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Movement – Transition towns

Posted in Movements by fedwards on May 1st, 2007

What do Totnes, Kinsale, Ivybridge, Falmouth, Forest Row, Moretonhampstead, Stroud, Penwith, Lewes, Row, Ottery St. Mary, Ashburton, Bristol, Lampeter, Glastonbury, Mayfield, and London’s Brixton district all have in common? They’re ALL transition towns! The transition town movement is a mixture of towns, counties and even cities mainly within the UK that have all agreed that "peak oil", the year when oil extraction peaks, is a real problem that must be acted upon now. The communities in these towns are not waiting for government recognition nor support, instead working together now to re-design their towns and re-skill their populations to better address the upcoming oil depletion change. This emerging transition town movement resembles US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement which 400 mayors have signed up to – without waiting for government support – to pledge a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Started by permaculturalist, Rob Hopkins, transition towns are based around community projects that prepare for life after oil. Encouraging the "relocalisation" of food, energy, transport and economies, transition town projects include supporting the previously-ignored traditional skills of growing fruit and vegetables, baking bread and even darning socks! They draw upon these "old way of life" skills resembling the period after the second world war when the UK suffered a severe fuel shortage. Now the transition town movement is capturing this knowledge of living without dependence on oil by collating oral-history archives gleaned from their elderly neighbours, while incorporating new technologies such as solar panels and biofuels within their townships.

Hopkins, quoted in an article by Ferry,  believes the model for transition towns "can only work in cities if they are split up into neighbourhoods" while one networking body oversees them all. A Transition Towns Network is planned in the near-future to be based in Totnes.

For more information about transition towns, visit Rob Hopkins website, another website, or check out the short film on YouTube. Newspaper articles that have reported on transition towns, include:

Ferry, J. (2007) "You are now entering an oil-free zone", Guardian, 18 April;
Lawrence, F. (2007) "Pioneering Welsh town begins the transition to a life without oil", Guardian, 7 April.

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