Today I’m excited to bring you this guest post from founder of the Transition movement, Rob Hopkins, who has written a new book, The Power of Just Doing Stuff.
We are living in times of great change. Changes in climate, resources and economy are encouraging people around the world to take the view that the well-being of their local community and its economy lies with them. These are ordinary people, people just like you and me, and they’ve had enough.
More and more people are tired of waiting for governments or authorities to take the lead, they no longer want or need to ask for permission. Instead, they’re getting stuck in and making stuff happen, together with friends and neighbours, and they’re discovering along the way that just doing stuff can transform their lives and their neighbourhoods.
A manual for our times
The Power of Just Doing Stuff invites you to entertain a new perspective, one that demonstrates how a local economy can thrive and support us. It shows how we can create wealth, employment and happiness by living and working in our local communities.
It argues that a shift to this new economy is the way forward, where change starts with people embracing the notion that transformation begins at home, and within. And what might look like small-scale things, like ordinary people rolling up their sleeves and ‘doing stuff’, is actually the reclaiming of the power that comes from people committing to making their corner of the world a better place.
Transition is a social experiment on a global scale. Just seven years after the launch of the first initiative, Transition Town Totnes, it has exploded into a global network of more than 1000 grassroots communities in 40 countries, including more than 380 in the UK.
Focused on building local resilience and self-sufficiency, at the heart of the Transition is a new economic approach defined by localisation, resilience, community ownership, low carbon, and all within natural limits, and not purely for personal profit. Its aim is to create a positive vision of a credible sustainable future but also to turn theory into practice.
Transition projects take a wide range of measures to prepare for a post-oil future, in the form of inspiring localized initiatives which support a circular economy, one that could become the economic model for the future.
All over the world communities are already modelling a more local economy rooted in well-being, in place and location, in free enterprise and creativity. And it is proving to be successful.
Internationally, in streets, villages, towns, and cities people are coming together to make this happen, from Canada to Japan, from Argentine to Italy. The Power of Just Doing Stuff presents a number of these case studies where local action and endeavor has engendered positive change and laid down foundation blocks for an alternative future to the one that is currently on offer.
It may be hard for people to comprehend, but what we are facing are enormous challenges in our society, and if we wait for governments to take action, it’ll be too little, too late. If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little. But if we start act as communities right now, it might be enough, and just in the nick of time.
Local resilience as economic development is the big idea of our age. By reclaiming control over our basic needs at a local level we can stimulate new enterprises and new economic activity. In tandem we will be reducing our oil dependency and carbon emissions, which is vital for us all exist and to thrive.
By encouraging community engagement through new enterprises and local investment opportunities, through skill-sharing and community ownership, the potential for creating a more positive future is vast.
So how does it work?
For example, if a community starts its own energy company, by drawing investment from local people, it may alter the way the local council perceives energy generation, and how it invests its money. If enough communities do this, a shift in policy at the national level is inevitable. But the seed is sown with a small group of people deciding to do something concrete. (Click to tweet)
Our mission then must be to develop, together with our current, highly vulnerable, energy-intensive, debt-generating, high carbon economy, a new economy, which is more suitable to the times we are living in and to the likely changes we will face. And it’s already happening: in the local food movement around the world, the explosion in ‘pop-up shops’, craft breweries, the blossoming of community renewables, the resurrection of independent record shops, the growth of social enterprises.
In the last few years Transition has taken root in Australia and there are a growing number of towns embracing the concept and creating exciting and unique local initiatives.
One remarkable project is part of the Transition Sydney group – Transition Bondi. A farmers market, a community garden, a film and feast club, Sunday ‘digs’, and ‘Skill up to Power Down’ workshops are just some of the inspiring projects this community has created. With a growing forum always open to new members and volunteers Transition Bondi is really transforming lives and communities.
You can find more information about Bondi and Sydney Transition projects at http://www.transitionsydney.org.au/.
How to get involved
Whether you have an interested in arts, energy, social enterprise, food, or simply meeting people and getting to know members of your neighbourhood and local community, then Transition has something for you. It is the experience of many people that if you start where you are, applying what we might call ‘engaged optimism’, then amazing things can happen.
In the book you will find many examples of community projects and how to start a group.
To find out more, see http://www.transitionnetwork.org/power-just-doing-stuff.
(For Australians, you can buy it in AU$ with free shipping from Fishpond, though it probably won’t get to you any quicker, since it ships from the UK!)
You can find out more about Transition in Australia, and whether there is a local Transition group in your area by checking out these sites:
If there isn’t a group in your area, why not leaflet locally to see if anyone is willing to start something up? You could simply write a note and post it in your neighbours’ mailboxes. Collaboration and a sense of playfulness is key, if everyone shares the load, and enjoys the thrill of generating ideas, then the job of running a group does not become overwhelming or dull.
A weekly coffee morning to chat about ideas and concerns could lead to a vegetable sharing scheme, a shared solar roof project, or a community garden, who knows? The potential is vast, and it’s in your hands.
Rob Hopkins is co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and the Transition Network, which catalyses, supports and connects the growing number of Transition initiatives. He writes widely on Transition, blogs at www.transitionculture.org and tweets as @robintransition. In February Rob and the Transition Network were among NESTA and The Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals, and in 2012 won the European Economic and Social Committee Civil Society Prize.