by Joris Rosse
In the absence of common sense and ability to act appropriately in high places, “Think Globally and Act Locally”. Enter Transition towns, cities, valleys, forest regions, and yes whole countries. The following is a very brief summary of the Transition Movement. The Alliance sees it as a plausible initiative and entry point to meaningful Lehigh Valley sustainability actions.
The goal is to build community resilience to cope with the shocks that common sense indicates will result from the peak oil, climate, and economic instability predicaments.
The Transition movement springs spontaneously from the grassroots, often supported by local government. Hopefully the movement will spread up into institutions, businesses, professions, industries, in nations around the globe. The goal is to build community resilience to cope with the shocks that common sense indicates will result from the peak oil, climate, and economic instability predicaments. Widespread systemic dysfunctions and the 78 unresolved challenges listed by the World Economic Forum 2010 serve as the backdrop to the crises of our times. As of 2010, official Transition Initiatives are located in 31 countries, 290 in the U.K. and 77 in the U.S. Similar numbers of Transition Initiatives are in process of mulling over becoming “official”.
Transition Initiatives can focus on any community issues that seem pressing locally. Some common choices of how to address re-localization and community strengthening are:
- Awareness-raising by showing documentary films with before and after community dialogues. Teach-ins and learn-ins, trainings, featured speakers, and support groups
- Guided tours of energy self-sufficient homes, community gardens and permaculture examples that illustrate feasible food and shelter security concepts and pattern language
- Re-skilling: re-learning how to fix a bicycle, knit sweaters, darn socks, weatherize the home, engage in small animal husbandry, or grow a kitchen garden and a hundred other skills
- Carbon-neutral structures via low hanging fruit retrofits. For instance, a role model E-house or a crisis response storefront. Harvest 10 to 1 cost advantage per KWH for micro-hydro compared to wind or PV power, 20 to 1 compared to nuclear
- Local currencies to help revitalize local economies
- Stacking positive multipliers by unleashing human potential, creativity, incentivizing cooperative behaviors, and integration of spiritual activism
- Catalyzing innovations in transportation, urban and rural zoning, agriculture, wellness, justice, finance, democracy and other areas of society
Any of the above choices in whole or in part or alternative ideas could serve as a credibility building “low hanging fruit” started as a stand-alone project that can later be expanded once group enthusiasm for a Transition Initiative develops.
The Transition movement strives to have the potential to facilitate flourishing local communitieseven if crises of oil, climate, or economics are miraculously resolved.
Local communities cry out to reinstate these values:
- re-empower and revitalize local communities
- rebuild “the Commons”
- return vital decision making to the local community as by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund’s (CELDF’s) re-assertion of community right to self-government
- real stewardship of the land as by the “Rights of Nature”
- re-localization of food production in particular, economic re-localization in general
A Transition Initiating Group starts with one or two committed individuals. That twosome may grow to four to eight. Alternatively our action group might help set up a fund to support Transition Initiatives by others. Once the “Great Unleashing” (a coming-out party for the Initiative) has sparked formation of five or more working groups who select representatives to their new governing body the job of the original initiating group is done. Some additional rules are to be enshrined in bylaws, such as support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and gender balance.
Typically the “Great Unleashing” Event can take 6 – 12 months to come to fruition.
The willing and cooperative help of institutions can ease the progress. There is a saying that goes: When the student is ready the teacher will appear. Are we at that point now? Better yet, are we many-splendored teacher-learners answering the call? If not us, who? If not now, when?
Note: The Steering Committee of the Alliance has decided to take appropriate steps to participate in the Transition Initiative Movement, possibly as a Transition Hub that will facilitate additional communities to join.
Joris is a founding member of the Alliance and a member of the steering committee.
(Published in the 2011 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley)
(Essays express the ideas of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alliance.)