Keene in Transition

Here is an update from Steve Chase of the Transition Keene Task Force in Keene, New Hampshire, where things are just starting to bubble up with film screenings and get togethers...

The Early Growth of the Keene Transition Movement

By Steve Chase
On February 22, 2010, Transition US sent out a press release about seven activists in Keene, New Hampshire. Inspired by the international Transition movement, these seven had recently formed the Transition Keene Task Force and had successfully applied to be recognized as an official Transition Initiative. According to the release, Transition Keene was “the 56th official Transition Initiative in the United States and the first official Transition Initiative in New Hampshire.”
Still, the initiating group did not jump into public work right away. We took the winter and early spring to get to know each other better, share some of our organizing skills with each other, talk about the Transition Model and how we would need to adapt it for our very active community of over 25,000 souls. We also tried out Seattle’s six-session Transition Handbook book club format among ourselves. Finally, by the summer we offered a public book club and got a very good response.
Photo: Transition Keene initiating group at the signing of our constitution during our summer retreat
Based on this we were ready to go public in a big way. We have now created an in-depth local website that got over 500 visits within the first two weeks of its launch and a very positive reaction from many local organizers in Keene’s existing groups that are focused on energy descent, economic relocalization, and other resilience and sustainability issues. (To check it out the website, go to
We have also have taken the lead in their town’s local organizing for 10/10/10, the Global Work Party for Climate Protection and we have created a slate of awareness raising events for the fall and early winter. The ones that have already happened involved partnering with other local organizations and have been remarkably well attended. A lot of buzz about Transition is moving all around our town. We are only at the beginning of our public work, but we are well on our way to reaching out to key local people and local groups as well starting a strong program of awareness raising.
Just last week, sixty-five people jammed into the conference room at Keene State College to see the Feast on This Film Festival showing of Cuba: The Accidental Revolution, which we co-sponsored and facilitated. We opened the night by asking people to turn to their neighbors and have them each share for two minutes about what life in Keene might be like if the US experienced a sudden 53 percent drop in our oil supply and a 70 percent drop in the supply of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides–which is exactly what happened to Cuba in 1990.
We then asked people to turn to a different neighbor and share their ideas about what people in this country could do now and in the coming years to increase our national, regional, and local resilience to the likely shocks of peak oil, climate change, and an unstable globalized economy. We harvested some of these creative ideas from the participants, which was a great opening to our watching this remarkable Canadian documentary together about how a poor country in Latin American creatively adapted to a very rapid energy descent while at the same time making sure everyone got fed healthy, nutritious food.
The crowd broke into applause at the end of this inspiring movie and two local Transition supporters gave an excellent update on what’s happening in Cuba’s food system based on their informal study trip there this Spring. We then gave thanks to the Cheshire County Conservation District‘s Monadnock Farm and Community Connections program for organizing this third annual film festival celebrating local farming and food and we acknowledged them as an amazing part of the informal, but growing network of individuals, organizations, businesses, and projects that make up the Keene Transition Movement.
For more information about our upcoming events schedule, go to:
Steve Chase is the Director of Antioch University New England’s Environmental Studies masters program in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainabiity and a volunteer DJ broadcasting Democracy Now and other Pacifica Radio Network programs for WKNH, the Keene community radio station. Steve is a co-founder of the Transition Keene Task Force and the editor of Relocalization: The Keene Transition Movement’s Community Website and Blog.



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