A little more than a decade after veteran Permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins established the first “Transition Town” in Totnes, England as part of an effort to bring Permaculture principles and practices to a wider audience, Transition US will host its first National Gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota this July.
The timing couldn't be better. Over the past 10 years, the grassroots movement that Hopkins helped launch has now grown to include thousands of local initiatives on every continent (except Antartica). These mostly volunteer-run groups have already accomplished much: spearheading successful local food campaigns, community energy cooperatives, alternative currencies, Energy Descent Action Plans, and more.
However, this is only the beginning. As the Transition Network's recently-published Essential Guide to Doing Transition explains: "Transition is deeply ambitious. It wants to change the way the places we live in feed themselves, house themselves, employ themselves, and power themselves. That's a big ask.”
This “big ask” requires that we engage in a process of continual learning and evolution, which is reflected in the theme we chose for our upcoming Gathering: “Growing a Movement for Resilient Communities: Broadening, Deepening, and Scaling Up.” Based in part on Hopkins' under-appreciated Transition Companion, this framework for sustainable growth in three dimensions merits further elaboration:
Broadening: While it's clear that Permaculture, Transition, and other related movements have their own unique identities, we are also part of a much larger historical push to create a world that is more conscious, just, and regenerative. Realizing that we are smarter and stronger together, Transition US has been busy inviting allied individuals and organizations from all over the country to participate and present at our Gathering, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves “Transitioners.”
Deepening: One of the key insights of Transition is that “how you do your projects matters as much, if not more, than what the projects are.” To put this another way, the ability of our groups to affect positive change is intimately connected with who we are as individuals and the cultures we create. Emphasizing this point, our Gathering this summer will focus as much on what we call the “Inner Transition” and the stages of group development as it will on the latest climate change statistics and homesteading how-tos.
Scaling Up: By expanding our social capital and tapping us into the true source of our collective power, broadening and deepening hold the keys to scaling up. Reaching out to kindred movements and paying attention to personal and social transformation not only increases our capacity to do good on the local level, it also lays the foundation for greater regional, national, and international visibility and impact.
As I experienced at the North American Permaculture Convergence last fall and in recent conversations with US Transition leaders, both of our inter-related movements currently find themselves at a pivotal moment. Having raised awareness among our early adopters, honed our skills through long experimentation, and implemented practical examples of our ideas, we now seem poised to make a quantum leap forward.
One simple way you can get involved in making this leap is to join us in Minnesota this July. Throughout the Gathering, we will deepen our bonds with each other, broaden our understanding of potential challenges and solutions, and scale up our vision for what's possible. Like Transition itself, it will be inspiring, participatory, and fun. If you're intrigued by what you've read here, you'll find much more information online at www.transitionus.org.