Unlocking Sonoma’s collective genius

February 03, 2012
Suzie Rodriguez
Press Democrat

For more than a year, Sonoma Valley residents have gathered on the third Thursday of each month to watch free, thought-provoking films with titles like “Transition to a World Without Oil,” “No Impact Man,” and “The Economics of Happiness.”

These films probably won’t make it onto People Magazine’s hot list, but they’re an important first step for a fledgling organization. They’ve proven so popular with locals that about 100 were turned away from a recent screening of “Home.” Most viewers stick around for a discussion and the occasional potluck supper.

The force behind the films is Transition Sonoma Valley, part of the grass-roots Transition Network movement that began in England in 2005. It now has community-led projects in nearly 1,000 worldwide locations, including Sonoma Valley.

“We’re at the end of the era of cheap oil,” said Ed Clay, one of Transition Sonoma Valley’s first three members. “It’s going to dramatically alter our economy and way of living. We have to act together, as a community, now.”

The Transition movement has a simple goal: to unlock the community’s collective genius, applying it to problem solving. It’s a sort of “trickle-up” theory.

If communities around the world find local fixes to problems brought on by climate change, diminishing cheap energy and economic contraction, the people in those communities become stronger and happier. The benefits then extend upward to the larger society.

Each community decides what problems it wants to tackle.

Ongoing local initiatives around the world include projects in areas of food, transportation, energy, education, housing, waste, the arts, the creation of barter systems and local currencies, and much more.

“Transition Houston (Texas) is very active with Permablitzing,” said Carolyne Stayton, Executive Director of Transition United States. “They have work parties on a Saturday, where people toil together, turning a person’s lawn into a garden to provide food.”

Read full article // Original Photo: Jeff Kan Lee/Press Democrat

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