Communities plan for a low-energy future
‘Transition initiatives,’ begun in Britain, aim to empower people to tackle effects of climate change and decline of oil.
Courtesy of Mike Grenville
A year ago, Pat Proulx-Lough felt so overwhelmed by reports about climate change that she couldn’t even listen to the news. “My husband was finishing a dissertation on water resources, and I became hopeless and fearful,” says Ms. Proulx-Lough, a therapist in Portland, Maine.
Fast-forward to summer ’08 and Proulx-Lough is not just hopeful, but excited about the future.
What happened? She tapped into the Transition movement.
Transition Towns (or districts, or islands) designate places where local groups have organized to embrace the challenge of adapting to a low-oil economy. As the movement’s website (www.transitiontowns.org) states, it’s an experiment in grass-roots optimism: Can motivated citizens rouse their neighbors to act in the face of diminished oil resources and climate change?
“We don’t know if this will work,” says Ben Brangwyn of Totnes, England, who in 2007 helped launch the Transition Network to support Transition Towns worldwide, “but if we leave it to the government it will be too little, too late. If we do it on a personal level, it won’t be enough. But if we do this as a community, it may be just enough, just in time.”
The Transition movement is high-concept and hands-on, combining homespun common sense and camaraderie (bread-baking workshops, “seed-sharing Sundays”) and sophisticated 21st-century organizing (Skype audio conferencing, online wikis, open space technology).
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