Transition Towns has evolved out of the principles of the Permaculture movement. Some enterprising students studying under Rob Hopkins of Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland included in their work, David Holmgren’s important and classic book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2003). The actual term, Transition Towns was coined by Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne. From Ireland, in 2007 the concepts began to spread throughout the world.
Also called the Transition Network or Transition Movement, is a phenomenal grassroots network of communities that voluntarily adopt a kind of charter of principles, that builds resilience to the challenges of living with an awareness of peak oil, a growing intensity of climatic destruction and increasing economic instability.
The main emphasis of the Transition Towns projects is through raising awareness of how to live more sustainably to build within existing infrastructures, local ecological resilience to world events beyond their control. Food is a major emphasis, often describing the principles as in “Food feet, not food miles!”. The growing popularity of community Gardens is one example of these kinds of initiatives.
In 2010, the growing economic crises in Europe added the third tenant of economic stability to the movement, along with peak oil and climatic change. There have been experiments in various communities to utilize local currency to provide support and incentives to buy more locally as much as possible. Communities are encouraged to explore methods that will reduce energy usage, including reducing reliance on supply chains that utilize fossil fuel dependency for essential items.
An essential idea that is promoted is that living a life without oil dependency is in fact much more enjoyable. It causes us to slow down, establish more intimate and social relationships, and discourages a consumerist, disposable driven economy. Encouraging a re-examination of how we live, it suggests that we also must go through an inner transition as well begin to change our belief systems and life style habits along with building more intimate and connected relationships with the ‘natural’ world. We are ultimately an interconnected organism with the earth and how we have been acting has much more, seriously threatening, long term consequences than how we are operating today.
Another essential concept is the Energy Descent Action Plan, from Rob Hopkins’ work, that works with a community to vision, design and implement a pro-active transition away from fossil fuel driven town. This includes a long communication process with all key players including local people, politicians on town councils, institutions, agencies, etc.
In Ontario, there are some communities starting up a Transition Towns Networks. The following is a beginning list (please let me know if there are more that I can add!);