Here is a good article to read on Transition Towns:
The smart growth Maryland blog cuts across different transition town topics so I'm posting it here:
I'm trying to come up with a relatively short (can be printed on the front and back of a piece of paper) description of the Transition Town "Process." The description below is shortened version of a list from transitionnetwork.org. Feedback is definitely welcome!
1. Set up a steering group and design its demise/transformation from the outset
This stage puts a core team in place to drive the project forward during the initial phases. We recommend that you form your Steering Group with the aim of getting through stages 2 – 5, and agree that once a minimum of four theme groups (see #5) are formed, the Steering Group transforms to include representation from each of those groups. Ultimately your Steering Group should become made up of 1 representative from each sub-group.
2. Start raising awareness
This stage will identify your key allies, build crucial networks and prepare the community in general for the launch of your Transition initiative. For an effective Energy Descent Action plan to evolve, its participants have to understand the potential effects of both Peak Oil and Climate Change. Screenings of key movies and talks by experts in their field of climate change, peak oil and community solutions can be very inspiring. Articles in local papers, interviews on local radio, presentations to existing groups, including schools, are also part of the toolkit to get people aware of the issues and ready to start thinking of solutions.
3. Lay the foundations
Network with existing groups and activists, making clear to them that the Transition Initiative is designed to incorporate their previous efforts and potential inputs by looking at the future in a new way. Acknowledge and honor the work they do, and stress that they have a vital role to play. Give them a concise and accessible overview of peak oil, what it means, how it relates to climate change, how it might affect the community in question, and the key challenges it presents. Set out your thinking about how a Transition process might be able to act as a catalyst for getting the community to explore solutions and to begin thinking about grassroots mitigation strategies.
4. Organize a Great Unleashing
This stage creates a memorable milestone to mark the project’s “coming of age”, moves it right into the community at large, builds a momentum to propel your initiative forward for the next period of its work and celebrates your community’s desire to take action. It’ll need to bring people up to speed on Peak Oil and Climate Change, but in a spirit of “we can do something about this” rather than doom and gloom.
5. Form theme (or special interest) groups
Tap into the collective genius of the community. Crucial for this is to set up a number of smaller groups to focus on specific aspects of the process. Sub groups are needed for all aspects of life that are required by your community to sustain itself and thrive. Examples of these are: food, waste, energy, education, youth, economics, transport, water, local government. Each of these sub groups tries to determine the best ways of building community resilience and reducing the carbon footprint. Their solutions will form the backbone of the Energy Descent Action Plan.
6. Develop visible practical manifestations of the project
It's essential that you avoid any sense that your project is just a talking shop where people sit around and draw up wish lists. Your project needs, from an early stage, to begin to create practical, high visibility manifestations in your community. These will significantly enhance people’s perceptions of the project and also their willingness to participate.
7. Facilitate the Great Reskilling
One of the most useful things a Transition Town project can do is to reverse the “great deskilling” of the last 40 years by offering training in many needed skills. Research among the older members of our communities is instructive. Some examples of courses are: repairing, cooking, cycle maintenance, natural building, loft insulation, dyeing, herbal walks, gardening, basic home energy efficiency, practical food growing, etc. Your Great Reskilling program will give people a powerful realization of their own ability to solve problems and to work cooperatively alongside other people. They’ll also appreciate that learning can truly be fun.
8. Build a bridge to Local Government
Your local authority's role will be TO SUPPORT, NOT DRIVE, your Transition Initiative. Whatever the degree of groundswell your Transition Initiative manages to generate, however many practical projects you’ve initiated and however wonderful your Energy Descent Plan is, you will not progress too far unless you have cultivated a productive relationship with your local authority. Whether it is planning issues, funding issues or providing connections, you need them on board. Contrary to your expectations, you may find that you are pushing against an open door.
9. Let it go where it wants to go
Although you may start out developing your Transition Town process with a clear idea of where it will go, it will inevitably go elsewhere. If you hold onto a rigid vision, it will begin to sap your energy and appear to stall. Your role is not to come up with all the answers, but act as a catalyst for the community to design their own transition. If you keep your focus on the key design criteria – building community resilience and reducing the carbon footprint – you’ll watch as the collective genius of the community enables a practical and highly inventive solution to emerge.
10. Create an Energy Descent Action Plan
During the first year or two of the transition process in your community, the various theme groups will have been focusing on projects that increase community resilience and reduce CO2 emissions. Over time they'll get adept at running projects, measuring outcomes, linking with the key groups in their area and becoming literate around resilience.