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It has been 10 years since we began to transition to a new world without cheap and abundant fossil fuel.
Given the great difficulty and expense of transporting goods now, we are so glad that we began focusing on providing for our needs at the local level. It was difficult at first to increase our food growing capacity: all those lawns to dig up and cultivate, the steep learning curve for so many of us in becoming proficient gardeners, learning how to process and eat more of what we could produce.
But what a wonderful, secure feeling to know that we can take care of ourselves! What an exciting explosion of creativity and resourcefulness we saw as we figured out how to transport ourselves, provide our own renewable energy, learn to do everyday things without wasting our precious power supply, practically eliminate the concept of garbage.
Many of us who used to work on the mainland found that there was plenty of work to do right here to take care of ourselves. Goodbye job insecurity! Becoming fairly proficient at bartering and using our local currency as a hedge against more far-ranging economic upheaval, we’ve found that everybody has a job to do and fairly shares in our community bounty.
Of course, it wouldn’t have worked if thousands of other communities around the world hadn’t embarked on similar paths. For instance, we trade our seafood and wood products for grains from similar communities on the Eastside. It is gratifying to know that we, as a species, were intelligent and imaginative enough to adapt to what could have been a disastrous turn of events.
We still have a long way to go, but we all get it now and are solidly committed to learning how to live both well and within the constraints of our one and only planet.
This can be our future if we so choose. What we don’t get to choose is a future that is like today. We will live in a drastically lower energy future. The only question is whether we engage that future constructively and imaginatively or wait for nature to impose it on us.
Even with a general global consensus about the peril, we could see at the Copenhagen summit last year that the governments that most needed to act expeditiously were unable to do so. Combined with that, we have a highly specialized, monolithic global economy where a natural or man-made disaster in one part of the globe is routinely felt around the world. Our global and national institutions are not well-equipped to weather the changes ahead. Since petroleum is so intricately interwoven into our personal lives, we are the ones who must initiate the change.
A group of Islanders came together last year to investigate a new strategy to adapt to the coming energy crisis; the effort, called the Transition Model, was introduced a few years back in the United Kingdom. It became clear to us that only a highly diverse network of self-reliant local economies could provide the resilience required for the world to absorb shocks without destabilizing the entire system.
According to Transition US, a national organization dedicated to the Transition Model, it is up to local communities to step into leadership positions on this situation. “We need to start working now to mitigate the interrelated effects of peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis, before it is too late,” the Transition US website says.
The call to action? Here’s what Transition US says:
“Urgent action is required to address peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.
“Adaptation to a world with less oil is inevitable. It is better to plan and be prepared, than be taken by surprise.
“Industrial society has lost the resilience to be able to cope with shocks to its systems. We have to act together and we have to act now.
“We must negotiate our way down from the ‘peak’ using all our skill, ingenuity and intelligence.
“Using our creativity and cooperation to unleash the collective genius within our local communities will lead to a more abundant, connected and healthier future for all.”
We at TransitionVashon want to convince you to join us in this effort, because we literally can’t do this without you. To that end, we are sponsoring a series of films documenting our predicament and ways to deal with it. We are excited by the prospect that we could create a new way of life for ourselves that could be better than the one we have now.
— Terry Sullivan is a longtime Islander and a volunteer with Transition Vashon.
TransitionVashon is presenting a series of films over the next six months about the effects of peak oil production, climate change, how they are likely to affect one’s life and what Islanders can do to ensure we come through the crisis in good stead.
The series will begin with a showing of “The 11th Hour,” produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, at Café Luna. There will be a discussion period following. Admission is free, but donations will be requested to defray costs. A raffle drawing for a $25 certificate to Lehman’s Catalogue, which features non-electric tools and appliances, will also be held.
For more information about the film series or TransitionVashon, contact Terry Sullivan at 463-2812 or Carla DeCrona at 462-0034. Or, for more information about the Transition Movement, visit www.transitionus.org.