Resilience in a Small English Town


Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement, did a case study of the transition movement in Totnes for his PhD thesis, Localisation and Resilience at the Local Level: The Case of Transition Town Totnes. Writing in a review of Hopkins’ thesis, Frank Kaminski note that Hopkins draws a broad general conclusion: “the Transition approach has been effective in generating community engagement and initiating new enterprises.” Beyond this Hopkins has noted that, Totnes

could supply nearly all of its own food needs, the only exceptions being foods that require soil types not indigenous to the region. As for energy, Hopkins shows that local renewables could meet half of total demand, and that efficiency measures could make up the difference. On the subject of housing, he says that demand could easily be met with local materials (e.g., straw bales, earth, lime, car tires and other recycled objects, hempcrete and cob) but that ramping up current natural building efforts to a commercial scale has proven difficult. Lastly, with regard to transport, Hopkins notes Totnes’ high level of automobile use and suggests that a crucial step in reducing it will be to sway people’s attitudes.

Kaminski concludes by noting that, while England “shares much of America’s oil vulnerability, it’s easier to get around there without fuel, since the area was settled long before the reign of the automobile.”

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