Peak oil. Climate change. Financial disruption. It’s enough to make you want to pull the covers over your head, or turn on the TV and hunker down with some junk food, anything so you don’t have to think about it. But groups of people all over the world are pulling their heads out of the sand and preparing to thrive in the face of turbulent change. They are part of the Transition Town movement.
In our resource-constrained world, as transportation costs rise, reliance on local communities will be key. The Transition movement encourages and assists the formation of local groups dedicated to the peaceful transition to a post-carbon society that relies on local resources, natural and human, as the primary source of physical and spiritual nourishment.
Each local initiative self-organizes around issues of concern to the community. For example, the initiative in Sandpoint, Idaho has working groups around: Art, Community Design, Economy, Education, Energy, Food System, Health, Heart and Soul of Change, Natural Resources, Mobility and Zero Waste.
As Peak Everything author Richard Heinberg states: “Our central survival task for the decades ahead, as individuals and as a species, must be to make a transition away from the use of fossil fuels – and to do this as peacefully, equitably, and intelligently as possible.”
The Transition Network started in the UK in 2007; Transition US was founded later that year. There are 204 registered Transition initiatives in a dozen nations from New Zealand to Finland, including 38 in the US, from Vermont to Tennessee to Tucson. Thousands of people, dubbed “mullers,” are considering the movement, with more joining every day.
Transition initiatives are experiments in moving toward a just and sustainable future. Transition US’s executive director, Carolyne Stayton, points out the movement’s “Cheerful Disclaimer”:
“We truly don’t know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.
What we are convinced of is this:
• if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late
• if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little
• but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”
It’s challenging to imagine our way into a radically different future. But, with the help of our neighbors, now may be a good time to start.
Transition Oklahoma City members participate at a Local Food event
Photo by Shauna Struby, courtesy Transition US