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:

Neighborhood Fun at the Transition Streets Pilot Project

By Logan Blanco and Ann Mercer

Transition Streets is a grassroots, community-based project to encourage and help individual households reduce energy use and consumption right here and now. Ann and I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Transition Streets USA Pilot Project, being one of 13 groups in the US. The idea is simple: We gathered a group of eight households in our neighborhood who were willing to meet seven times over the course of a few months to talk about consuming fewer resources, saving money, and building a sense of community. The content of each meeting was guided by a workbook which includes chapters on using less energy, waste reduction, sensible water use, transportation choices and eating locally.

The experience was better than we ever imagined. We call ourselves the Little Merri Woolie Jeffs. Many of us are already recycling, composting, and watching our water use. Half of us are commuter cyclists.  Some in our group had already invested in home solar panels. We all like growing veggies and herbs.

Little Merri Woolie Jeffs

During this Pilot Project, we each took turns hosting and facilitating. We talked, learned and shared information that wouldn’t be considered small talk by any means:

“Do you flush the toilet every time or when it’s yellow let it mellow?’

“Do you shower every day?”

“Do you throw out a perfectly good washing machine for an energy saving one or wait until it breaks and then switch over?”

“Did you know that walking to IY is an option?”

“Do you know how much energy a vacuum consumes? A toaster? “

Some of us catch the cold water that precedes the hot before doing dishes or showering and using that water to flush the toilet or for watering the house plants.

Some of us use the water from rain barrels for washing hair.

One person had lots of experience in setting up rain-barrels and offered to help others.

The revelations and ideas flowed non-stop. We all had something to offer and we all had something to learn.

Then we developed and shared our personal action plans:

“We’re going to check out getting attic insulation.”

“I’m definitely getting new lights on my bike.”

“We’ve started collecting food scraps from a couple of our neighbors who haven’t been composting.”

“Shawnee and I are going to check out new water-saving toilets and the city rebate program.”

“Next time I’m missing that one essential ingredient for a recipe, I’m going to try borrowing from a neighbor instead of jumping in the car to go to the store.”

The workbook often mentioned that the Transition Streets initiative was a means of saving money. But what our group experienced was something far more. We got excited about sharing ideas and helping each other. We loved seeing other people’s houses, sharing food, and playing together. We started using the word “community” a lot. AND we chose to open up our group to other neighbors and continue meeting monthly for various neighborhood activities like garden tours, project work, social events at our local eatery the Firefly (they serve locally sourced food), community meals, and even having speakers come and talk to use on topics such as advanced directives and community emergency response training.

The plan going forward, is to get more groups of friends and neighbours to do as we did.

We had a lot of fun doing this pilot project! We not only learned how to conserve energy and consume less, which is both good for the planet as well as our wallets. We also learned how to Doodle Meetings, stay in touch with each other through the Nextdoor social networking website, and how to create a more connected, resilient, and fun neighborhood!

Transition Streets is an initiative of the Transition movement, a world-wide, vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as climate change, resource depletion and economic instability.

Transition Streets Charlottesville is being coordinated through Transition Cville, our local Transition Town organization offering monthly pot-luck gatherings, skill-sharing workshops, and a local Transition newsletter.

Transition Streets is also one of several community partner involved in the Energize Charlottesville project: Charlottesville is one of 50 communities that have been selected to compete for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national $5 million competition to rethink the way American communities use energy. Let’s do it!

Transition Streets will launch soon in Charlottesville and Albemarle. Want to learn more? Please email

A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

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.

Transition U.S. needs our help

What could be better than enjoying the holidays and making the world more resilient and enjoyable at the same time? Together, with Transition US, let’s give the gift of resilience this year!

With your help, we will grow the network of Transition Town Initiatives in the coming year to reach all 50 states! That is only one of the 7 Actions we will take with your help. You can go here to read more and here to get this Action rolling.

Help Grow the TreeYou know by now that building resilient communities is necessary and urgent, so Transition US won’t stop until we have raised the $200,000 needed to enact our 7 Actions! But first, we MUST raise another $26,655 by December 31to continue to provide you with the programs currently supporting leaders and actions across the country. Will you help? Please, we’re counting on you!

And to help you and yours, we are including these ideas for holiday gifts that build resilience:

  • Commit to helping someone you love to plant a garden, erect a clothes line, install a grey water system, or host a neighborhood potluck! (see other ideas on our Transition Challenge page!)
  • Convene a conversation with loved ones about your hopes for your community
  • Celebrate connectedness
  • Build or support a local low-carbon business
  • Give the gift of Transition:
    • Order In Transition 2.0 DVDs for friends, family, co-workers and employees
    • Contribute to Transition US in honor of a family member or friend and present them with this holiday card acknowledging your gift.

Most of all have a remarkable and heart-filled holiday.

With Gratitude,

Carolyne, Shelby, Carl, Scott and the TUS Team

Donate now >>

Your Donation: All contributions to Transition US are tax deductible. It saves us time, paper and money when you donate by credit card over our secure server. If you can’t contribute on-line, please mail a check made out to Transition US to:

Transition USTransition US
PO Box 917
Sebastopol, CA 95473

20 great ideas from a Transition Town meeting

We asked each person to share a favorite Transition resource – a book, documentary, local organization or something else – during the welcome & introductions at our November 2012 Transition Town meeting. Here they are!

Peak Oil Survival by Aric McBay

How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons (handbook for biointensive gardening)

Community Bikes (located on Avon St. in Charlottesville)

Dave Redding, Transition member (a very handy & knowledgeable guy)

The internet (especially sites like

Background in library science – useful for searching out info on the internet

Fedco Seed Catalogue

A local compassionate eco-village that’s currently being formed (learn more at

International Transition Network Conference

The land

Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman

Mycorrhizal bioremediation – healing the earth with mushrooms (especially books by Paul Stamets)

Devices for measuring energy use (like Current Count and Kill-A-Watt)

Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk

Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project

Bob Snow at East Coast Food Storage in Fluvanna (We are planning a field trip to tour this facility! Stay tuned for date & details.)

Research into solar-generated steam power

The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide: The Smartest Money Moves to Prepare for Any Crisis by Sean Brodrick

Transition Cville Edible Yards (Volunteers will come to your yard and install an 8×8 plot for growing food!)

Podcasts at Sustainable World Radio

The Spirit of Transition

Jason Roberts is one of the co-founders of the Better Blocks movement.  In this TEDx talk he describes the attitude and spirit that got this movement going and some of the tremendous success he’s had.  As a Transitioner I find great inspiration in his story.  It reminds me that we’re facing a downhill struggle.  All we’ve got to do is break our own inertia, get out into our communities, and get the ball rolling.  People want to live in a better world; they just need a little push to realize how much fun it is to build it themselves!

Beyond Democracy 1 – Let’s move beyond democracy – First in a series

Hi! my name’s Ted Millich and I live in Thomas Jefferson’s town, Charlottesville, Virginia, and I call this blog series ‘Beyond Democracy.’ I’m also posting a vlog version which is available here.

It’s being posted on the Charlottesville Albemarle Transition website, but feel free to post it anywhere because it’s revolutionary information that everyone needs to know.

I’d like to tell you about the next step in the evolution of human governance. That’s right, democracy isn’t the ultimate way for us to govern ourselves.

Emile van Danzig, a trainer of this governance method at the Dutch car rental company Wheels4All says: “Democracy is not the right way to come to a solution. It was a good one, but now there are better methods.”

I’ll show you what those better methods are – what is beyond good ol’ democracy – and you’ll find out why it’s a revolutionary way of working, how it works, why it’s better, and what it looks like in practice. I’ll show you some video clips of interviews I’ve done with people who use it, and how we can bring it from businesses, where it’s forty years old and has gained traction in hundreds of organizations around the world, into government.

This is a pretty big subject, but I’ve condensed it into a series of blogs that explain everything. Please read my next blog about this innovation which is called Dynamic Governance, or Sociocracy, because Larilee Suiter, who lives at the Champlain Valley CoHousing, near Burlington, Vermont, where she’s used it for ten years, thinks sociocracy works pretty well…

Larilee Suiter: “Sociocracy isn’t just a little bit better. Sociocracy is a quantum leap better!”

Also Rene Owen, the executive director of the Rainbow Mountain Children’s School in Asheville, North Carolina, says what a lot of us in the dynamic governance movement say – that it’s more than just a method of governance.

Rene Owen: “Dynamic governance certainly is a new paradigm, but it’s … …it’s a whole different paradigm.”

Please tune in again for my next blog entry where I reveal more about how to move beyond democracy.
After you’ve read enough to realize that this is possibly humanity’s most important technological innovation ever, look to your right and sign up to get the blog in your inbox so you can join me in changing the dominant paradigm by a quantum leap!

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How to stop mountaintop removal coal mining

A report from the Oct. 22 Transition Town meeting.

“We all love mountains and don’t like destruction, but we are complicit because our energy comes from those mountains.” That’s how presenter Katie Corish of TJMC summed up how she came to care deeply about mountaintop removal. And that was the theme of the evening.

The group had a lively discussion about how to take responsibility and take action – above and beyond supporting the groups who are working to oppose MTR (like Keeper of the Mountains, Appalachian Voices, and Mountain Justice).

Check out all of the ideas below! Several of these are potential Transition projects just waiting for a volunteer to organize them. Could it be you??

Keeper of the Mountains, Larry Gibson (from

Things you can do today

  • Post a reminder about mountaintop removal next to your light switches.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs, tighten up your windows and doors, reduce your thermostat.
  • Clean your refrigerator coils. Watch Bob Fenwick’s quick video to learn how.
  • Unplug your clothes dryer. Hang laundry outside or on drying racks.
  • Support Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rep. Louise Slaughter’s proposed legislation to stop MTR: the Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act (ACHE).
  • Call Dominion Power to “chew them out” each time you pay your bill. Remind them once again that their ratepayers want the company to invest in VA-generated wind and solar.
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Sierra Club have active campaigns pressuring Dominion to move beyond dirty energy.
  • Say something when you see energy being wasted (like a store that leaves the door open while blasting A/C).
  • Examine and question consumerism in your everyday life. Energy is used to produce every pair of jeans, every kitchen gadget, even the packaging.
  • Use socially responsible investing to help fund clean energy companies. Related resource: Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money (by Woody Tasch)

Things you can do with a little help from your community

  • Ask folks at our monthly Transition Town meetings: What have you done in the last month to conserve energy & resources?
  • Install solar panels on your home. (Folks felt we could use more education about what is possible in this area! Any volunteers to share your expertise or what you’ve learned??)
  • Incentivize landlords to install solar on rental units.
  • Start a conservation study group with your neighbors. One model is “Transition Streets” – a series of seven sessions covering energy, water, food, waste, and transportation. (Quite a few folks were interested in learning more about this idea. Any volunteers to  take the lead and gather information??)
  • Reach out to religious groups regarding the moral injustice of MTR. Organize another trip to Kayford Mountain like the one taken by TJMC. (Volunteers??)
  • Start an education campaign in Charlottesville – teach-ins about MTR and energy conservation. (Transition Cville can support a campaign with publicity and logistics if someone steps up to lead! Volunteers??)
  • Create an online local resource library for conservation. (This website has a Resources page, and it needs to be updated and expanded! Volunteers??)

More ideas

*** If you want to organize any of these initiatives – or another that we haven’t thought of yet – please get in touch! Email info (at) transitioncville (dot) org. Or call: Joanie Freeman, (434) 987-1026. Ann Marie Hohenberger, (434) 981-2004.