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Ingredients for a Transition Initiative

Rob Hopkins, permaculturalist and Transition founder, created these "ingredients" as suggestions in the formation of Transition Towns and Initiatives. They are not meant to be taken as steps, but to be used according to the needs of individual communities. Transition Berkeley is using these "ingredients" as appropriate in our effort to create a more sustainable and vibrant community.

Set up a Steering Group This stage puts a core team in place to drive the project forward during the initial phases. Once some sub-groups are formed, the Steering Group disbands and reforms with a person from each of those groups. This requires a degree of humility, but is very important to put the success of the project above the individuals involved. Ultimately your Steering Group should be made up of 1 representative from each working sub-group.

Raise Awareness This stage will identify your key allies, build crucial networks and prepare the community in general for the launch of your Transition initiative. For an effective Energy Descent Action plan to evolve, its participants have to understand the potential effects of both Peak Oil and Climate Change – the former demanding a drive to increase community resilience, the latter a reduction in carbon footprint.

Screenings of key movies (Inconvenient Truth, End of Suburbia, Crude Awakening, Power of Community) along with panels of “experts” to answer questions at the end of each, are very effective. Talks by experts in their field of Climate Change, Peak Oil and community solutions can also be very inspiring. Articles in local papers, interviews on local radio, presentations to existing groups, including schools, are also part of the toolkit to get people aware of the issues, and ready to start thinking of solutions.

Lay the Foundations This stage is about networking with existing groups and individuals, making clear to them that the Transition Initiative is designed to incorporate their previous efforts and future inputs by looking at the future in a new way. Acknowledge and honor the work they do, and stress that they have a vital role to play. Give them a concise and accessible overview of Peak Oil, what it means, how it relates to Climate Change, how it might affect the community in question, and the key challenges it presents. Set out your thinking about how a Transition Initiative might be able to act as a catalyst for getting the community to explore solutions and to begin thinking about grassroots mitigation strategies.

Organize a Great Unleashing This stage creates a memorable milestone to mark the project’s “coming of age”, moves it right into the community at large, builds a momentum to propel your initiative forward for the next period of its work and celebrates your community’s desire to take action. In terms of timing, we suggest this take place about 6 months to a year after your first “awareness-raising” event. For example, the Official Unleashing of Transition Town Totnes was held in September 2006, preceded by about 10 months of talks, film screenings and events. Your unleashing will need to bring people up to speed on Peak Oil and Climate Change, but in a spirit of “we can do something about this” rather than a doom and gloom scenario. One item of content that we’ve seen work very well is a presentation on the practical and psychological barriers to personal change – after all, this is all about what we do as individuals. It needn’t be just talks, it could include music, food, dance - whatever you feel reflects your community’s intention to embark on this collective adventure.