My friend Lisa and I stumbled upon a presentation a few weeks ago that promised information about beekeeping, canning, soapmaking and all sorts of “back to the land” and simple living skills. It was presented at the Unitarian Universalist Church in rural/hip Woodstock, Il. I didn’t pay much attention at first as to WHO the organizers were – only that the day seemed to fit in with a sustainable way of living that Lisa and her family and I were interested in.
It was a fascinating day. And really, the tip of the iceberg, as it was my introduction to a movement afoot called “Transition Towns.”
Wikipedia says “Transition Towns (also known as Transition network or Transition Movement) is a brand for environmental and social movements “founded (in part) upon the principles of permaculture” based originally on Bill Mollison’s seminal Permaculture, a Designers Manual published in 1988. Following its start in Kinsale, Ireland it then spread to Totnes, England where Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande developed the concept during 2005 and 2006. The aim of this community project is to equip communities for the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil. The Transition Towns movement is an example of socioeconomic localisation.”
They showed us a little video amidst the beekeeping, soapmaking and make your own solar panels presentations. I found the whole concept of transition towns fascinating – working to set up YOUR community to be more sustainable as the changes we’re amidst start to kick in earnestly. Though created in Ireland and England, the movement is now truly global, with the broadest reach being in Western Europe and North America.
There are 3 “official” transition towns in my state of Illinois with several others in “mullers’ status (ie., mulling it over, forming), one of which was the one I attended – Transition Town McHenry County. Though I joined the McHenry County forum and got online with them, it didn’t occur to me til I sat down to write tonight to check online for the broader organization – there’s a US site, a global site, and articles aplenty about the movement.
I’m both a doer and a thinker – and once I see that we’re in harms way I am very programmed to jump into action. I think the triple whammy of Peak Oil, Global Warming and Economic Meltdown qualify as “harms way” so I am eager to find out, “how then shall we live?”
I also like that the tenor I’m seeing is “start where you are” – so if you’re reading this post and saying “Diane, what are you, nuts? Soapmaking? With my 50 hour workweek, husband and 2 kids, when exactly do I do THAT?” – well, you start where you are – with things like recycling, figuring out how to drive less, etc. – and leave the soapmaking til after you’re entered more of the Transition Town or Plenitude lifestye. Or never. You just may not be the soapmaking type, after all.
I’ve been thinking lately, as I hear people bemoaning the state of the world, “Gosh, who has time to kvetch about the old order fading away? I’m too busy working on building the new world to complain that the old one will soon be gone.”
That is, if we can keep ourselves alive long enough to get there. But if more and more of us decide “none for me, thanks” about the current plutocratic, global-warming, war-crazed lunatic world we seem to be in and instead turn towards a world of sustainability, kindness, concern for life (that means the planet and ALL its inhabitants) – you know, “plenitude”, then I think we MIGHT just make it.
the guy who started the McHenry chapter asked me if I’d be interested in starting a Transition Town in my hometown – and I’m thinking I just may. Have a look at the sites I linked to. Then — how about starting one in YOUR town? Or joining one that exists. I think it’s pretty urgent that we switch gears – and do it quickly.
One way I think about it is thinking about my grandnieces and grandnephews. I’d rather envision them saying “Auntie Di, tell us again how you banded with others to help keep this old world alive.” or “Auntie Di is it REALLY true all the crazy stories I hear about the waste of resources and the killing to get oil and the ‘bad old days’?” then to hear “Auntie Di, how could you let this happen to us?” or worse yet —- silence. Because none of us would be here anymore.
I do think we’re at a turning point. You can keep on with what Judith Schor refers to as “Business as Usual” – or you can make a difference. Maybe even, you know, save the world.
What are YOU choosing? And why?