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Creating Transition Social Fields

A time for commitment, a time for aligning interests.

We think it critical that we create and act within a transition social field. Namely, that our educational work, our information, our discussion of options, is now to be geared to two things that we’re asking of people and their communities. First, we’re asking them to recognize that important changes are needed if we are to cope with the “converging catastrophes of the twenty-first century”1, exciting, exhilarating, enormous changes shaped within the framework of building community resilience. Second, we’re calling on people and communities to make a commitment to sustainability, to say that they will weave sustainability into the fabric of their lives and their communities’ work.

Are the conditions ripe? Here are some of the many indications:

First off, objective conditions indicate the immediacy of crises that threaten our way of life, even our existence: catastrophic changes due to global climate instability are looming, as is the disarray of a post-peak oil world and the malaise of economic collapse.

Second, people, organizations, and even governments have been responding to the urgency of these challenges, and the responses are on the rise.

Which leads to a third kind of indicator, and a deciding factor for us, the emergence of a strategy for building local resilience, generated by the recently started Transition Movement. It provides startup models for how communities can commit to sustainable living practices and align in pursuit of a sustainable, democratic, and regenerative future.

If you don’t know what the Transition Movement2, begun in the British Isles, is about, here is our in-a-nutshell version of its message:

  1. We are faced with a number of problems of catastrophic proportions. These, like peak oil production, will force change upon us – whether planned or unplanned – and it’d be better for us if we planned our changes.
  2. Neither technology nor individual initiatives alone will solve the problems. Grassroots, local initiatives, community by community, are needed to provide the collective efforts that empower people, unleash creativity, and thereby build community resilience.
  3. Taking ownership of the need to create solutions, like energy descent plans, may allow us to create a better society than our current one.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” – W.H. Murray3

The Transition Movement is essentially establishing a social field, providing a rationale, values, and strategies for individuals, households, communities, organizations, and publics to take actions that move us:

  • away from fossil fuels and other unsustainable life-threatening modalities
  • toward local life-affirming resilience;
  • help to align people, communities, and the public at large within this transition social field.

If you’d like to work with us on creating a Transition Hub that can provide support for Transition Initiatives in local communities – so that each community can “be the change” – please contact us.

Call Suzie or Joris at 484-851-3045, Martin at 610-767-1287, or email Suzie, Adrienne, Gene, or all of us at Transitions LV.

Martin Boksenbaum,
for the Transitions Group of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities-Lehigh Valley


1 – James Howard Kunstler, 2005, The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century.

2 – Rob Hopkins, 2008-9, The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience. Chelsea Green Publishing.

3 – W.H. Murray, 1951 – source: http://www.goethesociety.org/pages/quotescom.html