What is a Transition Town?
Transition Towns are a rapidly growing response to the crises of peak oil, climate change and the economic uncertainties of our time. They are rooted in the idea that ‘a town simply using much less energy and resources than at present could, if properly planned for and designed, be far more enjoyable and fulfulling than the present. Transition Towns look these problems squarely in the eye, asking the key 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)?”
If we shift our current mindset, we can begin to see the coming of the post cheap-oil era as an OPPORTUNITY, rather than a threat, and design the future to be thriving, resilient and abundant – MUCH better than our current alienated, consumer-culture that is based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth.
A Brief History
It all started at the Kinsale Further Education College in Cork, Ireland with the screening of the film “End of Suburbia” and a follow-up lecture by Colin Campbell. Colin Campbell is the author of The Coming Oil Crisis and founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oli. After the initial shock of hearing about Peak Oil, permaculture instructor Rob Hopkins and his students asked the key question:
How can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?
Together with his students, Rob began to apply the permaculture principles of energy efficiency, resource substitution and redesign on a scale never before attempted. They developed an Energy Descent Action Plan for the town of Kinsale that outlined the practical steps required to wean Kinsale from its dependency on fossil fuels. When it was completed, they took it to the City Council, where it was adopted.
Rob Hopkins, co-founder of this movement and author of The Transition Handbook says:
“The Kinsale plan was really a prototype. It wasn’t until after we had published it that the consequences of what we had created began to sink in. People from all over the world were contacting us saying, ‘This is incredible’. I think it shocked a lot of people into realizing how desperately unprepared we are to face the challenges ahead”.
The idea was adapted and expanded in September 2006 to Hopkins’ hometown of Totnes in the United Kingdom. Transition Town Totnes, as it now known, is now attempting to reduce the carbon footprint of an entire community in a way that is imaginative, fun and engaging!
This initiative is spreading like wildfire. There are official Transition Towns in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Chile, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and the U.S. In fact – each one of our 50 states now has a Transition Town initiative!