Transition Town Philosophy

So, what is the Transition Movement all about? To pull six principles from the Transition Handbook:

1. Visioning: “The Transition approach has, as a fundamental principle, the belief that we can only move towards something if we can imagine what it will be like when we get there. The vision we have in our mind when we set out on this work will go a long way towards determining where we will end up.”

2. Inclusion: “The scale of the challenge of peak oil and climate change cannot be addressed if we choose to stay within our comfort zones, if ‘green’ people only talk to other ‘green’ people, business people only talk to other business people, and so on. the Transition approach seeks to facilitate a degree of dialogue and inclusion that has rarely been achieved before, and has begun to develop some innovative ways of bringing this about. This is seen as one of the key principles simply because without it we have no chance of success.”

3. Awareness-raising: “The end of the Oil age is a confusing time. We are constantly exposed to bewildering mixed messages. The media presents us with headlines such as ‘Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war and unrest, says new study’, and ‘Carbon output rising faster than forecast, says study’, yet at the same time advertising puts across the conflicting message that business as usual is the only way forward, that globalisation is the only model that can feed the world, and that just buying this next thing will make us happy. Indeed, the contrast can sometimes be striking, with an article about melting of Arctic ice-sheets next to an advert for a new car or cheap flights.”

“Sometime new Transition Initiatives feel that they don’t need to do much awareness-raising because everyone must be aware of these issues by now, but it is essential to start with the assumption that people don’t know anything about these issues. We need to assume no prior knowledge, and set out the case as clearly, accessibly and entertainingly as possible, giving people the key arguments in order to let them formulate their own responses.”

4. Resilience: “The rebuilding of resilience is, alongside the need to move rapidly to a zero carbon society, central to the Transition concept. Indeed, to do one without the other will fail to address either challenge.”

5. Psychological insights: “Insights from psychology are also key to the Transition model. It is understood that among the key barriers to engagement are the sense of powerlessness, isolation and overwhelm that environmental issues can often generate. These do not leave people in a place from which they can generate action, either as an individual or as a community. The Transition model uses these insights firstly through the creation of a positive vision, secondly by creating safe spaces where people can talk, digest and feel how these issues affect them, and thirdly by affirming the steps and actions that people have taken, and by designing into the process as many opportunities to celebrate successes as possible This coming together – the sense of not being the only person out there who is aware of peak oil and climate change and who finds it scary – is very powerful. It enables people to feel part of a collective response, that they are part of something larger than themselves.”

6. Credible and appropriate solutions: “It is important that Transition Initiatives, having laid out the peak oil and climate change arguments, enable people to explore solutions of a credible scale. One of the reasons behind what we might call the ‘light-bulb syndrome’ is that people are often only able to conceive two scales of response; individuals doing things in their own homes, or the government acting on a national scale. The Transition model explores the ground between these two: what could be achieved at a community level.”


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