Local actions for the planet

Leslie MacKenzie
Minnesota Women's Press

Sitting in the South High auditorium in 2010, learning about the very real effects that climate change will have on the lives of my children, I was shaken to the core. I turned to my husband and said, "We've got to do something NOW."

We learned about a grassroots, global movement of citizens who have faced these hard facts and chosen to take practical action, regardless of what governments do or don't do - the Transition network.

In that moment our lives changed. We joined with our neighbors to start a Transition group.

Transition Longfellow, in South Minneapolis, engages community members in activities to reduce their carbon footprint, prepare for the effects of extreme weather and build a more socially connected community. In the past five years, volunteers have installed more than 120 raised-bed gardens, built solar cookers, accepted low-carbon lifestyle challenges, as well as hosted an energy fair, monthly movie nights, skill-share events (teach a skill), discussion groups, and other social activities.

Transition Longfellow is one of seven Transition groups in the state, with additional groups forming in time to participate in the first-ever National Transition Gathering taking place this summer in the Twin Cities.

Community members and Transition organizers from across the United States will come together to learn and plan how to achieve a sustainable future - one with resilient people in socially connected communities, employed by thriving local businesses that operate within natural limits, free from costly fossil fuels. A future our children can live in.

What does that vision look like in real life? It's different in different places. Some communities have more financial resources; some have more people. Some operate in hostile political environments. Some face the rigors of climate change sooner than others.

What these all-volunteer groups have going for them is a permaculture-informed systems understanding of the issues that have led us to this place in history. And we have the creative genius of hundreds of thousands of people around the world working to solve these most pressing problems.

Will it be enough? I'll quote environmental activist Paul Hawkens: "Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done."

Leslie MacKenzie is a writer who helps to start, grow and connect Transition groups as an organizer with Transition Twin Cities.

What: 1st National Transition Gathering
When: July 27-31, 2017
Where: Macalester College, St. Paul
• Thursday and Friday: Workshops on starting and growing Transition groups and building inner resilience
• Thursday night public screening of the French film, "Demain" ("Tomorrow")
• Friday evening keynote speakers
• Saturday and Sunday concurrent workshops to grow resilient people, strong communities and an unstoppable citizen movement
FFI: TransitionUS.org
To start or join a local group: transitiontwincities.org

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