Fundamental change – indeed, radical system change – is as common as grass in world history.
– Gar Alperovitz, America beyond Capitalism
Part I of this document took a hard look at the realities ahead. Part II critiques what several economic theorists see as possible routes forward for the "big picture" economy. In today's post, we’ll look at some of the sources Rob Hopkins listed.
Of the triple crisis issues, the timeline for economic contraction is the shortest; it will hit before we feel the worst of peak oil (which will hit most of us before climate change). Our economic predicament is also the most volatile, the most sensitive to shocks. Particularly here in the U.S., it will be felt the most tangibly. Peak oil and climate change will probably be first felt economically by most of us.
Just like peak oil and global warming, economic contraction is a "game changer." As the economy we now know crumbles, the far-reaching repercussions will sculpt every aspect of our future. In my opinion, any long-term plan -- Transition EDAPs included -- must anticipate that it will unfold amidst a world of economic contraction. We have to plan for it, and put alternative financial tools in place to weather it, or it will undermine all of our other efforts.
My heart goes out to the people of Japan. The terrible destruction of home and entire towns, the unspeakable terror of nuclear catastrophe, but above all the horriffic loss of family members, extended family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, neighborhoods, and entire communities.
We are all Japan.
Owen Dell, landscape architect in Santa Barbara and author of Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies, recently wrote a blog post he refers to as an exposé of rain barrels. Basically, his conclusion is that the current popular status rain barrels have attained is misplaced, and rain barrels don't make sense.
I currently have eleven 55-gallon rain barrels around my Los Angeles property, and probably will acquire more. At first I bought a few of these for my then-preteen-age-son, who had outgrown Legos and needed a larger scale project. But soon after I got them, I began to glimpse the wide range of functionality.
Call me a day late and a dollar short. Or maybe behind-the-times with respect to Facebook. But I completely missed the posting blitz where Facebook fans used the "urban homesteading" term as many times as they possibly could in a single day. In fact, I learned about the posting blitz via our Transition U.S. newsletter, which, when I opened my email, at first shocked me with the brazenly open use of the term.
I'd heard about the urban homesteading controversy itself, of course. Much of it is unfolding in my own hometown, the greater L.A. area.
I bought a new pair of shoes lately. All my friends gleefully applauded my purchase, and my husband was very pleased too.
You see, about three weeks ago, while on the construction site for the new community garden we're building in my neighborhood, I sprained my ankle pretty badly. Limping awkwardly, I discovered very quickly that I simply didn't have the right kind of footwear. City shoes, even "practical" shoes with just a little bit of heel don't work with an injury, and you can't grip a slide-style shoe when you're sporting an ace bandage.
That got me thinking about Transition footwear.
Cheery, charismatic, creative, constructive ... There are many “C” words which describe the Transition movement, its basic ideas, and the way this movement is manifesting itself in hundreds if not thousands of communities worldwide. In a recent piece, Carolyn Baker complains that many members of Transition are unwilling to use what seems to be her favorite “C” word: collapse.
Frankly, I don’t see the point of it. I do occasionally use the word “collapse,” although I’m much more likely to modify a bit and use the word “contraction,” particularly with respect to economics (as in, “economic contraction,” getting smaller, pulling inward). It has been plenty adequate to get the point across.
To me, collapse goes hand in hand with chaos. Baker is adamant that we put collapse at center stage. And to that I say: You’ve got the wrong movement, sister.
Why is it that sometimes we work on a project or give a presentation and it feels like such a struggle? Other times we give a similar presentation or work a similar project and it goes smoothly and effortlessly; the pieces fall together so well that we can hardly keep up with all the great positive energy.
This week several events have me thinking about positive approaches and what creates the flow of change.
The first event was a very successful presentation that Transition Los Angeles gave at Bioneers LA; the energy in the room afterwards was tangible excitement about positive possibilities.
The second event was a key meeting regarding the community garden we've been trying to install in my local neighborhood. For ten years this land has sat empty, caught in political quagmire; this week it felt like someone had greased the skids as the project zipped into high gear.
The third incident reared up in harsh contrast: a piece I read by Michael Brownlee which asserted -- among other things -- that the rate of the Transition movement in the U.S. "seems to be slowing." Whoa, certainly not around here!
Hello Atlanta, Boston, Houston, New York, Salt Lake, San Francisco, Seattle ... and any other place that has an airport:
Here in Los Angeles, LAX International airport is trying yet again to expand, and we have been working on a response to the environmental impact report (EIR). We're making our letter public in case you can use any part of it in your backyard. (What is an EIR?)
Transition Los Angeles and our predecessor organization, the Environmental Change-Makers, have been active voices in responding to local Environmental Impact Reports. When these projects solicit public comments, we ask questions, underline problems, and highlight discrepancies regarding the issues of climate change, peak oil, and biocapacity.
When Joanna Macy describes the three types of action required as we experience The Great Turning, she lists "stopping action to prevent further destruction," as well as "a shift in consciousness." Responding to EIRs with pertinent peak oil and climate-change points is a form of stopping action. As we raise these points again and again in front of our city's decision-makers, it is our hope that we can help cultivate a shift in consciousness.
We Transition groups are perhaps the sole champion for these ideas -- rallying against further construction and spending in the wrong direction, and rallying for preparedness. Think about it: who else is going to ask the question "how do you plan to complete this massive project without oil?" We have a job to do, to make that position be heard.