Key Assumptions & Principles

The work of the Transition Movement is grounded in the following six assumptions:

1) We now face a very challenging future due, in large part, to peak oil, climate, change, and an increasingly out of control global economy and financial system. This situation will inevitably force significant changes in our way of life, and very likely result in significantly lower energy consumption in the future.

2) Rather than being taken by surprise by all this at a later date, it is better to start now to collaboratively plan for our energy descent; for a conversion to safe and renewable energy sources; and for the creation of a vibrant, more localized, green-collar economy that can meet the basic needs of all our citizens.

3) Our local communities already have many strengths and assets to meet these challenges, but it still needs to increase its ecological, social, economic, and political resilience capacity in order respond in creative and healthy ways to the increasing shocks coming to our communities.

4) The current situation is serious enough that local people have to act collectively and have to act now–without waiting for needed corrective action on the part of local, state, national, or international officials.

5) By unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively rebuild the resiliency of our community, we have the opportunity to create ways of living that are “energy lean and clean,” and much more just, connected, and satisfying than our current way of life.

6) We can undertake all of these transition efforts with a strong community spirit and a sense of fun and joy at coming together to create the positive future that we envision for ourselves, our community, and for generations to come.

It is also based on the following seven principles:

1. Positive Visioning

Local Transition Movements are made up of numerous initiatives, individuals, and groups working in a more or less formal network fashion to create tangible, clearly expressed and practical visions of the community in question beyond its present-day dependence on fossil fuel and an unstable global corporate economy. Our primary focus is not campaigning against things, but rather on creating positive, empowering possibilities and opportunities. The generation of new stories and strong community values are central to this visioning work.

2. Help People Access Good Information and Trust Them to Make Good Decisions

Local Transition Movement initiatives dedicate themselves, through all aspects of their work, to raising awareness of peak oil and climate change and related issues such as critiquing economic growth. In doing so they recognize the responsibility to present this information in ways which are playful, articulate, accessible and engaging, and which enable people to feel enthused and empowered rather than powerless. Local Transition Movement initiatives focus on telling people the closest version of the truth that we know in times when the information available is deeply contradictory. The messages are non‐directive, respecting each person’s ability to make a response that is appropriate to their situation.

3. Inclusion and Openness

Successful Transition Movement initiatives need an unprecedented coming together of the broad diversity of society. They dedicate themselves to ensuring that their decision making processes and their working groups embody principles of openness and inclusion. This principle also refers to the principle of each contributing group or project reaching the community in its entirety, and endeavoring, from an early stage, to engage their local business community, the diversity of community groups, and local government authorities. It makes explicit the principle that there is little room for ‘them and us’ thinking in the challenge of energy descent planning.

4. Enable Sharing and Networking

Local Transition Movement initiatives dedicate themselves to sharing their successes, failures, insights and connections at the various scales across the Transition network, so as to more widely build up a collective body of experience and wisdom.

5. Build Resilience

Local Transition Movement initiatives stress the fundamental importance of building resilience i.e. the capacity of our businesses, communities and settlements to withstand shock. Transition Movement initiatives commit to building resilience across a wide range of areas (food, economics, energy etc) and also on a range of scales (from the local to the national) as seems appropriate – and to setting them within an overall context of the need to do everything we can to ensure environmental resilience.

6. Inner and Outer Transition

The challenges we face are not just caused by a mistake in our technologies and economic institutions but are also a direct result of our world view and belief system. The impact of the information about the state of our planet can generate fear and grief – which may underlie the state of denial that many people are caught in. Psychological models can help us understand what is really happening and avoid unconscious processes sabotaging change. E.g. addictions models, models for behavioral change. This principle also honors the fact that Transition thrives because it enables and supports people to do what they are passionate about, what they feel called to do.

7. Subsidiarity: self-organization and decision making at the appropriate level

This final principle embodies the idea that the intention of the Transition model is not to centralize or control decision making, but rather to work with everyone so that it is practiced at the most appropriate, practical and empowering level, and in such a way that it models the ability of natural systems to self organize.


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