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The End of Cheap Oil

The impact of burning fossil fuels on our climate is now obvious to all except a few die-hard skeptics. We are fed, clothed and warmed not by the produce of the land around us but by food, goods and fuel transported hundreds or even thousands of miles—a system which is entirely dependent on abundant supplies of cheap oil.

What Can Transition Do?

The Transition approach empowers communities to squarely face these challenges and to apply the collective intelligence of our own people. It prepares us to answer the question — What are we going to do?

The First Steps to Transition:

  1. Set up an Initiating Group (already in place)
  2. Awareness raising (underway: films, events, talks by experts, etc)
  3. Lay the Foundations (underway: building connections to existing groups)
  4. Organize a Great Unleashing (a memorable kick-off event, the first of which happened in Bloomington on April 24th, 2010)
  5. Build Bridges to Local Government and Education (we're happy to have growing support from City Council &  County Commissioners, but more help is needed. How many letters have YOU sent to the Council or local news editors?)
  6. Use Open Space (a meeting technique encouraging creativity & collaboration. We applied this technique at the Great Unleashing April 24, 2010)
  7. Form Sub-groups ( where we've already begun to tap the collective brilliance of our community. Your leadership skills are needed. Please step forward.)
  8. Develop Multiple Visible Manifestations (implement practical solutions, demonstrations) at the regional and neighborhood level on several scales What are YOU doing. Tell us your story and we'll help you find an audience.)
  9. Facilitate the Great Reskilling (training in lost skills – growing, repairing, etc. Do you have a useful skill, talent or art? Let us know about it and we will help you create an event.)
  10. Honor and utilize the Elders (they often know what lower energy life is like having been there)
  11. Let it go where it wants to go
  12. Create an Energy Descent Plan (strategic plan for life beyond fossil fuels. Partly written in the form of the City Council commissioned Peak Oil Task Force report. Your help is needed to add the missing parts.) The image to the right is a link to the 275 page 13.36 megabyte PDF file at the Bloomington City website.

Principles (evolving over time)

  • We work together because we know that together we are greater than the sum of our parts. We work in a collaborative way because we get better results for less effort.
  • We don’t need permission to act. There is no hierarchy. Individuals in Transition Bloomington take responsibility for their own decisions, actions and results. Responsibility and leadership are also shared by everyone.
  • We trust that those who step forward have good intentions and will make good decisions. We give autonomy and support to those who wish to be part of Transition Bloomington.
  • We are accountable to ourselves and to each other in keeping with the purpose and principles.
  • We are transparent in everything we do.
  • We don’t have a blueprint. We support multiple paths, ideas and possibilities.
  • We think questions are as important as answers. It’s fine to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • We are open to working with everyone. We welcome diversity and see it as a strength not a problem. We avoid categories of “them and us”.
  • We recognise that we are all teachers and learners. We value both the professional and the practical.
  • We acknowledge other initiatives and seek to find ways to collaborate and further the aims of Transition Blooomington.
  • We give what we can and ask for what we need. Please let us know what you can offer.
  • Individually and as a group we work on the things we enjoy so that we learn to do them well.
  • We work with a natural momentum, driven by our passion and positive approach.

A Few Resilience Indicators:

- Percentage of food consumed locally produced within a given radius. Presently Indiana gets less than 2% of its food from within the state.
- Ratio of parking space to productive land use
- Degree and variety of engagement in practical transition / relocalization work by the local community
- Amount of traffic on local roads
- Number of businesses owned by local people
- Proportion of the community employed locally
- Percentage of essential goods manufactured within a given radius
- Percentage of local building materials used in new housing development
- Amount of trash sent to landfills and exported for “recycling” processing
- Percentage of energy consumed in the town
- Degree to which existing buildings are insulated and retrofitted for passive solar attributes
- Number of sixteen year-olds able to grow 10 different varieties of vegetables to a given degree of competency
- Degree of participation in local area composting and soil building
- Percentage of water use that was locally-captured rainwater
- Ratio of non-permeable hardscape to areas adapted for rainwater capture & infiltration
- The ratio of water sent to sewer versus onsite greywater reclamation
- Percentage of medicines prescribed locally produced within a given radius.
- Percentage of energy consumed in the town that has been generated by local energy supply company
- Percentage of local trade carried out in local currency
- Number of local “inner work” professionals (mental health professionals, counselors, spiritual & religious leaders, etc.) who are prepared to work with the issues that arise as people cope with a radically new direction for the future

The Transition Handbook concludes with these remarkably uplifting words:

While Peak Oil and Climate Change are understandably profoundly challenging, also inherent within them is the potential for an economic, cultural, and social renaissance the likes of which we have never seen. We will see a flourishing of local businesses, local skills and solutions, and a flowering of ingenuity and creativity. It is a Transition in which we will inevitably grow, and in which our evolution is a precondition for progress. Emerging at the other end, we will not be the same as we were: we will have become more humble, more connected to the natural world, fitter, leaner, more skilled, and ultimately, wiser.


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Four Key Assumptions of the Transition Initiative Process:

• That life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it than be taken by surprise.

• That our communities presently lack the resilience to enable them to weather the severe energy shocks that will accompany peak oil.

• That we have to act collectively, and we have to act now.

• That by unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively design our energy future, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognize the biological limits of our planet.

A few things to do in your neighborhood

  •  Consider the personal and collective consequences of energy descent.
  • Evaluate and increase your resilience  to shocks and shortages
  • Engage the local community in its process and decision making
  • Review the Transition principles and adopt / adapt them
  • Support Transition in other neighborhoods through a variety of mutually beneficial exchanges and cooperative enterprise
  • Develop and use resilience indicators to assess its policies

  • Develop and implement an Energy Descent Plan with real bite (i.e. carbon budgets)
  • Ensure that core services like land use planning and transport go through a rigorous process of re-assessing their current priorities