The 'transition town' or transition initiative, as it is often now described, is the brainchild of Rob Hopkins who launched the concept in Totnes, Britain, in 2005. The concept has spawned some hundreds of similar such initiatives in a range of countries around the world as a means for communities to increase their resilience to the future challenges from two major environmental concerns: peak oil and climate change. Although some such initiatives have been very successful, this is not the case with all. Drawing on concepts from institutional theory, I report the findings from discussions held with individuals involved in specific transition initiatives in New Zealand in order to identify and explore the range of characteristics of successful such initiatives. I also discuss some of the challenges and difficulties facing such initiatives and highlight some of the conflicts and ironies that emerge from their establishment and growth.
Keywords: transition towns, climate change, peak oil, community resilience, grassroots movements, Rob Hopkins, Totnes, New Zealand, institutional theory