What are Transition Towns?

What are Transition Towns?

Transition Towns initiatives are part of a vibrant, international grassroots movement that brings people together to explore how we – as communities - can respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges arising from climate change, resource depletion and an economy based on growth. We don’t look for anyone to blame or anyone to save us, but believe our communities have within themselves the innovation and ingenuity to create positive solutions to the converging crises of our time. We believe in igniting and supporting local responses at any level and from anyone – and aim to weave them together into a coordinated action plan for change towards a lower energy lifestyle. By building local resilience, we will be able to collectively respond to whatever the future may bring in a calm, positive and creative way. And by remembering how to live within our local means, we can rediscover the spirit of community and a feeling of power, belonging and sharing in a world that is vibrant, just and truly sustainable.

Transition Handbook

“The Transition concept is one of the big ideas of our time. Peak oil and climate change can so often leave one feeling depressed and disempowered. What I love about the Transition approach is that it is inspirational, harnessing hope instead of guilt, and optimism instead of fear. The Transition Handbook will come to be seen as one of the seminal books which emerged at the end of the Oil Age and which offered a gentle helping hand in the transition to a more local, more human and ultimately more nourishing future.”
– Patrick Holden




How does it work?

Transition Initiatives work on a local level to increase the ability of communities to withstand crisis and handle change. They do this by proactively creating a positive vision of their communities in a world with less cheap abundant energy, changing climate and a changed social, environmental and economic environment. Whilst this process is informed by anticipating what particular risks or threats may be present in that community, the focus will be on creating the world we would like to see for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. And once we know what we want this world to be like, we can backtrack the steps we would have to take to get us there.

On this journey, Transition Towns adopt the following four assumptions:

  • That life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise.

  • That our settlements and communities presently lack the resilience to enable them to weather the severe energy shocks that will accompany peak oil.

  • That we have to act collectively, and we have to act now.

  • That by unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognise the biological limits of our planet.

A future with less oil can, if enough thinking and design is applied sufficiently in advance, be preferable to the present. There is no reason why a lower-energy, more resilient future needs to have a lower quality of life. Indeed, a future with a revitalised local economy would have many advantages, including a happier and less stressed population, an improved environment and increased stability.


How did it begin?

The Transition concept emerged from work permaculture designer Rob Hopkins had done with the students of Kinsale Further Education College in writing an "Energy Descent Action Plan". This looked at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of energy production, health, education, economy and agriculture as a "road map" to a sustainable future for the town. One of his students, Louise Rooney, set about developing the Transition Towns concept and presented it to Kinsale Town Council resulting in the historic decision by Councillors to adopt the plan and work towards energy independence.

You can learn more about the history here.

Learn about what you can do.