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Urban development typically looks to governments, local and national, to take the lead in transforming urban landscapes to promote sustainability and wellbeing. This is especially so when problems requiring a coordinated response – such as climate change – are deep and urgent.
However, in many parts of the world, including Australia, recent and current government policies provide little hope that the range of structural changes necessary to create more sustainable, low-carbon cities will emerge from the ‘top down’.
Despite paying lip service to sustainability issues, most politicians still operate firmly within an outdated growth paradigm in which new roads, new coal mines, or fracking for oil and gas, are touted as solutions to urban transport and energy problems. Too often we see cities continuing to eat away at their surrounding greenways with conventional, sprawling, poorly designed housing developments. Business-as-usual more or less prevails.
The nascent Transition Towns Movement (known as TTM) provides one of the more well-known social movements to emerge during the last decade in response to overlapping energy, environmental and economic crises.
Whereas the more established Ecovillage Movement has generally sought to escape the urban context to establish experiments in alternative living, the TTM, motivated by similar concerns, tends to accept the challenge of transforming urban life from within the urban boundary.