The Transition Town and Beyond

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portal202's picture
portal202
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The Transition Town and Beyond

Dear CM Community,

Attached below is a description of the Transition Town Concept based on the work of Rob Hopkins. The basic premise is that town/ city based organization and transformation are the best and most staple ways of ensuring social stability in times of difficulty. I have spent a great deal of time learning about the model and am even in the process of starting a transition town with a dedicated group of people.

I was wondering if anyone knew of any other models for developing the infrastructure of a town or city to cope with the societal changes ahead. I reviewed the Venus Project's website and loved the concepts but unfortunately found them to be too abstract and futuristic. I also was introduced to auroville in India and the ecovillage concept- both good ideas but a bit impractical for larger scale implementation in their own right.

Anyway- open to ideas, suggestions, disagreements and/or collaboration.

About the Transition Townhttp://www.transitionus.org/why-transition

We are living in an age of unprecedented change, with a number of crises converging. Climate change, global economic instability, overpopulation, erosion of community, declining biodiversity, and resource wars, have all stemmed from the availability of cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. Global oil, gas and coal production is predicted to irreversibly decline in the next 10 to 20 years, and severe climate changes are already taking effect around the world. The coming shocks are likely to be catastrophic if we do not prepare. As Richard Heinberg states:

“Our central survival task for the decades ahead, as individuals and as a species, must be to make a transition away from the use of fossil fuels – and to do this as peacefully, equitably, and intelligently as possible”.

The Transition movement represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people and communities to take the far-reaching actions that are required to mitigate the effects of peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Furthermore, these relocalization efforts are designed to result in a life that is more fulfilling, more socially connected and more equitable than the one we have today.

The Transition model is based on a loose set of real world principles and practices that have been built up over time through experimentation and observation of communities as they drive forward to reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience. Underpinning the model is a recognition of the following:

  • Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Economic Crisis require urgent action
  • Adaptation to a world with less oil is inevitable
  • It is better to plan and be prepared, than be taken by surprise
  • Industrial society has lost the resilience to be able to cope with shocks to its systems
  • We have to act together and we have to act now
  • We must negotiate our way down from the “peak” using all our skill, ingenuity and intelligence
  • Using our creativity and cooperation to unleash the collective genius within our local communities will lead to a more abundant, connected and healthier future for all.

The Transition Movement believes that is up to us in our local communities to step into a leadership position on this situation. We need to start working now to mitigate the interrelated effects of peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis, before it is too late. Together we can make a difference.

strabes's picture
strabes
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Posts: 1032
Re: The Transition Town and Beyond

hi portal, I'm a huge of the TT movement.  where is your new one going to be?

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 486
Re: The Transition Town and Beyond
portal202 wrote:

Dear CM Community,

Attached below is a description of the Transition Town Concept based on the work of Rob Hopkins. The basic premise is that town/ city based organization and transformation are the best and most staple ways of ensuring social stability in times of difficulty. I have spent a great deal of time learning about the model and am even in the process of starting a transition town with a dedicated group of people.

I was wondering if anyone knew of any other models for developing the infrastructure of a town or city to cope with the societal changes ahead. I reviewed the Venus Project's website and loved the concepts but unfortunately found them to be too abstract and futuristic. I also was introduced to auroville in India and the ecovillage concept- both good ideas but a bit impractical for larger scale implementation in their own right.

Anyway- open to ideas, suggestions, disagreements and/or collaboration.

About the Transition Townhttp://www.transitionus.org/why-transition

We are living in an age of unprecedented change, with a number of crises converging. Climate change, global economic instability, overpopulation, erosion of community, declining biodiversity, and resource wars, have all stemmed from the availability of cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. Global oil, gas and coal production is predicted to irreversibly decline in the next 10 to 20 years, and severe climate changes are already taking effect around the world. The coming shocks are likely to be catastrophic if we do not prepare. As Richard Heinberg states:

“Our central survival task for the decades ahead, as individuals and as a species, must be to make a transition away from the use of fossil fuels – and to do this as peacefully, equitably, and intelligently as possible”.

The Transition movement represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people and communities to take the far-reaching actions that are required to mitigate the effects of peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Furthermore, these relocalization efforts are designed to result in a life that is more fulfilling, more socially connected and more equitable than the one we have today.

The Transition model is based on a loose set of real world principles and practices that have been built up over time through experimentation and observation of communities as they drive forward to reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience. Underpinning the model is a recognition of the following:

  • Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Economic Crisis require urgent action
  • Adaptation to a world with less oil is inevitable
  • It is better to plan and be prepared, than be taken by surprise
  • Industrial society has lost the resilience to be able to cope with shocks to its systems
  • We have to act together and we have to act now
  • We must negotiate our way down from the “peak” using all our skill, ingenuity and intelligence
  • Using our creativity and cooperation to unleash the collective genius within our local communities will lead to a more abundant, connected and healthier future for all.

The Transition Movement believes that is up to us in our local communities to step into a leadership position on this situation. We need to start working now to mitigate the interrelated effects of peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis, before it is too late. Together we can make a difference.

Hi portal202

This is a link that Chris sent me regarding a Transition Plan that Bloomington Illinois has completed. It is very in depth and looks like a good model that could be adapted to other areas. I am in the foothills of central California and have forwarded the link to local supervisors and our "Blueprint for Growth" committee at the county level.

http://bloomington.in.gov/media/media/application/pdf/6239.pdf

Coop

portal202's picture
portal202
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Posts: 8
Re: The Transition Town and Beyond

Thanks Strabes and ckessel

I am currently in Manila and the transition project will be in a town about 2 hours north of the city. I'll really look into the Bloomington Illinois TT and provide any feedback that i might have.

The only achilles heal of the TT movement that i run into is it's direction back to previous times rather than integrating the learning of previous ages with the new technologies and methods of today like; vertical farming, hydroponics, water desalination, geothermal power amoung many others.

I would really love to work with anyone in the community to help put together best practices, innovations, and lessons learned. If anyone is interested in working on this project please let me know.

Cheers!

JB

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deggleton
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Posts: 250
Re: The Transition Town and Beyond
portal202 wrote:

The only achilles heal of the TT movement that i run into is it's direction back to previous times rather than integrating the learning of previous ages with the new technologies and methods of today like; vertical farming, hydroponics, water desalination, geothermal power amoung many others.

I would really love to work with anyone in the community to help put together best practices, innovations, and lessons learned. If anyone is interested in working on this project please let me know.

Some of the new technologies and methods might be feasible and practical after SHTF, but nearly all of the ones you call the achilles heel will be feasible and practical, whether we prefer/like them or not.  In addition to that, we can't go back is implicit in the growth paradigm building the predicament, and dropping it instantly gives us more options.  Challenging it is akin to what E. F. Schumacher tried to do with Small Is Beautiful:  restore balance, not suggest a full replacement for Large, as believe so many with second- or third-hand knowledge of the book.

Handle best practices with care!  Because we must fit the farming to the farm, it might be better to invest time and attention in realities of your locale, including the human resources.  That's the essential suggestion of Transition, to my mind.

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Crash
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Posts: 171
Re: The Transition Town and Beyond

I've been using TT Bath, UK to promote the CC, we have showed part 1 as part of a film festival and are showing parts 2 and 3 in march. its really exciting bringing the CC to peoples attention.

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levin
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Re: The Transition Town and Beyond

I first read "Transition Towns" early last year and at first I was very positively impressed.  Then after reading a variety of books on societal systems, more reading on Peak oil and permaculture I've come to the conclusion that the "Gaps" in the analysis of all the different authors are significant and the consequenses of oversight are not to be dismissed by those of us who have had our horizons of awareness raised, and are working in some way toward preparing for the powerdown future.

I believe that the geological process of Peak Oil is more profound to our lives than any of us can trully appreciate.  Nothing in most of our experience of relativly safe well fed living in the US or Europe prepared us to actually understand what the consequences of Peak OIl will mean for us.   The Civil War battle of Shiloh sobered up both sides as it was the first battle that showed what horrific casualties it would take to win the war.  The Union and Confederate governments and the population could not have known what was in store for them.  We have not had our Battle of Shiloh.

The Transition Towns idea and process is one good place to start, however it has some serious "Gaps".  There is no mention of the likelyhood and consequences of refugees from other surrounding towns and cities overwelming a transition town (Totness for example), no mention of individuals storing food to increase community resilience (as that would send a discouraging message to those engaged in the transition process).  If a preparatory framework serves to lull participants into a false sense of emotional security it will do more damage than good.  Hopkins seems to assume that the UK government will remain intact and be able to provide law enforcement, fire, medical and disaster services  as though we are not actually preparing for major and permanent economic changes, with periods of discontinuities, more profound and uncertain than what happened in the Great Depression.  The Transition Towns process needs to include more comprehensive senario planning to actually increase small town resilience and security in the face of the full breadth of what may come.  Right know we still have the luxury of the internet, access to antibiotics and relative security in our lives.  Peak Oil means all routine assumptions such as these are off.  Mistaken assumptions about life in the Peak Oil era will increase our risks in adapting our lives.  Risk is the price you didn't know you would have to pay.

deggleton's picture
deggleton
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Re: The Transition Town and Beyond
levin wrote:

We have not had our Battle of Shiloh.

The Transition Towns idea and process is one good place to start, however it has some serious "Gaps".  There is no mention of the likelyhood and consequences of refugees from other surrounding towns and cities overwelming a transition town (Totness for example), no mention of individuals storing food to increase community resilience (as that would send a discouraging message to those engaged in the transition process).  If a preparatory framework serves to lull participants into a false sense of emotional security it will do more damage than good.  Hopkins seems to assume that the UK government will remain intact and be able to provide law enforcement, fire, medical and disaster services  as though we are not actually preparing for major and permanent economic changes, with periods of discontinuities, more profound and uncertain than what happened in the Great Depression.  The Transition Towns process needs to include more comprehensive senario planning to actually increase small town resilience and security in the face of the full breadth of what may come.  Right know we still have the luxury of the internet, access to antibiotics and relative security in our lives.  Peak Oil means all routine assumptions such as these are off.  Mistaken assumptions about life in the Peak Oil era will increase our risks in adapting our lives.  Risk is the price you didn't know you would have to pay.

Rob Hopkins did not have the last word when he invited everyone.  You can add your words and help redirect efforts for resilience, either where you are, on the Transition Web sites or both.  Based on your expression here, I'll welcome you there.

How can scenario planning not be part of producing an energy descent action plan?

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drbubb
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Re: The Transition Town and Beyond
levin wrote:

...some serious "Gaps".  There is no mention of the likelyhood and consequences of refugees from other surrounding towns and cities overwelming a transition town (Totness for example),

Levin makes a great point here.

All those who lost their livelihoods in the city will be hungry, and looking for a way to survive.  If they come across a viable town, producing food, they will want it.  As desperate and hungry people, they will resort to violence, if necessary.

The town on the other hand may find that its "food surplus" has shrunk, since hands and human labor will have to replace the work of oil-powered machines.  So it will not be easy, or right, for the town to give up its limited food to violent strangers.  So sort of protection will be required.

I think this is a valid point which is also made by JH Kunstler's new play, The Long Slide, which contains a number of "future Shocks" that we are likely to face in a post peak oil world.

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levin
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Re: The Transition Town and Beyond

Thank you all for your comments.

How can scenario planning not be part of producing an energy descent action plan?

Senario Planning is an important aspect of energy descent action planning.  However, we can choose to not consider the scenarios that we find most disturbing and they may be the scenarios that turn out to be most important.  The challenge is that we must consider those possible events that we find most objectional or emotionally disturbing.

deggleton's picture
deggleton
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Re: The Transition Town and Beyond
levin wrote:

Senario Planning is an important aspect of energy descent action planning.  However, we can choose to not consider the scenarios that we find most disturbing and they may be the scenarios that turn out to be most important.  The challenge is that we must consider those possible events that we find most objectional or emotionally disturbing.

The fact that we cannot deliberately consider everything bolsters the argument for resilience achieved through inclusion and unleashing.  What we deliberately do then serves as practice for the situations in which we must improvise.  The more we've practiced together, the better we'll improvise together.

levin's picture
levin
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Re: The Transition Town and Beyond

drbubb,

Thank's for referencing Kunstler's play "The Long Slide".  I'll be reading it soon.  Kunster's fictional work is an example of how we can all bridge the "Gaps".  I would recommend reading "One Second After" by William R. Forstchen.  Its a disturbing tale but there is good material on a given level of technology and its associated population carrying capacity.

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