Why We Do What We Do: Thoughts on Taking Action from the Action-Takers

by Molly Rose-Williams

Food security and food justice, energy consumption, community health and resilience, ecological well-being, air quality and world peace: these are just some of the issues that actions registered as part of the May Transition Challenge have been addressing. We’ve seen them over and over, addressed from every angle and each with a creative twist. From a specially-designed growing dome that provides the ideal environment for a vegetable garden at 8500 feet above sea level, to a one-man operation that monitors chemical trails in the skies over Milwaukee and publishes the results online for community members to see, to a summit in Nairobi, Kenya, run for and by teenagers to start engaging in dialogue and working towards creating a culture of sustainable peace, these are just some of the things we have done this May.

Sonoma Seed GardenPut together, these actions, though incredibly diverse, paint a movement in broad strokes, the ghost of something that’s gathering momentum and power, growing even as we speak. But they also spark a question: how do we take these actions, all these people doing important and wonderful things all around the world, and articulate these individual actions into a collective movement? How do we make these dots on the map coalesce?

In my experience, this is where social movements, especially one as multifaceted and diverse as the Transition Movement, get complicated. In a social movement where the goal is clear, unification is easy (or, relatively so), but when the goal is something as nebulous and multi-layered as “transition”, it’s much harder for everyone to unite behind one solid banner. Of course, this is also something wonderful about the Transition Movement: everyone has a place to act and a meaningful role to take. But without the articulation of the collective nature of all these actions, they run the risk of becoming just inspiring stories, isolated in their own noteworthiness.

So this is what I’ve embarked upon: trying to see how the dots coalesce. And I’m beginning by talking to the action-takers about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. By understanding the motivation behind the action, I’m hoping to humanize the action, and perhaps glean some wisdom from those who have already found a role for the push towards change in their own lives.

Stay tuned to hear from the action-takers themselves on why they do what they do.

If you'd like to share your story, contact us!

Photo: Sonoma County, CA - Seed garden, 350 Home & Garden Challenge, 2011

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