The Transition Movement Comes to America (139)

pm139_640One response to the global crisis that is gaining enthusiastic momentum is the Transition Towns movement. Jennifer Gray, a pioneer in the Transition Initiative in the UK and cofounder of Transition US, describes it as “a community-led response to the twin crises of peak oil and climate change. It’s … positive, pro-active [and] engages the whole community in building resilience into their world.”

Sharing highlights from The Transition Handbook by founder Rob Hopkins, she elaborates on a flexible twelve-step process to empower community organizers in unleashing the creative genius of their community and building an Energy Descent Action Plan. One innovative aspect is backcasting: envisioning one’s community in 20 years, and then designing steps to get from here to there. Episode 139. []

Watch video | Audio | iTunes


  1. Peak Moment TV on Twitter is!/PeakMomentTV.

    Peak Moment TV’s page on Facebook is

  2. Do you have a profile on twitter? I can’t seem to come across Peak Moment Conversations » Blog Archive » 139 The Transition Movement Comes to America on there and I would love to connect with you there. I like your writing style, thanks Hall Kennedy

  3. To John Barlow:
    Even though there are human beings within the system, many of good intention and conscience, the system is still the strongest force. We saw that while working in the corporate world: good people worked there, but the corporate system itself (including the need to turn a profit) overrode individuals’ preferences.

    Likewise global capitalism: although it’s a human construct, it is structurally required to produce profits. In a debt-based economy, that means it requires infinite growth (to pay off the interest), which requires increasing resource and labor exploitation. All of that regardless of good people working in them.

    So in addition to personal actions, we must dethrone the over-empowered corporate and capitalistic monster that is ravaging the planet.

  4. Stuart says:
    > …Rob Hopkins mentions in his book the “buts” that naysayers may bring up.
    These “buts” are mostly for self-reflection – they are there to make “us” think of positive things, and push aside the negative thoughts. The biggest problems we face – are visible in the mirror.
    Big business, governments – they are all driven by individuals. Most of the human drivers are simplisticly profit-driven – but remember that they are human beings. I am constantly amazed (and impressed) when the CEO of a big company makes a public announcement about peak oil, or unsustainable futures. They do have a human side, and most of them have kids to think about.
    So – back to the individuals – each one of us is part of the problem (driving up consumption, profit oriented, etc) – and that is great because it also means we are inherently part of a solution (if we choose to be!).
    John Barlow – Transition trainer.

  5. Barbara,
    There is going to be a transition training in north west NJ at Genesis Farms in Blairstown end of March I believe. Thanks for this interview.

  6. Barbara,
    Help get Transition New Jersey going, so you can find and attract others on your wavelength. You can join the Transition US ning website, a great place for networking, at transitionus.ningcom. There’s a Transition New Jersey ning site set up but not many members yet. It’s at

    You might also do a Google search on Peak Oil awareness or Postcarbon or Relocalization or Sustainability or Permaculture groups in New Jersey.

    It’s important work! I hope you can do something for your beautiful state.

  7. This looks like a truly fabulous movement and I would love to be involved.

  8. This is fabulous. I wonder if there is a movement in NJ where we are losing our farmland at the highest rate in the US and we will soon be the first built out state in America. It is desperate in NJ. Recently, one small farmer told me that his friends who own an apple farm in Gloucester County only get4 cents a pound NOW for their produce. The US instead promotes huge agri-businesses and huge factory farms..NJ imports so much of their produce from Mexico, WA and CA..yet we are called the “Garden State”; losing our gardens at the fastest rate in the US. We need to buy local…it is an emergency in NJ. In Cape May County, Sourthern NJ, since ’02 we have lost over 21% of our famland; the average farm is now 40 acres and declining. Our Governor last year tried to eliminate the Dept. of Agriculture – Green Acres funding for Open Space was completely decimated..Large builders like Hovnavian and others are eating up our soil rich land due to demand and population growth at an unprecedented rate. The answer is our cites..Make them green, beautiful and attractive again where the City-Dwellers do not pave all the remaining green space so that everyone can have a small patch of their own “green-space”. NJ needs help, now.

  9. A superb interview – helped clear up a lot of things. Just-just getting started here in Fort Worth. Onward!

    — Frank

  10. Thank you for the interview of Jennifer Grey. We, TransitionPDX in Portland, OR, have just had our official launching party after six months of meetings to get us organized. It is very exciting to have a procedure, a plan, to move forward with optimism to build the Portland we’d like to live in. Rob Hopkins’ handbook is a blueprint for how the community can come together to reduce our carbon footprint, deal with energy descent and even this dismal economy. Tansition US, as Jennifer states, is a welcome support network for us all.

  11. susan butler says:

    Jennifer Gray, Yeeeaahhh!! Thank you very much!

  12. Brad Mills says:

    I love this video and interview. I hope to sign up for Transition Training in San Rafael this year!

  13. Very inspirational! I wonder whether the Transition Movement is meeting with some disbelief or even resistance. Rob Hopkins mentions in his book the “buts” that naysayers may bring up. The most obvious problem that Peak Oil will bring is the increasing cost of transportation of everything internationally and intranationally. Food and everything else we need will have to be made closer to home.

    Yet, I can imagine the big food chains will be very resistant to allowing local food initiatives to spring up. The utilities will be very reluctant to give up their monopoly positions in the energy grid. Big Oil will continue to bad-mouth climate change and alternative energy schemes. The car companies will fight to keep the focus on highway building so as to perpetuate the automobile’s hegemony over other transportation modes.

    The recent drop in the price of oil may make people forget the anxiety we experienced during last summer’s oil shock. Governments are working overtime to tell the people, “Don’t worry, be happy. We can spend our way out of this recession. Good times will come again.”

    I wish the Transition Movement well. I think it is another edition of “Plan C,” where Plan B is a technological fix for the problem of Peak Everything, and Plan A is continue doing what we’re doing now. We know Plan A is a disaster already happening, Plan B always seems to be just around the corner, but we know Plan C can work.

  14. Hi Janaia,
    wow, I’ve just watched your interview with Jennifer Gray. This provided answers to the problems I raised in my email to you earlier today regarding disparate groups all doing similar things while being unaware of other movements and constantly reinventing the wheel. The transition towns movement provides the perfect framework for what we are doing here in Victoria. It’s like déjà vu, Kerry Dawborn’s and Michelle Jones’ efforts here with the community harvest project very closely mirrors the transition town paradigm. Many of the stages Jennifer spoke about have already been implemented. I have just heard that Warburton here in the Yarra Ranges have taken on the Community Harvest idea with gusto and Kerry is able to step back and leave them to it. There are people there who are aware of the transition town movement and may want to morph the Warburton Community Harvest group into the transition movement. It seems like a natural progression to me, however this is only in discussion and I don’t wish to pre-empt them and say that is a done deal.
    Whate Jennifer had to say is quite gratifying. It’s really starting to happen. Community is returning and it can only be a good thing. Keep it up Janaia, what you are doing with Peak Moment for informing the communities around the world is invaluable.


  1. […] [14] January 2009 Interview of Jennifer Gray 139 The Transition Movement Comes to America […]

  2. […] [14] January 2009 Interview of Jennifer Gray 139 The Transition Movement Comes to America […]

  3. […] [14] January 2009 Interview of Jennifer Gray  139 The Transition Movement Comes to America […]

Speak Your Mind