What are Transition Towns?

ShedsYou’ve probably come across the term ‘transition towns’, but even as the term becomes more and more common, lots of us still don’t really know what the whole transition thing is about.

What is a transition town?

Transition towns expand upon Permaculture, a sustainable way of living which combines a sense of community with a greater environmental conscience. Transition towns are made of things such as food-growing groups, community-owned shops and organisations, street projects, community-owned energy generators, and the personal relationships between community members. Most of the towns begin with a food-growing group. This can start on an allotment, a community garden, or a garden share scheme. By growing their own food, transition towns can lessen their reliance on larger corporations which may be shipping their produce in from far away at unnecessary environmental costs.

Why do transition towns exist?

The transition town movement is a reaction to the growing environmental problems seen around us today. The current economy, marketplace, and general way of living are based on systems developed largely during the industrial revolution, when fossil fuels drove us in the direction of big business, big money, and big disruption to the planet. Transition towns are all about scaling down and serving the people in the direct vicinity. It isn’t about only looking after your own, but cutting down on inefficient systems of transport and food production. Currently, almost all (97%) of grocery sales in the UK are made through 8,000 supermarkets even though independent businesses (3%) create more jobs and better wellbeing (source). In transition towns, the constant growth of businesses in the interest of making more money is seen as unsustainable and beneficial only to a few select people at the top.

How does a transition town work?

To start with, transition townspeople need a vision of what they would like to exist in place of the current system. There needs to be a clear geographical area for the project to cover, and an idea of how it might look and feel once it has made its transition. Bringing about a transition town requires passion and community energy, and some effective ways of communicating the idea to others. That can involve talking, filming, drawing, writing, or any other way of expressing an idea.

Community is at the heart of any transition town, so networking is important. People speak to each other, communicate ideas, and come up with the best solutions to the problems that the group identifies. Picking out the things people have in common, finding strengths, and imagining what can be done together is how it all gets going.

Working as a group means organisation is very important. Transitioners need to work out how meetings will work, and who makes final decisions. If there’s a disagreement, then people need a way of coming to an agreement.

Being active.

Transition towns work when people just do stuff. Putting on a pair of boots, laying your tools out, and getting stuck in makes things happen. Thought and planning is important, but nothing actually gets done without actions. Transition towns are fun, inclusive places, and what gets done is celebrated by the people who do it.

Find your nearest Transition Town

Go to The Transition Network to find your nearest community, and get involved! Otherwise, see who else around you feels incentivised to do something positive.

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