Spring-infused Hope and taking the Transition Challenge

Good day Transitioners. Here in Northern California, spring's verdant emergence is upon us. The fruit tree blossoms are popping, the chickens are laying and after recent rains, the soil is moist and the rain tanks are full. I love this season. Spring is imbued with a vitality that infuses one with hope. The kind of hope that comes from lived in visions, ones with our heads, hearts and hands aligned in meaningful action.

Adding a bit of pep to my desire to step up our shared actions and do so while focusing on some inner transition mindfulness, I recently read a motivating pair of books. After reading almost the exact same number of pages in Bill McKibben's Eaarth and Buddha's Brain, I pulled my head up in a dizzying stupor of mixed emotions. While the sometimees scary and painful state of how radically we've changed this precious planet deeply informs my work with Daily Acts and Transition U.S., the eloquence and sobriety with which Bill McKibben pulls it together is much needed but tough to swallow medicine.

The title says it all, Eaarth with two a's, signifying that while things may look the same out your door, we've significantly altered this planet. We both need to learn how to live on the new Eaarth and act fast to prevent change that moves beyond our capacity to adapt. In the first 3 weeks of March across the U.S., we've broken over 6,000 temperature records, seen 4+ inch hailstones fall in Hawaii, huge snowstorms, more severe snowmelt runoff after the heat-induced rapid melt and tornadoes that are earlier and farther north than they've previously been to name just a few occurrences.

digging in garden

Of course trying to be with such big realities can easily overwhelm even an intrepid transitioner. How does one be real with a rapidly increasing confluence of big, painful and often fear-inducing issues that seem beyond our control? Even more importantly, how do we do it from a place of love and openness, resulting in wise, meaningful and significant action? How can we be with both the stress and challenges of our lives and world without wearing down our brain, body, emotions and vital relationships? Well that's of course part of what has spurred the community-powered and solutions-focused transition movement. It's also where my second read comes in to provide some tools for the inspired do-gooder. Buddha's Brain is about the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom. It looks at the incredible challenges we face and the impact this has on our health, while providing practices to change your mind, your brain and your life, one moment, one person, one relation at a time. By reshaping our internal world, we become more focused, resilient and resourceful.

As most of you know, it's urgent that we get clear about how we've altered our home, and heed the call to evolve. With a renewed and deepened understanding of where we are as a planet, tangible, on the ground solutions get all the more tasty, nutritious and vital. A key take home message from Eaarth, was the need to both get our own communities more resilient and to step up and do what we can at a larger scale because of the change we have unleashed on the communities of this precious planet (especially in the U.S. with our big footprint). From this angle, I feel fortunate to be heavily engaged locally through Daily Acts Organization, through collaborations with local Transition initiatives and through my work on the Board of Directors for Transition U.S.

On the ground, Daily Acts has been doing transition work for a decade, reskilling and inspiring transformative action from backyards to City Hall and California state greywater policy, as well as the new Benefit Corps Law which enables corporations to include a social and environmental mission in their corporate charter. Last weekend in the rain, we sheet-mulched a public food forest that we installed in partnership with the City of Cotati, Transition Cotati and other groups; we planted fruit trees and handed out dozens of white raspberry and other food and medicinal plants from the site. A couple days before we launched the 2012 350 Home and Garden Challenge with a goal of inspiring 2012 home and garden actions in a single weekend May 12th and 13th in Sonoma County. Last year we broke 1,000 actions in a single weekend, including 21 greywater systems installed and over 240 lawns transformed. It is truly incredible to see the way this community and communities across the earth are rising up, with diverse sectors of society, collaborating on varied issues in a joyous and integrated fashion.

children in gardenSpurred by a need to step up with a shared vision, a shared voice and an infinite variety of actions, last year Transition U.S. spread the challenge beyond Sonoma County and launched the 350 Home and Garden Challenge nationally inspiring over 1,500 actions in 226 cities and 37 states. And this year, we're doing it again, but even bigger and better with the Transition Challenge taking place for the entire month of May! So JOIN US and spread the word.

From small backyard actions and helping neighbors to thousands aligned in acts of care and celebration, EVERY choice you make matters. At each gathering, workshop, workday and action that grows our skill, our connectedness and our local resilience, there is a palpable sense of how rich and deeply right these shared efforts are. Soak this in, value and affirm your contributions. Because each shared experience clearly visioned, deeply felt and verbally affirmed literally re-sculpts different parts of our brain.

As we practice this, we become more focused, resilient and resourceful, and so do our homes, our gardens, our neighborhoods, our Transition groups and our communities. As I heard quoted at the Transition Network Conference last summer, "the future is already here...it's just not evenly distributed yet." So let's kick this transition to the next level and catalyze a culture of stewardship, celebration and resilience... one moment, one person, one relation at a time.

Trathen Heckman is the director of Daily Acts Organization, the Board President of Transition U.S. and a backyard farmer.Trathen inspires and collaborates with communities, municipalities and leaders to harness the power of nature, inspired action and innovative solutions torestore the vitality of our lives and communities. He lives in the Petaluma River Watershed where he grows food, medicine and wonder while working to compost apathy and lack.

Eaarth by Bill McKibben; Backyard gardens starting up, enjoying the harvest (Daily Acts)

Posted as a guest blog on the Transition Network blog >>

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