Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

From Permaculture to Transition Towns: How a Movement Got Its Legs

In this vast, sprawling land of ours, is relocalization even possible?

A lot of people seem to think so. Since its founding in the UK four years ago, Transition Towns have emigrated across the pond, sprouting up in places as diverse as L.A. and Vermont—places with very different challenges. All they have in common is a desire to reconnect with “real” living and preparing for the post-peak shocks of climate change and peak oil. And the scary thing is this: no one really knows if this massive social experiment will work.

From Whole Life Times:

Imagine for a moment what the world might look like without a ready supply of oil. Or save yourself the energy and consider Cuba in 1991. That’s when the former Soviet Republic (Cuba’s primary source of cheap oil) collapsed, triggering a sudden and unexpected energy crisis on the island. Transportation slowed to a brisk walk. If buses did run, they ran late and were packed beyond capacity. Electricity became spotty and frequent blackouts cut the use of everything from water pumps to air conditioners for up to 14 hours a day. Food production and delivery came to a halt, which consequently lowered Cubans’ caloric intake from 2,908 calories a day in the ’80s to 1,863 in 1993. Malnutrition rose, birth weights fell, and the average Cuban lost 20 pounds.

That’s certainly one way it could go. Though it’s hardly the way Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, would choose.

In 2005, while teaching a course on Practical Sustainability in Ireland, Hopkins and his students created the Kinsale Energy Descent Plan, the first strategic design for weaning a community off fossil fuels. That same year, Hopkins turned his PhD thesis into a roadmap down from the twin peaks of oil dependency and climate change. He called it the Transition Model: “a social experiment on a massive scale” that, incidentally, may not actually work.

The humble caveat didn’t stop the people of Totnes in Devon, England, from becoming the first official Transition Town in 2005. And it hasn’t dissuaded more than 145 towns and cities worldwide — including 17 in the United States — from signing on since.

If America’s interest in an unproven social experiment came as surprise to Jennifer Gray, Hopkins’ longtime friend and the current president and cofounder of Transition US, she quickly recovered. “I expect the movement will be bigger here,” says the Bay Area denizen, who was instrumental in launching the second Transition Town in Penweth, England, in 2006. “People are entrepreneurial. They have a very strong pioneering spirit and the uptake of new ideas is much faster here than in the U.K.”

Of course our never-say-die spirit can have a downside. “We have had challenges dealing with big egos,” Gray admits. Case in point: Two very strong characters tried to establish competing Transition initiatives in the same California town, which Gray declines to name. “People want to take it in different directions. They’re used to doing things their way, aren’t they?”

Read the whole article here.

 


Prepare! Keep a Grab-n-Go Survival Kit Handy

Are you prepared in the event of a sudden emergency? Blizzard, earthquake, insurrection after the inauguration? We know a lot of people are wondering what’s coming next in the US, as well as the world, given terrorism, politics, and global warming, among other threats. In this excerpt from When Technology Fails, a popular book on […] Read More

Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More

Yes, America We Can Make It … Really

Uncertainty got you down? The political world may seem like it’s crumbling around us, but this we know: We can make it, America. Literally, we can make things. Houses. Gardens. Food. Below we’ve selected some of our classic how-to and DIY books (and some new favorites) to help you sustain your self, family, and community. […] Read More

Chelsea Green on Instagram: Our Most Popular Photos of 2016

What a year for Chelsea Green on Instagram! We began the year with 500 followers and are now fast approaching 4,000 photo-loving brewers, gardeners, cheesemakers, permaculturists, foodies, seed-savers, homesteaders, foragers, and more. Our most popular posts of 2016 say a lot about what makes you happy: mushrooms, innovative garden designs and techniques, tiny cabins, and […] Read More

What’s a Carbon Sink?

World leaders met in Marrakech this month as part of COP22, to discuss the next steps to reducing global climate emissions. One of the solutions being discussed is carbon farming. Author Eric Toensmeier participated in COP22, in part, because he literally wrote a book on it. First off – what is carbon farming? It’s a […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com