Transition towns

I was speaking to mum the other day about the current state of the world.  After discussing the long list of ills – from climate change and the destruction of the natural world, to governments favouring the profit-focused will of corporations instead of the will of the people etc – it’s very easy to lose hope about the current path of self destruction we appear to be on.

Strange thing is, I really don’t know anyone who thinks this direction is a good idea…so why are we even headed there? [Since writing the post I came across this:]

The current industrial, fossil-fuel-run system so clearly favours a very small group of big businesses while we the people are left with rising food and energy bills (and, if the coal seam gas industry has its way, rising water bills) as well as a stressful and disempowered life.  Many of us would rather use renewable sources of energy but these are not easily available.  Why?  I’m happy to pay taxes to develop these clean technologies – while learning to be less wasteful with my own energy consumption – but instead, and unbelievably, my taxes go toward fossil fuel subsidies!  

So what is the solution? Well, no one really knows for sure.  But if globalisation – as described in Helena Norberg-Hodge’s documentary The Economics of Happiness – ie:

The deregulation of trade and finance in order to enable businesses and banks to operate globally; the emergence of a single world market dominated by transnational companies (Often confused with international collaboration, interdependence, global community).

…has proved itself to be wasteful, dehumanising, destructive and polluting while benefiting a few.  Then perhaps one solution is localisation ie:

The removal of fiscal and other supports that currently favour giant transnational corporation and banks.  Reducing dependence on export markets in favour of production for local needs. (Often confused with isolationism, protectionism, the elimination of trade).

Well, that is what the Transition Town movement that’s currently sweeping the world is all about.

There are Transition Initiatives sprouting up in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, USA, and Wales.

This is what Wiki says about Transition Towns:

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.

Features of the project
The main aim of the project generally, and echoed by the towns locally, is to raise awareness of sustainable living and build local ecological resilience in the near future. Communities are encouraged to seek out methods for reducing energy usage as well as reducing their reliance on long supply chains that are totally dependent on fossil fuels for essential items. Food is a key area, and they often talk of “Food feet, not food miles!” Initiatives so far have included creating community gardens to grow food; business waste exchange, which seeks to match the waste of one industry with another industry that uses that waste material; and even simply repairing old items rather than throwing them away.

As these are some of the main reasons we moved to The Creek it’s wonderful to know we are not alone.

Below is a documentary about the Transition Town movement called In Transition.

Below is the trailer for The Economics of Happiness.

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2 Responses to Transition towns

  1. Stuart Lutzenhiser says:

    The countries that you list are less than 10% of the world’s population. How can you say that this movement is “sweeping the world”? Is there a movement towards this in China and India (over 1/3 of the world’s population between just the two of them). I’m not sure that I find this movement as much a reflection of Isolationism as Racist. Sounds like white resources for white people to me. Hence the only countries represented are white countries. For this movement to have any legitimacy – wouldn’t there need to be an apportionate resprestation of nations of other-than-white people?

    • Felice says:

      Hmm. Thanks for your comment Stuart.

      As there might be some confusion as to what the Transition Town movement actually is, a viewing of the In Transition documentary may help. (please view doco below).

      Firstly, the list of countries is not definitive as TT initiatives are starting all the time. (Here is a map But second and most importantly, ANYONE, from ANY town, ANYWHERE in the world can decide to work towards Transition Town status. It’s not just available to ‘white’ people. In fact, it’s not ‘available’ at all…you have to make it happen. If you’re concerned about the direction the planet is heading, want to contribute to less waste and less energy consumption, want to support your local community, and have helpful ideas to support these issues then start or join a TT. Also, as resource consumption is disproportionately higher in western countries, it makes sense that TTs would first start in those countries.

      So the Transition Town movement is, in fact, the opposite of racist and isolationist. It brings people together from all walks of life united in the hope (and action) of creating a better world on a local level.

      Hope this helps.

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