The Global Context

We live in extraordinary times, when our global economy, which requires continuous growth simply in order to avoid its own collapse, is beginning to collide with the physical limits of our beautiful, finite planet.

While the interconnected crises we are currently facing have many different dimensions, the international Transition Towns movement primarily focuses on three key factors that will shape our collective future for generations to come: resource depletion, climate change, and economic instability.

Resource Depletion

Transition initially started as a response to peak oil and climate change. While we don’t talk about peak oil a lot these days, conventional oil production did in fact peak in 2008, serving as a trigger for the financial collapse that happened that same year and ushering in an era of extreme energy with increased fracking, tar sands, and deepwater drilling. These “unconventional” fuels are more costly to produce, more damaging to the natural environment, and more easily depleted.

Climate Change

The effects of global warming – including more intense wildfires and hurricanes, more frequent floods and droughts, the extinction of an increasing number of species, and the melting of the polar ice caps – are exceeding even the most dire predictions of climate scientists. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently announced that, in order to avoid catastrophic consequences, global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2020 and the entire world needs to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050.

Economic Instability

The overconsumption of non-renewable resources of all kinds, skyrocketing costs from natural disasters supercharged by climate change, and rising economic inequality (both within developed countries and between countries around the world) are driving our global economy to the breaking-point. Add to this highly-unsustainable levels of debt and a finance sector that operates like the world’s biggest casino, and the question becomes not if but when we will see another financial collapse that is bigger and more prolonged than the one that precipitated The Great Recession.

Transition is a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.

The international Transition movement began in 2005 in Totnes, England, and has since spread to over 1,200 communities in 50 countries around the world. Transition is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges we face by starting at the local level. We seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on connection with self, others and nature. We are reclaiming the economy, sparking entrepreneurship, reimagining work, reskilling ourselves and weaving webs of connection and support. We are engaging in courageous conversations; extraordinary change is unfolding.

Every Transition Initiative is independently-run, responding to the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in our local communities. However, we are bound together by a similar outlook, a common set of principles, and a five-stage model for scaling-up our impacts over time.

Our Principles

We respect resource limits and create resilience

The urgent need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and make wise use of precious resources is at the forefront of everything we do.

We Promote Inclusivity and Social Justice

The most disadvantaged and powerless people in our societies are likely to be worst affected by rising fuel and food prices, resource shortages, and extreme weather events. We want to increase the chances of all groups in society to live well, healthily, and sustainable livelihoods.

We Adopt Self-Organization and Decision-Making at the Appropriate Level

The intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision-making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practiced at the most appropriate, practical, and empowering level.

We Pay Attention to Balance

In responding to urgent, global challenges, individuals and groups can end up feeling stressed, closed, or driven rather than open, connected, and creative. We create space for reflection, celebration, and rest to balance the times when we’re busily getting things done. We explore different ways of working which engage our heads, hands, and hearts that enable us to develop collaborative and trusting relationships.

We Are Part of an Experimental, Learning Network

Transition is a real-life, real-time, global social experiment. Being part of a network means we can create change more quickly and more effectively, drawing on each other’s experiences and insights. We want to acknowledge and learn from failure as well as success – if we’re going to be bold and find new ways of living and working, we won’t always get it right the first time. We will be open about our processes and will actively seek and respond positively to feedback.

We Freely Share Ideas and Power

Transition is a grassroots movement, where ideas can be taken up rapidly, widely, and effectively because each community takes ownership of the process themselves. Transition looks different in different places and we want to encourage, rather than unhelpfully constrain that diversity.

We Collaborate and Look for Synergies

The Transition approach is to work together as a community, unleashing our collective genius to have a greater impact together than we can as individuals. We will look for opportunities to build creative and powerful partnerships across and beyond the Transition movement and develop a collaborative culture, finding links between projects, creating open decision-making processes, and designing events and activities that help people make connections.

We Foster Positive Visioning and Creativity

Our primary focus is not on being against things, but on developing and promoting positive possibilities. We believe in using creative ways to engage and involve people, encouraging them to imagine the future they want to inhabit. The generation of new stories is central to this visioning work, as is having fun and celebrating.