For John Alexander of the Climate Project, Transition would benefit from redefining itself as “a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world”. There has been talk about re-branding the Transition message away from what we react to, instead to what we do. It’s a good change. Our work is positive, not necessarily reactive, though it doesn’t mean we stick our head in the sand and forget the crisis we’re in.
I’ve returned from the White Privilege Conference a few weekends ago. I learned so much about ways to reach out to people who are different from ourselves. I learned so much about my own privilege in this country and how it has shaped my life. Awareness is definitely a first step. But it can’t stop there. What are we doing to engage ALL people in the transition? Do we avoid those who have different political affiliations, who come from different cultures, whose world view is different?
Last weekend Louis and I attended the “People’s Convention” here in Vermont. It brought together people working on labor issues, migrant issues, and climate issues. It was enlightening and inspiring. We need more of these connections made. I will continue to explore the intertwined issues of peace, justice and care for Earth in future blogs.
I am delighted to say that my book is now published. Although the following link goes to Amazon, I do encourage you to purchase it at your local bookstore. We need to support independent bookstores across the country! Here’s the link:
Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith (Text version) (QIF Focus Books Book 10)
I hope you’ll give it a chance.
For many years I’ve been promoting the idea that Earthcare means caring about all of life on the planet, not just the “natural world,” but also the humans who live in this natural world. We have to recognize that climate change affects everything and that it affects the most vulnerable first.
When we consider who, among the people on the planet are first affected by the byproducts of the profligate life styles of many, including the pollution of water, land, and air, we recognize that often it’s the poor and often people of color.
What are we doing in our Transition communities to address the inequalities that exist in so many of our cultures? How are we addressing the issues of race in our communities? I’m searching to understand how we talk about these issues. Tomorrow I will take the train to Philadelphia to attend the weekend White Privilege Conference. (http://www.whiteprivilegeconference.com) I’m hoping to return to my Transition community and my faith community with ideas for addressing these issues. I want to learn how to have the honest conversation that seems to be missing in much of my life.
We will not have healthy communities in the transition without working on care for Earth, care for people, and make sure that we share equitably the bounties of our work. Come along with me on this journey. Let’s learn from each other. Let’s challenge one another. Let’s be tender with each other. And let’s be grateful that we have the chance to make a difference.
Yesterday, Thursday, was “Digital Sabbath” in our home. Recognizing how much we were on our computers every day, we wanted to experiment with “unplugging” for a day a week. To avoid temptations, we just don’t turn on the modem in the morning. We’ve already had a morning routine of eating breakfast together and reading poetry aloud, hoping to start our day more grounded in the spirit. So, this was a next step on that journey.
Those first few Thursdays I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. There were so many times during the day that either Louis or I, being curious people, wanted to know the derivation of a word, or some geographic piece of knowledge, or something as mundane as who starred in a particular movie. It was strange not to have that information at our fingertips. And if we thought it was important, we knew we had to write down our question, because we’d sure as heck forget we asked the darn question.
Another phenomenon was that it seemed something important that I expected was emailed on a Thursday. This happened several times. But I did survive not receiving the information until Friday.
We both noticed that we had so much more time for reading, taking a walk, or just generally relaxing. Some Thursdays when the weather kept me indoors, I’ve read a whole book, if it was a novel! As the last three months have passed, I’ve looked forward to Thursdays. I set my “vacation responder” on my email so people don’t get all uptight because I don’t reply right away.
Our rules are: no email and no internet. We do speak on the phone and I do reply to texts with a text. Maybe our rules will change. But we’re taking this Thursday by Thursday. We recognize that we are on a spiritual search for a way to live more simply and more grounded. Maybe we’ll add another day each week. It’s an experiment in living. I encourage you to try it.
As I sit reading and listening to Chopin this morning, I’m so aware of the changes in the earth cycle. The sun now rises farther south than it had at winter solstice. We have a clear view of the Green Mountains to our east and so can follow the track of the sun throughout the year. That sun is shining on my face, the temperature outside being only 37 degrees fahrenheit yet my face is warm from the sun and the coziness in my home.
The onions, planted as seeds only weeks ago, are straining for that sun, their stalks bending to the southern windows in the sunroom. I turn them around each day to help them grow tall and strong. I cut their tops as though they were grass, which strengthens them even more. Soon we’ll have the grow lights all set and will begin to plant the remaining seeds.
It’s such a time of growth and rebirth! I revel in the beauty of the earth and its rhythms. Yet a part of me holds the sadness of the suffering that abounds. The fear and sadness from the destruction in Syria and Belgium in this last week are very much on my mind. The planned fracked-gas pipeline planted in the ground not far from where I live is a constant reminder that we continue to make decisions with a short-term view. It’s what has gotten us in trouble all along. And Bill McKibben’s recent article in The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/article/global-warming-terrifying-new-chemistry/) confirms that fracking is bringing about even more destruction than earlier thought possible.
Yet our very human nature allows us to find joy in what is immediately around us, our grandchildren, our loving partners, our friends and neighbors, and Earth’s great green beauty. And I continue to have hope that we can turn the tide. The Transition Movement provides proof that there are so many people around the world who really care and are willing to give their time and love to make a difference.
I’ve been busy this last year or so writing a book. It’s now with the publisher and will be available by June 2016. Many of you are in my book. So many voices from the many places I visited in 2011 and after are included. The title is “Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith.”
I am so committed to the process that is offered through the Transition Movement. I have seen how communities, neighborhoods, streets, and more have been strengthened by creating a Transition Initiative where everyone is invited to participate. I’ve learned of the tremendous efforts to make Transition more inclusive. I’m inspired by the creativity and hope shared by so many people who are involved.
So I will now continue to share what I learn and share the experiences of my own Transition Initiative. I’m hoping to write about once a week and welcome your comments.
In the volatile climate of the political primary season here in the U.S.A., we are needing even more the connection with our neighbors to allow for time to eat together, laugh, and share our visions for a better world. In the volatile climate of the surge in refugees entering the E.U. we need the same connections and to find ways to be welcoming (and we need to do that in the U.S.A.).
Mitigating and adapting to climate change and the ensuing climate disruption has to be a priority. And we in the Transition Movement know the power and solution of local efforts. And we must be working to promote climate justice. We who have the luck to be well fed and properly housed need to look at our own complicity in our daily choices that give rise to climate change and the injustices to the poor as a result. Transition offers a positive approach to all of us to make a difference without resorting to despair.
I want to hear your stories. How has Transition made a difference in your lives?
Ah, the temperature is dropping, there’s a fire in the wood stove, the leaves have almost all fallen, and when the sun shines it’s bright and sparkly. I love this time of year. I’m full of anticipation of a winter of writing and quilt-making. This quilt will be done by May of 2016 for a granddaughter’s college graduation. Two have already received theirs. It’s a labor of love which I do all by hand.
An exciting development in my life is the book I’m co-authoring with Steve Chase of Transition Putney, Vermont. It’s title is Building Beloved Communities in an Unsustainable World: A Transition Town Primer for People of Faith. We hope it will be completed and in circulation by summer 2015. It will be published by Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF), but will have a multi-faith focus. I’ll keep you posted.
Now to throwing a few logs on the fire, and back to writing.
Our Transition Town had a fun dinner, making plans for the coming year. We are involved in two edible gardens, one at the local library and one at the Congregational Church in town. We oversee the collection of electronic waste once a year. We have an email list which includes more that 200 people (we live in a small town). We have a directory of people’s skills to share. We work with the town Energy Committee which is attempting to get the town buildings retrofitted to net-zero-energy buildings. We have composting at our local school and gardens there too. And we have hosted a number of movie nights and speakers over the last couple of years.
One effort that I’m involved in is to create a community pub/meeting place. Our town doesn’t have such a place and we think such a place would help foster community.
So, we’re busy and we’re having fun while we work.