Transition Whatcom

Creating the Culture of the Future

At our last TWOG meeting on Wed., we were talking about the EDAP/ARC.  Creating and implementing the "Energy Descent Action Plan" or "Actions for a Resilient Community" is at the center of the mission of Transition Whatcom.  As we reflected on what that actually meant, Paul commented that really the ARC/EDAP is a culture, the culture of the future.

This hit me like a bolt of lightning. Transition Whatcom is attempting to create a path to a culture, and all of its elements (community, transportation, housing, energy, education, healthcare), that does not yet exist. How overwhelming is that?!

The only way to do this is to imagine that we are already there, and to allow our vision to guide our steps. In the Transition Handbook are numerous examples of newspaper articles written "in the future",  as if the cultural shift has already occurred. By imagining ourselves looking back from a future where transition has occurred, we can begin to create a path to get from here to there.

The work of transition is as much about imagination as it is about community development, permaculture, urban agriculture, reskilling, or anything else. As a meditation teacher I had once said, "we must allow the pull of the future to be stronger than the push of the past".

Emily Farrell

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Comment by Emily Farrell on July 24, 2011 at 8:58pm


Thank you for your thoughtful reflections. I agree that "culture" is a slippery concept, and I agree with you that what is proposed in Rob Hopkins book will have to be adapted for the US, and specifically for Bellingham.

As food for thought, when I think of culture, at least in the context of Transition, I draw on the work of David Korten and Joanna Macy in their descriptions of the Great Turning. The Great Turning is their description of the shift from industrial capitalist society to a sustainable society. They both speak of this as needing to happen on multiple levels: spiritually, conceptually, politically, economically, socially. In TW each of us as individuals are thinking about each of these levels, as well as in ever widening circles - neighborhood, community etc. In that context we need to consider specifically things like food, transportation, healthcare, shelter, work, etc.  As a working definition, this seems to me to describe a shift in culture - and requires all of our imagination about what could be possible, our logical, conceptual thinking, and our resourcefulness.

I would love to hear any specific thoughts you have about what the process could be like. Are their examples from anthropology that provide insight into how to go about this?


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