Lately I have been feeling rather inadequate to this task of the search for a global vision. And inadequacy brings on inertia. I’m sure it’s just cold feet as I begin the interviews and hear the depth of concern and commitment to life in the sharing from those I’ve met. I want to accurately and more than adequately reveal their thoughts, hopes, and visions. I also want to be careful of where I bring in my own beliefs and hopes and draw clear lines for you readers. Sometimes, I expect, what I hear will influence my thinking and who I am will be shaped by the incredible people I meet and learn from. It’s a fine line. I share this with you to let you know why there’s been a space between blog entries. I’ve been reflecting on my journey and motives and clearing the way to have less ego involved and much more heart.
Now, listening again to the first interviews from my time in Greenfield, Massachusetts at the Transition Training, I hear clear, strong voices of assurance that this Transition path holds out the possibility of a resilient future for Earth and life dependent on the planet. Tina Clarke, our trainer, shared again and again during the weekend that the Transition movement is about: 1. People Care; 2. Earth Care; and 3. Fair Share. These seem such simple words, but they speak of living in harmony with all life which has to mean, for those of us with abundance, living more simply and sharing our resources. This is not an easy task in the 21st century. It is through community–close family and neighbors, strong friendships, faith communities, reading and study groups, and so much more–that we find the support to make changes.
One such group that I am part of began about eight years ago, using the Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org) curricula to guide us through topics such as A Sense of Place, Voluntary Simplicity, Deep Ecology, to name a few. Through the years (we are now on to other readings, videos, and experiences) we have all changed behaviors, supported one another, had fun, and gained wonderful friends. Without such a group it would be much tougher to live “out of the box” of Western Civilization. Louis and I don’t have the experience of watching television to join in the conversations about who won on “Dancing with the Stars,” or to share in the drama of what might be happening in a particular TV drama series. Therefor we are somewhat marginalized in the groups where that is the main topic of conversation. People get tired of hearing that we don’t watch television and so can’t respond in the conversation. But we do belong to our NWEI group and what we talk about there changes our lives. But I digress. Let me tell you about what I learned from my first three interviews.
Shay Cooper from Wendell, Massachusetts (a town of less than 1,000 people) has a vision of 80% of their food being grown or processed in her town and that’s not out of the question in that agricultural community in a short time-frame. She imagines cooperative raising of animals and re-skilling for canning, etc. She has joined the Transition movement because of the emphasis on community. She likes the idea of “tribal,” where folks will really know one another.
Tina Clarke, who has been working as a professional in the environmental movement, quit her paid work and is devoting her time to the Transition movement because she was drawn to the concept of nurturing community. I’m excited by Tina’s idea of “nurturing” community more than the description of “building” or “creating” community. The community exists, we just need to tap into it and provide the “water and compost and love” to see it grow.
Judy Hall, who splits her time between Wendell, Massachusetts and Genisis Farm (www.genesisfarm.org), where she is furthering the Transition movement in the Mid-Atlantic states, was drawn to the movement because it presented an exciting way of organizing people and resources in the community for the “Great Turning” (as named by Joanna Macy). The Transition process struck her as a way of inspiring people to work together.
Tina is excited by visions of high efficiency technologies, primarily of wind power and electric rail and mass public transportation. All of this electric to be powered by wind and hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, and sees carbon sequestration through thoughtfully-farmed land as important for resilience. Judy’s vision for the town of Wendell is a place where she can put down her roots. “The seeds of change and transition are just poking their heads out,” she said. It’s ripe for this movement. She likes being in a place where she can be a catalyst. She’s looking forward to more food production, re-skilling, and zero-energy farms.
When asking whether they had a global vision for a resilient world, each woman shared a rich, vibrant, vision. Shay saw it starting at the grass roots, taking our power back, of recognizing that the source of good in the world starts with “me” as an individual, then community, and then world. She sees the possibility of a world unity that is very diversified, but has the spiritual core where we feed each other by loving and by our hearts being connected.
Tina first explained that the organizers of the first Transition Town in Totnes, England had no expectation that this would become a global movement. They’ve been quite humbled by so many people around the world coming to them saying that they want to learn from them. The Transition Network (www.transitionnetwork.org) is a friendly way to share ideas. It’s a place for a world conversation across race, religion, class, immigrant, or status of people who are concerned about the rising cost of oil economically and to the planet. This conversation includes people from both developing and developed countries. Tina’s vision is the richness of this conversation.
Judy relies on an ecological model of a niche (similar to the Hindu Indra’s Net) where we are all nodes, and there’s this great web of being, and we are interconnected, where we are called to occupy and occupy well our niche, and do the best we can at home and so that it contributes to the fabric of the whole. She does not feel that she needs to be physically connected to someone at a long distance, say in a community south of the equator, to be connected. “I believe in wholeness. And so as I deepen into my work it will make a difference there,” she shared.
Wow, I wonder where this journey will lead? I can feel my heart opening and my mind expanding. I’v returned from the “Great Unleashing” of Transition Cheltenham, near Philadelphia and will share about that experience and those I interview there in my next entry. Comments are more than welcome! If you comment through the blog, others will see your ideas and maybe we’ll get a conversation going.