Power down now

Peak oil, peak food, peak water. Peak everything! We’ve run head-on into global crises of epic proportions; depleting the basic things that make life on Earth possible. Human race fail.

It’s so overwhelming that most people just tune it out and indulge in day to day, regularly scheduled activities. How can one person make a difference when they are tired after a hard day at work, have mouths to feed and bills to pay?

Sometimes, the solutions aren’t that accessible, other than buying incandescent light bulbs and remembering to recycle. There’s so much to do to improve the damage we’ve inflicted on the environment that entire communities  have made a conscious decision to give up – the oil habit, that is, which has given birth to a new phenomenon called transitioning.

The transition town movement is a relatively new phenomenon that is beginning to make a dent in how we deal with the problem of peak oil and the economic downturn. The focus is on creating home-grown solutions to these larger-than-life global problems.

According to the Transition Network, a Transition Initiative is “a community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction.”   Communities begin their transformation by addressing one crucial question:

“for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly rebuild resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil and economic contraction) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?”

How they respond to this query leads to different innovative solutions. At the tip of the island of Montreal, in   Sainte Anne de Bellevue, the environmental co-operative, Co-op du Grand Orme, has introduced the concept of moving towards more sustainable communities by showcasing the Power Down Show (PDS), an Irish television series that shows a fresh look at how communities are responding to the pressure of decreasing fossil fuel sources.   Each screening was accompanied by a community building activity, such as a clothing exchange, a local food panel discussion and presentations by transition town experts.

This movement is radical because it makes us step back and take a look at how we can build our community.   The challenge lies in reaching out and getting to know your neighbors.   Turning the television, computer and gaming consoles off and spending your time in acts of sharing.   A little bit of knowledge can go a long way and ideas can blossom into blueprints for the future.

Take Ezra, for example.   He is a theater student and was a panelist for the second film screening of the PDS, where he proposed a gardening commons project.   There are those who can grow a beautiful garden but don’t have the space and there are those who lack a green thumb and don’t know how take advantage of urban gardening opportunities on their property.   With a bit of inspiration, gardeners can teach the green-wannabe urbanites the basics of growing their own food in exchange for the use of their yards.

This one simple act is part of what makes the backbone of this movement.   All that is really required is a simple idea, encouraged by, dare-I-say, outside the box thinkers motivated by making change in unexpected places.

The disclaimer on the Transition Network website is that this is a big learning process.   There may be mistakes along the way, which is a good thing, because it helps build resilience.   The ability for a community to absorb shocks, changes and problems relies on its ability to recover from these disruptions.   If there was no opportunity to learn from bad ideas, then the system could collapse under the weight of its own presumptions.

This may be one of the reasons so much hesitation stalls progress on addressing climate change within governments.   There is little room for error because so much relies on the right decisions being made.

The Transition Network is convinced that if we wait for governments to act, it will be too little, too late. Acting as individuals does not have enough clout to move things forward, but if we act as communities, then “it might just be enough, just in time.”

Please visit this website to learn more about transitioning initiatives, and how you can jump on this exciting bandwagon.

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