Once upon a time, in a town of Ireland, a professor of permaculture and his students watched The End of Suburbia, a documentary about the imminent peak oil. We were then in 2005, it was announced to be in a few years, 2008 for the most pessimistic, around 2012 for the others, but one thing is certain it would happen. The teacher and his students then had the idea to find alternatives that they knew around them that would go the other way. Then, afterwards, the class project was to make an Energy Descent Action Plan; the idea would be to imagine ideas and actions that could be put locally so that the oil dependency of the city will be close to 0. The project ended with a congress in June 2005: “Fueling the future”, local elected representatives and international specialists came to the event.
The year after, the teacher who lived in the city of Totnes decided with others to found a group called: Totnes Transition Town. Gradually, it inspired others to form their group, and from there, the Transition Network was born. At the time of writing, the network’s website lists more than 900 local initiatives and national Hub. Started in England, it is now a movement present in the entire world. We could call it an international movement, but it would be truncated its true nature: the principle of the transitional movement is to put forward the return to local, resilience and small-scale autonomy.
The transition movement
Qu’est-ce qu’être un consommateur? Selon nous, la consommation ne s’arrête pas à la fonction nourricière ou de loisirs. Nous y réfléchissons aussi en termes de temps, de relations, de choix. La société actuelle nous pousse à toujours aller plus vite et rendre obsolète la lenteur, ce qui fait que nos choix de consommation ne sont pas toujours cohérents avec nos convictions. C’est sûrement plus qu’un mot; est-ce aujourd’hui une définition de l’Homme moderne? Il fait de moins en moins, il achète et il exige des résultats. Nous souhaitons nous questionner à ce sujet!
Originally born as a group in transition, then a city in transition, we are now more commonly talking about initiative in transition because the form that the group can have can be diverse. The principle remains the same, citizens who come together and work together to bring their practices and environment more resilient. There is also Street in Transition, which allows neighbors to group together to collectivize goods such as power generation.
Understandably, the transitional movement is a citizen movement that allows people to find each other. By extension, we also see it as an opportunity to regain citizen ownership of public affairs. Alexis de Tocqueville in his book De la démocratie en Amérique explained that in representative democracy, citizens voting for one person at the same time give their interest in the management of the city. However, if we allow citizens to come together and decide together what happens to their immediate environment, we think in the Horizon Transition project that it is a bias to regain that interest in collective management.
The transition movement also has this interesting aspect or for the first time, two ecological problems are taken together instead of being seen separately; peak oil and climate change. It is important to see them together so that one’s solutions are not a way to worsen the second.
As Rob Hopkins was professor of permaculture, the practice of transition is much inspired by it, which promotes attention to personal development as much as the collective aspect, it allows to have a global vision.
The functioning of groups is largely inspired by sociocracy, which is a system of horizontal governance where the group will be separated into several entities by interest all independent of each other with a central circle for more general issues.