Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Transition Towns: One Model for the Future

What is a 'transition town'?  I ran across the term on the site SelfSufficientIsh.com and started looking for more information.

According to their wiki,

"A Transition Initiative is a community (lots of examples here) working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:

    "for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?" "

There are people who deny peak oil and is an issue and climate change is happening, but there are a lot of people who recognize the reality of what's going on around us and want to ride out the storm and thrive, not just survive.

The Transition Movement started in the UK and on their wiki they say that they work on

    * awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a community lead process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon
    * connecting with existing groups in the community
    * building bridges to local government
    * connecting with other transition initiatives
    * forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)
    * kicking off projects aimed at building people's understanding of resilience and carbon issues and community engagement
    * eventually launching a community defined, community implemented "Energy Descent Action Plan" over a 15 to 20 year timescale

and they're honest in saying they don't know everything, but they know that

    * 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.

Here's a list (see that first link above) of skills thought to be needed to transition from modernity to a Victorian town at work:

"Woodland crafts:  coppicers, hoop-makers, peg-makers, charcoal burners, trug-makers, field-gate makers
Building crafts:  stonemasons, wallers, thatchers, slaters, paint-makers, glass-blowers, chimney sweeps
Field crafts:  dry-stone wallers, well diggers, vinters, arborists, shepherds, beekeepers, millers, fishermen, veterinarians
Workshop crafts:  blacksmiths, wood turners, rope-makers, tanners, potters, paper-makers, gun smiths, candle makers
Textile crafts: spinners, weavers, dyers, tailors, button-makers,quilters, leather workers, felt-makers, hatters
Domestic crafts: Fish smokers, brewers, pickle-makers, bakers, naturopaths, historians, midwives - and a village idiot! "

I think everyone occasionally feels that they qualify for that last one, given the hectic lives we lead, but look at that list.  I don't know how to thatch, or blow glass, or make a gun or birth a baby...do you know all that?  Probably not.  The overwhelming number of skills needed to survive and thrive practically screams 'don't go it alone' and I believe is a wake-up call to those who would try to survive on their own; as they say, 'if we act as individuals, it'll be too little'.

Transition US is our 'local' organization; check it out.  Whether or not you agree with the premises they subscribe to, the main idea's sound and worth investigating.