Step 1 - Set up a Steering Group (and design its demise)

This essential first step puts a core team in place to drive the project forward during the initial stages. See an overview of all 12 steps.

We recommend that you form your Steering Group with the aim of getting through steps 2 – 5, and agree that once a minimum of four sub-groups (see step 5) are formed, the Steering Group disbands and reforms with a person from each of those groups. This requires a degree of humility, but is very important in order to put the success of the project above the individuals involved. Ultimately your Steering Group should become made up of 1 representative from each sub-group.


This steering group can form by one person asking one more, and then brainstorming who else should be in this group. Or it may come from a public meeting and asking people to step forward if they are interested in being part of the leadership group who steer the ship for the first part of the Transition journey.

With the assumption that the group will design its own demise from the outset, you can feel confident in asking people who are highly skilled, networked, talented and busy, to be part of this group. This group, while being the ones to lead will be looking to draw in lots of others to help with the events and projects that characterise the early steps in the transition process.


In the experience of some of the transition groups around New Zealand, we have found that this group will go through changes in numbers. On Waiheke the group began with 6 people. At one point only two of the orginal six were part of the group, and others had stepped in. Now four of the original group are 'on the job' again. Other groups have begun with large numbers in their steering group and these numbers have reduced over time. It is an evolving process, and change is part of it.


Still not sure if you are ready to begin?

Here are a few pointers for anyone who is thinking about starting a Transition initiative. After you have read this, take some actions and ask some questions...

  • First you will need to gather a few people to work with, who will help lead the process through the first few steps. It's great if you can identify people who have contacts in the area - ie people who know people, and ones who represent different skills and interests.
  • You might invite them to a screening of a film. There is one called Peak Oil: Imposed by Nature that is only 30 mins long.
  • I highly recommend also showing Rob Hopkins presentations on Transition Towns on the same night. There are three clips showing him speaking to the International Forum on Globalisation. They total 18 mins, and are very inspiring. You can watch them here as Youtube clips, or you can request to be sent a CD with these clips and the Primer on it.
  • The 12 Steps, 7 But's, and The Criteria (for formalising a Transition Initiative) are also very helpful. There is also a summary version of these, you can download.
  • You may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly things start developing, once you make the first move...

Please feel free to add your thoughts, questions and comments here.