by Aurelio Muraca
Yes folks, it’s a time of vast change for many people in many ways. Let’s face it, the system that industrial world was built on is kaput. The change is going to hurt, it’s not going to be fun, and it’s happening now.
Welcome to the next step, known internationally as The Transition Movement. Locally, there’s something brewing with Sustainable Paquiack, a biweekly discussion and documentary screening group at the Bethel, Connecticut coffee shop, Molten Java.
by Aurelio Muraca
Yes folks, it’s a time of vast change for many people in many ways. Let’s face it, the system that the industrial world was built on is kaput. The change is going to hurt, it’s not going to be fun, and it’s happening now.
During Sustainable Paquiack’s movie night and discussion group, which happens every other Tuesday at 6:30pm at Molten Java in Bethel, people’s perceptions are awakened as they watch documentaries about peak oil, climate change and other important subjects. There is a major consensus among the participants: We are going through some major changes as a country and as a civilization on the decline.
Our world is changing fast and so is our awareness. We are at the end of one way of living and the emergence of another. The peak of the fossil-fueled industrial era is upon us, and it is up to us how fast we slide down the mountain without getting too bloodied and bruised by this trip. We cannot rely on politicians and government to lead us down the mountain. We must blaze the path. The time for action is now, and there’s no emergency handbook. However there is an egg of a solution that lies within all of us. The hatching of the new world will be one tough egg to crack. But once cracked, peering out from the darkness of the yolk of the new world is sustainability.
“Now before all of you start running to the hills, hogging guns, stockpiling canned prunes to a remote log cabin while lobbing rank rotting cabbages at the tree hugging hippie liberals who are also trying trip you and beat you there…you all need to stop running and listen.”
Most of us have heard the term sustainability. It comes from the Latin word sustinere and means “to hold up”. Some of us have already made up our minds about the sustainable existence on this planet, some have accepted, and some are still resistant. The fact is our lifestyles need to change in a big way, which is about as pleasant as a cold shower in the dead of winter at the North Pole while Santa and Rudolph watch.
Now before all of you start running to the hills, hogging guns, stockpiling canned prunes to a remote log cabin while lobbing rank rotting cabbages at the tree hugging hippie liberals who are also trying trip you and beat you there…you all need to stop running and listen.
First, it’s too late to run.
Secondly, what are you going to do—alone?
The question we should ask is: what are we going to do? The time of shutting off into a little self-contained world is over. If we want to survive, we cannot be an island in the middle of the me-me-me Ego Sea. And now, it’s to time to crack our exile from the rest of humanity and once again learn to connect with each other. It’s time to re-imagine our world and our community.
Relax and take a breath. It’s not all bleak. There is already a network and a movement in place. And it’s been getting results.
Here comes the egg white. It is called transition, and it leads to being sustainable.
Lucy Siegle, a British journalist, says the roots of ‘Transition Movement’ are in communities who act and work together to resolve environmental issues, and “if we wait for government to act on issues such as climate change we’ll be waiting until hell freezes over”.
For example, the town of Totnes in England organized the Transition Initiatives for the Totnes in 2006, now know as the Transition Town Totnes (TTT). One of the leaders, Rob Hopkins, wrote the Energy Decent Action Plan (EDAP), as he quotes, “a Plan B for the community”.
Hopkins explains that to sustain as a community, we must go thought five steps of the transition as described in his book, Transition Companion:
Getting started: The beginning stage, where a group of people come together and form a group, inspired by the principles of Transition. They start awareness raising and networking in their community.
Deepening: Here the group takes the name “Transition wherever”, a recognized initiative which begins to embark on distinct projects in a certain location and become more organized in how it works.
Connecting: The group starts to go deeper, reaching beyond the usual suspects and deeper into the community.
Building: This is about embarking on the practicalities of intentional localization, thinking strategically about creating new institutions, new infrastructure and supporting the emergence of new enterprises that ground the concept of localization as economic development in the local economy.
Daring to Dream: What would it look like if every community had a vibrant Transition initiative, each of which were actively transforming their local economies? Here we step into the speculative and wonder about where all of these efforts could lead.
“Our resilience for sustaining ourselves and helping one another as a community will be one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges that we have ever faced as a species.”
Time to localize! Localize energy, food, water, economy, industry, healthcare, and money in order to build a resilient community. What Rob Hopkins wrote was more like a vision of a community, which he called a “story”. A story is the first step that inspires people to take further action.
Be aware, each community must make up their own plan according to their own needs and requirements. There are the Transition Initiatives sprouting in United States, inspired by the example of Transition Town Totnes and it’s EDAP. To read more about the Transition Movement in the United States and in the world, go to www.transitionus.org or www.transitionnetwork.org.
The crisis of energy is equivalent to a mass sinking of Titanics, an entire fleet of ‘unsinkable ships’. Put on your life jacket and help the person next to you. If we do the right thing this time, we will persevere. It won’t be easy. The vision is just the beginning and it isn’t enough; the planning will take the whole community’s effort. With one eye closed, now is a period of human history where responsibility is greater laid upon all our shoulders. Our resilience for sustaining ourselves and helping one another as a community will be one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges that we have ever faced as a species.
We all hope the cracking will be as painless as possible. But it won’t be, and all of us (myself included) are going to make some tough choices in changing our lifestyles. So let’s crack that egg, pour it into a glass and take a collective swallow. After the uneasiness, nausea and sickness have passed, let’s hope we open our eyes to a re-imagined, sustainable community that will better fit our current world.
Aurelio Muraca is a local filmmaker and activist currently directing a documentary on the Still River, STILL FLOWING: THE MOVIE. He co-founded Sustainable Paquiack, a community-based group that meets every other Tuesday night at Molten Java, 102 Greenwood Avenue in Bethel, Connecticut. A documentary about sustainability, climate change, economic and social justice is screened followed by a discussion. All are free to attend. For more information about Sustainable Paquiack and their scheduled meetings, visit their Facebook group here.