Transition Town Witzenhausen

The terms transition town, transition initiative and transition model refer to grassroot community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil,[1] climate destruction, and economic instability[2] through renewed localization strategies, especially around food production and energy usage.[3] In 2006, the founding of Transition Town Totnes in the United Kingdom became an inspiration for other groups to form. The Transition Network charity was founded in early 2007, to support these projects. A number of the groups are officially registered with the Transition Network.[4] Transition initiatives have been started in locations around the world, with many located in the United Kingdom and others in Europe, North America and Australia.[2][5] While the aims remain the same, Transition initiatives' solutions are specific depending on the characteristics of the local area.[6]

Transition Towns


Transition Towns offer a beacon of hope in the face of environmental and social challenges. By empowering communities to take action, this movement is creating a more sustainable, resilient, and connected world. Join the Transition Towns movement and be part of the solution.


The term, "transition town" was coined by Louise Rooney[9] and Catherine Dunne.

The transition model can be applied to different types of places where people live, such as villages, regions, islands and towns. The generic term is "transition initiative", which includes transition neighborhoods, communities, and cities, although "transition town" is in common usage.[10]


From Kinsale to Totnes

Totnes, Devon, England: a transition town

In 2004, permaculture designer Rob Hopkins set his students at Kinsale Further Education College the task of applying permaculture principles to the concept of peak oil. The output of this student project was the ‘Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan'.[11]

This looked at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of energy production, health, education, economy and agriculture as a "road map" to a sustainable future for the town. Two of his students, Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne, developed the Transition towns concept. They then presented their ideas to Kinsale Town Council, to which the councilors decided to adopt the plan and work towards energy independence.[12]

Hopkins moved to his hometown of Totnes, England, where he and Naresh Giangrande developed these concepts into the transition model. In early 2006, Transition Town Totnes was founded and became the inspiration for the founding of other Transition initiatives.[13]

Transition Network founded

Permaculture designer Rob Hopkins in conversation with Silver Donald Cameron about Transition Towns

In early 2007,[14] the Transition Network UK charity was co-founded by permaculture educator Rob Hopkins, Peter Lipman and Ben Brangwyn. Totnes based, it was initiated to support the Transition initiatives emerging around the world. It trains and supports people involved with the initiatives as well as disseminating the concepts of transition towns.[15]

2008 to present day

In 2008, the number of communities involved in the project had increased with many localities in the process of becoming "official" Transition towns.[16] This was also the year that the Transition Handbook was published.[15]

The initiative spread and by May 2010 there were over 400 community initiatives recognized as official Transition towns in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Italy and Chile. The term transition initiatives became common to reflect the range and type of communities involved – e.g. villages (Kinsale), neighbourhoods of cities (Portobello, Edinburgh), through council districts (Penwith) to cities and city boroughs (Brixton).[17][18]

By September 2013, there were 1130 groups registered (462 Official, 654 Muller) in 43 countries.[19]

By May 2024 there were 992 groups registered and 21 hubs [20]


Influences include permaculture[21] concepts as described in Bill Mollison’s Permaculture, a Designers Manual (1988) and David Holmgren’s Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2003),[22] as well as David Fleming's work on community, culture and resilience.[23][24]


Each transition group has a high level of autonomy. However, to be called an official initiative certain criteria must be met. Additionally, there is nothing to stop an 'unofficial' initiative using ideas inspired by Transition towns. [25]Further, there are various 'hubs' to coordinate work at a regional level.[26]

The hubs and groups are represented on the Transition groups website [27]

Transition Network

The Transition Network (TN) is a UK charity set up to support Transition initiatives. It has published books and films, trained people and facilitated networking.[15] The TN's website contains a listing of the initiatives that have registered, some of which are officially recognised.[26]

Some of the material has been translated and adapted to other languages/cultures, including Portuguese, Danish, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Irish.[28]

TN has run seven conferences: Nailsworth (2007), Royal Agriculture College, Cirencester (2008), Battersea Arts Centre (2009), Dame Hannah's at Seale Hayne (2010), Hope University, Liverpool (2011), Battersea Arts Centre (2012)[29] and Dame Hannah's at Seale Hayne (2015).[30]

Transition Together (UK)

A project called Transition Together[31] exists to support groups within the UK. It receives funding from the National Lottery community fund [32]

Transition Together runs a social networking platform called Vive to support activity in the UK [33]

Transition US

In the United States, transition initiatives have been started in many communities. Transition US is the national hub with a stated vision, "that every community in the United States will have engaged its collective creativity to unleash an extraordinary and historic transition to a future beyond fossil fuels; a future that is more vibrant, abundant and resilient; one that is ultimately preferable to the present".[34]

The stated aim of Transition US is to be a resource and "catalyst for building resilient communities across the United States that are able to withstand severe energy, climate, or economic shocks while creating a better quality of life in the process". They plan to accomplish this by "inspiring, encouraging, supporting, networking and training individuals and their communities as they consider, adopt, adapt, and implement the transition approach to community empowerment and change".[35]

A large number of state sites have also been set up using the Ning social networking platform. These state sites, under the umbrella of a national Ning site, were set up to help facilitate, network, inform, monitor, and house regional and organizational transition initiatives. Thus, furthering the spread of the transition movement while networking related organizations, projects, ideas and activities.

Guidance for new groups

Some projects use the TN's guide the '12 ingredients', or the 'revised ingredients', when setting up their group.[10][36]


The Transition Network's (TN) stated aim is to promote awareness of sustainable living and building local ecological resilience.[37]

Peak oil and local resilience

The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resiliency by Rob Hopkins provides much of the framework behind the Transition Initiative and outlines ways for local Transition Towns to get involved.[38]


Main article: Sustainable transport

Communities are encouraged by The Transition Network to seek out methods for reducing energy usage as well as reducing their reliance on long supply chains that are totally dependent on fossil fuels for essential items[39] (see environmental calculator).

Food production

According to The Transition food is a key area for transition, sometimes the slogan "Food feet, not food miles" is used. Initiatives so far have included creating community gardens or replacing ornamental tree plantings with fruit or nut trees to grow food.[40]

Waste and recycling

Business waste exchange seeks to match the waste of one industry with another industry that uses that waste material, sometimes referred to as industrial symbiosis. It is suggested that this process can help companies increase profitability by reducing raw material and waste disposal cost, reducing carbon emission, making their by-products a source of revenue to be bought by other business.[41][42][additional citation(s) needed] It also suggests that repairing old items rather than throwing them away should be considered.[43]


The Transition Network proposes an alternative from business as usual, or from 'shocked/doomladen' reactions to peak oil and an end to unlimited economic growth.[44] According to Southend-on-Sea in Transition,

by shifting our mind-set we can actually recognise the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant — somewhere much better to live than our current alienated consumer culture based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth."[45]

A theme of the Transition Network is acknowledging the emotional impact of changing to a low energy world. Some Transition Network groups have 'Heart and Soul' groups to look at this aspect.[46][47]

The psychological work reframed as inner [48]continued through to 2024

Energy descent action plans (EDAP)

See also: Energy descent

Transition towns aim to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and one way they do this is by developing a community Energy descent action plan (EDAP). As shown in the case of Totnes, the term "community" is broadly defined to include local people, local institutions, local agencies and the local council. Development of an EDAP requires the active engagement of local initiatives at a variety of levels.[49] The first comprehensive plan was created for Totnes in 2010, entitled Transition in Action: Totnes & District 2030.[50]

In France, where the movement is called Villes et Territoires en Transition, the association négaWatt provides a theoretical support to the transition movement.[51]


See also: List of community currencies in the United Kingdom

After the 2008 global financial crisis, the Transition Network added financial instability as further threat to local communities (alongside peak oil and climate change). It suggested a number of strategies could help, including fiscal localism[52][53] and local food production.[54] Further, it saw the creation of local complementary currencies as reinforcing moves toward sustainable low carbon economies as well as being socially beneficial.[55] Additionally, Hopkins also wrote that the movement does have an understanding of global economics and is critical of its systemic problems such as being "growth-based".[56]

Some transition towns have been involved in launching local currencies including the Totnes pound, the Lewes pound, the Stroud pound and the Brixton pound.

To help further these aims the Transition Network setup the REconomy Project, circa 2012.[57]

Launched in 2007, the Totnes pound, which was redeemable in local shops and businesses, helped to reduce food miles while also supporting local firms.[58]

In 2008, the idea was also considered by three Welsh transition towns, including Cardiff.[59]

The Stroud pound and Totnes pound became defunct in 2013 and 2019 respectively. As of November 2019, the Lewes pound and Brixton pound are active.[58]

In popular culture

Transition towns have been featured in the plot line of the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers. This is an example of mainstream media attention the movement received a few years after being founded.[60] The transition movement featured in the 2015 film Demain [61]



A number of books have been published on specific topics, including: how communities can develop their Transition town initiative. Unless stated, the following books were published as a collaboration between Green Books and the Transition Network (under the label Transition Books):[62]

In 2008, the Transition Handbook was the joint 5th most popular book taken on holiday during the summer recess by the UK parliamentary MPs.[65]


Two films have been created by the movement about the movement. They document the progress of various initiatives:

Critique and research

In 2008, the Trapese Collective published a critique called The Rocky Road to a Real Transition to which Hopkins replied. The debate was partly about how social change is brought about.[67][56]

A number of academic papers have been published looking at the concept's progress:

See also




  1. ^ "Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Flintoff, John-Paul (15 June 2013). "Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward?".
  3. ^ Bay, Uschi (5 March 2012). "Transition Town Initiatives Promoting Transformational Community Change In Tackling Peak Oil And Climate Change Challenges". Australian Social Work. 66 (2): 171–186. doi:10.1080/0312407X.2013.781201. S2CID 144243803. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  4. ^ "What is a Transition Initiative? - Transition Network". 7 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Transition Initiatives Map - Transition Network". 7 July 2016.
  6. ^ Scott Cato, Molly; Hillier, Jean (9 December 2011). "How Could We Study Climate-Related Social Innovation? Applying Deleuzean Philosophy to the Transition Towns". Rochester, NY: 9. SSRN 1970241. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Scott Cato, Molly; Hillier, Jean (9 December 2011). "How Could We Study Climate-Related Social Innovation? Applying Deleuzean Philosophy to the Transition Towns". Rochester, NY: 9. SSRN 1970241. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Hopkins, Rob (2008). The transition handbook.
  9. ^ "The Local Planet".
  10. ^ a b "12 Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Kinsale 2021 An Energy Descent Action Plan – Version.1. 2005" (PDF). Kinsale Further Education College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  12. ^ "The Transition Movement is 10 years old | Transition Black Isle". Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  13. ^ "The Transition movement: Today Totnes... tomorrow the world". The Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  14. ^ Viljoen, André; Bohn, Katrin (25 July 2014). Second Nature Urban Agriculture: Designing Productive Cities. Routledge. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-317-67451-1.
  15. ^ a b c "About Transition Network". Transition Network. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Money for climate project". The Nelson Mail. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  17. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". February 2018.
  18. ^ "About PEDAL". Portobello Transition Town. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "The Urbanite Magazine - KEYNOTE: POWER PLAY". 25 April 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Permaculture". Transition Town Ashland. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ David Fleming obituary in The Ecologist, 21 December 2010
  24. ^ admin (30 October 2016). "Earth Talk Video: The Late Dr. David Fleming – Community, Place and Play". YouTube. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  25. ^ "International Hubs Circle". Transition Network. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Transition Initiatives Directory". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Translations". Transition Network. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  29. ^ "A write-up of the 2012 Transition Network conference. The best yet. - Transition Network". 5 March 2016. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  30. ^ "Transition Network Conference 2015 - Write up | Transition Network". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Transition Network | the National Lottery Community Fund". 19 July 2021.
  33. ^ "Dashboard".
  34. ^ "Our Story". Transition US. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  35. ^ "About us". Transition US. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  36. ^ "Ingredients". Transition Network. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  37. ^ Flintoff, John-Paul (15 June 2013). "Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are Transition Towns the way forward?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  38. ^ a b "The Transition Handbook". Green Books. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  39. ^ Mays, Chris; Rivers, Nathaniel A.; Sharp-Hoskins, Kellie (25 October 2017). Kenneth Burke + The Posthuman. Penn State Press. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-271-08033-8. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  40. ^ Warhurst, Pamela; Dobson, Joanna (26 May 2014). Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution!. Matador Publishing. p. 200. ISBN 978-1783064878.
  41. ^ "Industrial waste account to boost industrial symbiosis | Yale Environment Review". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  42. ^ "What is industrial symbiosis? | WRAP UK". 15 March 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  43. ^ "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: what does it mean?". Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  44. ^ Who we are and what we do by Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman. Transition Network. February 2009.
  45. ^ "LIFE BEYOND OIL – THREAT OR OPPORTUNITY?". Archived from the original on 18 August 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  46. ^ "Inner Transition". Transition Town Totnes.
  47. ^ "Heart and Soul Transition PDX Working Group Meeting #3 - The Dirt!". 14 November 2010. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  48. ^
  49. ^ Connors, Phil; McDonald, Peter (2011). "Transitioning communities: community, participation and the Transition Town movement". Community Development Journal. 46 (4): 558–572. doi:10.1093/cdj/bsq014. ISSN 0010-3802. JSTOR 44258308. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  50. ^ a b "Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP)". Transition Town Totnes. Archived from the original on 10 January 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  51. ^ "La notion de negaWatt". Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  52. ^ a b "Local Food: how to make it happen in your community". Green Books. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  53. ^ a b "Local Money How to Make it Happen in Your Community". Green Books. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  54. ^ "Transitioning the financial crisis". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  55. ^ McIntosh, Malcolm (2013). The Necessary Transition: The Journey Towards the Sustainable Enterprise Economy. Greenleaf Publishing. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-906093-89-1.
  56. ^ a b Hopkins, Rob. ""The Rocky Road to a Real Transition": A Review. » Transition Culture". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  57. ^ "Finally! It's here! The REconomy website goes live! - REconomy". 29 May 2012.
  58. ^ a b Morris, Jonathan (4 June 2007). "Town poised for its own currency". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  59. ^ "Towns banking their own currency". BBC News. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  60. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 - Archers - The Archers - Transition Ambridge". 30 December 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  61. ^ "'Tomorrow' ('Demain'): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 December 2015.
  62. ^ "Books".
  63. ^ Information on The Transition Timeline, from the author's Dark Optimism website
  64. ^ "Communities, Councils and a Low Carbon Future What We Can Do If Governments Won't". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  65. ^ Madeleine Bunting (31 May 2009). "Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging, 31 May 2009". The Guardian.
  66. ^ "In Transition 2.0 (2 February 2012)". Transition Network. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  67. ^ "The Rocky Road to Transition" (PDF). Trapese Collective. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 December 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  68. ^ Petitions can be submitted to city councils