Transition Towns – Where Innovation Takes Place At A Certain Pace

June 15, 2011
Haydn Shaughnessy
Publication: 
Forbes

What really drives changes in people’s lives? When I wrote about innovation policy challenges yesterday I noted how important towns and cities are in forging the new economy. Places are extraordinary compounds of activity and while some of the big ideas that emerge at conferences like TED arise in traditional academic/big company  culture, ideas about towns are more down and dirty. The Peak Oil movement, for example, was born in a small and remote town in Ireland – Ballydehob.Re:Thinking Innovation is about trying to break the habit of seeing just one trajectory for change and to look at what’s actually happening or should happen given the changing attitudes and life chances of millions of people. So I want to come back to Transition Towns – now called Transition Network. It began with modest aspirations – can we change the relationship between towns, cities and the 2 – 5 mile band of agriculture around them?

In the world of slow baked transformation Transition Towns is a rallying point. There are now 90 TN initiatives in the USA, 360 around the world, and a swathe of Mullers - groups mulling over how to make a difference to their locality, with increasing exposure in the major media outlets – but here’s the real surprise. Transition Towns began in the backwoods of Ireland, not far down the road from the modest two bedroomed home of Peak Oil founder, Colin Campbell. This is how transition pioneer Rob Hopkins describes his approach:

How might our response to peak oil and climate change look more like a party than a protest march?

 

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