Out of the ashes

Jun
29
2011
by
Lynne McTaggart
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0
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Recently I was in Vermont, speaking at the annual American Society of Dowsers annual conference — a delightful experience – where I learned of the burgeoning Transition Town of Montpelier, one of 90 official Transition Town initiatives in the US. 

As you may know, the Transition Town movement, which has now captured the imagination of citizens in 34 countries and half of the US’s fifty states, started life in an unlikely spot — the tiny town of Totnes in southwest corner of the UK.  It is the brainchild of Rob Hopkins, a builder and teacher of permaculture — sustainable land use design, based on natural patterns in nature.  

Recently I was in Vermont, speaking at the annual American Society of Dowsers annual conference — a delightful experience – where I learned of the burgeoning Transition Town of Montpelier, one of 90 official Transition Town initiatives in the US.

As you may know, the Transition Town movement, which has now captured the imagination of citizens in 34 countries and half of the US’s fifty states, started life in an unlikely spot — the tiny town of Totnes in southwest corner of the UK.  It is the brainchild of Rob Hopkins, a builder and teacher of permaculture — sustainable land use design, based on natural patterns in nature.

 

The post-oil world

Hopkins wanted to offer a proactive solution to the fact that we are both running out of oil and suffering potentially catastrophic climate change and extreme weather conditions from modern manufacturing and food production. 
Hopkins recognized that the stores of the world’s oil reserves have peaked, and since virtually everything we eat, wear or use is made with oil or requires oil-based fuel to be transported to us, we will not be able to survive once oil is hard to come by.  

Transition Towns

In 2008, Hopkins published what became the bible of the Transition Town movement:  The Transition Handbook:  From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Green Books).  Hopkins outlined a plan to re-establish local food and energy production and building materials, and to rethink both health-care and waste management.  

Besides Montpelier, Vermont is host to five other Transition Town movements, and individuals in many other communities are experimenting with aspects of the movement, such as local food production and natural building.  
In Montpelier, more than 1000 people have joined the TT movement, with nine working groups dedicated to such areas as seed saving, root cellars, textile making and even health and wellness issues without oil.  

Community spirit

The key to Hopkins’s popularity is the positive spin he offers his readers; the transition movement celebrates the ingenuity of human spirit in the midst of crisis, engenders community and the participation of all its citizens, and offers a clear blueprint for moving forward in a post-oil world.  

 

Transition activities, he says, ‘all build resilience and offer the potential of an extraordinary renaissance – economic, cultural and spiritual.’ 

What appeals to me most about this movement is that it is forcing a re-establishment of that most beleaguered of institutions: the modern neighborhood.  When people come together over a common goal – in this case, survival in the midst of extraordinary upheaval – everyone gets involved and everyone benefits.  

More localized

In a recent article in a local Vermont paper called Seven Days, Annie McCleary, the coordinator of the Transition Town Montpelier, argues that we’ll have to coalesce into tighter neighborhood groups when we have less oil because nothing will be able to replace the energy offered by fossil fuels.

‘We won’t be as globalized; we’ll be more localized,’ she says.

 
In Montpelier, some of the citizens, like Deb Lisman, a former corporate employee, are working on building a network of neighborhoods in Montpelier.

 
The new Detroit neighborhood

There are other signs that a renaissance of neighborhood is already occurring in the midst of the financial crisis. For instance, in Detroit, one of the bleakest parts of America, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, a coalition group, is growing 37 different crops on a two-acre farm in Rouge Park, Detroit.  Called D-Town Fair, it is one of Detroit’s biggest urban farms, and the plan is not only to offer fresh food but to build food security for Detroit’s black community.   

Out of the ashes of the largely defunct American auto industry grows a powerful new community, dedicated to the survival of its inhabitants.

Today a journalist from Ode magazine asked me if there was any hope for the future of our communities, in the midst of all the current crises we now face, from ecological crises and financial meltdown to severe weather patterns as a result of climate-change.  

To be honest, I told her, I’m more hopeful than I’ve ever been - far more hopeful than I was, say, in the 1980s, when I was interviewing City of London traders making £100,000 a day. 

In the midst of crisis, human beings finally learn about the ultimate currency: the power of connection.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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