Transition as a Pattern Language

The Transition model has always been a work-in-progress.  Resilience and adaptability go hand-in-hand.  With the second version of the Transition Handbook, Rob Hopkins will be proposing a new approach to Transition based on an old concept called Pattern Language.  Rob puts it best, "It is modelled on Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language model, and moves away from the more linear approach embodied in the ’12 Steps of Transition’ model. ‘A Pattern Language’ was published in 1977, and was, in my opinion, a work of great genius. It used a highly innovative method to explore what it is about built environments that makes them either beautiful and nurturing, or soul-destroying and ghastly. While he applies the approach to built environments, we are applying it here to the Transition process. The idea is that Transition would appear to move out through a series of stages:

  1. Where we start from
  2. Getting Started
  3. Ongoing/Deepening (maintaining your initiative beyond the start up stage)
  4. Patterns for Outreach
  5. Patterns for Implementing Transition infrastructure
  6. Scaling up beyond the community

Each stage represents a different phase in an initiative’s evolution. Based on observing a number of initiatives, it appears that these are roughly the stages they move through. Think of each ingredient, or ‘pattern’, as being like a piece of the Transition puzzle, how you assemble them is up to you, but in this model, wherever you land, wherever you start, you can get a sense of the context of what you are doing, and what are the other things you also need to bear in mind. This book offers an initial set of 63 patterns for your delectation. Exactly how these patterns work will be explored later, but for now, here are some thoughts as to how you can help with the development of this approach."


To learn more check out these resources, and stay tuned to Rob's blog ( for more information:


We also welcome you to join our listserv to continue this conversation around this exciting new approach.


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