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12 Steps of Transition

From Rob Hopkins, 2011, The Transition Companion: Making your community more resilient in uncertain times: p. 79 & Rob Hopkins, 2008, The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience: pp: 148-175:

The 12 Steps (Ingredients, Tools) of Transition:

1. Set up a steering group and design its demise from the outset
. “you will need to gather some like-minded souls in order to drive forward through the first stage of the process”

b. “I would suggest that you form your Steering Group of reliable people with the aim of getting through Steps 2 to 5, and agree that once a minimum of four sub-groups are formed, your group disbands and the Steering Group becomes made up of one person from each of the groups.”

2. Awareness raising
a. Preparing the ground: “In Totnes we spent nearly a year giving talks, film screenings, and networking before we organised the launch [the Great Unleashing]”

b. “It is important that screenings are presented in such a way that they are fun and memorable, and create a buzz, so that people go home and tell their friends and family.”

c. “It is essential to avoid a series of . . . talks which are doom-laden evenings about how civilisation is about to implode . . .”

d. The awareness raising process is not only about informing people and disseminating ideas, but also about “getting people to talk to each other, starting to build the social networks on which your Transition Initiative will depend”.

3. Lay the foundations
. “In essence, [this] is about networking with existing groups and activisits, stressing that this Transition Initiative is not a process of duplicating their work but of requesting their input in a new way of looking at the future. Acknowledge and honour the work they do, and stress that they have a vital role to play.”

b. Working with all in the community, through the full range from people new to environmental concerns to those suffering from burnout.

c. “Offer presentations to all existing environmental and decision-making organisations in the town” that include “a concise and accessible overview” of the challenges we’re facing.

4. Organize a Great Unleashing
. An Unleashing is not something to be organised lightly. It is a one-off opportunity to bring all those [you’ve already fired up] together and to launch the Transition Initiative.

b. In Totnes, it was “preceded by about ten months of talks, film screenings and so on. By the time of the Unleashing, we felt that there was sufficient energy in the town to do this successfully.”

5. Form working groups
. One of the most effective ways of tapping into the collective genius of the community.

b. The initial steering group “can be quite proactive in getting these groups formed”. For example, in Totnes, “to get the Food group going, we first ran an evening event called ‘Feeding Totnes: past, present and future’. . . This drew in many of the people in the town with an interest in food. This was followed three days later by an Open Space Day on food . . . ”

6. Use [the] Open Space [Technique]
. “an extraordinary tool” for involving people in the planning process.

b. “The essence is to get people talking, building relationships, discussing ideas and making connections. It can do a great deal to identify priorities . . .”

7. Develop visible practical manifestations of the project
. It is essential that you not be seen as just talk.

b. From an early stage, your project needs to be seen as doing things: from tree plantings to solar panels to cob bus-shelters to alternative currencies. These show you mean business.

c. However, these are not the full Energy Descent Action Plan.

d. “Your first year is a time for networking, brainstorming, awareness-raising, information gathering. . . . when you are gathering the pieces that are later assembled in an Energy Descent Action Plan.”

8. Facilitate the ‘Great Reskilling’
. “One of the most useful things a Transition Initiative can do is to offer widely available training in a range of useful skills.”

b. “Work with existing groups, local sustainability centres, colleges and so on where possible. Draw on local skills wherever you can.

c. They can be one- to-two-day courses, evening classes, two-year college programs.

9. Build a bridge to local government

a. “you will not progress very far unless you have cultivated a positive and productive relationship with your local authority.”

b. “steer clear of any sense of ‘them and us’ ”

c. Find out what the local government has already done.

d. “seek to engage. You may well find people far hungrier for your ideas than you imagine!”

10. Honor the elders
. “There is a great deal that we can learn from those who directly remember the transition to the age of Cheap Oil, especially the period between 1930 and 1960.”

b. As part of the Transition Town Totnes Initiative, we have been doing oral history interviews with older people in the area.

c. What was living like when there was a rail system, lots of farms nearby, and no urban sprawl?

11. Let it go where it wants to go
. “In essence, if you start out developing your Transition process with a clear idea of where it will go, it will inevitably go elsewhere. You need to be open to it, following the direction of the energy of those who get involved.”

b. “This is what is so exciting about the whole thing: seeing what emerges.”

12. Create an Energy Descent Plan
. The plan settlements design for moving away from oil-dependency.

b. It can be called by other names. Two examples: “Community Resilience Action Plan”, “Energy Transition Pathway”

c. “An EDAP sets out a vision of a powered-down, resilient, relocalised future, and then backcasts, in a series of practical steps, creating a map for getting from here to there.”

d. “Every settlement’s EDAP will be different, both in content and in style.”

e. “We have, however, identified . . . ten steps in the process of creating an EDAP”, which are presented in Hopkins 2008: 173-175.