Review of The Transition Companion

The Transition Companion—Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times. Rob Hopkins, 2011, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont

What if the best responses to peak oil and climate change don’t come from government, but from you and me and the people around us?—Rob Hopkins

Maybe you’ve already read Rob Hopkins’s first book, The Transition Handbook. Maybe you’re involved in a Transition initiative in your community. Or maybe you’re just curious and just want to learn more about the fast-growing international Transition movement. In any case, you’ll be in for a great treat reading his new book, The Transition Companion.

The original book was published about five years ago, when the movement was very new, as a beginner’s guide to starting, encouraging, and participating in a Transition Initiative. Key elements of Transition work were described in terms of re-skilling for resilience (e.g., canning, tool care, home health care), nurturing local communities, and supporting local economies.

While the original handbook analyzed the successes of just a few pioneering Transition initiatives, the new book is able to share hundreds of examples out of the thousands of Transition initiatives world-wide, ranging from diverse towns and cities to islands, universities, and even neighborhoods.

Since Part Three (the final part) of The Transition Companion” has a “starting out” section titled, “How the Transition movement does what it does—ingredients for success,” you could just read the new book and learn most of what was included in the first book. The remaining sections in Part Three are “Deepening,” “Connecting,” “Building,” and “Daring to Dream.”

Part Two, “Why Transition Initiatives Do What They Do,” begins with this important observation about diversity within the Transition movement:

“People get involved in their local Transition initiatives for a range of reasons. Although when Transition started it was framed very much as a response to peak oil and climate change, as time has passed and the idea has taken root in more and more places, it has been fascinating to see the wide range of reasons why people get involved.”

It moves on to the varied, delightful reasons that people get involved in Transition, including, “because it feels way more fun than not doing it” and “because of wanting a fairer world.” Along with all the descriptions of great tools and strategies used by various Transition initiatives are wonderful color photos of real people making a difference where they live.

Hopkins doesn’t guarantee what the outcome will be. In fact the movement’s publications always include this “cheerful disclaimer:”

“Transition is not a known quantity. We truly don’t know whether Transition will work. It is a social experiment on a massive scale. What we are convinced of is this:

v  If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too late.

v If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little.

v But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”

This book is fun, informative, inspirational, and very helpful for our very necessary transition to a warmer, post-petroleum world. The book helped me better understand the next steps my local Transition initiative needs to take to make us truly relevant to our community.

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