7pm Thursday, March 10, 2011 – Phillip Tarro Theatre on SVC campus
Imagine Skagit in Transition: Local Interdependence –
Community Building To Meet Our Challenges
The Imagine Skagit In Transition event will be a program designed to introduce the community oriented, positive action based Transition Town Movement to Skagit County.
Responding to the looming realities of peak oil (fossil fuels), global climate change, and economic instability, Chuckanut and Fidalgo Transition groups hope to help grow resilient, tightly knit communities that may work together to walk an optimistic path towards a future that uses a fraction of the resources we use today.
For the SHRF, Chuckanut and Fidalgo Transition have worked together to create a slide show movie presentation of what Transition is already doing in Skagit County.
After the movie there will be a time to ask a panel of experts questions about Transition, and then we hope to draw in audience participation to continue this positive visioning and action towards sustainable economy, social structure, and culture.
Some Principles of why the Transition Model Works:
Vision a positive future
If we can’t imagine the future we want we won’t be able to create it
Things are going to change – our choice is a future we want and one which happens to us.
Awareness raising – An invitation
We understand that the messages in our media are contradictory.
Our aim is to tell people the truth and trust they will find their own appropriate response.
Don’t decide on the priorities for another person – the situation is too complex and too charged.
Inclusion – everyone is needed
In a successful transition project every skill is valuable because there is so much happening.
We need good listeners, gardeners, people who like to make and fix everything, good parties, discussions, energy engineers, inspiring art and music, builders, planners, project managers..
Bring your passion and make that their contribution – if there isn’t a project developing or happening in the area you are passionate about, create one!!
Resilience – building strong local communities
Resilience is the ability of a system to absorb change and still function.
In most communities of the past – a generation or two ago – people had basic skills needed for life such as growing and preserving food, making clothes, building with local materials.
We used to create the cake locally and import the icing. Now we import the cake and only produce the icing locally.
Transition makes sense – the solution is the same size as the problem
Many of the solutions to our problems lie at the local level – we don’t need to wait for others.
It proposes changes in proportion to the problem.
Many films or books who suggest that changing light bulbs, recycling and driving smaller cars may be enough. This causes a state called “Cognitive Dissonance” –a trance where you have been given an answer, but know that it is not going to solve the problem you’ve just been given.
The Transition we need is both Inner and Outer
The challenges we face are not just caused by a mistake in our technologies but a direct result of our world view and belief system.
The impact of the information about the state of our planet can generate fear and grief – which may, in part, underlie the state of denial that many people are caught in.
Psychological models can help us understand what is really happening and avoid unconscious processes sabotaging change, e.g. addictions models, models for behavioural change.
A viral model – something that is easy to replicate
The transition model is simple yet powerful – and many communities of all sizes and geographical locations are trying it for themselves.
We aim to create ways of working that are easy to copy
We have built-in ideas of sharing resources and information from the start including the wiki website, Transition US website, Transition Culture website, the Handbook, and the national network.
Communities in Transition
|Citizens of Transition Town Westcliff, in the United Kingdom, are exploring how to prepare for a carbon-constrained world. The town is creating an Energy Descent Action Plan. This photo: community gardens. Photos by Fred Robinson|
Rob Hopkins was teaching permaculture in Kinsale, Ireland, when he encountered the concept of peak oil. Hopkins and his students were shocked at the looming prospect of a world without cheap energy, and at the absence of plans to deal with the repercussions. Rather than wait for someone else to act—government or otherwise—they figured out how to address the problem, one community at a time.
Hopkins says, “The idea emerged that the future with less oil could be preferable. But we need to rediscover what was actually good about life before cheap oil.”
Their work led to the Transition Towns movement, which claims 26 communities as members in the United Kingdom, with 400 more worldwide expressing interest in becoming transition communities—people taking charge of preparing their communities to make a graceful entry into a low-energy world.
The essence of the Transition Town concept is building resilience at the community level. As Hopkins points out, it is only in the last half-century that oil has become the central force in all aspects of our lives, moving people, moving food, and removing both the sense of community and the skills for local mutual support.
During World War II, Hopkins says, Victory Gardens were an important part of the food supply. At the time, growing food in the back yard was not a great challenge—most people were at most a generation away from some sort of home food production. Those who were not had ready access to the knowledge of neighbors or elders.
|Transition Town Westcliff, in the UK. This photo: sustainable transportation. Photo by Debbie Burnett|
In the years since World War II, we’ve so absorbed the notion that food should come from trucks that a Victory Garden would be beyond the capability of most. Similarly, cheap clothing shipped across the world has made sewing a quaint thing of the past. Skills that were commonplace less than 100 years ago have disappeared. What we’ve lost, says Hopkins, is resilience.
The Transition Towns movement aims to rebuild that, from the ground up. One key to the success of the movement has been that it invites people on a journey of change, starting where they are right now, rather than using fear or guilt as motivators. The news about peak oil and climate change is still poorly understood by many; helping people adjust to what seems very bad news is part of the Transition Town program.
|Transition Town Westcliff, in the UK. This photo: cardboard classroom. Photo by Graham Burnett|
Equally important is an emphasis on solutions and positive possibilities. Hopkins offered a 10-week “Skilling Up for Powerdown” course in Transition Town Totnes, where he now lives. The course took participants from an introduction to peak oil and climate change through all aspects of transition life—food, housing, energy, money, and personal preparation. Transition Town Totnes has an active program of planting nut trees in private and municipal spaces, an exercise in making carbon-consuming trees a food source. They’ve introduced the Totnes pound, a local currency that has seen 10 thousand one-pound notes go into circulation in the last year.
Transition Town initiatives are purely grassroots. That is a matter of necessity, since even local governments are behind the curve on the issue. It is also a matter of preference. If a low-carbon future means reliance on community resources, no one knows those better than the locals.
The Transition Towns movement responds to the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and sustainability. Not a happy combination. But, says Hopkins, “It feels to me that one of the reasons the Transition Towns movement has grown so fast is that it is positive in a time where it is hard to find positivity, solutions-based in a time when the problems are so glaringly obvious, and fun, in a time where we’re not supposed to have time for that any more.”
Doug Pibel wrote this article as part of Stop Global Warming Cold, the Spring 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Doug is YES! managing editor.