Living in Transition

Transition Linithgow by John Lord via Creative Commons

Guest post by Tracey Arial

“I’m also involved in starting a Transition Group in my neighbourhood.”

“What’s Transition?”

This mini-conversation took place with a fellow Blogathon 2013 participant and Professional Writers Associaton of Canada (PWAC) member Van Waffle during MagNet, a magazine conference, but similar ones have occurred many times since I first began working to create Verdun en Transition a couple of years ago.

Transition is a movement started by Rob Hopkins to encourage communities to create resiliency by living sustainably in Transition Towns. Hopkins’ premise is that humans have to begin combatting climate change, peak oil and overconsumption within local communities and he’s created a movement to make that happen. He created a 16-minute TED talk about the idea, which is on my blog.

His idea began with Totnes, England, and Kinsale, Ireland, in 2006 and has been spreading around the world ever since. There are now 1,042 official Transition Towns in the world, with 70 of them in Canada. The first two began in Peterborough and Guelph. There are also many incubator ones, like the one I’m starting in Verdun. There’s a great website to link the many groups. The movement is also growing in Quebec, and there’s a website in French.

Last month, Hopkins released a new book called The Power of Doing Stuff, in which he talks about the kinds of things that communities have done as part of the movement. There’s local money, local energy solutions, local transportation ideas, local gardening projects, local stores. The momentum that’s building around the idea is really exciting, but pinning it down to any one thing can be challenging.

Here in Verdun, many of the people who got involved in our movement met during a citizen’s forum in Verdun during the last weekend in April 2010. We created a group called Vert Verdun (Green Verdun) and began organizing events together, including an introduction to urban agriculture on March 30, 2011. After four of us took a one-day training session with the Transition Movement, we set up an introduction to Transition on April 24, 2012. Michel Durand, one of the founders of Transition Quebec, and Blaise Rémillard from Villeray en Transition, a local group in Montreal, spoke. Last October, we welcomed Chris Philpott, from Transition Leamington to Verdun.

Locally, we communicate through a mailing list and a Facebook page.

Some of our members, including me, are also getting a workers’ coop underway to work on local food solutions, such as aquaponic fish farming.

As an individual, being involved in the movement has been incredibly worthwhile. Several of the people I’ve met are community organizers and they’ve invited us to talk about active transportation, gardening, housing issues and business challenges. Everyone who is a member of our group is trying to figure out how they might be involved, so the process encourages you to be flexible, open and involved.

Others are artists and broadcasters, such as Camille, one of the leaders of my weekend training. Camille and his wife Charlotte produced a series of videos about local solutions all over North America.

I now know way more about what is happening in Verdun and in our adjacent communities too. It’s not at all clear where this will lead next, but it certainly is exciting. I highly recommend the journey.

Tracey Arial works for social justice. She has recently joined three other Verdun en Transition members to found a workers’ cooperative for urban agriculture projects. She writes about communications, community strength, cultural identity, family adventures, ecological living, history worth remembering, politics that matter and natural wonders for newspapers and magazines. She’s also written Ulysses guidebooks about cycling, cross-country skiing and hiking in Ontario. Her first book, “I Volunteered, Canadian Vietnam Vets Remember,” got good reviews; she’s currently working on a similar work about World War II. She is a member and former president of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and currently sits on the board of the Montreal Press Club. She’s also a member of the Quebec Family History Association, the Green Coalition, St. Brendan’s Parish and the New Democratic Party.

Photo courtesy of John Lord via Flickr Creative Commons.

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