The Transition Network, founded in 2005 by Rob Hopkins, is a community-led response to climate change. The concept first emerged from an ecological design course taught by Hopkins at a college in Ireland. In practice, transition groups use participatory methods to develop the changes needed, setting up renewable energy projects, re-localizing food systems, and creating community and green spaces. They spark entrepreneurship, working with municipalities, building community connection and care, repairing, and re-skilling.
Transition groups begin each project by asking what the future would look like if everyone “got it right,” then work backward to figure out how to realize that vision. They work towards a low-carbon, socially just future with resilient communities, more active participation in society, and a more caring culture focused on the support of the other.
The community level of scale championed by the Transition Network has the potential to influence change and is a crucial part of developing and guiding social and economic systems toward sustainability, social justice, and equity. The Transition movement is purposefully open-source and decentralized, with each community taking autonomous action while linked to each other through networks and the online exchange of ideas.
The first Transition Town was developed in 2006 in Totnes, England, where local residents joined together to grow more local food in community gardens, plan more pedestrian and bike-friendly streets, lower their energy use, and encourage spending in their local community. This first experiment has led to many new businesses, the community becoming its own developer and energy company, and much more.
Since then, Transition’s approach has spread now to over 48 countries in thousands of communities of towns, villages, cities, universities, and schools. Around the world, there are 23 Transition Hubs that support and connect Transition groups in their country/region and internationally.
Recently, in addition to his work with Transition, Hopkins has focused on writing and podcasting. He published his book, From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want, and runs a podcast series, “From What If to What Next.”