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GLOBAL TRANSITION IN ACTION -- Transition U.S. Social Network -- What is a Transition Business?

What is a "Transition Business"?

Starting Definitions From the Business Perspective

Businesses, companies, organizations, clubs, corporations, or non-profits have ideas of what it means to declare themselves as "green" or "sustainable" or "transitional". Does including the term "peak oil" or "honoring elders" or "think local" or "permaculture" on a blog or website make an organization a Transition Business? Special types of products? New standards? New patterns? New types of mission statements? Let's hear from business owners who work hard to embody Transition values.

Starting Definitions From the Customer Perspective

Customers have ideas about what is "definitely Transition" and "ANYTHING BUT Transition" as they interact with the business world. Business are definitely not all cut from the same cloth. What "new normal"? What does the customer have the right to expect from a Transition Business? Has anybody written customer manifestos? or customer bills of rights?

Reply Below to offer your definitions.

Click here to register your Transition Business with the Transition Social Network.

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Comment by Jeff Mowatt on June 16, 2011 at 10:39am

David, Thanks for drawing my attention to this discussion. In the comments above I see several points of congruence with our own advocacy.  As you may see we make the points about people being central to business and economics in the synopsis of our founding white paoer where attention is drawn for the need to consider those left behind in the transition from an industrial to an information age.

The core argument from this paper, was that money imagined into existence as debt disenfranchised a large number of humans to threaten their existence as debt and that the only true measure of economics would be measured in terms of humans.

i.e. 'Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings.  Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion.'


Within the synopsis a cause driven business model is described in which at least 50% of profit will be invested in the local community, by agreement of sharholders, that this was the primary purpose of that business. This principle was reflected by subsequent models such as the community interest company and B-Corporations.    

P-CED was introduced as a working model to the UK in 2004 after being deployed to source a development initiative in Russia in 2004. The first action in the UK was to develop a business plan for capitalising social enterprise, such that profit was re-invested in local communities via CDFIs to seed new social enterprise.           

It is now evident that many of the issues raised in that plan which inclided poverty allevioation, localised economic development, human rights, fair wages and perhaps above all that an alternate form of capitalism should be recognised and supported at government level. 

Looking back it seems that we way well at this point have begun to step on the toes of the social enterprise 'establishment' who chose not to include these issues in the community interest company guidelines. Hence we now have the situation where a Transition Enterprise is suggested where traditional social enterprise appears to fall short.

In 2009/2010 Founder Terry Hallman delivered seminars on Economics in Transition to the International Economics for Ecology conferences, where he describes the background events leading to the 2008 crisis and his assertion, which relates back to the core argument from 1996, that sustainability can only be established upon an economic system which is itself sustainable. As we've discovered recently Schumaker college will shortly be starting an MA course in Economics for Transition, which would appear to be along the same lines.

The overall approach which I've attempted to relate briefly in this description for my own community is of a transition from 20th century industrial age economics of production and scarcity, to a 21st local economies which are sharing and people-centered. This much is also advocated by a group known as the Forward Foundation who made contact earlier this year.   

An interesting picture of the people-centered model of business comes from Ramla Akhtar in Pakistan who is again quite separate from our own work. She offers the image of a how the financial, social and spiritual needs of the person could be served.




Comment by David Eggleton on June 15, 2011 at 9:22pm

Rob Hopkins just put a spotlight on one who's been contemplating Transition Enterprise.

Comment by David Eggleton on April 25, 2011 at 12:51pm

David Braden wrote:

One glaring limitation to our ability to see these possibilities is the ubiquitous belief that all value can be measured in money - whereas, money does not measure the value of anything that is abundant - therefore, for those things we want to be abundant, production for the "market" will not work.

It would appear, then, that production in the community, by the community and for the community is a way to abundance.  That makes a lot of sense to me, especially as it will naturally fit the place and members.

The businesses small and rooted enough to commit to redirect/redeploy some, and steadily more, of their attention, time, energy, know-how and assets to this other kind of production will be important forces for new and improved flows.

Comment by David Eggleton on March 7, 2011 at 8:09am
A Transition business must show prospects and customers that they win by recovering knowledge that they are in the right place, that the right time is now.
Comment by David Eggleton on January 24, 2011 at 3:49pm
Comment by David Braden on December 1, 2010 at 1:34pm
From an holistic point of view, what we experience is parts of a single pattern of flows. In the industrial age we learn the consequences of dealing in inputs and outputs - without considering from where the inputs come or the final destination of the output. The consequences are a diminishing of the flows; diminishing the opportunities of those who come after us.

Much of what is touted as "green" is a reduction of impact; do less damage; diminishing the flows to a lesser extent. And that is sometimes the best we can do given the constraints of the pattern as it exists from moment to moment.

But we can also look at ways to enhance the flows; create new relationships with people, plants and creatures recognizing that all production is consumption; all waste is food. We can understand how one thing depends on another and every thing depends on everything else . . . and fit things together so that they work better for more people, plants and creatures.

One glaring limitation to our ability to see these possibilities is the ubiquitous belief that all value can be measured in money - whereas, money does not measure the value of anything that is abundant - therefore, for those things we want to be abundant, production for the "market" will not work.

The great break through for Transition Business will be in forms of ownership of the capacity to produce what people need to thrive. The market already works great for allocating that which is scarce and the market will deal with the scarcity of oil by making alternatives more attractive. Avoiding the hardship that will accompany that transition is a function of our ability to imagine the alternatives.
Comment by David Eggleton on December 1, 2010 at 12:58pm
"Few people who write about entrepreneurs would doubt that their crucial effect is the production of radical social change. But two groups of writers draw very different lessons from this fact." Disclosing New Worlds by C. Spinosa, F. Flores, and H. Dreyfus, 1997

Here we want the unrecognized third or fourth group to declare and proclaim the other lessons. Come out, come out, wherever you are!
Comment by David Eggleton on November 19, 2010 at 10:57am
Meaningful Makeovers is one example.
Comment by David Eggleton on November 18, 2010 at 9:46am
Transition may pause and will not relent.

As erratically declining fuels/materials availability and affordability inexorably undo life as we've lived it, we will adjust assumptions, expectations and skill sets, again and again. Throughout, transition service businesses, not so dependent on fuels, will have opportunities to help entities, from individuals to communities, meet the specific challenges of letting go and being more.
Comment by David Eggleton on October 12, 2010 at 7:52am
A transition business is at least considering how it can and will reduce its reach and push. Localization implies much reduced reach and push. In the extremes of each that we've seen in centralized production systems and global marketing, cheap energy has been key to the opportunities. Absent cheap energy, businesses will focus more and more on needs, less and less on wants.

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