Transition Whatcom

I am curious if anyone else was at Derrick Jensen's talk on May 15th and what you thought. I found myself agreeing strongly with a lot of what he was saying, that drastic action needs to happen NOW to save the Earth, etc. But I was also really put off, offended, and-- to be perfectly honest-- quite scared by his rhetoric. His "us" versus "them" mentality and list of "enemies" made me think of the paranoid Richard Nixon, or George Bush's "you're either with us or against us." I don't think further polarizing people is helpful; I think it would shoot the environmental movement in the foot yet again. What do others think? Do you support the positive, inclusive, community-oriented Transition model, or the "any means necessary" Derrick Jensen model, or both? Any why? Thank you for your insights.

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When I read the Rob Hopkins blog post that David MacLeod’s pasted above, I felt both inspired and frustrated; inspired because there is some great wisdom there, and frustrated because there is, I find, a profound misunderstanding of the premises and tactics of a culture of resistance. Below is my point-by-point response to the post. I hope you will take the time to read it; I put a lot of time and effort into thinking this through, including time to research many of the points and references I make to be sure I am on solid ground. If you don’t have the time or inclination, you could probably skip the Rob Hopkins (RH) passages below as they merely repeat things from David’s post.

Another thing I wanted to point out is that, although I think that Rob Hopkins is brilliant, I don’t think that he has all the answers. Nor do I think that about Derrick Jensen, David Suzuki, Vandana Shiva, me, you or Jesus Christ. I think that a healthy movement is full of healthy people engaging in a healthy dialogue that includes some serious questioning. Without this, I think that any movement will become blinded by its own dogma. I sure hope that questioning Rob Hopkins is both OK and encouraged in Transition Whatcom. Coming from Fertile Ground, I know that there is plenty of questioning of Derrick Jensen, Russell Means, and other proponents of resistance culture. So, here’s my questioning of Rob Hopkins response to a radical critique of the transition movement. I hope you will find it useful:

Rob Hopkins (RH): One of the aspects of their critique of Transition is that it shies away from directly confronting what they see as being the enemy. Their starting point can be summed up in the sentence “it is fundamentally important to identify and name the enemies in the battle to make a real Transition”. From my perspective Transition is a fundamentally different approach, and in offering a review of this booklet, it feels important at the outset to address the distinctly different starting positions here.

Stephen Trinkaus (ST): I would not say that the “naming of enemies” is necessary to make a “real Transition.” I would say that the understanding of what power structures are repressive and/or destructive is a first step in creating a resistance movement. The goal of the resistance is not to make a “real transition” – because that will likely happen no matter what any of us do or don’t do, but to make the transition happen as soon as possible while there is still a chance for an Earth that can support human life and the lives of the many species that will be lost forever if we don’t act quickly.

RH: I have always been inspired and motivated by Vandana Shiva’s assertion that “these systems function because we give them our support, but if we withdraw our support, these systems will not be able to run”.

ST: Pretty basic logic. I agree wholeheartedly.

RH: I argue in the Transition. . . that we need to move beyond the approach of making our starting point trying to work out who is to blame for the predicament we are in.

ST: I don’t know of anyone who would start there and hope to build something meaningful or sustainable. I agree that it is necessary to start with a vision of where we want to go from where we find ourselves now.

RH: Yes there are tremendously powerful global forces at work, doing appalling things with increasing boldness, but they function as such because, in many cases, we have given them, consciously or unconsciously, the power to do so.

ST: Agreed

RH: The individuals involved in those global forces are locked into them just like everyone else and there is nothing to be gained by demonizing them. There is also always the danger that by adopting demonizing, depersonalizing approaches means that there is a risk that we do whatever it takes to bring about the change we want, rather than modeling, through our daily lives, the kind of change we want to see.

ST: If “we have the capability to “do whatever it takes to bring about the change we want . . “ then the first part of this statement can’t be true – that “the individuals involved in those global forces are locked into them just like everyone else.” Either we are “locked in” or we aren’t. Which one is it? You can’t have it both ways. This contradiction is often slipped by as a premise in classic liberal analysis. It makes no sense.

RH: There are precedents. The Zapatistas, mentioned in this document as being examples of good political action, are in many ways similar to Transition. They set off on a journey of change with no idea where it would lead, asking for nothing more than to be given the space to do what they want and to be left alone to live the way they want to. They argue that change starts with them, and what is important is to be the change, as Gandhi put it, that you want to see in the world.

ST: Both the Zapatistas and the people who Gandhi inspired into action are examples of cultures of resistance. Both recognized the oppressive nature of the institutions that did not allow them the freedom to express their cultures freely and who controlled the very land on which they lived. “You must be the change you want to see in the world” is the most misused quote attributed to Gandhi. In liberal and new age circles it is viewed as Gandhi saying look within because all change must occur there; in the context of Gandhi’s life’s work and practices, and especially his leadership role in helping to liberate India from British rule, I think it is more appropriate to see it in terms of being both a spiritual (inward) act and a profoundly political (outward) act of defiance against a named antagonist – in his case British colonial rule.

RH: Transition is determinedly inclusive and non-blaming, arguing that a successful transition through peak oil and climate change will by necessity be about a bringing together of individuals and organizations, rather than a continued fracturing and antagonizing. It seeks common ground rather than difference and realizes that people who run businesses and people who make decisions are all similarly bewildered and forced to rethink many basic assumptions by these new and challenging times we are beginning to enter. I make no apologies for the Transition approach being designed to appeal as much to the Rotary Club and the Women’s Institute as to the authors of this report.

ST: To me, it is species-centric; there is no common ground between the dominator mentality and the healthy functioning of ecosystems. Furthermore, Rob Hopkins’ wish for the transition to appeal to such mainstream organizations as he mentions will not appeal to the radicals on the left, the fundamentalists of any religion, or the hoards of people who are so entranced by the culture of dominance that they will have nothing to do with this. As with so many projects founded with the best of intentions, this realization may take the transition movement in general, and Transition Whatcom specifically, some time to realize. There have been thousands of efforts in the past with good people trying to do great things who thought that appealing to the common ground in all humanity is a rational and intelligent strategy. Show me one that has ever succeeded.

RH: Time and again the authors of this booklet re-state their belief in a them-and-us perspective. They talk of “taking on power and those who hold wealth and influence”, of there being “powerful forces to confront” and that Transition is “only realistic if people are also prepared to take on the vested interests in the media, government and business”. Yet these extraordinary times into which we are moving extraordinarily fast demand new tools, both practical and thinking tools. It has always struck me that as we stand on the verge of the monumental changes that peak oil and climate change will impose, to have confrontational activism as the principal tool in our toolbox is profoundly unskillful.

ST: I happen to completely agree with the authors that Rob Hopkins refers to, and I think that this kind of “we are the first in history to have the right tool” kind of thinking boarders on the messiah complex. Besides which, nobody that I am aware of is arguing that “confrontational activism” should be “the principal tool in our toolbox.” I would say that every successful social and political movement has had confrontational activism as one of the tools in their toolbox, and the wise have used it only when necessary. Also, wording it “confrontational activism” is an oversimplification of the idea of creating cultures of resistance. Did not Gandhi, Martin Luther King use them as well? Again, show me one instance of an oppressed people not using confrontation as part of their overall strategy. Non-confrontational movements are nothing new – they have been around for centuries. I’ve been part of many such movements myself, and none of them had any success in doing anything but maybe having some great parties.

RH: One of the reasons behind this is that little account is taken of the psychology underpinning how people change. The approach is usually one of information dumping, giving people a large amount of distressing information and expecting them to change.

ST: This “approach” is a behavior of some individuals and some very unsuccessful groups, not the tactic of the resistance movement. I used to do that when I was a young militant vegan, though. I agree that it doesn’t work.

RH: What we try and do in the Transition movement is to design in an acceptance of the fact that information about peak oil and climate change can be very distressing, and that it can lead to an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. An approach based on information exchange, allowing people to discuss with others how peak oil and climate change ‘feel’, and to enable them to feel part of a wider community of people exploring this, is very empowering and much more healthy.

ST: I also think this is a wise approach, and necessary if a movement is going to gain meaningful acceptance.

RH: One fundamental misunderstanding in this document is the belief that change is something that we have to fight for, that those in positions of power will cling to business as usual for as long as possible . .

ST: This is a misunderstanding? Do the lessons of human history ever show anything to contradict that people in power will cling “to business as usual for as long as possible”?

RH: . . . .that globalisation will only wobble if we shake it hard enough. This is not my experience though, nor, from the anecdotal evidence I hear from Transition Initiatives on the ground, is it what is happening around the country.

ST: I wouldn’t base the survival of my grandchildren on this “anecdotal evidence” that contradicts every lesson from human history.

RH: Here is a quote from the Guardian in an article announcing the arrival of $122 a barrel oil. “The Ernst and Young Item Club said the modest upswing in economic growth it was predicting for 2009 and 2010 was predicated on the price of oil remaining below $100. But it warned that if the cost of oil increased to $120, or $150, in the long-term, it would have serious implications for the strength of the wider economy”.

ST: Yup.

RH: The following day Goldman Sachs announced that its forecast was for $200 a barrel oil sooner rather than later. Yesterday’s London Evening Standard reported that the housing crash has now officially begun. The end of the Age of Cheap Oil is arriving very fast, regardless of whether we decide to campaign for it or not. It is my experience that most of the people I meet who are local politicians, business people, whoever, haven’t even started to think about this. I spoke last week at an event in Gloucestershire which ended with my sitting on a panel with a number of people working for the South West Regional Development Agency. A question came from the audience to the effect of “do SWRDA take peak oil into account in their regional development strategies?”. It was clear it was something they hadn’t even begun to think about. By the end of the evening, the Area Head of SWRDA promised to the audience that he would get his economic team looking at this, analyzing how their regional development strategy holds together (or doesn’t) in the light of various forecasts of future oil prices. I find the same in a series of other prominent organizations, they haven’t thought it through at all, and they have absolutely no idea what to do, yet become enthused to begin to explore it when approached in a constructive manner. These are, in the huge majority, not wicked people, rather they are as lost and enmeshed in the way the world works at the moment as the rest of us are, they have families they return to at night.

ST: Those who commit atrocities, from Rwanda to Auschwitz, often have families that they return to at night, with children they love and sweet caresses for their lovers. People are indeed “enmeshed in the way the world works at the moment” and they cling to it with the voracity of a heroin addict. This is an observation borne out countless times.

RH: We are all in this together. W.H. Auden put it nicely; “There is no such thing as the State And no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice; To the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die”.

ST: Agreed. I would add to that that we must love the entire web of life “or die.”

RH: In my opinion, the shift in focus from the global to the local will not be a choice, nor is it something we have to campaign and protest for, it is utterly inevitable. Without cheap oil it becomes unfeasible, and we are already starting to see this. What the Transition model attempts to do is to try and design a process for rebuilding resilience and cutting carbon which Richard Heinberg describes as being “more like a party than a protest march”, something which is inclusive and feels positive and historic.

ST: I agree. That is why I like the Transition model and why I joined Transition Whatcom. This is the core of Transition work and I love it. I might be a little more radical than most, I may want to see the Transition happen sooner rather than later, but I find the above statement to be spot-on.

RH: Transition’s refusal to engage in confrontational approaches to . . . has been a conscious decision from the outset . . . For me, Transition is something that sits alongside and complements the more oppositional protest culture, but is distinctly different from it. It is a different tool. It is designed in such a way as to come in under the radar.

ST: I agree except for the last sentence. It may come in under the radar now while the movement is so small and we are still awash in oil. I’m glad that Hopkins agrees here that Transition work can compliment the more “oppositional protest culture.” The question for me is still, how can people like me, who are so involved in the oppositional (resistance) culture, be a positive force in the Transition movement? Or can we? I think we can, but it might be stepping onto slightly scary ground for those who are not comfortable with the resistance. Then again, nobody said this would be easy.

RH: The authors are highly doubtful of the ability of politics to initiate the kind of change we need. They write “a politician cannot win an election by saying they will make the country poorer by reducing export earnings”. I think that they haven’t quite grasped the scale of the change that peak oil and climate change will initiate.

ST: If we are talking about electoral politics here, I completely agree.

RH: We will need politicians who are able to run on a platform of being honest about energy descent, of the need to move to other measures of economic success than growth in GDP, who drive for the rebuilding of local resilience. I think there are people who could do that, and in the changing world we are seeing the beginnings of, may well be successful. Indeed, it is hard to see how, in 10 years, people will be able to run on any other platform.

ST: I don’t know about the 10 year projection, but otherwise I would agree.

RH: We surrender our power to governments at our peril. In her forthcoming book “Depletion and Abundance”, Sharon Astyk puts it thus; “The sad truth is that governments mostly don’t lead – they follow. And who do they follow? One way or another, most governments follow the will and anger of their people. That is, they are waiting for us to lead them, to tell them what we really care about. It is time — and past time — that we do”.

ST: Amen.

RH: I think that one of the reasons why Transition is growing so fast, and why it is attracting a lot of people who have not usually been involved in environmental campaigning, is precisely because it is addressing and responding to the very real concerns people feel about rising fuel costs and the changing climate . .

ST: Agreed

RH: . . without polarising people. It is positive and solutions focused, it is undogmatic

ST: Well, all movements (including the Resistance movement) have their dogma. I think it is part of the condition of civilized humans. I disagree that Transition work does not polarize people – it does, even if we don’t want it to. We can minimize the polarization if we have an authentic desire to listen to and connect with others, but to think we can avoid it is, in my view, quite naïve.

RH: , and it allows space for people to explore how change on this scale will affect them personally.

ST: Yes – another thing that I love about the Transition movement.

RH: The authors write; “while local sustainability is important, so are high impact actions that shake people to question the habits of high consumer lifestyles, cheap flights and unnecessary car journeys and the political systems that facilitate them”. I don’t think that assuming that we can “shake people to question” their lifestyles is ever going to affect more than a handful of people, and will in fact alienate and entrench a lot more.

ST: I agree that you can’t use scare tactics convince people to change their lifestyle. In fact, using such tactics may have the opposite effect. The resistance movement is not about “shaking people to question” their lifestyles. It is more about removing the option for people to have a lifestyle that is destructive to the planet. Shaking people up and removing destructive options are very different things. Furthermore, I just don’t see how the Transition approach (or any other approach for that matter) will convert billions of people to live sustainably (and even if they could, that they could do it in time). I think that is wishful thinking. Our culture is far too addicted to its way of life. I don’t know even one person in Bellingham, even if they are members of Transition Whatcom or Fertile Ground, who lives sustainably. Not one. We are just too comfortable.

RH: It is the underlying approach that environmentalists have taken for years and in the main it has failed.

ST: I agree that the environmental movement has failed. A change in tactics is well overdue. I think that a combination of a healthy culture of resistance (which we have never had in the environmental movement), a healthy Transition movement, and a hell of a lot of people mentoring children outside of the mainstream educational system are just a few of the important components to a new strategy.

RH: In Totnes recently, the local Transition group held an evening about flying, called “To Fly or Not to Fly”, but rather than it being a polarising polemic about why we ought not fly, trying to shake those their out of their flying apathy, we used the Fishbowl approach, and created a space in which people could hear each other respectfully discussing their relationships with flying, how giving up would affect them, what they would miss and so on. Hopefully at this point in this review you are starting to be able to identify the differences in these two approaches.

ST: I agree that this is a brilliant and appropriate strategy in many situations.

RH: ‘The Rocky Road to Transition’ does, however, ask some important questions of the Transition Movement. “We need to question models that look to a few experts for the answers, especially when these people are mostly well-educated, white males”. Absolutely, and this is an active ongoing debate within Transition. The authors assume that Transition is a top-down model, although the principle has always been to devolve as much decision making as possible to as local a scale as possible.

ST: Yes!!!

RH: The authors’ assertion that “focusing on individual actions negates the importance of structural change and working on the way we do things collectively” is just not borne out by the reality of Transition projects on the ground. Transition does not just focus on individual actions, rather it creates a new and vigorous dynamic through which people can re-engage meaningfully in politics.

ST: The phrase, “it creates a new and vigorous dynamic through which people can re-engage meaningfully in politics” is pretty vague. I’m not sure what is and what is not considered politics here. Again, if it includes the politics of creating a resistance movement, then count me in.

RH: The Totnes Pound for example, is based on a deep understanding of and critique of globalisation, growth-based economics, the debt-based money system, but rather than theorising and criticising, it is an initiative which is about starting to put in place community-scale initiatives and responses. We feel that at this moment, practical, tangible and replicable projects that put in place resilient, post-oil infrastructure, are more important. Just because one’s responses to global problems are focused on the local scale, doesn’t mean they are not based on an understanding of the need for global change, rather they are based on a belief that that is one of the levels that we need to be working at.

ST: Yes.

RH: I see that the danger for Transition Network, rather than its being co-opted, is the danger of its failing to demonstrate meaningful change, meaningful in terms of its influence on the political system, reduced carbon and increased resillence. These are the criteria against which, in the longer term, Transition should be judged.

ST: I would add a few more criteria: Is it enough to save the polar bears? Is it enough to save the salmon? The elephants? The orca whale? The between 100 and 500 species that go extinct every single day due to human activities? Is it enough to even save our great great grandchildren? The fact that this is not included as a criteria is deeply disturbing to me and why I want to make my voice (and the voice of all these other critters) heard in the Transition movement.

RH: One of the things the Transition approach does is to catalyse people around the things that they are already passionate about . . . I have seen time and time again in school halls and meeting rooms up and down the country the amazing dynamic that a positive vision of life after oil can unleash.

ST: This is so true and this approach is very effective and compassionate. It is also true that this is not the only effective and compassionate approach.

RH: The degree to which the authors miss the point about what Transition actually is is summed up in their closing section; “A sure fire way of creating a movement with little impact or potential to be co-opted is to ignore the bigger challenges, what we are trying to transition away from, and to think that it will all be easy and can be left to others to do it for us. This just gets people’s hopes up, and blinds us to the tasks at hand”.

ST: I happen to strongly agree with “the authors.”

RH: I wonder if anyone reading this who is actively involved in a Transition initiative can identify with this? It certainly doesn’t resonate with me. Just because one isn’t directly confronting the forces of capitalism and corporate power doesn’t mean that one is ignoring the bigger challenges and debates or is being any less effective for it.

ST: “Just because one isn’t directly confronting the forces of capitalism and corporate power doesn’t mean that one is ignoring the bigger challenges and debates” - I would agree. “Just because . . . one isn’t directly confronting the forces of capitalism and corporate power doesn’t mean that one is being any less effective for it.” - I would strongly disagree.

RH: I don’t know anyone in this movement who “think(s) that it will all be easy and can be left to others to do it for us”. To repeat, Transition is, in essence, a different approach, and may turn out to be the more effective one, only time will tell. It is complementary to more activist approaches, but its rapid spread and the viral nature of the growth in interest in it is due, in part, to its more accessible and engaging approach.

ST: I agree. (Although I’m not sure that the virus analogy is the most appropriate.)

RH: In conclusion, “Rocky Road” is to be welcomed as a coherent and well-meaning critique of the Transition movement. It offers a detailed insight to how the radical left view the movement. However, ultimately its main success is in helping to highlight how, in spite of being motivated by many of the same concerns, the Transition movement and the activist protest movement are, ultimately, distinctly different approaches.

ST: Distinctly different in some ways, and distinctly linked if either is to achieve its goals.

RH: I would argue that as distinctly different approaches they are both far stronger for standing on their own ground and by each doing what it does best.

ST: From an organizational standpoint this is probably a wise way to look at it. From the point of view that ultimately it is individuals who make up a movement, I hope that the Transition movement will move in a direction that truly encompasses a wider range of tactics that it accepts under its umbrella.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading this. I want to be very clear that I still agree with the vast majority of the goals and strategies of the Transition movement in general, and Transition Whatcom in particular. I realize that I have been so “vocal” on the topic of certain tactics. This is not at all intended to diminish the amazing work that so many individuals have put forth for the Transition. I want the movement to succeed beyond our wildest dreams and expectations. I’m here, with you, with humanity, and with the web of life with the desire for there to be far less suffering and destruction in the world, and far more community, health, joy, connection, and the many other truly profound gifts that life on earth can offer.

In peace,

Stephen
If there's one thing in this whole discussion that I think we should remember, it's privelege. Privelege is what allows me to be sitting here in a chair typing on a laptop computer assembled by I-don't-know-who (quite possibly a Thai woman in a sweatshop) with metals and other materials that were taken from someone else's land. I don't know if permission was asked. I don't know if, in exchange for its flesh, the landbase whose soil was mined and processed to attain these materials was given anything in return, either materially or spiritually. I am wearing clothing made by I-don't-know-who (but I do know where: one item from El Salvador, another from Thailand, and another from Colombia). Was permission asked? Are those who made me these things being exploited? Or are they living their dreams?

To me, privilege is best exemplified by the picture of earth at night, when one can view all the lights of the civilized world shining up into the sky. Material wealth is being filtered from poor to rich and you can see where that wealth ends up by finding the places where the lights are most concentrated. The largest parts of empire are here and in Europe. We who live in these places are being priveleged at others' expense on a daily basis.

As a priveleged person, it is my responsibility to use that privelege to level the playing field. Just as it is my responsibility as a male--and not a woman's responsibility--to dismantle oppressive patriarchal systems, and just as it is my responsibility as a white male--and not a person of color's responsibility--to dismantle oppressive racist regimes, it is my responsibility to dismantle every system that allows me to be priveleged and allows others to be oppressed. This includes women. This includes people of color. This includes mergansers. This includes sturgeon. This includes Northern Spotted Owls. We all have our own evolutionary reasons for being here, and if there is a system that is taking away the ability of many of us to participate in the great liturgy of life simply for the benefit of a few rich white humans, then that system needs to be stopped and stopped soon.

So just remember that not everyone has the privelege of being able to be involved in an organization like this one. You have a whole network of luxuries at your fingertips that you can turn to whenever--be they simple pleasures or expensive indulgences. The point is, you have both when most of the world--human and nonhuman--don't.

AND, those who are recieving the most privilege, those who control the military and the media and the government and the cultural forces that many of us aren't even aware of--they are more powerful than all of us. We can have the feast before the fight but if we just keep on feasting, eventually there's going to be hell to pay. What I mean is, if there is not an effort (a really serious, well-thought out effort) to bring down this system at the same time that Transition efforts are taking place--if we only have people retreating to ecovillages and transition towns and dropping out of the industrial economy without actually bringing down the industrial economy--that means that those in power (those with the most privelege) will still have the ability and the drive to make sure you stay in line. They have extra reserves of oil hidden away for emergencies--they aren't stupid. They need to be stopped, not simply avoided.

Using our gifts that are unique to us in all the world, I believe we have a good chance to make that happen if we concede our differences and work together as a cohesive team.
Stephen,

Below is a reply from the TWIG (Transition Whatcom Initiating Group) to a question you posed. Sorry for the slowness of response. We have been busy with many things, but you have asked a direct question that we felt deserved an 'official' response.

David

Stephen wrote: "I am wondering if the "horizontal hostility" that Cameron feels is really a question as to whether or not his perspective is welcome here? I know that when I attended the Party Up for Power Down event I had a similar question - what is OK and what is not OK under the umbrella of Transition Whatcom? I really want to know if having people who are aligned with the resistance movement is going to help or hurt Transition Whatcom. Personally, I think it can only help, but the reality is that I have little invested in Transition Whatcom and that decision is not my call to make."

Stephen,

Transition Whatcom is an open and inclusive group, so certainly Cameron and other Fertile Ground members are very welcome, and welcome to share their perspectives here, just as are members of other community organizations. Inclusiveness and openness is not just about who becomes a member of a Transition Initiative, but it's also about how we engage with people beyond the membership - those who don't chose to be a part of the Transition movement, whether it's city government, community organizations, etc.

As far as activities under the umbrella of Transition Whatcom, "...our primary focus is not campaigning against things, but rather on positive, empowering possibilities and opportunities..." (Transition Principle #1: Positive Visioning).

In regards to resistance, as an organization, Transition Whatcom supports only strategies and actions that are consistent with the principles of Transition, such as Positive Visioning. With an understanding that to be effective, change must involve as many residents as possible, and with an understanding that a focus on positive outcomes will engage the greatest possible participation, TW is committed to employing (with shameless abandon) the powerful tools of “anticipation, elation and a collective call to adventure” (as stated in the Transition Handbook).

The Transition Network and Transition Whatcom have made a conscious decision to avoid engaging in the more confrontational approaches to change. Campaigns and actions that use aggressive and confrontational methods are one example of an approach that is not consistent with the spirit and toolbox of Transition Whatcom because they go counter this principle of Positive Visioning. "Transition is something that sits alongside and complements the more oppositional protest culture, but is distinctly different from it. It is a different tool." - Rob Hopkins, http://transitionculture.org/2008/05/15/the-rocky-road-to-a-real-tr...

We see Fertile Ground as a group that may at times engage in confrontational approaches, and we therefore see it as distinctly different from the Transition work we are involved with. This is not a condemnation of Fertile Ground's approach, but rather acknowledging it as "a different tool" from a different toolbox.

TW and FG share some fundamental values and goals. Both groups care deeply about healthy Earth stewardship and protecting life on this planet. We may, however, differ on our strategic and tactical approaches at times. Due to these differences we believe we will each be more effective and both groups better served if we work as separate but complementary organizations. Using Hopkins' words, and applying them to FG and TW: "I would argue that as distinctly different approaches they are both far stronger for standing on their own ground and by each doing what it does best."

Stephen wrote: "If nothing else, I appreciate a safe forum to listen and discuss these things. I am a firm believer that the ecological situation is so dire that we need to at least consider all options, even if we later reject some (or many) of them."

Stephen, we share that belief. Transition Whatcom will provide safe spaces where people can talk, digest, and express feelings that arise around the many issues we will be dealing with. We will facilitate processes following guidelines of respectful conduct that promote free expression, safety, and allowing creative wisdom to emerge. Examples of processes we might employ include "Open Space" events, "World Cafe" events, "Fishbowl" discussions, and use of this website for discussions and social networking.

For further information related to this topic, please see Transition Whatcom Guideline Paper: Balancing the Principle of Posi....

Regards,

The Transition Whatcom Initiating Group
David MacLeod
Tom Anderson
Kate Clark
Cindi Landreth
Rick Dubrow
David Marshak
Sandy Hoelterhoff
I wasn't at the talk, and I have been struggling with this question as well though. A large portion of America will believe whatever BIG Money will tell them. Yet I also know that grass roots movements CAN change things, Ghandi is a good example. I think things will have to get a lot worse though before real change comes about, perhaps even to the point where it may be too late.

I just heard an article on NPR that practically wrote off the "bottom billion" people on this planet due to food shortage and rising food prices. I also read In the June 2009 issue of National Geographic that the world bank is essentially giving Monsanto the green light for a new "green revolution" of GMO to combat the problem of the world shortage.

I too have a list of enemies, and the more I learn, the longer the list grows. I do not have the answer, but unlike most of Americans, I am looking for one every day.

To make maters worse, it's not just one problem, we are facing peak oil, climate change, peak food, peak water, and a world economic recession and overpopulation.

No, I wasn't at the talk, and I don't have the answers, but I am plenty scared.
I’ve been doing my best to follow this discussion for months.
And I would like to see the discussion more easily accessed from the main page of our transitionwhatcom community ning site.

Dillon, I really have appreciated your well written thoughtful words.
Example: (quote) “If there's one thing in this whole discussion that I think we should remember, it's privilege. Privilege is what allows me to be sitting here in a chair typing on a laptop computer assembled by I-don't-know-who (quite possibly a Thai woman in a sweatshop) with metals and other materials that were taken from someone else's land. I don't know if permission was asked. I don't know if, in exchange for its flesh, the landbase whose soil was mined and processed to attain these materials was given anything in return, either materially or spiritually. I am wearing clothing made by I-don't-know-who (but I do know where: one item from El Salvador, another from Thailand, and another from Colombia). Was permission asked? Are those who made me these things being exploited? Or are they living their dreams?” (end quote)

Thank you all for your openness & depth of thought sharings.

I Am Listening….

....( your neighbor in the spirit of community & interdependence, Heather )

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