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The terms transition town, transition initiative and transition model refer to grassroot community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil,[1] climate destruction, and economic instability.[2] The "Transition Network", founded in 2006, inspired the creation of many of the projects. A number of the groups are officially registered with the Transition Network.[3] The first initiative to use the name was Transition Town Totnes, located in the United Kingdom. Transition initiatives have been started in locations around the world, with many located in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and Australia.[2][4]

Transition Network
Formation2006; 13 years ago (2006)
FounderRob Hopkins, Peter Lipman and Ben Brangwyn
PurposeSupporting Transition initiatives
  • Totnes, England
WebsiteTransition Network,
Transition United States,
REconomy Project


The term, "transition town" was coined by Louise Rooney[5] and Catherine Dunne.

The transition model can be applied to different types of places where people live, such as villages, regions, islands and towns. The generic term is "transition initiative", which includes transition neighborhoods, communities, and cities, although "transition town" is in common usage.[6]


From Kinsale to TotnesEdit

Totnes, Devon, England: a transition town

In 2004, permaculture designer Rob Hopkins set his students at Kinsale Further Education College the task of applying permaculture principles to the concept of peak oil. The output of this student project was the ‘Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan'.[7]

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. Two of his students, Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne, developed the Transition towns concept. They then presented their ideas to Kinsale Town Council. The councilors decided to adopt the plan and work towards energy independence.[citation needed]

Hopkins moved to his hometown of Totnes, England, where he and Naresh Giangrande developed these concepts into the transition model. In 2006 Transition Town Totnes become the first Transition initiative.[8]

Transition Network foundedEdit

Permaculture designer Rob Hopkins in conversation with Silver Donald Cameron about Transition Towns.

Between late 2006 and early 2007 the Transition Network UK charity was co-founded by permaculture educator Rob Hopkins, Peter Lipman and Ben Brangwyn. Totnes based, it was initiated to support the Transition initiatives emerging around the world. It trains and supports people involved with the initiatives. It also disseminates the concepts of transition towns.[9]

2008 to present dayEdit

In 2008, the number of communities involved in the project had increased with many localities in the process of becoming "official" Transition towns.[10]

The initiative spread and by May 2010 there were over 400 community initiatives recognized as official Transition towns in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Italy and Chile. The term transition initiatives became common to reflect the range and type of communities involved - e.g. villages (Kinsale), neighbourhoods of cities (Portobello, Edinburgh), through council districts (Penwith) to cities and city boroughs (Brixton).[11][12]

By September 2013, there were 1130 initiatives registered (462 Official, 654 Muller) in 43 countries.[13]

In march 2019 it will be held a Worldwide Transition.[14] Every Transition Initiatives will be able to use the Healthcheck.[15]


Influences include permaculture concepts as described in Bill Mollison’s Permaculture, a Designers Manual (1988) and David Holmgren’s Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2003),[16] as well as David Fleming's work on community, culture and resilience.[17]


Each transition town or initiative has a high level of autonomy. However, to be called an official initiative certain criteria must be met. Additionally, there is nothing to stop an 'unofficial' initiative using ideas inspired by Transition towns. Further, there are various 'hubs' to co-ordinate work at a regional level.[citation needed]

Transition NetworkEdit

The Transition Network (TN) is a UK charity set up to support Transition initiatives. It has published books and films, trained people and facilitated networking.[9] The TN's website contains a listing of the initiatives that have registered, some of which are officially recognised.[18]

Some of the material has been translated and adapted to other languages/cultures, including Portuguese, Danish, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Irish.[19]

TN has run seven conferences: Nailsworth (2007), Royal Agriculture College, Cirencester (2008), Battersea Arts Centre (2009), Dame Hannah's at Seale Hayne (2010), Hope University, Liverpool (2011), Battersea Arts Centre (2012)[20] and Dame Hannah's at Seale Hayne (2015).[21]

Transition USEdit

In the United States, transition initiatives have been started in many communities. Transition US is the national hub. Its stated vision is "that every community in the United States will have engaged its collective creativity to unleash an extraordinary and historic transition to a future beyond fossil fuels; a future that is more vibrant, abundant and resilient; one that is ultimately preferable to the present".[22]

The stated aim of Transition US is to be a resource and "catalyst for building resilient communities across the United States that are able to withstand severe energy, climate, or economic shocks while creating a better quality of life in the process". They plan to accomplish this by "inspiring, encouraging, supporting, networking and training individuals and their communities as they consider, adopt, adapt, and implement the transition approach to community empowerment and change".[23]

A large number of state sites have also been set up using the Ning social networking platform. These state sites, under the umbrella of a national Ning site, were set up to help facilitate, network, inform, monitor, and house regional and organizational transition initiatives. Thus, furthering the spread of the transition movement while networking related organizations, projects, ideas and activities.

Guidance for new groupsEdit

Some projects use the TN's guide the '12 ingredients', or the 'revised ingredients', when setting up their group.[6][24]


The Transition Network's (TN) stated aim is to promote awareness of sustainable living and building local ecological resilience.[25]

Peak oil and local resilienceEdit

The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resiliency by Rob Hopkins provides much of the framework behind the Transition Initiative and outlines ways for local Transition Towns to get involved.[26]


Communities are encouraged by The Transition Network 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 (see environmental calculator).[citation needed]

Food productionEdit

According to The Transition food is a key area for transition, sometimes the slogan "Food feet, not food miles" is used. Initiatives so far have included creating community gardens or replacing ornamental tree plantings with fruit or nut trees, to grow food.[27]

Waste and recyclingEdit

Business waste exchange seeks to match the waste of one industry with another industry that uses that waste material, sometimes referred to as industrial symbiosis. It is suggested that this process can help companies increase profitability by reducing raw material and waste disposal cost, reducing carbon emission, making their by-products a source of revenue to be bought by other business.[28][29][additional citation(s) needed] It also suggests that repairing old items rather than throwing them away should be considered.[citation needed]


The Transition Network proposes an alternative from business as usual, or from 'shocked/doomladen' reactions to peak oil and an end to unlimited economic growth.[30] According to Southend-on-Sea in Transition,

by shifting our mind-set we can actually recognise the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant — somewhere much better to live than our current alienated consumer culture based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth."[31]

A theme of the Transition Network is acknowledging the emotional impact of changing to a low energy world. Some Transition Network groups have 'Heart and Soul' groups to look at this aspect.[32][33]

Energy descent action plans (EDAP)Edit

Transition towns aim to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and one way they do this is by developing an EDAP. The term "community" is defined here as including local people, local institutions, local agencies and the local council.[citation needed] The first comprehensive plan was created for Totnes in 2010, entitled Transition in Action: Totnes & District 2030.[34]

In France, where the movement is called Villes et Territoires en Transition, the association négaWatt provides a theoretical support to the transition movement.[35]


As of 2010, the Transition Network (TN) includes the 2008 global financial crisis as further threat to local communities, alongside peak oil and climate change. To counter economic instability, the TN promotes fiscal localism.[36][37] To help further these aims TN setup up the REconomy Project circa 2012.[38]

The organisation see local complementary currencies as a way to create sustainable local economies.[citation needed] Twenty-first century local currencies include:

Started Currency Status Comment Website
2007 Totnes pound Defunct
2008 Lewes pound Active as of June 2019
2009 Stroud pound Defunct
2009 Brixton pound Active as of June 2019
2012 Bristol pound Active as of June 2019
2015 Exeter pound Defunct Closed 30 September 2018
2016 Cardiff pound Not launched. Proposed launch for 2020[39]
TBC Kingston pound[citation needed] Active as of June 2019
TBC Oxford pound Not launched Initial plan was not successful in 2013. In 2017, a Green Party councillor put a new proposal forward to the council.[40] (archive)
Lake District pound Active


While the focus and aims remain the same, the methods used to achieve these vary. For example, Totnes has introduced its own local currency, the Totnes pound, which is redeemable in local shops and businesses, helping to reduce "food miles" while also supporting local firms.[41] This idea is also planned[who?] to be introduced in three Welsh transition towns[42] and in Maleny Australia, the Baroon Dollar as a part of a regional transition towns project.[43]

In popular cultureEdit

Transition towns have been featured in the plot line of the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers. This is an example of mainstream media attention the movement received a few years after being founded.[44]



A number of books have been published on specific topics, including: how communities can develop their Transition town initiative. Unless stated, the following books were published as a collaboration between Green Books and the Transition Network (under the label Transition Books):[45]

  • The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience (2008) – by Rob Hopkins[26]
  • The Transition Timeline: for a local, resilient future (2009) – by Shaun Chamberlin[46]
  • Local Food: how to make it happen in your community (2009) – by Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins[36]
  • Local Money: how to make it happen in your community (2010) – by Peter North[37]
  • Local Sustainable Homes: how to make them happen in your community (2010) – by Chris Bird
  • Communities, Councils and a Low Carbon Future What We Can Do If Governments Won't (2010) – by Alexis Rowell[47]
  • Transition in Action: Totnes & District 2030 – an EDAP (2010) Transition Town Totnes – (scripted) by Jacqi Hodgson with Rob Hopkins[34]
  • The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times (2011) – by Rob Hopkins
  • The Power of Just Doing Stuff (2013) – by Rob Hopkins

In 2008, the Transition Handbook was the joint 5th most popular book taken on holiday during the summer recess by the UK parliamentary MPs.[48]


Two films have been created by the movement about the movement. They document the progress of various initiatives:

  • In Transition 1.0 (2009)
  • In Transition 2.0 (2012) Emma Goude (Director), Transition Network and Green Lane Films (Production)[49]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Flintoff, John-Paul (15 June 2013). "Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward?".
  3. ^ "What is a Transition Initiative? - Transition Network".
  4. ^ "Transition Initiatives Map - Transition Network".
  5. ^ "The Local Planet".
  6. ^ a b "12 Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Kinsale 2021 An Energy Descent Action Plan – Version.1. 2005" (PDF). Kinsale Further Education College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "The Transition movement: Today Totnes... tomorrow the world". The Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b "About Transition Network". Transition Network. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "Money for climate project". The Nelson Mail. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory".
  12. ^ "About PEDAL". Portobello Transition Town. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  14. ^ Experiment
  15. ^ Health check
  16. ^ "Permaculture". Transition Town Ashland. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  17. ^ David Fleming obituary in The Ecologist
  18. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  19. ^ "Translations". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  20. ^ "A write-up of the 2012 Transition Network conference. The best yet. - Transition Network". 5 March 2016. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Our Story". Transition US. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  23. ^ "About us". Transition US. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  25. ^ Flintoff, John-Paul (15 June 2013). "Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  26. ^ a b "The Transition Handbook". Green Books. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  27. ^ Warhurst, Pamela; Dobson, Joanna (26 May 2014). Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution!. Matador Publishing. p. 200. ISBN 1783064870.
  28. ^ "Industrial waste account to boost industrial symbiosis | Yale Environment Review". Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  29. ^ "What is industrial symbiosis? | WRAP UK". 15 March 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  30. ^ Who we are and what we do by Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman. Transition Network. February 2009.
  31. ^ "LIFE BEYOND OIL – THREAT OR OPPORTUNITY?". Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  32. ^ "Inner Transition". Transition Town Totnes.
  33. ^ "Heart and Soul Transition PDX Working Group Meeting #3 - The Dirt!". 14 November 2010. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  34. ^ a b "Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP)". Transition Town Totnes. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  35. ^ "La notion de negaWatt". Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  36. ^ a b "Local Food: how to make it happen in your community". Green Books. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  37. ^ a b "Local Money How to Make it Happen in Your Community". Green Books. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  38. ^ "Finally! It's here! The REconomy website goes live! - REconomy". 29 May 2012.
  39. ^
  40. ^ "The Oxford Pound - City could soon get its very own currency". The Oxford Times.
  41. ^ Morris, Jonathan (4 June 2007). "Town poised for its own currency". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  42. ^ "Towns banking their own currency". BBC News. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  43. ^ "Money worries: town prints its own". ABC News. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  44. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 - Archers - The Archers - Transition Ambridge". 30 December 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  45. ^ "Books".
  46. ^ Information on The Transition Timeline, from the author's Dark Optimism website
  47. ^ "Communities, Councils and a Low Carbon Future What We Can Do If Governments Won't". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  48. ^ Madeleine Bunting. "Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging, 31 May 2009". the Guardian.
  49. ^ "In Transition 2.0 (2 February 2012)". Transition Network. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  50. ^ Petitions can be submitted to city councils

External linksEdit