When Neighbors Meet to Compare Energy Bills, Much Bigger Ideas Are Born

transition streets gathering photo
Video screen capture. Transition Town Totnes

Transition Town Totnes/Video screen capture

When I posted about the award-winning Transition Streets program, I wrote about neighborhood groups which coached each other in energy conservation and lower carbon living. But that initial focus on cutting each others carbon at home seems to have spawned something much bigger and more exciting—a deeper, more collaborative sense of community.

From solar power spreading across rooftops on one street to dramatic reductions in participants' household energy bills, there's no doubt that the initiative has been a success according simply by merit of the carbon reductions achieved so far. But from a neighborhood cinema program through community orchards to car sharing, seed swaps and ride sharing, what strikes me is that once neighbors get talking to each other, the potential for even more ambitious projects becomes apparent.

I once wrote that the biggest barrier to sharing may be ourselves, but the reverse is also true. As soon as we reach out to our neighbors and start collaborating on the world we want to see, we may just find ourselves amazed at how many people share our vision. From neighbors removing fences and starting gardens through entire streets becoming gigantic energy graphs to urban agriculture as economic stimulus, we are not short on ideas for building a better world together.

So get talking to your neighbors and see what happens.