How Do Transition Town Initiatives Work?

At the heart of the Transition idea, there are four key recognitions and a set of guiding principles. Relocalization and building resilience are two central aspects of Transition.

  • Localization – In economic terms, this is the opposite of globalization. The Transition movement recognizes that the globalization pendulum has swung too far, making communities overly dependent on decisions and conditions made far across the globe. Transition actively promotes the idea that meeting more of our core needs locally (food, building materials, energy…) offers huge potential to our local economies, while also reducing carbon emissions and vulnerability to peak oil.
  • Resilience – The Transition movement embraces the usual definition of resilience, referring to the ability to adapt to external shocks, but goes beyond that, seeing community resilience as a desirable state and the process of rebuilding it as very beneficial economically.

So, what do Transition Town initiatives look like in practice?

Transition initiatives invite people to take ownership of the process. We do not claim to have all the answers; instead, we encourage creativity and build networks with other groups and organizations. The Transition initiative’s role is to catalyse and support a wide range of projects, rather than to own and manage them.

As a result, a Transition initiative is made up of a coordinating group and numerous working groups. The coordinating team is made up of an elected representative of each of the working groups. Transition working groups are self-organized. Although they must be approved by the coordinating committee, they choose their own name and purpose, find their own resources and dissolve when their work is done. A working group may consist of a pre-existing community organization. Project areas around which working groups might form include local food systems, raising and preserving food, renewable energy, water, waste and recycling, transportation, tourism, education, housing, health care, community-based economic development, heart and soul, etc.

Twelve Steps of Transition

The early stages of Transition, often referred to as the ’12 Steps’ provide a step-by-step guide for new Transition initiatives, based on the experiences of the first Transition Towns. Transition Cornwall+ is currently working on Steps 2 (raise awareness) and 3 (networking with other groups).

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