Transitioning to a Sustainable Future
Even once we muster the required societal resolve to move beyond today's polluting technology, that future won't simply arrive fully formed overnight. The Transition Towns movement, founded by Rob Hopkins, gives us one model for transitioning to a sustainable future.
As with any change, whether it's a transformation of consciousness or something as simple as becoming more physically fit, there is a transition period. Looking back it may seem like a quantum leap has occurred, a jump from one state of being to another, but in the moment, in the present, a transition is always occurring.
When it comes to creating a more environmentally aware society, one which more effectively balances human needs with the needs of the rest of life on this planet, there will be a period where the dirty technology and disconnected perspective we have today exists alongside the clean technology and holistic perspective we are moving toward. Too much inertia exists in the system, too much existing infrastructure needs to change, too many existing thought patterns need to evolve, for it to be otherwise.
We can't let this discourage us or distract us; and, if we acknowledge and honor this transition, we lower the chances of getting sidetracked along the way. We mustn't allow the fact that we don't have a precise picture of the sustainable future we desire created in our minds get in the way of moving toward that goal. One foot in front of the other, with the right intent, will get us there.
In the short video above, Hopkins lays out in some detail what, to him, transition is. Most importantly, beyond any technical change or environmental change, Hopkins notes, transition is "about cultural change...how do you inoculate the culture of a place so that things run, and things start to happen" moving us towards a sustainable, ecologically friendly future.
For one vision of what can get created when "things start to happen," look to Transition Town Totnes (TTT), located in Devon, England.
In their owns words, "Transition Town Totnes is a dynamic, community-led, and run charity that exists to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living, and build our resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate."
TTT works on "increasing low-impact affordable housing, sharing skills, creating livelihoods, reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, [and] growing our local food economy." In short, this transition town is working on issues now that many of our communities will be forced to grapple with in upcoming decades.
Many of the projects TTT undertakes are familiar, including working with food, green building, and transportation. However, two projects bear closer attention: skill sharing, and what TTT calls "Inner Transition."
The sharing of skills, particularly those related to self-reliance in food production, building, and maintaining our clothes, tools, and homes, is something which will be of great benefit in transitioning toward a green future. In Totnes, residents share skills in a number of areas, including sewing, foraging for wild food, permaculture, creating forest gardens, developing Earth wisdom, Feldenkrais Method, breathwork, singing, and poetry.
But what do some of these topics have to do with the environment and the idea of transition?
In order for societal transition to occur, individuals need to become the best, most full version of themselves they can be. We must develop our wisdom and intuition, understand the way our bodies move, tap into the power of our own breath, and express ourselves through art, song, and poetry.
In the video above, Sophy Banks, from Transition Towns Totnes' Heart and Soul group, eloquently explains why creating an inner transition in ourselves is a crucial part of creating outer transition in society.
Banks explains, "We need to create a vision of the future that talks about what it is to be human. What is it, beyond what we do or what we make or how we heat our houses? What does it mean to be a human being? That is a part of society that we have really lost, that sense of what we are beyond our activities."
As Banks rightly notes, those deeper concerns aren't often talked about when discussing the day-to-day aspects of our lives, how are we going to feed ourselves, heat our homes, or move from place to place. When we ask these questions we should also ask what inner exploration or transformation is needed, on each of our parts, to help bring about a more sustainable future.
If we allow both inner and outer transformations to happen, they begin to feed off each other in a reciprocating pattern. For example, if we become more mindful about what and how we eat, food producers will respond by creating more sustainable food. If we decide to give up our car because our city has installed bike lanes and we want to protect the environment, we receive health benefits we may not have expected.
As we allow both individuals and communities to change, we move closer to the truly regenerative future envisioned by Transition Town programs and people around the world.