Within the circles of Transition initiators and steering groups across the country, a question recently circulated: How have you avoided the pitfall of merely creating an organization, and what has been successful in the goal of creating a movement?

At first, I laughed, because here in Los Angeles it has always felt more like a small circle that is representative of a movement, and we seem to have our greatest difficulties when we try to get people together for "organization" topics!


Certainly, I've personally railed against the idea of creating traditional-style not-for-profit organizations to do this Transition work. In this time of economic contraction, traditional style not-for-profit organizations don't work very well. The format seems doomed. One Transition initiative (sorry, I've lost track of which one!) wrote on their materials:

For the people, by the people -- no members of this Transition initiative are funded or paid for the work they do for their community. We rely on the power of the people, inspiration, time, skills, and donations.

If we're truly aiming for a movement --rather than an organization-- this is what it will look like. Roll up your sleeves, get down to work, neighbor shoulder-to-shoulder with neighbor.



  1. union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes, peoples, etc.: to promote solidarity among union members.
  2. community of feelings, purposes, etc.

It's so foreign to our American experience that I had to look it up in the dictionary to get it right.  In a session from Copenhagen's Klimaforum, May East (of Findhorn, Scotland and Sao Paulo, Brazil) asserts that lack of solidarity is precisely what is missing in our communities in the developed nations of the northern hemisphere.

We use the word "community" a lot, and we readilly agree that we don't have tight-knit "communities."  But when we boil it down, what does lack of community mean?  May East identifies it: lack of solidarity.

Our local Transition initiative in Los Angeles hosted a vigil this past weekend as part of the worldwide actions organized by   These actions were coordinated to take place during the weekend midway through the Copenhagen climate talks. As a 350 organizer, I have been watching the news services and the site for mention of progress.

The photos from the weekend were breathtakingly beautiful.

One of the most brilliant, well-written pieces I have read about the economy is "The Wrong Tree" (as in "Barking up the ..."). Written by Jerry Mander of the International Forum on Globalization, it is found as part of the introduction to the the latest publication of peak oil sage Richard Heinberg.

First, about Heinberg: Richard Heinberg 's Searching for a Miracle: 'Net Energy' Limits and the Fate of Industrialized Society is a serious analysis of just about every form of alternative energy and its potential (read: lack of potential) to fulfill our energy demands as we devour the declining second half of our planetary oil supply.

A post on WorldChanging by Alex Steffen has sparked an active online discussion, including comments on his post, a response by Rob Hopkins on Transition Culture, and comments on Rob’s response.

Steffen’s piece, which was a commentary on the role of the Transition movement, was critical of a perceived focus on “collapse”, as well as a perceived lack of focus on high-tech solutions. Alex went on to outline the characteristics of the sort of movement he believes would be beneficial, a “Bright Green” movement.

Murders, political scandals, celebrity escapades ... mainstream media feeds a willing public a steady diet of it.  The American public spends hours on the stuff, immersed in the horror tales and vapid sagas all played out on bigger-bigger-still-bigger plasma screens. 

But in the early 1990s I figured it out:  you don't have to read the news.  You don't have to watch the TV, you don't have to listen to the radio, you don't have to take the "news" as media dishes it out.  You can turn it off.  You can step aside. 

It’s here - what will be the largest ever coordinated worldwide demonstration of caring - for our planet and perhaps even our species - Saturday October 24th, the International Day of Climate Action. You can find several actions in your area by looking up your zip code at

One global action that caught my eye is one of the Boulder (Colorado) actions, the “item pass-along” - simply gather 350 objects you no longer use, photograph or list them, and sell or donate them. What better impetus to a fall cleanup!

7000 people registered their blogs and pledged to link their main topic to climate change  - this is one of them.


Climate change says we should change
whereas peak oil says we will be forced to change.

-- Rob Hopkins


Here in the U.S., the film "An Inconvenient Truth" made awesome strides in informing the general public about the reality of global warming.  The April 2007 Step It Up campaign got people in 1,400 U.S. sites involved in activism.  This month's campaign  will advance public awareness in two ways:  Firstly, the Oct 2009 Day of Action is unfolding internationally, so it is an opportunity for citizens in non-U.S. countries to get involved, and secondly, it informs the general public about the target, the end goal.

On Friday, September 25th, several people active in Transition initiatives participated in a conference call to discuss funding issues for Transition. Participants included Transition US executive director Carolyne Stayton, Judith Katz, Linda Ellinor, Kit Miller, Niels-Michael Langenborg, and me.

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