How are Transition Communities Different From Other Sustainability Groups?

Transition initiatives share many of the same goals as other groups, and works collaboratively with a variety of organizations in their local areas. Transition differs in that it focuses specifically on preparing communities for the changes associated with unpresidented resource depletion and transitioning away from fossil-fuel dependency.

The Transiton model involves engaging directly with the public to raise awareness about the issues and encourage citizens to create a vision of a better future.  Transition initiatives act as a catalyst - inspiring others to create their own answers and vision - without necessarily trying to provide all the answers. The aim is to bring information and resources together in one place about groups and organizations already working toward making communities more sustainable and resilient, leverage resources where possible, and coordinate if needed.  It is not the intention of Initiatives to launch any projects that duplicate work already being done by other sustainability and environmental groups.  Rather they help connect the public with existing resources, and also help find "gaps" where critical sustainability and resiliency needs are not being met - and then help fill those gaps.

Another important aspect of Transition that differentiates it from other efforts is in it's ultimate goal of creating an Energy Decent Action Plan (EDAP).  An EDAP sets out a vision of a powered-down, resilient, relocalized future, and then backcasts, in a series of practical steps, creating a map to get there from here. Every community’s EDAP will be different, both in content and style.

Lastly, the “Heart & Soul” component is a key part of the Transition model. sometimes referred to as the “psychology of change,” although it is more than  just that.   An important aspect of the process is to provide for psychological and spiritual support for community members as they come to terms with changes that can often be overwhelming. Supporting each other through these changes is a vital part of community resilience. The Heart & Soul aspect is a key aspect that makes the Transition model stand out.


Traditional Environmentalism  Transition Approach
Individual Behavior
Single Issue    
Tools: Lobbying, Campaigning, Protesting
Sustainable Development
Fear, guilt, and shock as motivation
The man in the street is the problem
Blanket campaigning
Prescriptive - advocates answers and responses
Carbon footprinting
Belief that economic growth is possible
Group Behavior
Tools:  Public participation, eco-psychology, culture
Hope, optimism and proactivity as motivation
The man in the street is the solution
Targeted interventions
Acts as a catalyst - no fixed answers
Carbon footprinting PLUS resilience
Designing for local economic resilience

 * Thanks to Transition Oklahoma and Transition Sebstopol for the above text.


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