Friday, January 1, 2010

Transition Research

I've been poking around the Transition website, trying to learn a more extensive definition of what that paradigm entails. Back when I was researching alternative currencies, my housemate and I went down to the closest Transition Town because she thought they had an alternative currency in place. We went to one of their meetings (got there late because we missed the exit off the interstate), only to find that they were only at the stage of first conversations about it. However, I got to be a part of an actual working Transition Town meeting, which I guess is rather ahead of the local transition initiative, since we have only had the one initial is-anyone-interested meeting.

I read through all the 12 steps and 7 buts and list of Guidelines (and everything else, up to poking around in the Webinar by Starhawk), and am still a bit worried about the agenda. Integral to the Transition vision is educating people about the coming hardships of peak oil, environmental degradation and climate change, and economic crisis. Once the "problem" gets established, then we can work on the solutions to build "resilience."

Perhaps I am approaching this from a different generational perspective, or am already a part of the choir and don't need preaching to, or am coming from a second-tier rather than initial-tier solution space, but I am really unsure about the need to evangelize people into the cult of the imminent Peak Oil Apocalypse.

The Peak Oil Apocalypse may be coming. Or it may not be, and we may see rising fuel prices sparking industrial, governmental, and individual innovations that adjust for the adverse effects. I think Peak Oil is a Mytho-Reality that may be a useful construct for some, but belief in it should not be a prerequisite for working on the solutions that come out of Transition.

Basically, the solutions of Transition are about what they call resilience, which translates into local food systems, functional mass transportation, alternative currency systems, conservation, energy efficiency, community building, etc. All of these solutions make individuals and the entire community healthier and wealthier. They make living in a more urban area more sustainable come any disruption of the status quo, and make it more fulfilling and profitable in the mean time. I think it should be an easy sell.

So instead of talking about coming potential disasters, why not talk about the benefits of these solutions? Why not sell them based on what they can do for me today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Peak Oil is one unifying idea for why we should work on all of these fronts. Another one would be the fact that the sustenance and resources for the city come from a broad network of resources and that it would be to all of our benefit to also develop a deep network of resources, like sending down taproots, to tap and develop the resources we already have on hand.

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