Transition Handbook in a Nutshell


From Energy Bulletin

Paul Heft has provided an outline with notes for The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, the foundational text of the Transition Movement. Notes are in italics.

You can buy the book online or through your local bookstore. Other free information on Transition that is available online:
Transition Primer
Study guide for the Transition Handbook
In Transition (movie)


Introduction: Tantalizing glimpses of resilience

  1. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to hold together and maintain its functions in the face of change and shocks from outside. The book argues that building local resilience is key. A resilient culture thrives by living within its limits, and can function indefinitely.
  2. The Achilles heel of economic globalization is its degree of oil dependency. Moving away from oil dependency, toward more localized energy-efficient and productive living arrangements, is inevitable.
  3. Our culture is underpinned with cultural myths, misleading and harmful stories, which we must replace.
  4. The book favors generating a “sense of elation, rather than the guilt, anger and horror that most campaigning involves.” The book advocates a “sense of anticipation, elation and a collective call to adventure … positive engagement and new storytelling … [exploring] the possibilities of applied optimism …” It offers a vision of “an extraordinary renaissance—economic, cultural and spiritual … making a nourishing and abundant future a reality.”

Chapter 1: Peak Oil and Climate Change

[Has Hopkins failed to focus on any other problems that seem as daunting? For example, pushing beyond the planet’s capacity to maintain living environments—forests, rivers, oceans, aquifers, soil, etc.—that provide humanity’s sources and sinks;

Rural Entrepreneuring


From SHEILAH ROGERS
Redwood Valley
Rural Matters

From the Center for Rural Affairs:

There is a developing broad agreement among researchers, policy advocates and others that the traditional economic development models of industrial and business recruitment simply do not meet the needs of rural communities.

Entrepreneurship has been lifted up as an economic development model that will better serve rural people and rural places. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City states that, “Rural policymakers, who once followed traditional strategies of recruiting manufacturers that export low-value products, have realized that entrepreneurs can generate new economic value for their communities. Entrepreneurs add jobs, raise incomes, create wealth, improve the quality of life of citizens and help rural communities operate in the global economy.” Federal rural policy must begin to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship as a rural development strategy and provide the resources necessary for rural people and rural communities to leverage the spirit, creativity and opportunities entrepreneurship creates.

Asset- and wealth-building strategies are equally important. Greater income alone cannot lead to economic well-being for individuals and families; asset- and wealth-building through home ownership, business ownership or enhanced education lead to important long-term psychological and social effects that cannot be achieved by simply increasing income. While income is an important factor, income can be achieved nearly anywhere in varying degrees. Assets, like businesses, bond one to a place and help to build sustainable communities. A commitment to rural asset- and wealth-building strategies like microenterprise development can lead to a stronger individuals, families and communities.

Agriculturally-based entrepreneurship and innovation must also continue to play a vital role in rural development policy and can be easily linked to microenterprise development.

Derrick Jensen: No, We Can’t Have It All


From DERRICK JENSEN
Humboldt County
CommonDreams.org

An Excerpt from ‘Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization’

We all face choices. We can have ice caps and polar bears, or we can have automobiles. We can have dams or we can have salmon. We can have irrigated wine from Mendocino and Sonoma counties, or we can have the Russian and Eel Rivers. We can have oil from beneath the oceans, or we can have whales. We can have cardboard boxes or we can have living forests. We can have computers and cancer clusters from the manufacture of those computers, or we can have neither. We can have electricity and a world devastated by mining, or we can have neither (and don’t give me any nonsense about solar: you’ll need copper for wiring, silicon for photovoltaics, metals and plastics for appliances, which need to be manufactured and then transported to your home, and so on. Even solar electrical energy can never be sustainable because electricity and all its accoutrements require an industrial infrastructure).  We can have fruits, vegetables, and coffee brought to the U.S. from Latin America, or we can have at least somewhat intact human and nonhuman communities throughout that region. (I don’t think I need to remind readers that, to take one not atypical example among far too many, the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala was overthrown by the United States to support the United Fruit Company, now Chiquita, leading to thirty years of U.S.-backed dictatorships and death squads. Also, a few years ago I asked a member of the revolutionary tupacamaristas what they wanted for the people of Peru, and he said something that cuts to the heart of the current discussion [and to the heart of every struggle that has ever taken place against civilization]:

Stacy Mitchell: Local economies close the distance between us


From STACY MITCHELL
New Rules Project
Via Yes! Magazine/Energy Bulletin

I live in a 19th century neighborhood in a small New England city. My mother-in-law, who grew up in this same neighborhood, often talks about what it was like during her childhood in the 1940s. What I find most striking about her description is how many businesses our little section of town once had. There was a grocery store, hardware store, two drugstores, a tailor, and more.

All of those businesses disappeared in the following decades. Families acquired cars and shopping migrated out to supermarkets and, later, malls and big-box stores. When I moved to the neighborhood in 2003, there were no businesses left save one lone corner store. Meanwhile, scores of big-box stores and massive shopping centers had grown up on the edge of town.

This transformation was not natural or inevitable. It was engineered by government policy. After World War II, federal and state officials poured money into highway construction, dismantled public transit, guaranteed mortgages in the suburbs but not in the city, and enacted planning rules that insisted on a rigid separation of residential and commercial uses. All of this created a landscape ideal for chains and big-box stores, but inhospitable to local businesses. In recent decades, municipal governments have gone even further, doling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year in subsidies and tax breaks that directly underwrite the construction of shopping centers and superstores.

Most Americans, as well as a growing number of Europeans, now find themselves living in a built environment that is ill-suited to a post-carbon world—in part because it fails to support a local economy and in part because it demands an extraordinary amount of driving. Between 1987 and 2007, total miles driven in the U.S. rose 60 percent.

Vote Dan Hamburg for 5th District Supervisor


From DAVE SMITH

I support and endorse Dan for Supervisor, and agree with his stands on the issues of our county. Dan is not a “one-issue candidate” nor does he ignore any meaningful issue that confronts our citizens. He is experienced and effective. He has been on the front lines of progressive social change all his adult life. See the excellent interview with Dan in this week’s AVA and online at The AVA.com. Dan’s website is VoteHamburg5.org/.

From DAN HAMBURG’s Website

Dan Hamburg has committed to positions on issues that matter to Mendocino.

OUR ASSETS

· Mendocino County has more organic acreage than any county in the nation.
· Mendocino County has the most biodynamic acreage in the state
· Mendocino County has more artists per capita than anywhere else in the nation
· Mendocino County boasts more houses “off the grid” per capita than anywhere else in the nation.
· Mendocino County is the first county in the nation to ban the growing and production of genetically modified crops and animals (GMOs).

Let’s build upon these resources. We have the ingenuity, the will and the heart to create a vibrant and more prosperous County. All that’s stopping us is our own imagination.

BUILD A STRONGER LOCAL ECONOMY

Sewage Sludge is Really the Sh**s


From OUR EYES ARE ON THE WATER

[…] The ramifications of land application of biosolids not being 100% safe are catastrophic. And, yo, it’s not okay to “slip up” here. Does the spreading of biosolids pose a clear and present danger to public health? Is there the slightest risk that harmful chemicals, hazardous toxic material can get into the food and water supply? They do not know for certain. One thing we know for certain is IF that happens there will be no turning back. We have had enough experience to know that.

If human life could be sustained solely on episodes of Glee, the music of Nicki Minaj, and the dance moves of the JabbaWockeeZ, then sure spread biosolids, sling sludge until you pass out. But the truth of the matter is humans have to eat and drink to live. Our digestive systems are not designed to separate bad things in foods from the good. We are mutations. Mutants. What we eat goes directly into our collective systems and the rest is called evolution, for better or for worse.

In North Carolina, Virginia, and many other states, sludge spreading is a serious problem. If it is known that sludge is potentially harmful, why is it being spread? In my mind, if Sugar Brand A is laced with arsenic and Sugar Brand B is not; why would I voluntarily put Sugar Brand A in my coffee? It appears that they want to count us brain dead before our time. Sewage sludge is known to have caused serious medical complications in people and animals that have been exposed to it. Getting the powers that be to admit to and take responsibility for this has proven to be somewhat difficult. When money is involved people do some strange things. And if a company can cut some corners and make a few extra bucks, say, like hundreds of millions, the amount of strange things they’ll do is endless.

NEWS FLASH: We all drink the same water and eat the same food. Sludge will get to you too!

More here
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Not Really Simple


From CHARLOTTE ALLEN
InCharacter Blog
Thanks to Ron Epstein

It was the $380 “bona fide horse-riding boots” that got me clued into the simple life. There they were, sleek, polished to the sheen of black pearls, and taking up an entire page of Real Simple magazine. “You’ll never want to take them off,” the accompanying copy promised. It was the first time I’d ever picked up Real Simple, the women’s magazine that distinguishes itself from other women’s magazines by its lack of tips for getting rid of belly fat, its Zen-lite self-help pages (“learn to live with uncertainty”), and its tastefully minimalist layouts characterized by snowdrift-sized expanses of white space. Here’s a food article picturing six balloon-sized Brussels sprouts scattered over the page and not much else. There’s a photo essay featuring elegant mothers and their poetically posed toddlers that actually seems to be about hand-tatted lace, which appears in the foreground or background of nearly every picture. And here’s one about jewelry crafted out of the original brass door numbers at New York’s Plaza Hotel – the pin goes for $260. I closed my issue of Real Simple, stuffed with equally tasteful and equally minimalist ads for wines, Toyota Priuses (the automobile of choice for simple people), and many, many wrinkle creams, and thought: gee, all this simple living can set you back.

Welcome to the simplicity movement, the ethos whose mantras are “cutting back,” “focusing on the essentials,” “reconnecting to the land” – and talking, talking, talking about how fulfilled it all makes you feel. Genuine simple-living people – such as, say, the Amish – are not part of the simplicity movement, because living like the Amish (no iPod apps or granite countertops, plus you have to read the Bible) would be taking the simple thing a bit far… More at InCharacter
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Why I Hate Earth Day (Updated)


From SHARON ASTYK
Casaubon’s Book

I bloody hate Earth Day. No offense to those of you who love it, and I know there are some awesome Earth Day programs out there, but by the time we get there, I’m spending my days hiding under the covers, because every freakin’ time I open my email inbox a wave of the most nauseating spew of greenwashing comes flowing out.

Guess what? A major department store chain, nearly in bankruptcy, is now selling the eco-tote, made from organic sheepskin, embossed with “Think Global, Act Local” to show your care for the earth and indifference to grammar. And not to trouble me, but just so you know, the manufacturers of a disgusting sugar laden soft-drink have a new organic one, in a special collectible earth-day bottle. Don’t forget to follow the adventures of Eddie, who is marching nude across the Alaskan wilderness (except for his high priced hiking boots, oh, and the camera crew is clothed, as are the drivers of the six suport jeeps that follow him at 3 mph for the whole way) to raise awareness of Caribou migration Here’s a new website that helps affluent consumers buy carbon offsets so they don’t have to give a shit about their flights to Cancun wants to let me have an interview with their CEO. And don’t forget the chance to meet the manufacturer of a new, even bigger hybrid SUV that gets …woah…23 mpg!

This happens every year, but of course, for the fortieth anniversary of earth day, the bullshit levels reach new heights. My favorite new innovation is that now the press-releases actually acknowledge the problem of greenwashing, implying that you can’t trust those other manufacturers of pointless bullshit, but you definitely, really and truly, can trust someone who a. knows the word “greenwashing” and b. cares enough to add your email to a mailing list of 70,000 people… More at Casaubon’s Book
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See also New Senate Climate Bill Is “Slap in the Face to Everything that Earth Day Stands For” at DemocracyNow
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson
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[Update]
Sharon Astyk follows up with Why I hate Earth Day II: the road to hell in baby steps
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Farming Is Cultural As Well As Agricultural


From GENE LOGSDON

Last week, in company with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson, I spent a delightful evening at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, discussing the importance of good food and good farming. [Podcast 42 minutes Wendell Berry / Wes Jackson / Gene Logsdon.mp3 or here.] At one point, someone in the audience asked what we thought of the practice of urban farming. As often happens at panel discussions, we got sidetracked a little, and I did not have an opportunity to say as much as I would have like on that subject. So I will try to answer the question more fully here.

I think urban farming is one of the most hopeful developments to come down the street in a long time. First of all, it encourages the practical economic advantages and benefits of raising and consuming food locally. But its importance goes beyond that for me. I am sometimes asked why I spend my time writing about farming and gardening when, it is suggested, there are more important topics to which to apply my talents. That, in one sentence, indicates one of the most troublesome cultural problems that modern society faces today: the notion that food-getting is not an important enough subject to merit the close attention of all of us.

First of all, if you let big food business rule the roost in agriculture, you are going to get just what you pay taxes for: more big food business. For example, most people don’t even know that they are eating potatoes that have been genetically modified to kill potato bugs. If sometimes you get a notion that potatoes don’t taste as good as they used to, you just might be right. The potato bugs would surely agree with you.

But there’s something else that I think is important in this regard. The fact that our country has become divided into so-called red and blue states is an outcome directly traceable to the urban-rural division of our society… More at The Contrary Farmer
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