getting up and doing something constructive about it alongside our neighbours and fellow townsfolk. And people tell us that as a result of being involved in their local ‘transition initiative,’ they’re happier, their community feels more robust and they have made a lot of new friends.”(2)
Why is it Such an Important Movement?
The key driver behind the Transition Movement is that it focuses on what the world might look like in the future “if we get it right” – then works out backwards how to get there. The Transition movement runs events, conferences, training, blogs, and webinars, as well as producing monthly newsletters, books, films, guides, and tweets, all with the intention of supporting those around the world who are doing Transition.
The movement offers practical, real world solutions, which have a twofold effect. Firstly, it aims to explore how to redesign our local systems so that basic needs such as food, water, energy, trade, housing, culture, and health are dependably sourced as locally as possible at all times. The movement addresses all aspects of life – social, economic, environmental, spiritual /psychological – which are being profoundly challenged by the unfolding of the environmental crisis, economic upheaval, and resource depletion.(2) Secondly, by exploring these more locally based solutions, many of the broader environmental challenges are also addressed. Many of the problems that have emerged from globalization, such as the transfer of capital to an elite class, unsustainable long distance supply chains, and energy intense industries and agriculture are reassessed. Farming practices more in line with permaculture principles are designed to move away from large agribusiness industrial models.
The Great Reskilling
The Transition Movement also fosters reskilling. Since the 1960’s there has been a gradual demise of common skills essential for survival and providing one’s everyday needs. Skills which were commonplace back in the 1940’s and 50’s such as how to garden, repair things, and generally make do with little, have dwindled significantly. Today most people are completely dependent upon supermarkets and long supply chains for their survival. With Greece in tatters and tens of thousands of people lacking access to basic necessities such as food and water, it is a reminder of just how vulnerable modern Western society has become. Having the skills and knowledge to be self-reliant is at the cornerstone of the Transition Movement. As well as providing the skills to help people live more resilient lives, Transition Towns is about creating networks and alliances which are valuable in bringing individuals and other organizations together.
Article by Andrew Martin, author of Rethink…Your world, Your future.
Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.