Last night I went to an initial Transition Towns meeting in a nearby town of 10,000.
Transition Towns is a loosely organized movement to help local communities build a vision that helps it respond to a triad of crises: peak oil, climate chaos, and economic disruption. Begun in 2006, there are now hundreds of localized Transition Town groups actively thinking about the next ten to twenty years, and how to build in resilience by building community.
This may sound boring, but it's kind of revolutionary.
It's a grassroots movement of sanity.
It's not built on an ideology, although "sustainability" and "permaculture" philosophies are part and parcel. It's not built on a hierarchy, or even a strict credo -- what works in Townes, England, may not succeed in Lyons, Colorado.
Instead, it's a grassroots movement that recognizes that what builds a local community's interpersonal web, also facilitates economic and social resilience.
Yes, local food is encouraged -- but so is "loaning out your garden" to someone who doesn't have one. Yes, local activities are encouraged, but that can be a "what to make with what we were going to throw away" gathering at a local church, or a volunteer workgroup helping insulate. It can be an add-a-passenger network that decreases the costs of commuting, or a borrow-a-bike system within a town....
It's a movement that says "Peak oil, climate chaos, economic chaos -- these things are coming, so let's do all we can to mitigate and reverse, and let's end up with a better world of more satisfaction, fun, time, and music while doing it."
Now, anyone who's read my occasional diaries knows, I'm pretty pessimistic about the overall direction of our human relationship to the natural world. My coeditor and I denote and bejoke about five or six stories a day re our environment's ongoing collapse, at apocadocs.com.
And that part of me wishes that the Transition Towns material was more in-your-face about how rapidly we are accelerating toward an avalanche of tipping points. "Faster than expected" is the norm, rather than the exception, on so many counts.
Overall the TransitionTowns folk work hard not to be scary.
Nobody wants to join a party where cowering is preferred to dancing.
But TransitionTowns is an important start, and a movement that's growing, as more people get past the points of denial and despair, and decide to see what can be done.
The national politicians won't do it, and the CEOs won't do it, and the stockholders won't do it -- because there's no percentage in advocating for steady-state, or even negative overall growth, much less a profit in barn dances.
So we have to do it ourselves. One community at a time. Because it must be done.
Keep an eye out for TransitionTowns meetings in your community -- or just start exploring the ideas.
In 2020, or even 2030, you'll be glad you did -- or at least, that you tried.
Heck, in 2010, I'm already glad I did.