What are transition towns?

This is a slightly different version of one part of my book: ‚Kant und das Klima‘. If you like the post and you’re able to read in German, you’ll find more of these kind of stories in the full book. Figure it out:


Acting in a climate- and environmentally friendly manner provokes joyful encounters. Eco-friendly behavior coincides consistently with a good conscience and well-feeling. This well-being wears out after a while – buying organic milk becomes a habit. We always have to look out for new challenges – as we cannot subscribe to a renewable electricity contract every month.

At this point I would like to present a global network that I fell into in 2011 in Jersey while I worked for the Durrell-Wildlife-Foundation. The Durrell-Foundation has the goal to collect, host and breed endangered animal populations to bring them back to their original habitats and help the wild population recover. The initiative began with the unconventional Gerald Durrell, who decided early in his life, that it is much more important to understand nature and to care for rare animal species than to go to school. If you find one of the amusing books about his life story – read it! You will learn a lot about endangered animal species and have an entertaining reading time, too.

During my 3-month voluntary stay in this wildlife park, I stayed with Anna and Daniel, a couple at the beginning of the sixties – amazing people! She is German, but already passed half of her life in Jersey. He was born on the Channel Islands, politically very interested and in charge of a position in the parliament. They are both eco-friendly up to their ears – owned a bicycle renting shop with tours and classes for clueless drivers and only bought organic food. Daniel fought for ‘green’ ideas in the parliament, and Anna took me to the first meetings of the transition town initiative in Jersey.

Transition town literally means –

towns that are in the process of transitioning. This name describes communities which plan and commit to a transition into a world that we might need in the close future. A world where peak oil, climate change and the scarcity of resources are known facts and where we learned to live within the ecological boundaries of our planet – on a level that allows a grandchildren’s future.

The transition town webpage formulates it like this: a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world.

A more detailed description and a map of all transition towns all over the world can you find here:


This can be reached by reducing the resource consumption of each member significantly, i.e. collaborative bread-baking (only one oven for many self-made organic breads). Skills can be exchanged and commodities (bicycles, clothes, various electrical devices as ethically correctly manufactured phones (fairphones)) can be repaired and reused. More green spaces can be made available and the community can grow its own fruit and vegetables in community gardens and CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture).

The founding father of this movement is Rob Hopkins from the English town Totnes, the first transition town initiative and still today one of the most motivated/eager communities in this field around the globe. To the advocates of this philosophy it means a lot to inform about permaculture, cradle-to-cradle, local currencies, natural fertilizers (i.e. terra preta) and much more. Furthermore, social topics are very important like non-violent, respectful communication or careful treatment with our nature and our fellow human beings. They offer climate-city-tours and food guidebooks.

The transition-town-members understand their approach as a holistic one

  • a good ecological transition needs a positive social transition
  • we have to relearn how to treat nature and each other better
  • through living in harmony with nature we can see its diversity
  • and respect the differences within our own community

This approach to sustainability and community may sound very distant and ivory tower, but is actually very grounded in real life. Transition towns have many examples of amusing, practical and encouraging projects with which to engage the community. I found one scene in a clip about Totnes very funny and touching – everything in the town got a sustainability make-over. There was even a raised bed in front of the police apartment that had to be watered by the policemen. What a sight!

Meanwhile there are 120 transition town initiatives in Germany. It is very easy to join – the members are always happy about interested people who plan to participate. What is great is that you can choose your field of action. The thrilled cyclist can look after the bicycle garage, for happy bakers there are bread baking groups and for those with green fingers you can discover the urban gardens. Others who are more inclined can help out with the administrative part or the facilitation – with this diversity nobody gets bored. Just write an email and join a meeting.

Copyright of the picture: This is an advertisement picture for ‚The fifth sacred thing‘, a film project initiated by the author Starhawk. She wanted to show how a transition of San Francisco to a green sustainable City with a lot of community project could work out. Unfortunately only the teaser of the film can be found online, so very probably means that the film itself never could be realised. To my mind that is very much a pity as these kinds of visions earn to be spread much more.

Picture taken by C. Heybl, December 27th 2019.

Veröffentlicht von Christine Heybl

Ich habe zum Thema 'Klimagerechtigkeit' promoviert, Hauptfach Philosophie, Nebenfach Biologie. Ziel war es zum Thema Nachhaltigkeit, herauszuarbeiten, dass durch den Klimawandel Menschenrechtsverletzungen entstehen und wir daher die Verpflichtung haben, in allen Bereichen der Gesellschaft eine nachhaltige, ökologisch-vertretbare Lebensweise einzuführen, die die Menschenrechte aller Individuen sowohl heute als auch in Zukunft möglich macht und schützt. Ich bin sehr Nachhaltigkeitsthemen interessiert, zurzeit v.a. an nachhaltigem Konsum, organischer Landwirtschaft und Permakultur.

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