After years of studying and then teaching permaculture and natural building, Rob Hopkins helped to establish the Transition movement, which has been called "the biggest urban brainwave of the century" by Nicholas Crane of BBC2. The Transition movement promotes what Hopkins has called "engaged optimism" as we prepare for a lengthy period of ever-dwindling energy supplies. He is the author of The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependence to Local Resilience and The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times.
Here, Hopkins discusses resilience, or the ability of a community, individual, or entire nation to withstand shock from the outside, and how that relates to sustainability; how he's hoping for a kind of future in which we all live within our limits, but that still includes appropriate technologies, science, inventiveness, and entrepreneurship; and why we need to start embracing the idea of a post-growth economy.
What do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?'
It is the question I always dread being asked at parties. It has taken me many years to find an answer to that. My official job title is "catalyst and outreach manager." What I actually do is support Transition initiatives around the world, producing materials, gathering stories and finding different ways to share them, giving talks, and so on. The Transition movement is something I kicked off five years ago which is now active in 34 countries around the world as a grassroots approach to helping communities become more resilient and less oil-dependent.