Transitioning from fear to action

It is fair to say the news these days is something less than bleak; terrifying in many, if not most, instances when we consider the economy and the state of our planet and the anxieties created by a changing climate.
It’s tempting to crawl under the bed and hope for the best while fearing the worst.
But there is another initiative going on that is engaging with the reality that society will face (and, in fact, is facing now in post-peak oil days). And this movement is gathering steam around the world—doing far more than making lemonade when handed a life-time supply of lemons.
“Transition Town” began as a student project in Ireland in 2005 and by May, 2010, 400 communities throughout the world were recognized officially as Transition Towns.
It’s all about empowering communities to adapt and change to meet the needs of its residents without relying on oil. These “towns” see themselves as better off after peak oil in terms of the quality of life.
The individuals fuelling this movement are creating solutions in a passionate yet realistic manner, and are thinking outside the box. Their actions speak of resilience and creative solutions to the specific characteristics of each “town.”
The Transition Town movement has, at its very core, the principles of education that share solutions to post-peak oil and climate change, workshops on sustainable living, and a return to gardening where buying local takes one giant step forward.
Knowledge sharing is at the heart of Transition, and participants adopt an attitude of a party rather than protest, which sounds more like what “can” we do rather than what should we “not” do.
Peterborough was the first Canadian town to officially join the movement and others have joined in the parade. Many communities have actions off and running; some of them formally listed as linked to a team and others that operate on the same principles and have behaved like a Transition Town long before the name had been coined.
Farmers’ markets and CSA farms are some examples of such efforts that consumers have jumped to be supportive of. It is about taking back control and responsibility, moving away from the habit of shifting the responsibility from our shoulders onto government’s shoulders.
We know that government gets mired in competition with itself and its opposition. Provincial and federal legislatures spend more time with accusations (i.e., he said, she said) than finding solutions and actually listening to one another.
We like to imagine governments taking a more collaborative approach, but that very well may be a pipe dream. In all likelihood, government will continue to give lip service to change, but communities can make change happen in immediate and extraordinary ways.
I have a vision of neighbours sitting around the kitchen table, each with a list of strengths and a second list of problems—and together they find solutions.
I think of middle-aged friends who have lost their jobs and their financial security. The future looks a tad frightening, but I like to think we can share space, that we can look after one another.
I think of the new ideas out there, such as the solar-powered furnace, The Prometheus, being developed by Lunenburg Industrial Foundry and Engineering in Nova Scotia. And I imagine the furnace’s 4600 watts of thermal energy heating power being developed further to heat a grouping of homes, where sharing the cost seems logical and obvious.
I imagine those with gardening know-how bringing their produce to community kitchens, where neighbours will share in the task of preserving the food. I imagine the Smiths with an abundance of potatoes and corn and kale trading with the Joneses for apples and strawberries.
I imagine that the fear created by a society without access to fossil fuels will transition into solutions—like a fresh start and this time we can do it right.
I imagine that such notions are not considered a pie-in-the-sky fairy tale but reality; thoughtful solutions put into action.
wendistewart@live.ca

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