The problems of peak oil and climate change are complex, global, and impossibly daunting. It’s easy to take a long, hard look at them and quickly throw your hands up in despair over ever finding a solution that will help our species avoid the disruption of our post-industrial way of life, and some sort of catastrophic decline at the point resources become critically scarce.
Back in 2008, Rob Hopkins wrote a little book about one way to do it — to look at the problem dead on and find a way around it. The Transition Handbook introduced the idea of intentional community effort toward increasing resilience, or the ability of the community to bounce back if something bad happens. Since then, the Transition Towns movement has spread around the world, from the British town of Totnes where it began, to Brazil, and the United States — all over.
Where does the movement stand today? What sorts of things have communities tackled on their quest to relocalize their resource footprint? What do the successes look like, what about the communities who didn’t succeed?
In The Transition Companion, a new book by Hopkins, we get to take a tour through the world of Transition Towns and find out. The book is arranged almost like a cookbook, albeit one with a single giant recipe. The elements that have worked for various communities are outlined as “ingredients,” with pictures, examples, and input from the people who have put them to work.
Just last week we got to see a TEDx talk with Rob Hopkins, in which he tells the story of Transition Town Totnes himself. It’s an inspiring tale indeed.
In case you’d rather read than watch, here’s a transcript of the talk.
Truthout recently published an interview with Hopkins and Editor Brianne Goodspeed:
Brianne Goodspeed: The Transition movement began in Totnes, England, and has, in four short years, spread to thirty-four countries and nearly one hundred cities and towns across the US. But it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. For those who haven’t heard of Transition - in a nutshell, what is it?
Rob Hopkins: It is about what you and I - and whomever we can also get involved - can do to make the place we live more resilient, more robust and imaginative, in increasingly uncertain times. As our economies continue to slide, as cheap energy becomes a thing of the past and as the need to actually do something meaningful about climate change grows in urgency, Transition suggests that a large part of the solution needs to come from the community level. It is about creating new food systems, energy systems, new financial models and institutions, in short, it’s about seeing the inevitable shift to living with less energy and less “stuff” as the opportunity for huge creativity, innovation and enterprise.
As Hopkins says in the interview, “we don’t need to ask permission,” to do this work of transforming our cities and towns toward a more resilient and hopeful future. We just need courage, hard work, and most of all we need each other.