Learning about peak oil and climate change, and living through the worst economy since the Great Depression, can conspire to make you feel pretty hopeless about the future.
From the dire scenarios of resource wars to the thought of your kids or grand kids starving due to empty grocery shelves and some weird combo of inflation and deflation all at the same time, a gray vista just waits to set in. That bleakness often lands the peak-oil and global warming aware person squarely in the doomer camp. Not a bright spot at parties, let me tell you.
Wait, it’s not all bad
But it’s against this understandable emotional blight that the worldwide Transition Town Movement has taken hold, offering instead an inspiring vision of how, beginning at the most local levels, communities can transform into bright, productive, resilient hubs of economic, social and cultural activity within which society experiences a resurgence of human creativity and engagement.
For half a decade Transition has been at work, drawing on Permaculture principles and translating them into fields of human interaction, from food production to community organization. Through the power of a good idea, inspiration from fearless leader Rob Hopkins, and no small help from the Internet as an exponential multiplier, the movement has taken off like wildfire, with Transition Towns cropping up in 380 towns and cities across the globe.
But while the vibe of the movement, resources online and Transition Training Sessions have clearly been key to the success of the movement, really telling the story of the origins of Transition, and how it works up close and in person, has been helped by the film In Transition 1.0, a 50-minute documentary on just how and why Transition Towns sprung up, and how they spread from place to place. (Purchase DVDs here.)
As the film’s press describes it, Transition 1.0
…is the first detailed film about the Transition movement filmed by those that know it best, those who are making it happen on the ground. The Transition movement is about communities around the world responding to peak oil and climate change with creativity, imagination and humor, and setting about rebuilding their local economies and communities. It is positive, solutions focused, viral and fun.
Compiled from Transition initiatives from all over the world, the film is a compilation of those stories, showing the enthusiasm, challenges, and plain old elbow grease and sweat equity that it takes to bring about change among even the smallest group of people.
With footage from Open Space as well as Town Council type meetings, shots of days spent building gardens and envisioning local food production, stories of local currencies from the visioning stage to the roll-out to a kind of IPO swarm, the movie details the many simple actions that together add up to shifts in making things, doing business, working together and interacting in our world.
Low-fi, but high quality
Given the film’s crowd-sourced origins it’s no surprise that In Transition 1.0 is not a big-budget Hollywood-style documentary with all the perfect production values that deliver a story seamlessly.
There are some distinct issues with sound in 1.0, in particular when filming took place in public meetings, gardens, or on playgrounds, garbling the speaker amidst a raft of background noise.
And for us Yanks there’s a bit of a disappointment that while the film is subtitled in Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano and Nederlands, it wasn’t subtitled in English. But, ahem, as ab-fab as we find you Limeys and your charming voices, sometimes we can’t make out your regional accents without a little help from the written word. So don’t forget us when you roll out Transition 2.0 this fall. English subtitles, too. Please.
It just gets better
Which brings me to 2.0 this fall.
The Transition Movement is still seeking footage and feedback for the next iteration of the story. The Transition Network will again crowd-source and compile footage, a method that is very true to the organizational and, I might even add, cultural (or even spiritual) roots of the movement, where there are few if any top-down directives. Instead the movement is driven almost entirely, with the exception of suggestions and well developed but not imperative guidelines, by the peculiar circumstances, geology, topography, cultural systems, and styles of a given locality.
As the most dynamic, viral, open, engaging, positive and alive community organizational system I’ve ever seen, Transition is more than an antidote to that sometimes aching and crippling feeling that peak oil awareness can bring. It’s an inspiration and an action plan without hitting you over the head with either.
Most of all it’s our story. It’s yours. Let’s tell it.
–Lindsay Curren, Transition Voice
P.S. It just so happens that we’re showing In Transition 1.0 tonight at our local Transition group film series. If you happen to live in Staunton, Va., or the region, come on out to see it at Mockingbird Restaurant at 7pm.