Transition Turning Points and Tides

I first came across Transition Towns in Rob Hopkins’ living room in 2005. It was one of those life-altering aha! moments. A turning point. Where time stood still, and everything clicked into place. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Rob was onto something BIG. Transition Towns were a really GOOD idea. I wanted more than anything to be a part of making it happen. I could see that Transition Towns would work at any scale. In any place. I could visualize it. It made sense. It was the only thing that made sense. I’d been waiting for this my whole life. It was finally here. A movement that made a difference.

I quickly became immersed in the work of rebuilding resilience into my own local community. I founded the world’s 2nd Transition Initiative in Penwith and was swept off my feet in the tide of Transition.

The first wave of Transition hit the UK’s shores the hardest. In the year after launching Transition Town Totnes in September 2006, hundreds of Transition Towns, villages, islands and cities emerged across the country. The ground was fertile, and the vision of abundance had caught fire in people’s hearts and minds. It was invigorating, and affirming to witness the early, rapid growth of the movement on English soil. We knew that we were doing something right, something worthwhile. And that knowledge inspired us to keep working to spread our message of hope.

Two years later, I returned to live in America, the country where I was born. At that time, the Transition Movement had only just started to land on American shores.

Initially I thought that Transition might not take as well here. After all, America is a culture of individualism, with a strong focus on what you can achieve for yourself, and not what we can do together. Plus the sheer size of the country seemed an impediment to any collective community action. The US has a huge range of extreme rural and urban environments; a diverse weather climate; and most of the communities have been designed around the automobile. The television and media are fragmented, and it is hard to get good national coverage of any newsworthy story.

All of these things seemed like insurmountable obstacles for the Transition Movement to overcome.

However, I am very pleased to find that none of these things have hindered Transition here in the States. Despite the challenges, the US Transition Movement continues to spread like wildfire. Perhaps because this is a country of pioneers, entrepreneurs, risk takers, visionaries and leaders. Perhaps because the people here remember what it means to be self-reliant. Perhaps it is simply that people, like me, have been waiting for this all of their lives.

Although it’s early days, thousands of people are taking the Transition Model, and bringing it to their communities with great enthusiasm and success. It is exciting to see how Transition unfolds here, and I am looking forward to being part of this process.

We are going to make mistakes. We don’t have all the answers. We need to take big risks. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale. I believe that people in the US are ready for this challenge. Let’s see where it takes us!

1 comment

tahoevalleylines wrote 10 years 30 weeks ago

Peak Oil trumps Climate Change -see "The Long Emergency"

Transition US or Culturechange or PostCarbon?  SustainUS, Life After The Oil Crash... Lots of monikers for the new vegetable garden movement.   Certainly the movement was proven beyond a doubt when the Russian kitchen gardens prevented starvation during Stalin's collectives catastrophe.    Permaculture is a newer approach, but still lacks an important component, and the movement needs some participants who understand the need for a "Guarantor of Societal & Commercial Cohesion".     See history of Army National Guard Railroad Operating & Maintenance Battalions, including role in disaster recovery, and as pool for rail savvy personnel.

Climate Change is much easier for politicians to deal with, the timeline is nebulous, and the arena for discussion can ebb & flow, without anyone having to put up or shut up.   Peak Oil is different, as was shown without a doubt, last Summer.   In fact, the date has been suggested by no less an authority than Richard Heinberg: July 11, 2008, noted as maximum flow date for conventional oil.   This was coincidental with a price per barrel surge, exceeding  $140.00.     Speculation?   The money follows profits, and when a commodity demonstrates limits of production, price reflects limits.

In Nov. '08, and in subsequent reports, the International Energy Agency warns of greater than anticipated annual aggregate oilfield depletion rate.    Additionally, IEA adds this ominous bit: delay & cancellation of new/scheduled oil extraction & production projects owing to economic downturn.    Now, we face a scenario of inability to match depletion rate, much less even achieve the rate of flow seen on 711DAY.    So far Dr. Heinberg has been very measured and credible in his statements and writings; we should have a high confidence level in his best guess for Peaking Oil date...

Now, this means we have to multitask the effort to deal with mitigating the threat.   Permaculture and like movements to keep food coming must be accompanied by the distribution side of the equation.    One proven element of transport is railway mode; standard gauge steel wheel transport, once again reaching into urban centers with night delivery of victuals, perishables and necessities of life/general cargo.    All hands can access information on Interurban railway SYSTEMS like the Pacific Electric lines of Southern California.    Our Illinois delegation at 1600 can refresh their knowledge of lines like the "Roarin' Elgin", "Illinois Terminal", and "Chicago, South Shore & South Bend" Interurban Electric service methodology, for national template of rail rehab.   Add renewable source energy, Mr. Emanuel.

Decentralized marriage of renewable power and rail transport tech is seen in Christopher C. Swan's compendium: "ELECTRIC WATER" (new Society Press, 2007).   See also in ( ASPO articles 374 & 1037.     Details for the ones with initiative shall include dropping inventory tax on important necessity of life consumables, which has brought manic truck delivery to meet "Just In Time" fad.    We did, really, live pretty well with rail/trucking interface warehousing and on-site retail goods storage before the freeway connection to imported oil...

There are people in the various new era movements who have made themselves party to the accoutrements & responsibilities of leadership.    Here is a source for US Rail Map Atlas Volumes ( that should be available to activists wishing to becomel savvy on the legacy rail footprint., Culturechange, LATOC, sailnetwork, you-all know who... need to alert your listmembers to the rail connection.    Not your bag, too busy, old hat, blablabla.   Right.   But some anonymous members in your purview may understand logistics and collective security issues better than the leaders (hello Mr. POTUS): Jan Lundberg, Mike Rupert, Julian Darley, etc.   Even bad cop Jim Kunstler offers up rail rehab for morale building value, besides crucial strategic necessity!

"Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform"

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