Based on a critical literature review, the article argues that transformative learning (TL) that fosters a shift in consciousness towards a more ecological approach is an inherently place-based phenomenon. In this article we build a place-based approach to TL based on a literature review. Our theoretical framework is grounded in three key themes which emerge from the literature: (re-) connection, (self-)compassion and creativity. (Re-)connection involves all processes that evoke an experience of the interconnected nature of all life. (Self-)compassion, acting to alleviate suffering or doing the least harm, naturally follows a sense of interconnection. Creativity is the materialisation of a sense of interconnection and compassion or the means through which these can be experienced. This theoretical framework can be used empirically to research the extent to which people involved in place-based sustainability initiatives develop an ecological consciousness. Empirical research can then be used to further develop and anchor this framework, and seek the kind of practices that can evoke experiences of connection, cultivate the human ability for compassion and give space for creative living.