Transition Towns

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Transition Towns

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Village Vancouver coordinates, organizes and facilitates individuals, neighbourhoods and organizations to collaborate to build sustainable communities.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Individual action to limit and reverse global warming, reduce the use of non-renewable fuels, and build resilient local and global economies are achievable, but limited. Collective action at the grassroots level to organise and accelerate such individual action is the best means for mankind to seek and achieve a sustainable level of development. The Transition Town movement, begun less than 10 years ago, is sweeping the globe and already empowering hundreds of thousands of people to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint and reorient the local and global economy toward a sustainable or steady state equilibrium that balances the human footprint with the carrying capacity of the earth.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Neighbourhood project teams work together across the city to promote and enable a transition to sustainable lifestyles. Projects include building local food production resources and know-how, installing household renewable energy systems and energy conservation upgrades, developing resource capital asset sharing models, promoting recycling, and building community relationships of trust and support. Village Vancouver members share backyard gardening skills and plots, greenhouse building, seed-saving, and food preservation as a means to expand local food production, enhance food security, and support urban nutrition. To reduce energy use, members work together installing solar panels, share ideas and labour to undertake effective energy conservation renovations. Sharing tools, equipment, and toys for gardening, home renovation, and child rearing dramatically cuts new consumer purchases and household waste. In all of this, we help strengthen neighbourhood trust and understanding.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Urban food gardening requires suitable land, labour, and skill. It is a rare person in the "developed world" of the 21st century who has simultaneous claim to all three. By connecting skilled practitioners of SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) food gardening with eager landowners and their landless neighbours, Village Vancouver has dramatically increased urban agricultural production. This enables a low or no-carbon source of fresh, nutritious, and waste-free vegetable and fruit produce and simultaneously teaches urban populations about organic food production, sustainable farming, and the value of sharing land, skills, and labour for mutual benefit. Aside from multiple informal and formal "yard-swaps" paired with agricultural training, Village Vancouver has championed "urban collaborative market gardening," a new model for food production in cities. In contrast with community gardening, where individuals tend to small plots, this collaborative model pools such plots into far larger row or field production to take advantage of economies of scale, skill-sharing, labour-sharing, and organisational learning. Labour is rewarded with a share of the harvest, and any excess is sold or distributed in the neighbourhood to extend the community benefit of locally-produced food. These are the modern day Victory Gardens that will help us win the war on climate change and the worst excesses of industrial agriculture.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Sustainable development has many practitioners, and we work with all of them. Our explicit and unique contribution is a comprehensive and tailored model of community engagement that enables the greatest number of contributions to effect the greatest return, and to build deeper community ties at every stage of the process. The Transition Town model identifies the interconnections between climate change, peak oil, and economic instability. It creates a narrative of grace and power that connects with a wide audience and promotes action. Because the need for change is multifaceted and the solutions require many skills and contributions, the movement appeals to the widest possible array of people. In Transition, everyone has something to share, and the feeling or purpose in doing so.

Founding Story

"Ecovillages" were a hallmark of the 1960s, and many still exist. Low-impact living in small, intentional communities reflected a felt need to return to sustainable, consensual, and more enjoyable patterns of life and right livelihood. Cities, however, are today where over half of the world lives. Cities are not villages. Or are they, and could they again be? The founders of Village Vancouver did not accept that cities must be alienating places of rampant excess. Village Vancouver has pursued an innovative model among the hundreds of official Transition Towns currently registered with the Transition Network (, a model based on the ideal of subsidiarity. Ecovillage-like relationships and patterns of sustainable living can in fact be recreated at the walkable neighbourhood level, and neighbourhoods can work together, share ideas, and even compete to reconnect people in more sustainable lifestyles. Half of the earth can thus be turned around.


Randy Chatterjee's picture

Can a comprehensive solution motivate measurable change?