The Transition movement emerged from the work of Permaculture educator, Rob Hopkins, and his students at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. In early 2005 they created the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan, which was later adopted as policy by the Town Council. It was the first strategic community planning document of its kind, and went beyond the issues of energy supply, to look at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of food, farming, education, economy, health, and much more.
After moving back to the UK to complete his doctorate, Rob decided to take the Peak Oil preparation process beyond the classroom and into the community. He started Transition Towns Totnes in early 2006, and it took off like a rocket. It has since spread virally across the world as groups in other communities quickly copied the model and initiated the Transition process in their own locale.
The Transition Network was established in the UK in late 2006, to support the rapid international growth of the movement. In 2007, increasing high levels of interest in the States led to the launch of Transition US. We were established as a national support network, in partnership with the Transition Network so that we could take on the role of providing co-ordination, support and training to Transition Initiatives as they emerged across the States. The process of “officiating” Transition Initiatives in the States was also handed over to Transition US.
In December 2008, Transition US invited the UK founders of Transition Training, Naresh Giangrande and Sophy Banks, over to the States to give a series of training courses and talks. All courses were sold out events. One of these was the inaugural 4-day “Train the Trainers” course, in which we selected and trained a team of 21 people who are now facilitating 2-day “Training for Transition” courses around the country.
In January 2008 we received initial funding from Post Carbon Institute supplemented by a donation from a private investor. This has enabled Transition US to become a non-profit, open an office, hire staff, and develop a new website. Ultimately our funds will be used to continue our core function of acting as a catalyst for the Transition Movement here in the States.
Transition US is modeled on the Transition Network, visually represented by the image on the left. It is based on a living cell, a biological system, in keeping with the organic emergence of the Transition movement.
Various scales of initiative emerge organically (black circles in the center) at scales that feel most appropriate to them, guided by the Purpose and Principles of Transition. Regional groups may network together creating “hubs” of Transition Initiatives that work to common purpose.
In the diagram Transition US is represented by the white encircling ring that surrounds the individual initiatives and hubs. It functions like a cell membrane, enshrining the Purpose and Principles common to the wider Transition Movement and acts as a catalyst to keep the circle expanding as the number of initiatives it contains grows.
Transition US facilitates smooth and efficient networking between the various levels of initiatives and hubs, as well as between different interest groups, for example enabling various food, energy or economics groups to communicate, share good practice and organize national events. It also enables networking by geographical area, by culture and by size of project.
The role of Transition US is to continually review and collaboratively refine what Transition means, enabling the maximum amount of networking between Transition Initiatives and external partners and collaborators (represented by the white circles outside the encircling ring). The circles inside the outer ring represent emerging new strands to Transition, for example, Transition Consulting / Transition Local Government / Transition Universities
As of March 2009, Transition US has 22 formally recognized Transition Initiatives, 21 Transition Trainers who are working across the US and a database containing several thousand names and contact information for people (“mullers”) interested in forming a Transition Initiative
The problems created by rising prices of food and fuel, coupled with the economic contraction that began in 2008 can only be solved by people working creatively together to strengthen their local economies and to build local resilience. In the next few years community responses to economic threats, fossil fuel depletion and climate change will take shape in many hundreds of communities across the US
Over the next year, we expect the number of formal Transition Initiatives in the US to pass 100 and the number of people who have gone through the Transition Training course to number in the thousands. Transition Consultancy will be established in the US in the second half of 2009 and is expected to have an immediate impact in businesses and local authorities.