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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars essential reading
I'm two thirds way through this book and overall find it an inspiring read. The first section in particular summarises some of the issues in a very easy to understand style. I liked the section on psychology particularly - I think both grieving, shock and addiction models are useful to understanding the apparently irrational responses of people to climate change and peak...
Published on 30 April 2008 by DJ

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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Transition Handbook
This book is way overdue. I have been eagerly searching for books addressing the preparation for post peak oil for many many years. Books like this should have been written years ago so I was delighted to see that at last practical guides are starting to appear on the book shelves.

I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters dealing with peak oil and its...
Published on 8 Oct 2008 by Doomster


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars essential reading, 30 April 2008
This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
I'm two thirds way through this book and overall find it an inspiring read. The first section in particular summarises some of the issues in a very easy to understand style. I liked the section on psychology particularly - I think both grieving, shock and addiction models are useful to understanding the apparently irrational responses of people to climate change and peak oil.

The rest of the book is harder to read - a lot of detail about how one should go about starting a transition initiative. Some of this stuff makes very important points about embedding the initiative into the community and I appreciate that it is derived from experience. At the same time I found it somewhat prescriptive, especially the directions for conducting meetings/workshops etc. This is a bit of a turn off - there are of course lots of ways of doing these things and I feel it would have been better just to refer to some resources or put these in appendices.

We have to act on climate change and peak oil and I buy the resilient local economy model. There is lots of useful stuff in this book, maybe some of it just more detailed than necessary.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Transition Handbook, 8 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
This book is way overdue. I have been eagerly searching for books addressing the preparation for post peak oil for many many years. Books like this should have been written years ago so I was delighted to see that at last practical guides are starting to appear on the book shelves.

I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters dealing with peak oil and its implications for society. Subsequent chapters I did not enjoy as much particularly when the Kinsale Energy Decent Action Plan is promoted as a role model for sustainable community development.

There is a huge wealth of expertise in the development community, particularly which which was developed from overseas aid agencies. They have developed approaches, standards, principles and a multitude of methodologies for developing communities, with limited or almost non existent resources, and where success or failure costs lives. This expertise has been ignored and attempts made to reinvent the wheel.

I think the focus of the book should have built on the expertise of organisations such as Oxfam, VSO, Save the Children, and Overseas Development Administration and focused on the structures, processes and outcomes, which would help develop community resilience and sustainability, with limited resources.

I have a worry that communities who attempt to use this handbook as the basis for their transition will make fantastic progress initially through the generation of enthusiasm but due to improper planning, a lack of monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness and imprecise goals and objectives, people will become disillusioned and drop out. There is also the danger that communities who adapt this approach will not be able to communicate effectively with traditional disciplines, local authorities, health services, energy engineers or others. Who should change first? The current decision makers and service providers or the community development
organisations?

This process of conflict between service providers and community organisations has happened time and time again, without learning the lessons of what actually is sustainable in the long term. It usually results in the community organisation being unable to access state funding resulting in decline and or death. How can a community organisation sustain itself unless it becomes a business, with formal structures, job descriptions, terms of reference, fundamental guiding principles, training, development, salaries, income generation, sales etc. How can that fit with the "loose" concepts proposed?

Lets hope this is just the first of a huge range of increasingly sophisticated publications yet to come that will address these issues using the best expertise available in the fields of business, development management, community organisation, sustainability, public health, and many more, combined into a consensus best practice manual for transition. I hope these comments help to stimulate a critical approach to sustainable community development.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good guide on how to start your own Transition, 29 Mar 2010
By 
Mr. J. Horsfall (sheffield, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
This book is a guide to how to start a transition movement to change your local area to make it more resilient to peak oil and climate change. It is not a polemic full of facts and figures on these two problems.

The book largely focuses on the successes and failures of other Transitions (often Totnes is the main example, but there is a lot about Kinsale and other places too). It gives practical guidance on how to start or enagage with a Transition movement.

It is good at what it sets out to do, but will not suit everyone who is interested in this area. The recommended reading list is comprehesive and useful, perhaps the books listed there would suit many individuals more (hence 3 stars, although if you are an activist really thinking about starting a movement for change this is a 4 star book).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a "compelling and engaging vision of a post carbon world", 17 April 2009
By 
Jeremy Williams (Luton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
`The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience` is the guidebook to the Transition Towns movement. It explains the problems of peak oil and climate change, presents re-localization and resilience as responses that will transition us to a post-carbon future, and describes how you can set up your own transition initiative.

All of this is divided into three broad sections, `the head', `the heart', and `the hands'. First, the problem, and Hopkins explains peak oil and climate change in simple and straightforward terms. He avoids the controversies, and focuses on the local - these are things that will affect each of us, in our every day lives.

`The heart' deals with motivation, and Hopkins draws on addiction therapy and psychology to talk about how people perceive threats, and how they handle change. The environmental movement is failing because it lacks a "compelling and engaging vision of a post carbon world". Instead,the Transition Towns model us a positive articulation of the future. It captures the imagination, empowers and energises.

`The Hands' gets down to the practical details, from the principles of Permaculture, how to write a press release, working with a local council, films to show, the experiences those who have gone before. There are sections on running productive meetings or discussions with large numbers of people. It's practical and realistic, and really does feel like a handbook or a manual. (I should also mention that from a design point of view, The Transition Handbook is a nice piece of work. It's big and square and has wide margins that invite you to scribble notes.)

Transition Towns is the rarest of things, being a response to climate change and peak oil that is positive and proactive. "Too often environmentalists try to engage people in action by painting apocalyptic visions of the future as a way of scaring them into action" says Hopkins. "What would happen if we came at this the other way round, painting a picture of the future so enticing that people instinctively feel drawn towards it."
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A smart, accessible guide to a resilient, low-carbon future, 11 Sep 2008
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This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
There is a powerful current in our contemporary, post-industrial culture that is arguing for a simpler, more sustainable alternative to our wasteful, environmentally damaging way of life. Proselytisers rely on a varying mix of three sets of arguments: the environmental challenge posed by climate change, the energy supply challenge posed by peak oil and, finally, the spiritual challenge emerging from the newest science on personal wellbeing (in a nutshell: beyond a certain point more money and stuff doesn't make us happier.)

Rob Hopkins' Transition Movement is pragmatic attempt to come to terms with the disruptions that are heralded by climate change and peak oil. Thoughtlessly addicted as we are to fossil fuels, our societies are ill equipped to deal with the adverse implications of energy scarcity and a hotter, less predictable climate. According to Hopkins, what we need to develop is resilience: the ability to deal creatively and locally with energy supply and environmental shocks.

The Transition Handbook is a hands-on guide to help communities make that transition towards a resilient, low-carbon future. It is useful to distinguish three layers in the book.

The first layer encapsulates the three main parts of Hopkins' argument, focused on the head (the facts about climate change and peak oil you need to know), the heart (the need for positive vision and commitment) and the hands (practical guidelines for enabling resilient communities).

The second layer consists of a range of design principles that can be relied on to shape resilient communities. For example, in preparing for an energy-scarce future we need to know that resilience relies on a small scale, modular and decentralised infrastructure. We also need to invest in high-quality productive relationships, integrate rather than segregate and use the creative edges of systems to make the most of their potential. There are many more of these principles that have been lifted from an eclectic mix of disciplines, including systems science, ecology and the psychology of change. Hopkins himself was deeply influenced by the permaculture movement, a radical design approach to constructing "sustainable human settlements".

The third layer features a range of practical solutions that comply with these design principles. These solutions are meant to be the cornerstones of any resilient community and include a template for working towards a more energy-thrifty ("energy descent planning"), decentralised energy generation, local food sourcing, re-skilling of consumers into creative citizens and local currencies.

Transition thinking is not only a theory but it is also a social movement and the book features a number of UK examples of communities that have started going down the path towards resilience. Hopkins is acutely aware that the governance of the Transition movement needs to mirror the design principles underlying resilience. It would hardly be credible and effective to embody a Transition movement by a tightly-managed, centralised bureaucracy. So, Hopkins is only willing to give pointers to help people in facilitating bottom-up, small-scale, self-steering initiatives. Lots is left to emergence and action learning ("... where it all goes remains to be seen ..." is an often used phrase in the book).

The Transition Handbook is an accessible, smart guide to helping us deal with the challenges we may face as a result of climate change and peak oil. In itself the book doesn't offer anything new, but it rearranges familiar pieces of a puzzle into a compelling and coherent approach towards learning again to help ourselves and to do more with less.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enabling, 1 July 2008
This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
Hooray. Despite some people's misgivings about the psychology section, which seem largely dependent on a definition of 'success', this is an outstanding book. It's primary achievement is to show the reader how societal change can take place in the absence of the usual too little too late response of governments, whose priorities lie with business, rather than people or environmental sustainability. The future security of Britain, and elsewhere, lies in groups of people with the will and power to make communities sustainable. It might seem unbelievable, but we have the power to transform our society, and are not at the whim of government. They will follow. If you admire Kohr, Schumacher, Papworth and Sale, you will respond positively to this book.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it is a transition handbook, 15 Mar 2008
This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
I've just read this book and found it informative, authoritative, positive, practical and very useful. Whatever your background this book gives information and insights that can enable all of us to engage (together) with today's real and urgent challenges. No doubt some people will nitpick that it hasn't addressed population, or the developing world, or this or that, but if they do then I would say that they are missing the point of the book.
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38 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in parts, dangerously foolish in others, 28 Jun 2008
This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
I've the greatest sympathy with this book's concept in many respects. Rob correctly identifies the overriding need to reduce energy dependence, and that we must not wait for "them" to do anything about it, or even help us. Correctly he sees that we need a "how-to" manual for how to make communities (rather than just the reader) self-sufficient in food and so on. But the devil is in the practical details, or more precisely the practical unknowns which are all too easily glossed over.

The book gets hideously, dangerously misguided in its important section on psychology, with its notion of the importance of a "positive vision". History is bursting full of "positive visions" which ended in huge disasters. Instead, what is needed is a <u>judiciously realistic vision</u>. It is vitally important to recognise that criticism and doubt are just as important as hope and "constructive" "enthusiastic" thinking. Otherwise huge energy and effort is almost certain to be lost in enthusing down disastrous dead-ends.

In a traumatised society, many people become lost to despair, depression, negativity. But there is the equal problem that too many people desperately pin their hopes on "positive" but false solutions which ultimately fail them.

Someone said that the transition concept has been "phenomenally successful". That is seriously unhinged fantasy. There hasn't yet been a transition to test out how or even whether the ideas work out in practice.
You need to be very careful to avoid assuming that action is the same as achievement of solutions, or that international fame and crowds of enthusiastic followers is the same as success in solving the problem.

I would strongly urge the author to revise the psychology section of his book to take account of these comments. The importance of a <em>realistic vision</em>.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read this now before it's too late, 13 May 2009
By 
Michael Jones (totnes, devon, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
By the year 2015 our future on Earth will have been sealed. If we get our act together we can avert run away climate change and overheating. If not, we're toast.
Rob Hopkins' book is a very readable and frank look at where we stand today, and the momentous opportunity we have in our hands to shape a better future. It's a handbook, so it's full of good practical advice and vision.
The Transition movement may be the most powerful force for change of our times, I can't implore you strongly enough to look into this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Please read and show it to everyone, 23 Sep 2013
By 
MR (LONDON, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides) (Paperback)
I have not read a more hands-on book about getting rid of so many problems at the same time. Just get it, read it, spread it and put it into practice in your community.
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