Saturday, January 30, 2010

Transition Town Initiative - Victoria style

I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. If you don't want to get depressed, just skip to the good news. For the rest of you, just read on. First comes the bad news.

Our society is based on an assumption of perpetual economic growth. Economic growth is based on cheap and readily available energy. Most of this energy comes from oil and gas which are finite and non-renewable resources. In the very near future, our concept of infinite economic growth will savagely collide with the reality of finite natural resources and Reality will win.

In other words, we are facing some interesting years ahead. Declining oil production and increasing demand will drive energy prices higher. This will undoubtedly lead to further economic instability as governments attempt to ward off or at least disguise the inevitable inflation that this will bring. Unless we seriously change course, the recession of 2009 will simply be the first in a repeating pattern of oil price climb, economic collapse, oil price fall, slow economic recovery, oil price climb, bigger economic collapse, etc. Each spike in oil price will be larger than the last and each recession worse than the previous one.

If this isn't depressing enough, what about climate change? While many people choose to believe that a few emails and mis-stated dates prove that global warming doesn't exist, I'm seriously concerned that the vast majority of climate scientists might actually be right. And if this is true, the effects won't happen quite so fast or be quite as obvious as the oil price/economy cycle but they could be truly devastating. If you don't believe me, take it from Gwynn Dyer .

Now for some good news!

I just spent the day with a fascinating group of energized and enthusiastic people at St. John's church in Victoria, BC. About 150 people came together to spend their Saturday afternoon discussing peak oil, economic collapse and climate change. And rather than being depressed or frightened, they had a good time doing it!

This is the fascinating paradox of the Transition Town movement . Transition Town started in the UK as a response to the overwhelming problems that are appearing just over the next horizon. It is a conscious response that suggests that it is better to get together and do something positive, rather than live in a state of denial or be paralyzed by fear.

Working groups were defined in a self-organizing, open space environment. Teams came together to come up with concrete actions that can realistically be taken in areas housing, land use, food security, community renewal, alternate economies, renewable energy, education/skill development and spirituality. This all encompassing movement has potential because it recognizes that the big 3 problems; declining oil supply, economic instability and climate change are all connected and have common solutions. The tools for change are likewise connected to each other.

For me, one of the most important aspects is a recognition that the problems are fundamentally spiritual. Our out-of-control materialistic and militaristic culture is nothing more than the outward manifestation of our combined inner worlds. If we can change our inner worlds the outward world will certainly change. In the words of Jesus, "Repent (Completely change your way of thinking), the Kingdom of Heaven is near."

Remember that this meeting was held in a church? At the back of the meeting room stood a bulleting board with its back to the crowd. Facing away from the busy room was a sign which read "GOD IS WORKING HERE". I read the sign and watched the energized, enthusiastic and excited crowd.

Somehow I felt the sign was no accident.

1 comment:

Oemissions said...

SSI is now has Transition Town status!