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The Transition movement coaches us to "begin in your own backyard."  But what if your backyard happens to be one of the biggest megacities in the world?

CAN IT BE DONE?

From the very beginning -- even before the December 2008 Open Space circle that resulted in the formation of our Transition Los Angeles city hub, and even from people who really ought to know better -- I have heard the doubts.  Los Angeles is too big.  You can't hope to fix it.  It can't be done. 

But at the same time, there's that old adage about "a journey of a thousand miles ..."  And the basic necessity of it: what else are we supposed to do, simply do NOTHING?

To those of you who are reading this who also live in big cities, I say: carry on.  Keep on working for change.  Any bit of progress helps.  As a personal survival mechanism, it helps to ignore the nay-sayers.  Believe it can be done, begin the baby steps, allow progress to build, celebrate victories no matter how small.  Yes, do look at the big picture, but don't let it get you down.  Don't think too hard about how very big it is, just get positive progress started.

And with that attitude, we in Los Angeles have accomplished quite a lot in a very short period of time!

Fourth of July is a big day here in the US. It marks the day in 1776 when the Americans threw off the Brits, and declared independence. Parades, fireworks, barbecues, family reunions, fairs, and all manner of festivities take place, in celebration of the unique history and culture that is America.

On this Independence Day, I'm celebrating the ways my family's lifestyle is becoming more independent from the mainstream.  This means our lifestyle is becoming more independent from oil for long-distance transport of goods, more independent from carbon emissions, more independent from the Industrial Growth Paradigm, demanding less earth resources, and thus much more resilient.

VEGETABLES & FRUITS

My family is independent from those lifeless items in the supermarket produce aisle.  We are gradually becoming independent from industrialized agribusiness.  We buy mostly all of our produce fresh from the local farmer's market, and when I am there, I buy predominantly from two vendors whose farms are 45 miles and 125 miles from my home respectively (here in Los Angeles, that's pretty close!).  A considerable portion of our leafy greens are homegrown, and in some summer months, 100% of our fruit.  I no longer purchase thyme, oregano, bay leaf, mint, rosemary, basil, cilantro, because I grow our year's supply.  I'm working on tea herbs next, so that we can declare our independence in that arena.  And our team of gardeners is working to grow the number of food gardens in our local area.

The New York Times ran an article last month, Imagining Life Without Oil, and Being Ready which gave a rather poor account of the Transition Movement. I was particularly perturbed to see that an hour talking on the phone with reporter John Leland, did not contribute greatly to his understanding of Transition US, nor the wider Transition movement.

This past week at the Transition Network Conference 2010 in the UK, the speaker Stoneleigh rocked everyone's paradigm with her talk "Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil"  An audio of this talk is available online, but at this time, regrettably, her slides do not appear to be available.

Within growing Transition Initiatives, we are accustomed to showing paradigm-rocking films such as "End of Suburbia" and holding a community discussion of people's reactions.  Hopkins even describes the "End of Suburbia Moment." (page 83, The Transition Handbook)

How might one best manage the feelings of overwhelm, devastation and defeat that can accompany your 'End of suburbia moment.' the point when your really 'get' peak oil and its implications?  The first point is to realise that feeling like this is natural, indeed it is far more natural than feeling nothing or blanking it out.  It is a healthy response. ...

We often remind Transition leaders not to simply send someone off to watch a film like this alone; we show it in a group and get the discussion going so that people can begin to process their inner feelings.  Group leaders might channel those feelings into positive outlets such as the Post-It Note tool (page 155, The Transition Handbook)  Perhaps we should consider staging similar events for people to listen to Stoneleigh's talk in groups so that people can talk about it, begin to process their emotions, and direct their initial reaction into positive channels.

"Walk your talk," I've written here and elsewhere.  Even as we work to "change the world," we must still be rethinking and changing our own lives too.  And in that vein, two weeks ago our family took yet another (major) step along the path by bringing 4 young chickens into our lives!

I say "major" step because in the first few days we novice chicken owners have had to learn everything from how to clip wings (thank you You Tube!) to how to prevent severe pecking.  I'll recommend City Chicks by Patricia Foreman -- her book deals specifically with the issues we encounter in the city that country folks probably don't have to bother with.

First off, realize that we do indeed live in the city.  My house is about 6 blocks from LAX international airport.  Yes, you can have chickens in L.A. ... hens, that is.  (There is a city ordinance that supposedly "allows" a rooster, but when you read it you'll discover that basically nobody has a property big enough to qualify).

Here is a guest blog post from Erik Lindberg of Transition Milwaukee in Wisconsin. Originally posted here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak at Transition Mill Valley's debut event "Resilience from the Ground Up! A community's positive response to peak oil and climate change". It was held in the historic downtown Throckmorton Theater, a lovely atmospheric building, with intimate seats around small tables, and a warm inviting stage.

Within the body of Transition movement literature, I don't often see references to the Simple Living or Voluntary Simplicity movement.  Perhaps the Voluntary Simplicity movement is less active in the places that Transition founders Rob and Naresh have lived.  Perhaps it is because at its origins, Voluntary Simplicity focused more on individual choices and individual changes than on community-centric and societal-transformation ones.  I can only speculate.

This week I picked up a small book at my public library, Less is More, edited by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska.  Its collection of essays focus on "Simplicity," but they are (as our British friends would say) "spot on" about the inner journey of Transition.  I strongly recommend this book as a part of Transition literature.

Here is a guest blog post from Shauna Struby of Transition OKC in Oklahoma, originally posted here.

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