Transition Guelph: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience
“Resilient Guelph 2030”
From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience
Sally Ludwig & Chris Mills
Peak Oil & Climate Change
(a la Hirsch et al.)
• coal to liquids
• gas to liquids
• relaxed drilling
• massively scaled
• tar sands and nonconventional oils
• resource nationalism
• local resilience
• carbon reduction
• consume closer to home
• produce closer to home
• play closer to home
• decentralised energy
• the Great Reskilling
• localised food
• energy descent plans
• local medicinal capacity
• local currencies
(a la Stern et al.)
• climate engineering
• carbon capture and
• tree-based carbon
• climate adaptation
• nuclear power
Here's how it all appears to be evolving...
A small group comes together with a shared concern:
• How can our community respond to the challenges and opportunities of
peak oil, climate change and economic stagnation?
They recognise that:
• living with less energy - imperative because of climate change and
inevitable because of fossil fuel depletion - is an opportunity if we plan for
it, but a threat if we wait for it to happen to us
• we were very clever and creative while using increasingly large amounts of
energy, and we'll need to be just as clever and creative as we learn to live
with decreasing amounts
• our communities currently lack the resilience to withstand some of the
disruptions that will accompany climate change and unplanned energy
• we have to work together and we have to work now, rather than waiting for the
government or "someone else"
• this transition has to happen at an inner personal level as well as a community
• by unleashing the collective genius of the communities we live in, we can
proactively design our own energy descent and build ways of living that are
more connected, more enriching and that recognise the ecological limits of our
They begin by:
• forming an initiating group and then adopt the Transition Model in order to
engage a significant proportion of the people in their community to help find
the answers to the BIG question :
• "how can we make our community stronger and happier as we deal with the
impacts of peak oil and economic contraction while at the same time urgently
reducing CO2 emissions?"
• start awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a
community-led process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon
• connect with existing groups in the community, including local government
• form groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart &
soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)
• kick 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 launch a community defined, community implemented "Energy Descent
Action Plan" over a 15 to 20 year timescale
This co-ordinated initiative strives both to rebuild the resilience
we've lost as a result of cheap oil and also to drastically reduce
the community's carbon emissions.
• “The capacity to respond creatively to change”
• The ability of an ecosystem (from an individual person,
to a community, to a whole economy) to…
Hold together and maintain its function in the face
of change and shocks from the outside.
• Resilient systems can roll with external shocks and adapt
Benefits to a community with enhanced resilience:
If one part is destroyed, the shock will not disable the whole system.
Wide diversity of character, solutions developed creatively in response to local
It can meet its needs despite the substantial absence of travel and transport.
Big infrastructures and bureaucracies of the oil-addicted economy are replaced by fit-forpurpose local alternatives at reduced cost.
• Positive visioning
• Help people access good information and trust them to make good decisions
• Inclusion and Openness
• Enable Sharing and Networking
• Build Resilience
• Inner and Outer Transition
• Transition makes sense - the solution is the same size as the problem
• Subsidiarity: self-organisation and decision making at the appropriate level
Projects & Initiatives
• Awareness-raising: film nights, public talks, round-table discussions,
workshops, displays, neighbourhood groups, inner transition.
• Re-localization: food resources and distribution, energy, localized
economy, sustainable building, strengthening neighbourhoods.
• Sustainable transportation infrastructure: “walkable city”, bike paths,
low-carbon public transit and goods transport, support car sharing
Re-skilling: meaningful work for a lower-energy future.
Community gardens. Backyard gardens. Fruit trees.
Encourage CSAs and local organic farming.
Collaborate with partners for stronger communities.
The Goal: an “Resilience Action Plan” (RAP) for Guelph.
City As Ecosystem
U of G
Resilience 2011:Community Festival
for lots more!!
Resilience 2012:Community Festival
for lots more!!
A community of volunteers who regularly congregate to implement Permaculture Design plans
in backyards around Guelph, not-for-profit, and at cost. Based on reciprocity: in other words,
you attend three blitzes, help out, gain knowledge (and have fun!) and you are then entitled to
have a blitz at your place.
The Day of Permablitz a team of volunteers gathers to:
•Create an edible garden where somebody lives
•Share skills related to sustainability and gardening
•Build community, and have fun
Fair Trade is a different way of doing business. It's about making principles of fairness and
decency mean something in the marketplace. It seeks to change the terms of trade for the
products we buy - to ensure the farmers and artisans behind those products get a better deal.
Most often this is understood to mean better prices for producers, but it often means longerterm and more meaningful trading relationships as well.
Fair Trade Town
The Fair Trade Towns campaign is an exciting initiative that recognizes communities that actively
support Fair Trade, increasing both availability and awareness at the local level.
The Guelph Community Orchard Project: Guelph’s first community orchards
The project aims to:
1. Nurture relationships between residents, school and church groups, urban farmers, and
2. Foster fruit and nut tree awareness through demonstration and education programs.
3. Increase food security through providing fruit and nut donations to a local food shelf.
4. Make a positive difference to the local environment by creating habitat for wildlife, improving air
quality, providing shade and cooling, filtering water, and reducing the community’s carbon footprint.
Community Orchard Program
What is Time Banking?
• A volunteer time exchange.
• Time banking is about spending an hour doing something for another person in your community.
• How it works: The time dollar you earn for your efforts is punched into a central online database.
You might do some grocery shopping for a shut-in, for instance, and then spend your dollar on
having your dog walked.
• Connect with your neighbours.
• Time banking leverages the power of networking to build community and share resources.
Transition Streets is a seven-part “curriculum” that enables you to take a number of practical,
effective, money and energy-saving steps together with a group of friends, family or neighbours.
How it Works
• Groups of friends or neighbours get together every few weeks with a practical workbook to make
easy changes to
how they use energy, water, food, packaging and transport. It’s easier to make changes with the
support of your friends.
Transition Streets: ultra-local transition!
How to Get Started
• Just ask a few neighbours and friends who live near you if they’d like to form a Transition Streets
group. Register and we’ll give you the workbooks and a facilitator to get you started.
"Never doubt“All things are possible, once enough human beings realize that the world.
that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
Indeed, it is the only thing stake.” has."
everything is at that ever
— Norman Cousins
“We will be transitioning to a lower-energy future, whether we want to or not…
and it’s far better to ride the wave...
than be engulfed by it!”
— Ben Brangwyn
(co-founder of the Transition Network)
Climate Change makes carbon-reduction essential. Peak Oil makes
it inevitable. Transition Community Initiatives make it feasible and
We can all have a part
in creating a more resilient community, and a better world!