'Transition Towns' are about communities creating positive change for the benefit of the planet and themselves. Sound good? Nicole Lutz investigates what's happening both globally and here in Brisbane.

What is Transition?

In a nutshell, Transitioning is a guide to making the world a better place, one sizeable chunk, or town, at a time. It’s about grassroots change led by community members. It has a positive, not fearful approach, aptly referred to as “engaged optimism”. Transitioning is about communities creating positive change for the benefit of the planet and themselves.

In more detail, Transitioning, or Transition Towns are part of the Transition Network, and are designed to respond to the threats of climate change and peak oil. It promotes communities moving away from oil dependence and becoming more self-reliant. For gardeners, it’s based on the permaculture principals, but applied to peak oil. In fact, it was two students of Permaculture designer Rob Hopkins who developed the Transition Towns concept, that Rob then helped to co-found into The Transition Network and launch the first Transition Town in Totnes, UK in 2006.

What sort of change occurs in Transitioning?


Because Transitioning is about creating self-reliant environmentally sustainable communities, changes generally focus on local production, clean energy, and local economies.

The changes can be as small as conducting a health check on your street using the Australian Transition Streets workbook, launching upcycling workshops, or much bigger ideas like creating a community owned clean energy plant or your own local currency similar to the Brixton Pound in the UK.

Why grassroots?


While individuals should always intend on improving and making a a difference, there is undeniable power in numbers. A group of like-minded individuals driving change is much more effective than a lone soldier, and driving change from the community upwards for government support can be much quicker than waiting for leaders to implement change upon communities.

A perfect example can be seen in Newcastle NSW where the local council provided support for design and printing of their Transition initiatives, and a local water authority also helped out.

Where are these Transition Towns?


Since the first Transition Town in the UK, the movement has spread globally to the US, Belgium, Italy, France, Sweden, Australia and many other countries.

According to the Transition Network map, there are 912 initiatives registered across the world with 67 projects occurring in Australia. You might be surprised to find even in countries like India where residents traditionally have much lower carbon footprints than those in developed countries, Transition initiatives exist.

What’s happening in Brisbane?

There are currently four initiatives registered in Brisbane, including The Grove Transition Town, Transition East Brisbane, Transition Kurilpa, and The Gap, plus one in neighbouring Samford.

Where to from here?

One of the greatest things about The Transition Network is it provides you with resources and networks to connect with like minded individuals. Their workbooks and guides include detailed instructions are available and adaptable to suit your own community dream, no matter how small or big the vision.

The Transition movement is now over a decade old so there’s plenty of thriving examples, as well as some less successful initiatives you can learn from. To get started, try watching the Transitioning documentary and read the Network’s essential guide to doing Transition. The Transition Newcastle and Transition Banyule sites are also a wealth of Australian-based knowledge.