The Newest Movement in Sustainable Living: In Transition 1.0 (Film Review)

In Transition 1.0 from Transition Towns on Vimeo.
By Jennifer Dooley for REAP Business Association

In Transition 1.0 – From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience, is the first film ever released about the newest movement in sustainable living: the Transition movement. It’s a film worth watching –  hopeful and powerful, showing us a practical vision for creating a post-consumer society where ordinary people make a difference.

The movement is about transitioning into a more sustainable way of life. It’s about taking small steps towards environmentally friendly choices: switching to energy efficient light bulbs, recycling, turning down the thermostat, composting, using re-usable grocery bags, or taking the bus more often. The movement has a place for everyone and now entire communities are joining the effort.

Born out of a response to peak oil and climate change, you may wonder how can one person or community minimize our collective dependence on oil and battle climate change? Filmmaker Emma Goude provides the answer. This British production illustrates Transition efforts worldwide while begging the viewer to think of creative and practical ways to bring these efforts to our local communities.

Here are a few of the things I learned while watching this film:

  • According to scientists, 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere and we are already above 385 parts per million. Many experts in the field believe the weather is becoming more and more unpredictable because of increased amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the air.
  • In the US, a typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach the dinner table. Similarly, in the UK half of all vegetables and 95% of all fruit comes from overseas.
  • Around the world there are over 160 official Transition initiatives and thousands of places are mulling over ideas for upcoming projects.

The Transition projects featured in the film span everything from food, economics, government, transportation, and education – demonstrating that sustainability can play a role in all aspects of life. Individuals and communities are profiled by sharing their personal stories about how they have stopped waiting for the world they live in to be “fixed”, instead taking their future into their own hands. A few of the remarkable stories include:

  • North Howe, Scotland, where community members have put their efforts towards turning a local village hall into a zero carbon wall.
  • Kinsale, Ireland, a town popular for organizing social events to promote the efforts of local food producers.
  • Totnes, England, which offers a project where gardeners are matched with garden space in an effort to promote locally grown fruits and vegetables. Now called Land Share, the project has resulted in countless successful pairings!
  • Waiheke, New Zeland, where a social enterprise called Out Of Our Own Backyard, provides classes to local citizens about how to grow their own food.
  • Lewes, England, a place where a new form of currency has been made, the “Lewes pound” to encourage supporting local businesses.
  • Newent, England, where initiatives are being done in schools to teach children about creating eco art out of reusable materials.
  • Penwith, England, which has a company called Eco Drive which uses electric cars and vans for transportation around the town.

Personally, I was touched by the subtle aspects of the film’s cinematography, which wove children’s narratives throughout the documentary as advocates for living in a better world. Not to mention the motivational quotes scattered throughout the film, like that from inspirational Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.


  1. View the film above. Put yourself in the context of what the Transition movement means for living in our own city, Calgary.
  2. Visit to learn more about some of the worldwide projects and to download useful resources.
  3. Join the Transition Calgary Facebook page to keep informed about upcoming Transition Calgary meetings, projects and news.

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