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The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience
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The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  735 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
We live in an oil-dependent world. Most people don't want to think about what happens when the oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive). This title shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive effect.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 15th 2008 by Green Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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May 30, 2008 Nicola rated it really liked it
"So, to what extent is Transition Towns like John Lennon's 'Imagine'?" This is the question that was posed by a Mexican reporter to Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement. That the 'Transition Town' of Totnes, Devon was even of interest to a Mexican reporter is a testament to how far-reaching and inspiring the concept is. Hopkins may have struggled to deftly answer the John Lennon question, but he writes with clarity and passion on the issues surrounding the Transition movement in this ...more
Mar 16, 2009 Sally rated it liked it
This book is somewhere near the radical end of environmentally conscientious living. The premise is that we are near, at, or past "peak oil," meaning we need to change how we rely on energy NOW. The main "tool" by which to minimize energy reliance is to develop communities that provide as much for themselves as they can. We still will probably buy computers and some tools and foods from other places, but most every community can provide *more* of life's basics "at home" than we currently do (foo ...more
May 28, 2010 Jessie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: referance-book
I am always dreaming enormous dreams, such as giving this transformative book to ten carefully chosen people within every American town. Some of the 10 will already understand the exponential problems the world faces. Some will remember and miss “the way things used to be.” Others will see the vision as a reason to get up in the morning. All of the 10 will be willing to acknowledge the concepts of peak oil and climate change. All will recognize the opportunity to prepare for life beyond oil depe ...more
Feb 01, 2010 Megan rated it really liked it
For me, the Transition Town movement is one of the best things going right now: taking a realistic look at peak oil, climate change, and our long-term economic problems, and then finding ways for citizens to take collective action to address all of these together. The message is: think about the world you want to see - one in which these long-term dilemmas area addressed - and rather than wait for government officials or someone else to make it happen, make it happen yourself, with your family, ...more
Incredible. Here you can read about the Transition towns in the UK, way ahead of their time. Laugh now, wait 20 years, we'll say then that The Transition Towners were prescient. I was kind of turned off by the spriritual side of it all, Gaia, etc. But don't let that stop you, if that's what you are in to.
Aug 17, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sustainability
This book has so affected my life that I've begun the process of bringing Transition to my home town by scheduling a training for 50 attendees. The trainers actually went to Britain and trained with the founder and author, Rob Hopkins. Rob tells a story about how we environmentalists usually approach change: he says, you tell someone about this nasty, cold, ugly, bed and breakfast situated behind a high rise in northern England on the wrong coast -- and then you tell your friend, "You REALLY REA ...more
Jan 23, 2011 Nadir rated it liked it
Shelves: how-to
Parts of this book are excellent and other parts are tedious, hence my change from 4 down to 3 stars. The general gist of the book is still important, though - what can you do at the *community* level to prepare for changes in the economy/energy landscape. Resilience is the new term en vogue - what can your community do on its own? Any sources of food/dairy? Water? Heating? Textiles? To the extent that most or all of these things come to you from far away illustrates your vulnerability should sy ...more
Dec 04, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok
Someone else here described this book as a "hippie-dippy community-self-help book for utopic apocolyptos." And while I won't go quite that far, I was very frustrated by this book. The author went on exhaustively - really, too much! - about peak oil and why it's important to develop local community living now, as much as we can. The big problem for me is that I already agree with much of that, but the book was very short on tips, objectives, and clear examples. Mostly it was about organizing and ...more
Nov 12, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it
I feel like this book primarily serves as a conversation starter in mainstream environmentalist circles. It does a good job of envisioning a sustainable future for Western civilization and provides an almost too optimistic vision of a pathway to it, but is still confined by many of the existing flaws of mainstream environmentalism. It manages to overcome societal nihilism and all the rampant pessimism that many environmental authors like Jensen rely on as well as avoiding the naivete and lack of ...more
Mina Villalobos
I would have liked to read a bit more about the way a city can work as a transition town. Definitely a very different way of living, and something I would like to to see applied in my city, but a bit hard to imagine how to even get started in such a disconnected place. It was a very enthusiastic read, though it felt very unfinished. It's definitely a process, so that's why it read that way, but it failed to fully engage me through the book.
May 17, 2016 Zora rated it it was ok
Awww. This was sweet. I was all set to give it three stars – five stars if you live in England, and fewer if you live in the US , where this stuff won't work - but then I went and looked up his list of "cities that have a transitional initiative ." And almost all their websites had been inactive since 2010 , 2011, or 2012 . A really good idea, it seems to me, would last.

Something he says that is good to think about : the comparison of what we need to do now to what England was doing in 1944. Ga
Erin K
Dec 17, 2014 Erin K rated it it was amazing
Great book - is in line with the new shared sustainable communities that are popping up everywhere. The title says it all - it's a book that's meant to discuss what the average person can do to create change in their community - would've been great if there was more on how to eventually create a global change by being politically or socially active. However, if more people read this book and more local sustainable communities were created by this, it could really be amazing and do some damage.

Dec 29, 2014 John rated it really liked it
This book is a handbook for a practical development of a community spirit for personal responsibility for make global environmental changes through local action. This is both a lot of weird juxtapositions: "a practical development of spirit", "a community spirit for personal responsibility", "personal responsibility for global change", and the most natural practical response in the world to just about everything people don't like about life: "I hate this thing that is going on everywhere, so I'm ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Philippe rated it really liked it
There is a powerful current in our contemporary, post-industrial culture that is arguing for a simpler, more sustainable alternative to our wasteful, environmentally damaging way of life. Proselytisers rely on a varying mix of three sets of arguments: the environmental challenge posed by climate change, the energy supply challenge posed by peak oil and, finally, the spiritual challenge emerging from the newest science on personal wellbeing (in a nutshell: beyond a certain point more money and st ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing
I’m not much of a ‘follower’ which is another way of saying that I’m fairly cynical, rarely accept things on the surface, am constantly seeking conceptual consistencies that are hard to find. One of the very few models I have embraced whole-heartedly and return to again and again in my thinking is that of permaculture, a philosophy of relationships between living things (humans included) that makes so much sense as a substitute for the way we ARE relating with our environment that it’s simply mi ...more
The Transition Handbook is a primer for people interested in how to respond at a local and community level to the threats of peak oil (the peaking and subsequent decline in world oil supplies) and climate change. Since the focus is on increasing the resilience and economic independence of local communities, much of its contents are highly relevant to an economic downturn as well.[return][return]Although the book has a brief overview of these issues, most of it is taken up with the Transition Tow ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Alison rated it liked it
After reading Kunstler's The Long Emergency and Heinberg's PowerDown, this was exactly the right book to lift my mood and give me hope that life after peak oil doesn't mean we all have to stock up on ammunition and run, every family for itself, for bunkers in the hills. But the second half of the book is definitely a handbook for people who are already members of Transition groups or towns, or are trying to get them going, and is focused on bringing people into such groups through exercises in e ...more
Dec 23, 2012 Tinea rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: community organizers & big dreamers
Shelves: ecology-diy
[If you're going to read this, be sure to skip right to The Transition Companion, which is the updated, expanded, and reformatted version of this same book based on another 5 years of experience.]

I love it. I love the book, I love the idea, I love the plan in action.

I'll start with the book. A thorough guidebook for creating a community response to climate change and peak oil based on a broad application of permaculture principles, starting from scratch. The arc of the book is just fantastic, an
Jan 07, 2010 PJ rated it really liked it
The Transition movement seems to be really taking of in the UK, I hope that the US will adopt these ideas and methods just as readily. It's already happening in Boulder CO and a few other places, I've lent this book to a couple of people here in Louisville and they were excited about it too. Basically it offers a framework for citizen activists and community leaders to prepare their locales for what is sure to be a bumpy road ahead as we face peak oil, climate change and possible economic collap ...more
Will Szal
Mar 20, 2014 Will Szal rated it really liked it
Interesting, and great to have all in one place. An inspiring movement. But not very fresh for those of us involved on the ground; feels repetitive. Great if you're new on the permaculture/local economics scene.
Apr 04, 2016 L.A. rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I took a quick flip through this as opposed to reading it straight through - it's more a how-to than a narrative. If you live in a community that's very serious about planning in advance of fossil fuel shortages, this is a good handbook for getting started. There's a lot of practical advice on running meetings and activities you can do with the group to get the key points across without lecturing them or being super-didactic. The use of alternative currency systems was very interesting. Definite ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Audrey rated it it was ok
A hippie-dippy community-self-help book for utopic apocolyptos.

As someone who has written guidebooks on community organizing around sustainability, I related to a lot of the sentiment in this book because I already agreed with it. However, the author provided little to strengthen any of my existing philosophies on sustainable communities, nor did he add much new to the discussion. Perhaps the most innovative thing the book brings to the table is the title itself: re-framing from sustainability
Sep 25, 2014 Dave rated it liked it
Most of these ideas I consider to be too little too late. This is another one of those books that I'd recommend more as a stepping stone for the more mainstream crowd.
Harvey Chess
Keep wondering why we cannot get a Transition Town going locally...
Inspiring manual for creating transformation in a non confrontational way. Repetitive, optomistic and prescriptive, the model may work well elsewhere.
“Energy descent is, ultimately about energy ascent-the reenergizing of communities and culture- and is the key to our realistically embracing the possibilities of our situation rather than being overwhelmed by their challenges.”…the race for a decarbonized, fossil fuel-free world becomes an instinctive rush to mass self-preservation, a collective a
Mar 27, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
Informative, interesting, not as depressing as I thought it would be. When oil is gone, life might actually be better in some ways. I don't know if the book was inclusive enough, though. If this movement is going to be viable, then it needs to appeal to basically everyone, regardless of location, race, class, gender, etc. I understand the importance of Totnes as the first "transition town", but are people all over the world going to look at Totnes and say, "hey, I can relate to that?" The final ...more
Emily Mellow
The beginning of the book is the why, the second half is the how. It focuses on turning your own community into a "transition town", which means making it eventually independent of fossil fuels. The book encourages surviving the oil crisis as a community banding together and planning ahead, rather than as a "survivalist", hoarding food and heading out into the woods. With proper planning and community development, the end of oil can be a better lifestyle than the one we have grown accustomed to.
Jan 10, 2012 Alice rated it really liked it
Great ideas, and an inspiring vision for what the future could hold. But, it still seems like it's presented in a way that only the most hippy-dippy communities will tackle. The author talks about having to engage all members of society, but then also talks about drum circles and spiritual presentations. In order to be successful in a larger society, some of the granola needs to be removed from the process. (I'm very hippy-dippy myself, so I only say this with the deepest affection).
Jan 10, 2012 Elie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, activism
I'm a huge fan of the Transition movement and hope to coalesce a small group of like-minded Transition-ers where I'm living in Dakar. This was a great introduction to the principles and ideas behind the movement, with useful group exercises and detailed how-to's for starting your own small gropu. I love the emphasis on positive visioning and grassroots community change--and hope they put their new "Transition Companion" on Kindle soon.
Jan 12, 2009 Ken rated it really liked it
A hopeful collection of commentaries and ideas about the need of reworking and rewiring culture for the coming time of diminishing oil production.

The good news is that there will be life after oil and the quality of that life is directly proportionate to how much we prepare.

The tools of preperation?
Going all road warrior and stockpiling guns? No.

Gardening and community solutions? Yes.
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Rob Hopkins did his permaculture design course in 1992, and around the same time saw Bill Mollison lecture in Stroud, and both of these things dramatically changed his life. He became involved in the Bristol Permaculture Group, and at the same time did a degree in Environmental Quality and Resource Management at UWE Bristol. His dissertation, ‘Permaculture - a new approach for rural planning’ is o ...more
More about Rob Hopkins...

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“Transition Initiatives are based on four key assumptions:
1. That life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it's better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise.
2. That our settlements and communities presently lack the resilience to enable them to weather the severe energy shocks that will accompany peak oil.
3. That we have to act collectively, and we have to act now.
4. That by unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognize the biological limits of our planet.”
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