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Transition Towns

Transition

Introduction

The Transition Movement or Transition Towns Movement is an idea proposed by Rob Hopkins and today represented by the Transition Network, a world-wide umbrella organisation of locally-oriented social initiatives keen to stimulate community action and empower public participation to move society towards low-resource use and low-carbon living as a response to peak oil and climate change 1.

Origins and development

The movement has grown exponentially since the first Transition Town was launched in 2006 in Totnes, England 2. In August 2013 the network expanded to 1130 communities active in 43 countries worldwide 3. Rob Hopkins, a co-founder, originated some of the ideas of the movement from research conducted in Kinsale, Ireland concerning community-led energy reduction programmes which sought to develop “transitions to more sustainable socio-technical systems and infrastructures” 4. The success of the movement in south-west England has inspired many communities to get together and start working on changing the infrastructure, institutions and habits to function in a ‘post-oil’ society 5. At present, the United Kingdom is one of the countries hosting the largest number of Transition movements: 390 groups have so far been recorded  6.

Characteristics

The term ‘transition’ is adopted to highlight the purpose of this grassroots organisation, which seeks to foster societal transformations based on the understanding that unlimited economic growth is not possible in a limited system, namely, planet Earth 7. A key goals of the transition movement is to move beyond the consumer society, which greatly contributes to depleting natural resources and to polluting the environment 8. “Climate change makes this carbon reduction transition essential; Peak oil makes it inevitable; Transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and attractive” 9.

The Transition movement seeks to engage communities to create their own vision for progressively diminishing oil dependence and “inspire, encourage, connect, support and train [them] as they self-organise around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions” 10 These visions translate into grassroots projects transforming practices and cultures around energy, housing, transports, food and economy 11.

Transforming the economy

The movement is committed to develop resilient economies through localisation and decarbonisation of economic activities 12. It envisions a new kind of economy based on less energy use, with people and the planet as key. In practice, this clears the way for initiatives like REconomy project and Transition Currencies. REconomy is a platform for sharing best practices, knowledge and visions for a new economy 13. This aims to support the establishment and diffusion of ‘Transition-oriented’ social enterprises that benefit the local economy, people and the planet. Transition Currencies refer to local currency systems designed and implemented in Transition Towns, following the objectives of the Transition movement 14. At time of writing (August 2013), Transition Towns Totnes, Lewes, Stroud, Brixton and Bristol have launched their own ‘Pounds’.

References

  1. Hopkins, R. (2011) The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times, Totnes: Green Books.; Haxeltine, A., G. Seyfang (2009) ‘Transitions for the People: Theory and Practice of ‘Transition’ and ‘Resilience’ in the UK’s Transition Movement’, Tyndall Working Paper, accessed on 4 March 2013 at <www.tyndall.ac.uk/Tyndall-Publications/Working-Paper/2009/Transitions-People-Theory-and-Practice-%E2%80%98Transition%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98Res>
  2. Transition Network (2013) About the Transition Network, accessed on 16 April 2013 at <http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about>
  3. Transition Network (2013) About the Transition Network, accessed on 16 April 2013 at <http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about>
  4. Haxeltine, A., G. Seyfang (2009) ‘Transitions for the People: Theory and Practice of ‘Transition’ and ‘Resilience’ in the UK’s Transition Movement’, Tyndall Working Paper, accessed on 4 March 2013 at <www.tyndall.ac.uk/Tyndall-Publications/Working-Paper/2009/Transitions-People-Theory-and-Practice-%E2%80%98Transition%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98Res>:5
  5. Hopkins, R. (2008) The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing; Haxeltine, A., G. Seyfang (2009) ‘Transitions for the People: Theory and Practice of ‘Transition’ and ‘Resilience’ in the UK’s Transition Movement’, Tyndall Working Paper, accessed on 4 March 2013 at <www.tyndall.ac.uk/Tyndall-Publications/Working-Paper/2009/Transitions-People-Theory-and-Practice-%E2%80%98Transition%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98Res>
  6. Transition Network (2013) About the Transition Network, accessed on 16 April 2013 at <http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about>
  7. Hopkins, R. (2008) The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing
  8. Hopkins, R. (2008) The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing
  9. Transition Network (2013 1) Jargon buster, accessed on 30 August 2013 at <http://www.transitionnetwork.org/support/jargon-buster >
  10. Transition Network (2013) About the Transition Network, accessed on 16 April 2013 at <http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about; Haxeltine, A., G. Seyfang (2009) ‘Transitions for the People: Theory and Practice of ‘Transition’ and ‘Resilience’ in the UK’s Transition Movement’, Tyndall Working Paper, accessed on 4 March 2013 at <www.tyndall.ac.uk/Tyndall-Publications/Working-Paper/2009/Transitions-People-Theory-and-Practice-%E2%80%98Transition%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98Res
  11. Haxeltine, A., G. Seyfang (2009) ‘Transitions for the People: Theory and Practice of ‘Transition’ and ‘Resilience’ in the UK’s Transition Movement’, Tyndall Working Paper, accessed on 4 March 2013 at <www.tyndall.ac.uk/Tyndall-Publications/Working-Paper/2009/Transitions-People-Theory-and-Practice-%E2%80%98Transition%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98Res 
  12. Transition Network (2013 2) Local Economic Resilience buster, accessed on 30 August 2013 at < http://www.transitionnetwork.org/stories/jay-tompt/2013-01/local-economic-resilience
  13. REconomy (2013) About REconomy Project, accessed on 30 August 2013 at <http://www.reconomy.org/about/>.
  14. Ryan-Collins, J. (2011) ‘Building Local Resilience: The Emergence of the UK Transition Currencies’, International Journal of Community Currency Research 15 (D):61-67 accessed on 30 August 2013 at <http://ccmag.net/sites/ccmag.net/files/UK_transition_currencies.pdf>.
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