In 2008, the bestselling The Transition Handbook suggested a model for a community-led response to peak oil and climate change. Since then, the Transition idea has gone viral across the globe, from universities and London neighbourhoods to Italian villages and Brazilian favelas. There are now hundreds of Transition towns and Transition initiatives around the world. In contrast to the ever-worsening stream of information about climate change, the economy and resource depletion, the Transition movement focuses on solutions, on community-scale projects and on positive results.
The Transition Companion picks up the story today, describing one of the most fascinating experiments now under way in the world. It answers the question 'What is Transition?' and shows how communities are working for a future where local enterprises are valued and nurtured; where lower energy use is seen as a benefit; and where cooperation, creativity and the building of resilience are the cornerstones of a new economy.
In the first part of The Transition Companion author and Transition movement co-founder Rob Hopkins discusses where we are now in terms of resilience to the problems of rising oil prices, climate change and economic uncertainty. He presents a vision of how the future might look if we succeed in addressing these issues. Rob Hopkins then looks in detail at the process a community in transition goes through, drawing on the experience of those who have already embarked on this journey. These examples show how much can be achieved when people harness energy and imagination to create projects that will make their communities more resilient. The Transition Companion combines practical advice – the tools needed to start and maintain a Transition initiative – with numerous inspiring stories from local groups worldwide.
PART ONE: Why the Transition movement does what it does
The emergence of an idea: a potted history of Transition; Why Transition initiatives do what they do; Where we might be headed: the power of future scenarios; Resilience and localisation; A taste of a powered-down future
PART TWO: What the Transition response looks like in practice
Framing Transition; The story of four Transition initiatives told using ingredients and tools
PART THREE: How the Transition movement does what it does - ingredients for success
Daring to dream
Policies for Transition; A learning network; Investing in Transition
Epilogue: Where might all this be going?
Notes and references
Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. He has many years' experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and set up the first two-year full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as coordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission.
He is author of The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience and The Transition Companion: Making your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times, and co-author of Local Food: How to Make it Happen in your Community (all published by Green Books / Transition Books); also Transition in Action: Totnes and District 2030: an Energy Descent Plan (co-author), Woodlands for West Cork! and Energy Descent Pathways.
The Transition Handbook has been published in seven other languages to date, and was voted the fifth most popular book taken on holiday by MPs during the summer of 2008. Rob publishes www.transitionculture.org, which has been voted ‘the fourth best green blog in the UK’. He is the winner of the 2008 Schumacher Award, is an Ashoka Fellow and a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, served as a Soil Association Trustee for three years, and was named by the Independent as one of the UK’s top 100 environmentalists. He is the winner of the 2009 Observer Ethical Award in the Grassroots Campaigner category, and in December 2009 was voted the Energy Saving Trust / Guardian’s ‘Green Community Hero’. He lectures and writes widely on peak oil and Transition, and has recently completed a PhD on Transition and Resilience at Plymouth University.
Central to The Transition Handbook and The Transition Companion is the concept of ‘resilience’, which refers to the ability of a community to withstand external shocks and stresses. Rob argues that just cutting carbon emissions is insufficient: we need to rebuild the ability of our communities to provide for their core needs, and doing so will create huge opportunities for local economic regeneration. His books are about hope and optimism, and their untapped potential for engaging people in repairing their communities, their towns and cities, and, ultimately, their planet. The Transition Companion expands on the ideas in the Handbook, combining practical advice on starting and maintaining a Transition initiative with inspiring stories about groups across the world who are putting these ideas into practice.
Rob regularly features as a keynote speaker, and has participated at the following events: Community Land Trust Conference; WWF (talk to the various teams); Sustainable Consumption and Production Conference; Dorset Schools Eco-Summit; Eco-Build Summit; Prince’s Foundation Annual Conference at St James’s Palace; Skype presentation to the Nova Scotia Planning Directors Association (NSPDA) Conference; Skype presentation for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) conference.
He lives in Devon with his wife and four children. He has particular passions for cob building and walnut trees, and is staggered by the rate at which the Transition concept has spread.
"The biggest urban brainwave of the century. A visionary, practical blueprint that took root in a town and is circling the globe.This is a book that can change your life; our lives."
- Nick Crane – writer and broadcaster
"Transition is the most vital social experiement of our times. The Transition movement has already motivated thousands of people to begin to adapt their lives to the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. Drawing on this collective experience, The Transition Companion offers communities a combination of practical guidance and real vision for the future."
- Tim Jackson – author of Prosperity Without Growth
"There is no more important journey we can undertake than the transition from our current fossil fuel dependency to locally based economic resiliency. This book is the ideal companion for that journey – optimistic yet clear-headed; informed by experience yet playful and encouraging. Hopkins's wisdom, creativity, and gentle humor pervade each captivating page."
- Richard Heinberg – Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute; author, The End of Growth
"What Rob Hopkins has done – in this book, and with the Transition movement – simply couldn't be more important. We're coming to a powerful crunch time for our civilization, and if you read this you'll be well ahead of the curve in understanding how to prepare your community. There's much beauty here, and hope."
- Bill McKibben – author of Eaarth
"I read so many books about peak oil, the state of the world, and environmental degradation that I often glaze over. This one is different. It has authority born from practical experience, with a musculature that is immediately engaging, even reassuring. It feels mature. The book is not afraid to catalogue the limitations and failures, even celebrate them, as well as the successes."
- Maddy Harland – Permaculture Magazine
"This book ought to come with a warning: 'this book will leave you with no excuses left for not getting involved in Transition.' That sense of invitation is not accidental. Rob puts himself forward at the end of the book, describing The Transition Companion as "the current thinking about what transition is and how it works – an invitation to pick it up, try it out, see if it works for you and, if so, make it yours."
- Make Wealth History – October 2011
"Just like The Transition Handbook and The Transition Timeline, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to make the journey from where we are now to where we need – actually, want – to go next. It perfectly encapsulates the spirit of what is now an extraordinary worldwide movement, showing the change to be something beautiful and inspiring and not the terrible sacrifice that it can often be perceived as by a fundamentally unhappy society that really ought to be ready to sacrifice it's unhappiness. [...] It's realistic, its based on over three years experience meaning its advice is more accurate, meaningful and useful than the excellent handbook, and as always from Rob it's incredibly well-written. It's inspiring, very practical and like all good permaculture teachers, Rob makes no pretence to having all the answers. But he has many of the right questions. The answers have to some degree be localised. [...] I just want to say thanks to all involved in the publication of this, your work is a vital service to our world."
- Mark Boyle – founder of Freeconomy & author of The Moneyless Man