Going Local

May 01, 2011
Patricia Hemminger
E Magazine


Hayes Valley Farm—an urban, community farm in San Francisco, California.

Across the U.S., Communities Are Forming “Transition Towns”—Pooling Skills and Resources to Prepare for an Uncertain Future

Sitting beside her wood-burning stove one snowy afternoon last January, Kim Latham ticked off her recent lifestyle changes: She installed an energy efficient geothermal heating system, grows her own vegetables and approaches new purchases with caution. What she does buy comes mostly from local farms and farmer’s markets. “I’m always looking to reduce waste,” Latham says. “I haven’t bought clothes for a year.” Inspired by a weekend workshop on the “transition” movement at Genesis Farm in northwest New Jersey, Latham says it suddenly became clear that “doing nothing wasn’t an option.” Now she is one of thousands of people working together in transition towns, local communities pro-actively preparing for an oil-scarce future.

As of this writing, there are 360 official transition towns in 31 countries, including 85 in 29 U.S. states—with over 100 more U.S. groups interested. The movement began in the British town of Totnes in 2006, but most U.S. transition towns are less than two years old. They aim to reduce fossil fuel use, and help mitigate climate change, by relocalizing. This means shifting production closer to home. If enough food, building supplies, energy and goods are sourced locally, towns and neighborhoods could become resilient—survive, and even prosper—when oil becomes scarce.

Read more

Newsletter Signup