Saturday, February 27, 2010


In my yoga classes I teach that the transitions between the postures are full of possiblity. We are not rooted in the old nor anchored in the new. They can parallel and give us clues about how we transition off the mat.

This idea, of excitement and possibility is at the heart of the Transition Movement started in 2005 by Rob Hopkins. Unlike the general environmental movement, which cues visions of Al Gore, I think this system may have a framework to propel people into action. There is a 12-step process (which a community may follow in any order) that though general, at least provides enough direction for group leaders to organize and actual begin to "relocalize" their community with tangible, visible changes to be self-sustainable in a post-carbon world. Places such as Portland, Maine, Boulder, Colorado and Newburyport, Massachusetts are buying in.

I am completely on board with the goals of local self reliance, appropriate technology, decentralization, localization, relocalization, and life in a certain post carbon, post petroleum world. You can deny global warming all you want but its a fact that there is a limited supply of fossil fuels and that one day, very soon, we will face a future without them. It is also true that we are completely unprepared for this not so distant future.

My main complaint about local environmental groups that I've been involved with is that there is a lot of talk and little action. Time will tell if this movement brings something different. Given the local, community building aspect, I have hope that it will. It seems the best area to begin is in food. Food is something any community can tackle with very little money. Local community gardens and CSAs are a great start to becoming a community which can sustain itself without the use of fossil fuels. Living in New England though, we must solve the problem of year-round food growth by implementing fossil fuel free greenhouses.

I've always been a "homebody". Traveling is great, don't get me wrong. I've learned so much through international travels but I don't think a return to local is a bad thing. Playing out a paradigm shift in which we once again live in villages, creating our own goods and traveling only as far as we can on human powered transport systems is radical in our postindustrial society. But radical times call for radical measures. Is there a middle ground here? I'm not so sure. I don't think we can carry on as we have been and think that bringing our own cloth bags to the grocery store is going to solve the problem.

I'm looking forward to delving into the local food systems as a member of a "Food Visionary" group extending from Transition Newburyport. Book review of The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins soon to follow!

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