Transitioning to a Better World
Have you heard about Transition Towns? A Transition Town – which could be a town, village, council district, university, or island – is a community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction. Transition Towns (sometimes known as Transition Initiatives) is a social experiment to build community connectedness, capacity and resilience.
This idea started off in the UK about 5 years ago and has since travelled across the world. Transition towns are now popping up all over Victoria, such as Banyule, Maroondah, St Kilda, Darebin, Anglesea, Torquay, Geelong, South Barwon, and Montmorency. For our second Politics in the Pub session, we welcomed our guests Kat Lavers (Transition Towns Darebin) and Mary Stringer (Transition Towns Banyule) to share their experiences with us.
Why do it?
At the heart of this initiative is the belief 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.more…
How does it work?
Through recommended processes and people-led activities, a community formulates its own strategy for the future. This often includes adopting measures to raise awareness on sustainable living, reduce energy usage and increase self reliance through changes in energy production, health, education, agriculture and economy.
Will it actually work, though?
The closest successful model we have is the Cuban experience in the 1990s. During this period Cubans faced sudden extreme fuel scarcity, yet overcame the threat of massive famine by incorporating many elements of permaculture design. Permaculture is a conceptual framework that incorporates some older patterns of resource use and living, but also allows for an integration of elements from different traditions and modernity in a process of constant change and innovation. In Cuba, communities working together implemented urban agriculture, alternatives to private transport, sustainable agriculture, and lowered consumption, and radically transformed Cuba into a working post-fossil fuel society. The transition town model extends permaculture principles, and sees our environmental challenges as an opportunity rather than a threat, a way of working collectively to achieve a positive societal transformation.
It is the politics of everyday living. Although it is no substitute for continued agitation for change at a political level, it does offer a tangible means of participation, with real results, adventures and rich learnings, often with a celebratory spirit. It is also a more accessible way for those who are not yet familiar with the need for change to come into the conversation in way that meets people where they happen to be. For example, through learning to grow and share food together comes the possibility of learning about the politics of food, and thus consciousness about food industry practices, food miles, GMO, deforestation and so on.
There are several resources available to an aspiring pioneer or group of people interested in setting up a Transition Initiative.
1. Websites: www.transitionnetwork.org and http://transitiontownsaustralia.blogspot.com/
2. DVD: http://vimeo.com/8029815
3. Book: Transition Handbook, Rob Hopkins
a. Content of training – http://www.transitionnetwork.org/about/training/training-transition-detail
b. Training workshop at CERES on 26 & 27 June: http://www.ceres.org.au/civicrm/event/info?id=1139&reset=1
c. For more training information, contact email@example.com
5. Networks (find an existing Transition Initative) http://transitiontownsaustralia.blogspot.com/