The Transition Organizing Model

A local transition movement (which could be in a town, village, city, neighborhood, university or island etc) is a community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction. There are now thousands of such relocalization initiatives around the world that are networking with each other and starting to answer this crucial question together:

“For all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly rebuild resilience (to mitigate the effects of peak oil and and unstable global economy) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of climate change)?”

Here’s how it all appears to be evolving…

In the United States, this effort usually starts taking off in any given community when a collection of motivated individuals within a community connect to the Transition US support network and come together to act on the central insight put forward in The Transition Handbook, which says that “the end of what we might call The Age of Cheap Oil (which lasted from 1859 until the present) is near at hand, and that for a society utterly dependent on it, this means enormous change; but that the future with less oil [and more local and less toxic energy supplies] could be preferable to the present, if we plan sufficiently in advance with imagination and creativity.”

The folks who form a local transition task force or organizing committee to not “create” the local Transition Movement, of course, because several first steps toward such a movement have usually already emerged within the community. Such organizing and networking groups do, however, often help the local movement grow and become ever more focused and effective. Adapting the emerging Transition Model of local organizing to their own circumstance, these folks work with other existing local groups and concerned citizens to engage in the following kinds of activities:

  • awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a community lead process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon
  • connecting with existing groups, including local government and local businesses, in the community
  • forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)
  • kicking off practical projects aimed at building people’s understanding of resilience and carbon issues and community engagement
  • engage in a community-wide visioning process to identify the future we want for ourselves rather than waiting for someone else to create a future that we won’t like
  • eventually launching a community defined, community implemented “Energy Descent Action Plan” over a 15 to 20 year timescale

These efforts and others often result in a more coordinated initiative across all the areas of life listed above that strives both to rebuild the resilience we’ve lost as a result of cheap oil and also to reduce the community’s carbon emissions drastically.


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