Transition Towns and Cities Emerge in the US Too


Transition City LA Just One of Many
It looks like it may have been almost a whole month since I last wrote about Transition Towns — covering the arrival of the Transition movement in Japan, and the incredible growth of Transition Towns in New Zealand. I make no secret about it, I'm a huge fan of this community-lead response to peak oil and climate change.

When discussing Transition Towns here in the US, it's fairly common to hear folks ask whether something that started from small towns in the UK and Ireland can really work in such an oil dependent culture as the United States, and especially the big cities. However, Transition is spreading fast over here too, and a new Transition USA website has been set up to network the various fledgling groups across the country, and to link them with what's happening abroad. To provide a taster of the kind of ambitious, important work that has already started, Rob Hopkins recently posted a letter from Transition City LA on his blog, detailing their early efforts.
As you might expect, the task of comprehending Transition in a metropolis like LA is a daunting one. But a group of activists have started holding community film screenings, skill shares and workshops, with a view to kick starting the movement. Here's a little of what they've been up to:

"For our first event, we held a screening of "The End of Suburbia," together with a community discussion. We used the Think and Listen exercises right out of the Handbook, and the Post It exercise too. We had a good crowd of local faces for that event. A week later, on September 20, we held a full-day session to showcase the Transition ideas. For this event, we had 46 people attending. A large group came from Santa Barbara (96 miles north of us). One came from Paso Robles (218 miles north) and another from Templeton (216 miles north). Two came from Frazier Park (67 miles inland from us), One from Laguna Beach (56 miles south of us). A group of 5 came from the San Fernando Valley (20 miles north). The rest were from various parts of our extended L.A. basin. From the start of the session, we emphasised that the event was in fact a regional gathering, and to appreciate that and make the most of the opportunity.

It was so wonderful to get all these people together. At the start of the day, as I stood before the crowd, I could feel the energy and excitement buzzing in the room. Each one of us dreams of having a Transition Initiative in our own local neighborhood. Each one of us had looked at the enormity of the "problem of L.A." and found it daunting — too big to do alone. But together in one room, we realized that we have lots of help, lots of people with whom to get this started. We have all the people who attended, and all the people from those neighborhoods who didn't make the drive that day. All the people who had scheduling conflicts so couldn't make that particular session. It adds up to a whole lot of people, all holding the common vision of Transitioning Los Angeles into a post-oil future."

The group also read a Letter to LA from Rob Hopkins himself, which laid out the reasons why their work is so vital and so important. His take on Transition Cities is, I think, particularly worth quoting here:

"I would suggest you don't call what you are doing Transition Town LA. You aren't a town, you are a city, and that is something to celebrate. Transition City LA. We need to find ways of reclaiming what it means to live in a sustainable city, not just wish it were a town. In doing this work you will develop your own tools, your own insights, your own vocabulary. The work you are starting to do is seminally important. You are pioneers, doing some of the most important work to be undertaken anywhere."

So, it looks like there's exciting stuff going on here in the US as well. I look forward to seeing Transition USA spreading like the virus it needs to be.

Further Reading on Transition Towns
Transition Towns New Zealand Gains Strength
Transition Towns Reach Japan
Transition Towns Reach New Zealand
Transition Town Plants Up Nut Trees for Food Security
Interview with Rob Hopkins, founder of the movement
Transition City Bristol
The Transition Handbook
Transition Towns Reach Australia
The Virtual Orchard Project

Tags: Activism | Agriculture | Alternative Energy | Los Angeles | Oil | Peak Oil | Permaculture | United States