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Small Town, Sustainable Opportunities. Examining How the Transition Movement Supports Positive, Local Change
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Small Town, Sustainable Opportunities. Examining How the Transition Movement Supports Positive, Local Change


I wanted to find out how to change my community for the better. Sustainability-wise, health-wise and economic-wise. I found the concept of "Transition Towns" and researched how that could affect my …

I wanted to find out how to change my community for the better. Sustainability-wise, health-wise and economic-wise. I found the concept of "Transition Towns" and researched how that could affect my town.

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  • 1. Small Town, Sustainable Opportunities Examining How the Transition MovementShanna Ruyle Supports Positive, Local ChangeMCAD/Introduction to Sustainable DesignDecember 10, 2012
  • 2. QuestionWhat can I do locally to make a difference in the sustainability movement?
  • 3. QuestionWhat is actionable for my community of 1600 people?
  • 4. QuestionWhat do people in my community want? How can we support each other?
  • 5. My Answer Transition Towns A grassroots-based movement that harnesses the creativity andingenuity of local citizens to envision and create a more sustainable community. The main idea is for communities to help themselves inpractical ways locally, to withstand global issues they may not have control over in the future, like climate, oil and economic crisis.
  • 6. The Backstory
  • 7. The concept of “transition” as it appears in Transition Towns (aka the Transition Movement) was taken from a deep knowledge of permaculture* and coupled with a community-based, solution-oriented response to challenges and opportunities related to peak oil, climate changes and economic crisis.*What is Permaculture?Permaculture is method of living and creating thatworks with the land and inhabitants in an efficient, sustainable way—examining nature and people in a holistic way. Permaculturecombines many disciplines to achieve a synergy for the locale and its inhabitants,like sustainability, ecology, design, agriculture, forestry, engineering and architecture.In reality, it is seen through landscapes that take advantage of heat sinks and wind directionto maximize garden production, rainwater harvesting and community-based social gatherings.
  • 8. Meet the Transition Support Team
  • 9. The Transition Network The Transition Network (est. 2006) is the international organization leading the way. They provide a vast and comprehensive set of resources to share the process and support those stepping up to the challenge. Their purpose:“To support community-led responses to peak oil and climate change, building resilience and happiness”. Source: Hopkins, Rob, and Peter Lipman. Who We Are and What We Do. 43 Fore Street, Totnes TQ9 5HN, UK: Transition Network, Feb. 2009. Pdf.
  • 10. Transition United States US (non-profit, est. 2008), is the United States’ resource for communities looking to join the Transition Movement.Their mission, roles and goals are similar to the Transition Network.
  • 11. Guiding both entities are theirSeven Principles: 1. Positive Visioning2. Help People Access Good Information and Trust Them to Make Good Decisions 3. Inclusion and Openness 4. Enable Sharing and Networking 5. Build Resilience 6. Inner and Outer Transition7. Subsidiary: self‐organization and decision making at the appropriate level Source: The 7 Guiding Principles of Transition | Transition US." The 7 Guiding Principles of Transition | Transition US. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2012.
  • 12. What I appreciatemost about their approach...
  • 13. 1 2...Its Positive SpinPositive reinforcement, goals and outcomesoutshine the underlying motivator(a sudden fuel, economic or climate crisis).The methodology is tactical and action based.
  • 14. 2 3...Its Straightforward Knowledge Sharing The wealth of information available through the Transition Network and Transition US websites, publication and videos are vast, informative, and magnificently organized.
  • 15. 3 ...Its Step by Step From gathering information stage, to joining, to envisioned end, all of the information is there.
  • 16. But they don’t claim to know the answers.
  • 17. “We truly dont know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.” Source: "What Is a Transition Initiative?" Welcome. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2012.
  • 18. The goal is for each community to discover their own answers. The ones that are right for them.
  • 19. Genius, right?
  • 20. You don’t have to become “official”to use their site or learn from theirexperience. It is available to anyone.
  • 21. In fact, if the application process is too cumbersome (and it just might be, depending on where your volunteer base stands), I encourageusing the sites and publications to make progresson small movements... after all, you know where to go when you do get enough momentum to put yourself on THE MAP.
  • 22. The Map of Initiatives! This Map shows “where the action” is at. Numbers and locations represent both interest and official initiatives. Source:
  • 23. To date there are 441 internationaland 129 US official Transition initiatives on the record. Source: Welcome | Transition US." Welcome | Transition US. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.
  • 24. Examples of Towns in Action
  • 25. Transition Town TotnesDevon, UKThe very first town to under go this social experiment was Totnes. Since2006 they have been working towards fulfilling the initiatives as craftedby the founders of the Transition Network. Fast-forward six years, to2012, and their event calendar is chalk full of events.They have formed over 28 specialized groups to do work in everythingfrom housing to transportation to energy. And much of their work andideas are shared on their website for others to access. Source: "News." Transition Town Totnes. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.
  • 26. Sample ProjectFrom Transition Town TotnesThe Atmos Project: “an ambitious project to bring the derelictformer Dairy Crest milk-processing plant in the centre of Totnes intocommunity ownership. The vision for the site is that it be owned by thecommunity and developed as the catalyst for a new economy forTotnes. It would be a mixed use development, combining affordablehousing, local food processing, brewing, baking, an incubator for newbusinesses, space for a wide range of enterprises, space for publicevents and much more. Being next to the station it would become anational icon for low carbon building, putting Totnes on the map as acentre of innovation and sustainability.” Source: "Atmos Project." Transition Town Totnes. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.
  • 27. Sample EventFrom Transition Town TotnesDecember, named “Month of the Mender” hosted a “Winterfest” thatbrought people together for: sewing  making creams and medicines fermenting from herbs making mini forest gardens  making wooden toys planting nut trees in pots  draft-proofing handing out seeds  healing massage knitting  playing games together making DIY solar systems  conversations with the local Credit Union about mending wiring plugs the local economy mending household items Source: "News." Transition Town Totnes. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.
  • 28. Transition Town AshlandAshland, OregonThe closest Transition Town in both relative size and location to myown is Ashland, Oregon. Founded in 2008, they have created actiongroups to address community, food, environment, heart and soul,transportation, youth and education, health and wellness. Theirmost recent public event was a Local Foods Treasure Hunt, toshowcase, field trip style, local food options and choices to childrenand families and share how to prepare their “treasures”.
  • 29. My Side Note
  • 30. One of the criteria for application is“An understanding of peak oil and climate change asprimary drivers and the intention of writing them into your constitution or governing documents.”
  • 31. I understand the criteria,but don’t feel that it fits within the diversityand inclusion message the organization brings
  • 32. If the goal is to bring everyone in a community together regardless of their beliefs, , toward a common goal and vision, I would encourage an elimination of this criteria. Here’s why...
  • 33. Sometimes motivating peopleto do what is right in the long run, may not involve changing their beliefs in the short term.
  • 34. Many of the activities that will take placeunder “Transition” do not require the belief or understanding of peak oil or climate changes for participation.
  • 35. Consequences Either the group would have to disclose this information right away (and take a chance of scaring off otherwise willing participants) or it would be discovered later and take theauthenticity and transparency of the group to an unacceptable level.
  • 36. No need to stop a project before it starts.Or freeze it, when it is gaining momentum.
  • 37. Relinquishing the peak oil and climatesubject matter over to simply makingpositive behavioral changes respects diversity at a very local level— no scientists or experts needed.
  • 38. And, ultimately, that is what theTransition Movement is about— redefining local community with its own local community.
  • 39. Thank You
  • 40. Resources Mainstream Green: Moving Sustainabilty from Niche to Normal Published by Ogilvy & Mather, 2011.