Rob Hopkins is the founder of Transition Town Totnes, the first transition town project in the UK
It has spawned a growing movement. He publishes http://www.transitionculture.org a blog exploring how communities can prepare for climate change and peak oil.
Extract: Rob Hopkins interviewed. The Transition Town Totnes Initiative began in September 6th 2006.
".... Since then there’s now nine different Transition Towns around the country and there’s new ones getting in touch all the time. And it really has something very viral about it.
It’s really a simple, simple concept but it’s a concept that’s really of its time. People can get to feel so despondent with climate change, with peak oil, particularly people who have young children or for whom the next generation is something tangible sitting in front of them at breakfast every day. There’s something about the concept that really does seem to engage them.
One of the most advanced ones is Transition Town Lewes in Sussex who have their Official Unleashing on the 24th of April. They’ve done some really brilliant things: like, there’s a little five-minute short film that one of their members made about Transition Town Lewes which is on You Tube in various places. And they have the local cinema showing it as the trailer to every film in the three months running up to their official unleashing.
They also were involved in a campaign to stop a part of Lewes being developed by a developer and made into something ghastly. Rather than being out there protesting and saying we don’t want this, we must stop this, we must campaign against this, they’ve come at it from a very different way, in a positive solutions-focused way, where they produce this newspaper article written by a fictional journalist named Maivis Happen, designed as a newspaper article from 2017 that was talking about how Lewes was now the most sustainable town in the UK. And it can all be traced back to this inspirational development that took place on this piece of land in 2008, which then triggered the whole economic regeneration of the town.
There’s the town of Stroud in Gloucester, Transition Town Stroud. They’re moving ahead very strongly, and that used to be a textiles town, so they’re looking at how they can revive textiles as part of the relocalization initiative.
Transition Town Falmouth in Cornwall. There’s Transition Town Penwith, which an area of Cornwall. They’re actually now looking at amalgamating and doing a transition Cornwall on a bigger kind of scale for the whole county.
There’s the city of Bristol, which is breaking Bristol into its different parts and looking at that. And I had a phone call the other day from Transition Isle of Wight, which is an island off the south of England. It is all rather interesting to do it on that kind of scale.
So it does seem to have a momentum behind it as an idea and, as I say, it’s a very simple idea that the future with less oil could be better. And I think climate change campaigning and environmental campaigning really struggles to engage people, because actually it comes from the angle of ‘you better change because it’s gonna be really, really desperately awful.’
The supposed motivator for change is sheer terror of how ghastly everything is going to be. And you have people like James Lovelock out there saying ‘nothing any of you can do can make any difference to this. This is just happening and we’re doomed and we’re finished.’ And people instinctively just shut down, I think, when they encounter that. They shut down completely. What can I do? I can’t do anything. It’s just beyond me. Whereas, the Transition Town approach says this could be fantastic! Who says life without oil is going to be awful?
Actually, there are people in the world who live on the 10th of the oil that we use in the UK, and arguably have a more fulfilling life style. You know, we’ve just become so blinkered that in order to be happy, we have to burn lots of oil and I think the power with the Transition Town approach is, it’s sort of gently taking people’s hands and saying ‘come on, we can go through this and we can transition this and actually it can be fantastic.’
See Rob Hopkins on You Tube