Transition Whatcom

Transition Whatcom "Work Group" Hub


Transition Whatcom "Work Group" Hub

The initial hub for information sharing as we establish the Transition Whatcom Work Groups that will begin to develop at Day 2 of The Great Unleashing. All are welcome to join.

Location: Whatcom County, WA
Members: 61
Latest Activity: Feb 16, 2014

Discussion Forum

Tools (or an example) for working toward an EDAP

Started by Angela MacLeod. Last reply by Laura J Sellens Dec 19, 2010. 3 Replies

Hi friends,The following is an excerpt from the article by Rob H. recently posted on the Energy Bulletin. I thought this part could be a useful starting place for assessing our community/region for…Continue

Using This Website: Computer Tips & Tricks & Your Questions

Started by Heather K. Last reply by Heather K Aug 11, 2010. 12 Replies

Post your computer ning-site based questions here.Anyone with experience on the TW site can answer the questions posted, so we can take turns answering questions.Remember to click "Follow:"…Continue

Tags: ning, site, tips, computer, groups

Criteria for thriving core group (TWOG) from June 16th planning Meeting

Started by Travis Linds. Last reply by Jamie Jedinak Jun 24, 2010. 1 Reply

Criteria for thriving core group (TWOG)From Leadership Planning Meeting June 16, 2010, 6 -10 pm·       Simple·       Inclusiveness·       Reflects living system vs mechanistic model·       Functional…Continue

Work Groups Purpose...Energy Decent Action Plan (Path)or: The EDAP???

Started by Angela MacLeod. Last reply by Heather K Apr 13, 2010. 3 Replies

I was not at the 2nd day of the Great Unleashing. I'm thinking about getting involved in a Work Group and I'd like to know more about them and how they function.  Are the Work Groups different from…Continue

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Comment by Lia Ayley on May 19, 2010 at 11:51pm
Thank you for your latest post, Frank, I appreciate hearing your experience and your perspective. I agree with so much of what you say.
Comment by Lia Ayley on May 19, 2010 at 11:47pm
Katie, you are right that peak oil will "solve itself," as you put it, one way or another, even if we take no action. That is true of every problem. But passivity, in this case, also means we will pay a terrible, terrible price in human suffering. If we act skillfully now, we may be able to mitigate some of that suffering, and I, for one, believe that effort to be worthwhile.

I know you are a compassionate person, so I was surprised by your post. Would you be willing reflect more deeply on this issue?
Comment by Frank James on May 19, 2010 at 11:21pm

I believe that what we need is to live by simple principles that are time tested and true. When I work in remote parts of India, the people I meet there are much happier than the folks I work with here in Bellingham. They have dramatically less, they are much less 'secure' and yet are happy. I was very sick there last spring and although I am a physician was too ill to even get out of bed for a number of days. The Tibetan monks that run the school there simply stayed with me and were 'present'. They would bring me water and simply smile when I would awaken from the fevers. Their just being there made me feel so much better. Back home my family would have cared about me but been busy and rushed off to do things. There is no medicine like simply being present and having, taking the time to just sit with others. It was an important lesson for me, especially as a healer.

As we move forward into what I believe will be very hard times it is the core values that will matter. Sharing, caring and being humble are a good start, but the wisdom we need to guide us forward has always been here. It is not esoteric, difficult to understand, distant. It is in our bones. We know its truth before that words are spoken. It is the grounding and sharing of this truth that maters. The putting the words into practice. Children never do what they are told, they do what we do. It is a little scary as the parent of a 6 year old. What an amazing responsibility to not just think the right thing, or say the right thing but to do the right thing. That is exactly what we are called to do now. Do the right thing. To live simply so that others can simply live. To reduce, reuse, recycle. All the platitudes that have to be made into the fabric of our lives. My grandmother Elizabeth Jane Talbott used to say, “ Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” and she has been gone for over 50 years! Our intellectual understanding, or even misunderstanding or our current political economy matters much less that the principles by which we live our lives. Those principles are simple, self verifying, true in our own experience and widely shared. Now we just have to start living as if they mattered, as if our very lives depended on it.... of course it does, and the lives of our children as well.

I almost never donate to any causes in our community anymore, once I started working in places like India. The material needs there are so much greater than here. And yet they have a spiritual wealth that we so much need. It is a great trade to take part of our material wealth there and to bring a bit of their spiritual wealth back here. I hope that someday I can simply start living a life of poverty here and skip that high carbon air travel. We all need to support one another in this effort. It is not easy being addicted to the comforts and convenience of oil and power and privilege. Solidarity with the poor of the world is a good place to start.

I appreciate the dialog on these issues and hope that in our collective wisdom we can find a path forward as a community, through uncertain times, with music made by people and not machines, food made in our homes and not in stores and wander in and defending the wealth that we have in the natural world that we are so fortunate to have in this place we live tucked between the mountains and the sea.

Comment by Katie on May 19, 2010 at 7:41pm
i think of "energy descent" as a technology issue, and it does not especially move me to act.

the set of problems taken as a whole have an obvious, and inevitable single solution: population descent

energy descent seems to me to be a way of scolding and turning ordinary folks into sinners. when there are few enough people, even 150 yo steam engines powered by wood or coal will be adequate energy sources. looking at the problem as though the largest and most fragile and quickly changed variable, is a given, is a constant in the equation, seems like a waste of happiness to me.

the problem will be solved. and it will solve itself, and the solution is not only inevitable but irresistible. and that makes me feel good.

and i hope not to offend with this opinion.
Comment by Lia Ayley on May 19, 2010 at 6:09pm
I agree with Vicki Robin whom you quoted, David:
"Our engagement with the peak oil issues, and the climate change issues is also an engagement with our own inner light and dark..Our own inner engagement, our own capacity to hold and love all of it, every little scrap of it."
...although I would especially like to know what she said within the elipsis (...)!

This insight is key, more so than many people realize, I think. The more we accept, integrate and love our own light and dark, the more we are then able to hold, to acknowledge and to accept both the light AND the dark that we see around us.

Then, we do not need to cling to looking through one filter or the other. We do not run from the dark out of fear and insist on a false and unrealistic “positive outlook” that in the end serves no one because it ignores fundamental problems and realities. Neither do we tumble headlong into despair, fear, hopelessness, powerlessness. We also don't need to deny reality, or resort to pulling the covers over our heads and hoping that “mom” or “dad” will make the monsters go away, because we have faced our own monsters and discovered their gifts. I know this from personal experience.

In accepting and integrating who we are, light and dark together, we are also enabled to actually see and accept life as it is: complex and multi-faceted, beautiful, heart-rending, hopeful, terrifying, cruel, sublime and so much more. And in seeing and accepting the truth of life's wholeness, just as it is, we are then empowered to discover our best and most skillful response.
Comment by David MacLeod on May 19, 2010 at 12:25pm
I don't remember who it was (Wendell Berry?) who said it's the wrong question to ask if someone is optimistic or pessimistic. Pessimism can cause a person to despair and give up, optimism can lead to a false complacency. Both can lead to inaction.

Vandana Shiva wisely said "The uncertainty of our times is no reason to be certain about hopelessness."

At the Great Unleashing, Vicki Robin talked about the need to be present with what is and engage there. She referenced her wake up call at the 2006 Peak Oil conference in Yellow Springs. I made a partial transcript of her talk at that 2006 conference, because I felt it was profound:

"...the fact of the matter is that we're standing in times that, as my friend Tom Atlee says "are getting better and better and worse and worse faster and faster." So it became not so much "what are we going to do about IT" - like "I'm here and IT's there, and I'm going to do something about IT." But standing in the middle of that we realized that the most important thing somebody can do is actually take in at a deep emotional, physical, and body level, the better and better and worse and worse, and allow the better and better and worse and worse to speak to them in such a way that they feel inspired to take a step towards whatever their solutions are. In other words, it activates. If you can actually live with the conditions of our time, it activates an inspired commitment to be where the tide is turning. Not to stand outside and say, "Is this getting better or worse? Better or worse?" You know we're not spectators in this world. The tide is turning for better or worse through us in every moment.

"...I used to have this hammer called "Your Money Or Your Life", and everything looked like a nail, and I could just fix it. I don't think the world is fixable anymore. I don't think we're going to fix it, I think we're going to live through it...We're up against a wall! Cancer wall, peak oil wall, climate change wall. And being up against a wall is the most creative time. We don't know what the result of our engagement is going to be. We only have the choice whether to engage or go to sleep again. To be in some sort of open, spacious, humble passion with regards to the limits of our times, whatever we're doing. We're going to live through this together - it's sort of as simple as that. ..My desire is to heal our collective psyche that has been so confused by the industrial growth era. To mature as a species, to develop a capacity to live into what is most important, and let go of the rest.... That is the other opportunity. Our engagement with the peak oil issues, and the climate change issues is also an engagement with our own inner light and dark..Our own inner engagement, our own capacity to hold and love all of it, every little scrap of it."

More of the transcript posted here:
Comment by Frank James on May 19, 2010 at 12:42am

I wish I could be so positive but look at the headline today:

Ocean fish could disappear in 40 years:

The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned.
"If the various estimates we have received... come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish," Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program's green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.
A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones -- ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.
The report, which was opened to preview Monday, also assesses how surging global demand in other key areas including energy and fresh water can be met while preventing ecological destruction around the planet.
UNEP director Achim Steiner said the world was "drawing down to the very capital" on which it relies.
However, "our institutions, our governments are perfectly capable of changing course, as we have seen with the extraordinary uptake of interest. Around, I think it is almost 30 countries now have engaged with us directly, and there are many others revising the policies on the green economy," he said.
Environmental experts are mindful of the failure this March to push through a worldwide ban on trade in bluefin tuna, one of the many species said to be headed for extinction.
Powerful lobbying from Japan and other tuna-consuming countries defeated the proposal at the CITES conference on endangered species in Doha.
But UNEP's warning Monday was that tuna only symbolizes a much vaster catastrophe, threatening economic, as well as environmental upheaval.
One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source, according to the UN.
The Green Economy report estimates there are 35 million people fishing around the world on 20 million boats. About 170 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on the sector, bringing the total web of people financially linked to 520 million.
According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed, meaning they yield less than 10 percent of their former potential, while virtually all fisheries risk running out of commercially viable catches by 2050.
Currently only a quarter of fish stocks -- mostly the cheaper, less desirable species -- are considered to be in healthy numbers.
The main scourge, the UNEP report says, are government subsidies encouraging ever bigger fishing fleets chasing ever fewer fish, with little attempt made to allow the fish populations to recover.

Comment by David MacLeod on May 18, 2010 at 10:40pm
Good discussion! I find it interesting that Howard Odum, one of the pioneers of the field of systems ecology wrote a book about energy descent entitled "A Prosperous Way Down."

He writes, "This book uses principles that apply to all systems to anticipate the future of the human economy on planet Earth. From these principles, policies are proposed to make smooth our current time of transition and make prosperous the contraction of our civilization just ahead. Knowledge about the analogous ecological systems helps explain the principles of growth and descent. that ecosystems can descend in orderly steps means that a prosperous turndown of global civilization is possible."

He also wrote, "If they understand the need, people can adopt the concepts of prosperous descent, adapt their lives, and regain zeal for the future. Assuming some success in reducing population, moderating income extremes, and restoring environmental life support, people can find interesting and meaningful lives without much reduction in real wealth per person."

Odum is likely understating the pain will accompany descent; and the difficulty in getting people to prepare for it ahead of time. But his book is high on my list of recommended reading, and is available at the public library.

I agree with Walter that collapse doesn't necessarily mean falling off a cliff. Even Richard Heinberg was pointing out early on that it may occur over a period of decades or longer.

I agree with Frank about the importance of "Care, be fair and be humble." That's a nice summary of what's really important, and will be key in seeing us through the transition.
Comment by Heather K on May 18, 2010 at 3:48pm
May we walk together in simplicity of relationships expressed as sharing, caring & gratitude. May we walk together respecting diversity on the lands, waters, & within cultures.

Kaloni, a Hawaiian elder, teaches that our (Hawaiian) culture is a gifting culture. Whatever our gifts are as individuals we use, and we share our gifts with others. If we make baskets we give the baskets away to those who need them. If we grow/harvest food we share those gifts. This Hawaiian elder shares that what is very important is how we choose to spend our time, and who we spend our time with. That time is very precious and cannot be gotten back once it is given away.

I have experienced the wonder & peace of expressing & living within an economy of a gifting culture. I know this gifting culture still exists on many parts of the earth, although the products produced & energy consumed are not measured or recorded in industrialized culture.

May we have the wisdom to know when to change our ways, the wisdom to know how to preserve what is precious, the wisdom to let go of what is not needed, and the grace to perceive & receive the abundance that exists.

Thank you all for the gift of your sharing!
Comment by Frank James on May 18, 2010 at 9:52am
I especially like you final closing.

"It will not be a soft landing, however. Best to make arrangements and relationships for the future."

It is the relationships that matter now and will matter even more in the future.

As to the market explanation of costs and products, what economists leave out are the externalized costs that are paid by others or put off into the future. Distortions of markets are what most of current political activity is about. The Story of Stuff is the best at explaining this but serious academics have analyzed these costs for some time and Dan Hagen at WWU is an international expert on the topic.

As long as markets are distorted by putting real costs off on poor people in other places and off on the environment so that we all have to pay those costs but in the future, and those costs are not put in the product at the time, those who analyze from the narrow market economics will keep coming up with nonsense. The true cost of a single cigarette is well over $1 each if the true cost of all the medical care and decrease productivity were included in the cost at the counter. But the political folks have allowed markets to be distorted such that we all pay the price of the product in our taxes. Same is true for eating meat that is grown the industrialized way. Another good communication is the Meatrix story. That helps to explain in direct terms how this works.,com_portfolio/Item...

So for me, I still think that the distorted economics of oil and food production are one of the main mechanisms that put us at dramatically greater risk of a precipitous fall environmentally. Things are already going wrong in the environment and everyone knows it. They are beyond our control and I do not know, nor does anyone else that I have communicated with or read have a realistic idea of how far along on the path of recoverability we are.

For now I believe that finding the wisdom of time and living like other have advocated for may centuries is the best path forward. Weather it is do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or the teachings of Lao Tze that I mentioned earlier or the Buddha or whomever you like, the messages are messages of sharing, caring and being mindful. In that state there is hope. The only hope that I see.

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