Transition Northfield’s Great Unleashing

Many Transition Initiatives have organized a 'Great Unleashing,' an opportunity to bring the community together to celebrate each other and the potential for creating the change that we want to see in the world. Here's a recap by Pat Benson on Transition Northfield's recent Unleashing in Minnesota. Congrats to Transition Northfield!


Just over a year ago we sat in Mary Jo’s barn and made a timeline for the coming year, including our Great Unleashing on November 13th.  Karen mentioned how cool it would be to bring Richard Heinberg to Northfield, and just for kicks we added it to our timeline -- not fully believing our small community could pull off such a feat.  And here we are, a year later and a day early!

On November 12th, Richard Heinberg addressed a group of 230 Northfield residents who came out for an event called, “Mom, Dad, We Need to Talk:  Preparing Together for a Changed World”.  Mayor Mary Rossing’s opening comments included a call for citizens to invest their energy in building resilience, but she was mobbed by a bunch of youth who pulled her on stage with speakers blaring Johnny Cash singing Sixteen Tons. (Richard was caught laughing in the front row – what, you didn’t expect kidnapped public officials and a line dance?)

Our good-natured mayor danced with the kids and handed them the mic.  They read postcards to their parents, expressing their desire for a future with more time for family, relationships, and meaningful work.  They asked for health, education, and for an alternative to a lifestyle filled with stuff produced by energy that has a lot of baggage, damage caused by coal and oil – from collapsed mines and exploding rigs to damaged lifestyles, livelihoods, and ecosystems.



Richard, in his straightforward and calm manner, proceeded to explain the major shake-up we could expect in light of energy, environmental and economic projections.  He gave practical suggestions and examples of how we might prepare together, and spent an extended period with community leaders answering questions about opportunities at the local level.  We walked out of the ballroom and into a major snowstorm.  Minnesota… you gotta love it!


Through 6 inches of snow on unplowed streets, 30 people showed up to spend 2 ½ hours in a World Café on Saturday morning. It’s been a month now. Transition Youth has become an official school club, written a grant and developed a list of things to do (ecosystem education on a river boat, bring recycling project to our historic district with income to provide a part time job and seed money for future projects, recycling education program in elementary schools, bus conversion to veggie oil, partnership to learn weatherization skills and how to use IR equipment to assist small businesses and homeowners with energy efficiency, work with the local Key Union of Youth’s film club to document Transition stories for broadcast on local television, etc.)

The adults are also busy with the development of a local community resource directory, asset map, time and stuff bank (LETs), exploring a Transition Guild or Grange, bicycle transport system to get poultry from local producers to drop sites in the community, access fpr all socioeconomic classes to the healthy food produced by local CSAs, etc.  We’re studying how to develop an ‘un’organizational structure (non directive) to hold the space for the core group with Transition support.

It really wasn’t until this was over that we looked back at the timeline from last year and saw Richard’s name.  If an initiating group of 8 can accomplish this, imagine the unleashed power of our community!  At a December potluck we started another timeline……..

Newsletter Signup