Transition Streets: How to Get Started

What is Transition Streets?

Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save energy and waste right here and now. Program participants meet with their neighbors for seven sessions over a period of several months to build a sense of community on their street, and learn fun and easy ways to practice sustainable habits.

Each session is guided by a chapter of the Transition Streets Handbook. The handbook details actions, tips, and facts to empower you and your neighbors to increase your energy efficiency, cut down on waste, eat fresh and local, save money, and build a stronger community.

Want to see a Transition Streets group on your street? Awesome! Transition Streets is initiated and run by neighbors, so neighborhood leaders like you are the key to “living better together, one street at a time.”

Transition Charlottesville Albemarle has a small team of dedicated volunteers who will help you join or organize a group and get off to a good start. We can help by:

  • Publicizing Transition Streets all over town
  • Providing sample flyers, resources, and a printed handbook for each group
  • Connecting you with a volunteer Transition Street [TS] Facilitator who will answer your questions, cheer you on, and attend your first and last group meetings

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Email and tell us what neighborhood you live in. We’ll connect you with a TS Facilitator who can help with the next steps.
  2. Click here if you want to download a printable version of this Get Started guide
  3. Recruit a friend to help you organize! There’s a bit of work to do, and it’s easier with a team. If we’ve heard from someone else in your neighborhood, we’ll help you link up.
  4. Download the Transition Streets Handbook: Go to For “Your Official Transition Initiative’s Name” enter Transition Charlottesville Albemarle. Your TS Facilitator will provide your group with one printed copy of the handbook.
  5. Start reaching out to your neighbors. You want a group of about 6-8 households. (See below for specific ideas.)
  6. When you have enough people ready to start, set a date for your first meeting. If folks have busy schedules, try using to send a quick survey and pick the best meeting date. Be sure to include your TS Facilitator!


How to Get Neighbors to Join Your Transition Streets Group

Pound the pavement:

  • Knock on doors and distribute flyers (Click here to download a sample flyer)
  • Talk to your neighbors! (talking points below)
  • Put up a poster on your neighborhood bulletin board
  • Get on the agenda of a neighborhood association/HOA meeting
  • Ask for a story in your neighborhood newsletter or blog
  • Distribute flyers to grocery stores, libraries, community centers, etc.
  • Distribute flyers at street fairs, farmers’ markets or other community events
  • Contact institutions with local programs (e.g. churches, senior centers)

Use social media:

  • Send invitations to neighbors that you’ve friended on Facebook
  • Try out, a private online social network for neighbors (many people in Charlottesville are already using this network)

Don’t try to do it alone:

  • Ask a friend or community leader for help
  • Recruit “block captains” to be responsible for recruiting their block
  • Ask neighbors (personally) to ask their next door neighbors
  • Host a sign-up party, barbecue, or potluck with the help of people already interested

Transition Streets Talking Points

  • Transition Streets is a community-based project to help individual households save money, conserve energy and consume fewer resources right here and now.
  • Transition Streets has been tried and tested in over 600 households in the UK & USA.
  • Transition Streets is a community partner of Energize!Charlottesville, the City’s two-year campaign to save energy as a community and win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.
  • Program participants meet with their neighbors for seven sessions over a period of several months to build a sense of community on their street, and learn fun and easy ways to practice sustainable habits.
  • Each session is guided by a chapter of the Transition Streets Handbook. The handbook details actions, tips, and facts to empower you and your neighbors to increase your energy efficiency, cut down on waste, eat fresh and local, save money, and build a stronger community.
  • Households save an average of $900/year on bills and expenses and reduce their household carbon emissions by an average of 1.3 tons!
  • But, the best part is getting to know your neighbors and building a more vibrant, connected, resilient and fun neighborhood!

More info

If you have any questions, or want to help us spread the word about this initiative, email us at or call our committee contact person Logan Blanco at 434-327-3571.

More info from Transition United States:

Watch the Transition Streets video:

Green Building Extreme: Meet Charlottesville’s Recycled House

Recycled House ExteriorDebra began with an old outbuilding she was curious about renovating and renting out.  When that plan fell through she decided to recycle the beautiful, aged materials into a new structure.  Before long she was collecting scrap and second had materials from all over town: beams from demolished buildings, scrap materials from countertop builders, knick-knacks and furniture from eBay and auctions. All these materials, along with a bit of creativity, make a stunningly beautiful and unique addition to the city of Charlottesville.

The Recycled House teaches us an important lesson: that reducing, reusing, and recycling does not mean living with less.  Its construction certainly took time, effort, creativity, and patience, but the result is a beautiful house and home that will be treasured by all those living in and around it.  When modern architecture provides so many examples of ugly, utilitarian department stores, cookie-cutter homes, and other throw-away structures, the Recycled House stands out as a real gem.  Imagine if our whole city was built with this love, care, and attention.  And it all started with one ordinary home-owner with a dream.

See the full tour at the Recycled House Website.

Recycled House StoveRecycled House KitchenRecycled House Patio

Pop-up Clothesline Party for “Fire Your Dryer” Initiative

Lorrie with her clotheslineLet it all hang out at Transition C’ville’s Pop-up Clothesline Party!  Firing our dryer is about more than reducing our carbon footprint.  Using a clothesline cuts our energy bill, gives us time to spend outside and socialize with out neighbors, and gives us wonderful sun-kissed sheets.  Join us this Friday on the downtown mall to celebrate and promote the simple joy of line-drying our clothes.  We’ll have a juggling unicyclists, the wonderful Green Granny choir, Better World Betty, clothespin games for kids, laundry soap making, and an umbrella clothesline raffle.  The event will take place 5-7pm near the downtown fountain (near Zocalo and the future Landmark Hotel).  Drop by and discover how easy it is to harness free, renewable energy!

Special thanks to Charlottesville Earth Week for co-sponsoring this event.


Ecovillage “Coming Out” Party a Huge Success

A perfect sunset crowned the hill over the Lochlyn House last night as it hosted Ecovillage Charlottesville’s “Coming Out” party.  Situated at 480 East Rio Road, the Lochlyn House property was recently purchased to serve as the future home of Charlottesville’s very first ecovillage.  The event included tours of the property, a presentation by the newly formed Ecovillage Board, a sumptuous dessert bar, and lively conversation amongst all the guests.

Ecovillage board presentation

The Charlottesville Ecovillage Board presents to a full house. Community members from all walks of life attended the meeting to express interest and support the project.

The event celebrated all that had been accomplished in the two months since work on the property began. Volunteers have been busy cleaning, furnishing, decorating, and planting to help realize their dream of a Charlottesville ecovillage.  The Lochlyn house is the main house on the property and will serve as a bed and breakfast (to raise funds for the ecovillage) as well as a community  space for meetings, house concerts, parties, and workshops.  Downhill from the Lochlyn House lies a smaller cottage which will serve as a Healthy Living Center, offering classes and workshops in meditation, yoga, nutrition, parenting, and much more.

Community members touring the property.

Community members tour the property of the future Charlottesville Ecovillage.

Within five years the board hopes for dwellings to be well underway and for residents to have moved into the community.  For those living there, the ecovillage will serve as a safe and supporting space in which to practice a different kind of lifestyle; one that is intentional, sustainable, and ecologically and socially regenerative.  But don’t think this is just another neighborhood. The board members all make it perfectly clear: Ecovillage Charlottesville has a critical role to play in the community if we are to face the converging crises of our time.

We’re all aware of the unprecedented problems we face: economic collapse, climate change, and resource scarcity.  By ourselves these problems are unsolvable and all too many of us react by simply ignoring them.  Even our politicians are at a loss and encourage us to simply “keep on shopping”.  But these problems are solvable!  It won’t be an easy road, but by working together, pooling our collective genius and offering each other support along the way, we can start addressing these problems and building a better world.  Ecovillage Charlottesville will serve as a laboratory for exploring sustainable living and as an emotional haven to support us as we leave behind our individualistic and high-consumption lifestyle.  What happens there is only the beginning, as the lessons learned, techniques developed, and friendships made extend into the wider Charlottesville community.

Getting Involved

The supportive, communal, and collaborative spirit which characterizes the Ecovillage was in full swing last night.  People from all walks of life came together to meet one another, make new friends, and support a shared dream.  You too can join that dream!  There are many ways to get involved:

  • Attend the ecovillage’s weekly work parties.  Work starts every Sunday at 1:30pm and ends with a potluck dinner at 5:00pm.
  • Lend your talents.  The Ecovillage is looking for hands and minds skilled in:
    • Communications, Networking, and Marketing
    • Architecture, Engineering, and Design
    • Financial and Legal Management
    • Organizational Development, Facilitation and Mediation, and Group Process
    • Fundraising
    • Strategic Planning
    • Education
    • Event Organizing
  • Join the board (more details coming soon).
  • Visit the ecovillage, schedule your next meeting there, or come for a picnic.
  • Spread the word!  Tell your friends and family about this exciting opportunity coming to Charlottesville.

To contact the Ecovillage you can email them at or visit them on Facebook.  To schedule an events, contact Joanie Freeman at 434-987-1026.

Transition Cville VISION 2013 – Part 1

Thanks to everyone who shared their visions at our January Transition Town meeting! We collected 10 huge pages full of ideas on Energy, Economy, Transportation, Housing, Food, Water, Reduce/Reuse/Recycle, Family, Health, and Community. Our small group conversations led to some immediate project initiatives and lots more possibilities for the future.

What’s the next step? Look for it in your inbox next week.

The next step is to build a detailed strategic plan for 2013-2014 and identify folks who are ready to step up and help turn these ideas into reality. On or around Feb. 13, we’ll send an online survey to the local Transition community: which parts of this vision should become our top priorities, and what are YOU willing & able to work on this year? …or, what are you already working on that we can support and amplify? We’ll follow up on the survey results at our next monthly Transition Town meeting on February 25.

Don’t wait for the survey, or the February  meeting, if you want to get involved right away! Leave a comment below, or you can reach me at annmarie.hohenberger (at) gmail (dot) com or (434) 981-2004. I would love to hear about your project idea or put you in touch with a group that needs you.

Folks around town are already working on our vision. Thanks y’all!

Another piece of this vision process is to connect our efforts with work that’s already being done locally. The Transition Cville “Initiating Group” (our steering committee – currently me, Joanie, Dave, Stevo, Lorrie, Glenn, and Dana) will examine our community inventory of allies and brainstorm ways to support instead of duplicating.

Two of our most important potential allies – sometimes overlooked – are City and County government. They’re working hard to create a new Comprehensive Plan, and many items match beautifully with what Transitioners want to see in our community. Public involvement in the Comprehensive Plan process has been low (although Joanie and Dave have faithfully attended many meetings). In the coming months, let’s resolve as a Transition community to support and encourage our elected officials and public staff who are working toward sustainability.

Inspiration from the VISION meeting

At the end of our January 28 meeting, each person shared one thing they would take away from the Vision activity:

  • Explore reuseable technology that can facilitate tool libraries, time shares
  • Look at making a Cville mutual fund to aggregate financial resources for micro enterprises.
  • How can Transition Cville host an internship for youth?
  • Meet with local food hub to see how can work with them.
  • Contact Meredith Richards to “fan the flame” for warehousing capacity.
  • Look at steps for creating an energy cooperative.
  • Cheerleader for Better Business Challenge; encourage businesses to compost and have reuseable to go containers.
  • Tool Library, starting with Transition group.
  • be “Mr. Recycle”
  • Look at first steps for starting a local energy grid or wind farm.
  • Think about community being self contained and self sufficient.
  • Already working on generating cooperative businesses; going to Cleveland, Ohio to visit Evergreen’s energy cooperative, with a focus on low income.
  • Focus on Dominion Power and generate grassroots movement working with other groups to work together.
  • Not be miserable about the now! Also, buy more in bulk.
  • Women’s clothes swap. Writing letters for energy reform.
  • Raise awareness about Dominion Power and lack of renewables.
  • Convince a financial group to create a mutual fund for local investment. Involve young people in Transition – put together a curriculum package to offer to HS students.
  • Don’t need a refrigerator.
  • Take back your power (in all ways).
  • Integrate alternative healing modalities to bring together health, community and family – create a wellness bus or traveling herb kitchen.

And here’s a video from Transitioner Bob Fenwick that captures the spirit of the meeting and shows what we did.

Get motivated to weatherize!

Hurricane/megastorm Sandy spared us here in Charlottesville… but it got me wondering: how would my household manage without power when the weather is cold?

So we’re trying an experiment: we haven’t turned on the heat yet this year. We can still take hot showers and cook hot meals, which makes a world of difference compared to an emergency situation. But the indoor temperature (at 2 p.m.) is a crisp 59 degrees. Outdoors it’s 53 and cloudy.

I’m at my desk wearing a hat and scarf, with a layer of fleece over my clothes. Come to think of it, that’s not really unusual for me! My hands and feet are a little cold, but again – that’s kinda normal. At night, with average low temps around 40 degrees, I’ve been toasty warm under a down comforter. In fact – it’s been surprisingly easy to adjust. So far, a shockingly cold toilet seat is the worst feature of this unheated house.

Outside my window – Peter at work

With average temperatures through November predicted to stay similar (high 55ish, low 38ish) – I could probably keep the heat off long enough to save a few bucks. But going without heat won’t be an attractive option during the really cold months. So what’s the long-term impact of this?

Well, that’s the magical thing about this experiment. All those little weatherizing projects we’ve been putting off – repairing storm windows, improving the basement & attic insulation, fixing some damaged weather stripping – just got moved to the top of the To Do list! When a chilly draft is actually making you shiver, it’s easier to get off the laptop and get on the ladder.

This feels like Transition at work: trying out a lower-energy approach to life, learning to question and adjust my expectation of comfort… and getting motivated to follow through on the simple, DIY solutions that move us away from fossil fuel dependence.