Friday, April 4, 2008

Rob Hopkins: Transition Towns

Re-Localization in action! Rob Hopkins and the Transition Towns projects are very popular in the UK in bringing about peak oil awareness and actual change in the community! He stays positive in his approach by asking people to imagine a world that has "powered down". He advocates that life can be better without oil! We are brainwashed that this lifestyle is great, but look at all the problems we have. Obesity, Stress, Depression, Crime, Lack of Community...

I am so sick of driving and sitting and being tired. I want to ride my bike and get exercise. I want to eat fresh and nutritious local foods and feel good about giving my money to a local company. I want to feel like I'm part of a community and know my neighbors. I want to have my job mean something and have others appreciate what I do. If we realize that we are all in this together and we must rely on each other, a better world is possible!

Also, Rob is creating the "nut tree capital of england" in his town by planting walnut and almond trees throughout the town, even the mayor is involved!! I have a similar dream, to have "city orchards", where the wasteful "decorative" trees and shrubs are replaced with useful, food producing plants such as fruit and nut trees and berry bushes!

For more information about the organization, check out and read the official blog at

If you are ready to get started in your community, buy a copy of the transition handbook, it's an inspiring and educating read!

Below is a summary of the 12 steps to transition that should be used as a loose guide since we are learning as we go and all communities are going to be different.

The 12 Steps to Transition

1 Set up a steering group and design its demise from the outset: A core team is essential for driving the project forward during the initial stages and planning for ‘The Great Unleashing’.

2 Awareness raising: Above all, this stage must be fun, imaginative and engaging. It is intended to inform the community about the realities of peak oil through film-screenings, presentations, talks and networking.

3 Laying the foundations: Identify and work with existing community groups and acknowledge the vital roles they have to play in the transition initiative.

4 The Great Unleashing: The event should be spectacular but also informative, introducing the wider community to the concepts of peak oil and climate change.

5 Form working groups: Ideally the ‘core’ working groups should be among the first, including food, waste, energy, education, economics, transport, water and local government.

6 Open Space: In theory, this forum model shouldn’t really work, having no agenda, no timetable, no obvious co-ordinator and no one to take minutes. However, Totnes has so far run successful Open Spaces on food, energy, housing and economics.

7 Develop visible practical manifestations of the project: This stage is essential for capturing the imagination of the community and demonstrating the potential of the transition initiative.

8 Facilitate the Great Reskilling: Many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted [Such as growing our own food] have sadly been lost to mechanization and industrialization. Transition represents an exciting opportunity to reinvigorate traditional skills that are essential for a post-fossil-fuel, resilient and sustainable economy.

9 Build bridges with local government: Whether it’s planning issues, funding or simply endorsement, the support of your local authority is essential if the Transition initiative is to be entirely successful.

10 Honour the elders: Local knowledge is one of the greatest sources of inspiration and ideas within your community. Those of us who can still remember the transition to the age of cheap oil represent a wealth of information.

11 Let it go where it wants to go: ‘Predetermining the outcome,’ as Rob says, ‘is going to really wind you up!’ Keep your focus on the key criteria and watch as the collective genius of the community creates highly inventive solutions.

12 Create an Energy Descent Action Plan: This is really the pinnacle of the transition process, the plan should be exhilarating to read, illustrated with stories and photos to provide an inspirational vision of a powered-down community.

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