In which Vancouver neighbourhood or other community do you live?
Please tell us which areas of Transition interest you. For example: growing more food/urban agriculture, relocalizing our economy/local currency, Permaculture, transit, energy efficient buildings, the arts, urban homesteading, preserving seed diversity, placemaking, potlucks, outreach, organizing events, community-building, having fun while saving the world, or...
I'm not sure yet. I'll likely attend several to get a feel for how people in the particular group treat each other, what their group's focus (or foci) is (are), whether or not I can be useful to them/it, etc. We've had a saying for a long time in working on the challenge of our time: "If it doesn't feel good it is not worth doing", a truth that still holds.
Obviously all of the paths named and more must be walked to create a sustainable future. It will be groups that express culturally transformative/metamorphic values of mutual respect, hope, fun, and yes energetic determination, that I'll be drawn toward.
There's a saying that "Transition is not a spectator sport". It's true! Village Vancouver runs on people power, and engaging in activities and projects together helps us accomplish more. Which groups, networks, neighbourhood villages, or projects do you think you might be interested in getting involved with? And what knowledge, skills, resources or other assets can you bring to the mix? (Don't be bashful!)
I've heard about Transition for some time from members, in particular long-time friend and colleague Kathryn Cholette, and am pleased to begin to join in after a bit of a 'holiday' from volunteering over a number of years.
I can offer the following in addition to a lifetime commitment to the cause: 1) a substantial level of educational expertise gathered over 25 years of professional practice, graduate coursework, and volunteer experience; 2) a personal commitment to a respectful approach to fellow beings including humans, at times guardedly (but hopefully) toward those not who do not offer similar values or intent; 3) an M.E.S. from York ('91) titled "Seeking Sustainability: A Community-Based Learning Model" which aside from analyzing ecological crisis focused on sources of hope in intentional community(ies), education, and sustainable societies of the near and more distant past.
Experiences have included collaboration on a new RAN chapter at York in the late 80's, co-writing and hosting a weekly radio program "Ecology and Politics" for two years, gestating a grad student-run journal "undercurrents" that survived 14 annual editions, participating in and helping to lead several non-profits and community based groups including the Tin Wis Coalition and the East Fraserlands Committee, while primarily creating and managing support systems for at-risk youth in the public school system since the early '90s.
What would you like to see improved in Vancouver or in your community regarding sustainability or resiliency? Do you have an idea for a new Transition project or activity?
First, I'd erase the non-word "resiliency." It's a poor substitute for resilience. "Resiliency" was created at Hockey Night in Canada by folks who've been hit in the head too often with blunt objects, who also tv-speak of diligency, perseverancy, etc. Sorry. But, really. Ok yeah I'm an English teacher among other things. But still.
Through membership in and ultimately co-chairing the East Fraserlands Committee from 2002 to 2009, our small group of representatives of smaller groups in South and Southeast Vancouver helped to drive City policies, in the Planning and Engineering departments particularly, and the politicians, much faster toward a greener agenda for Vancouver. That was accomplished while changing a development project suited to planning in the 1950's into one that has won a number of regional and national awards for sustainability, as recently as 2011. A highly diverse group of citizens gained coherence and cohesion sufficient to convince three quite different civic administrations to do the best they could at the time, always allowing for and pushing for more. Every new iteration of the project passed at Council unanimously, each 'greener' than the last.
That was Transition-in-action that we've all witnessed at the Council level if we've lived here a decade or longer. Of course it was only a small step toward the cultural transformation or metamorphosis needed to create sustainability from where we are and what we have now, but along with actions being taken by others all over town, it was a start. "Transition" is building a new culture, because we have to. I'd argue that the City recognizing and approving change in a 'transitional' direction has helped to energize it somewhat; not so much activists who were born to change the world, but the more numerous folks who are sensitive to criticism and less likely to act in a negative or tense climate. The social and political climate in Vancouver has been made much more positive about 'seeking sustainability' over the last decade and more and more people are getting involved, including some who may not have done in less supportive circumstances. (Mounting irrefutable evidence of ecological crisis has had a wee bit to do with it too...)
Sometime, I might like to visit a number of groups to tell them how that was done, literally the 'nuts and bolts' of how to organize and push the City in particular for change in any area. I've spoken of it to grad and undergrad classes at UBC and SFU, the World Planners' Congress, etc. One experience stands out. After delivering a "two-minute version" to Professor Emeritus Peter Boothroyd's class at UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning, Peter remarked privately "That's just what I was telling them before you got here."
Aside from a 'nuts and bolts' committee that I'll mull over and discuss with Kathryn and others, another source of energy that I think is needed in a time requiring action not only that is good but comes soon, is the knowledge, experience, resources, and energy available from existing groups, carefully selected, that though not aligned with Transition as yet could and likely should be.
So in a nutshell:
1) Sustainability, if it is not to be imposed brutally either by a rebelling planet or war, i.e. if the process and product are to be peaceful and supportive of a human future of ethical and moral value, will be pursued through learning and doing.
2) Most people don't know much about learning and doing. It isn't rocket surgery. Knowledge about teaching and learning (together "pedagogy") should be shared with people who want to help their neighbourhoods change. I attended an Occupy meeting yesterday wherein much time was wasted unnecessarily, that a simple normal procedure in teaching would have avoided completely. We don't have a lot of time, or people's interest and attention, to waste.
3) Intentional communities have been organizing themselves for thousands of years. They have some lessons to offer too.
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