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To plan for emergency, or not? Heinberg and Hopkins debate

robrichard

At the Transition Network conference, Richard Heinberg gave an online presentation looking at the concept of Emergency Planning for Communities, something he initially unveiled at Findhorn last year. You can see his presentation here. For a while now, Richard and I have been discussing the tension between longer term planning for resilience and the more immediate and pressing responses demanded by sudden and rapid change. It is still an ongoing discussion, but we thought now, with Richard’s presentation, it would be a good time to open up the conversation for your thoughts. What follows is the series of email exchanges we have had since late last year.

One of the fascinating discussion points at the conference between those in the US and those in the UK, revolves around the degree of vulnerability people feel. When Naresh and Sophy returned from delivering Transition Training in the US, one of their observations was that, as a country with no free healthcare and little in the way of social services and benefits, life feels much more fragile there, and the sense that things could all fall apart tomorrow much more palpable. Translating Transition to the US context can be, some of those present were saying, a bigger challenge because of that. Is the US being overdramatic, or the UK lulled into a false sense of security? Does putting emergency planning at the forefront of Transition risk losing more people than it engages? Is it possible to build resilience in the middle of a crisis? There are just some of the questions that arise from these exchanges. Anyway, we throw this open, and welcome your thoughts based on the discussions below. …

December 10th 2008.

Dear Rob,

Let me start by saying that I am not proposing any specific change in the public Transition written materials or trainings, merely a private strategic discussion among those at a high level within the movement.

My reasoning is simple: Transition has a very positive and optimistic face, which is extremely attractive and the main reason for its success. As you know, better than anyone, its goal is to envision a desirable post-fossil fuel future and then backcast incremental local steps for the achievement of that future.

Now: the reason we all see it necessary to transition away from fossil fuels is that if we don’t, dire things will happen. But what if it’s actually too late to prevent some of those dire things from happening, and they occur during our Transition period and process?

Obviously this is not an academic question. We are seeing a truly frightening financial collapse—partly resulting from this year’s high oil prices—unfolding before us. The world has changed very significantly in the past few months, so much so that the shift is difficult to overstate, even though its direction and implications are still revealing themselves. My question is: should the Transition movement ignore this new fact-on-the-ground, address it as just a bump or pothole along the way, or take it very seriously as (1) a potential challenge to the Transition program if people feel that their optimistic efforts are being overwhelmed by catastrophic economic conditions including closure of local businesses and loss of jobs and funding by key organizers; (2) a potential opportunity both to grow the movement and to offer tangible help to people in genuine need; or (3) both of the latter?

If it is to be seen as (2), an opportunity, what might that mean in terms of public messaging, trainings, etc.?

My own view is that organizations like ours can help by providing inspiration (as Transition certainly does, probably to a much greater extent than PCI), as well as by helping to solve real problems. I would guess that in the near future solving problems will become more of a priority than it has been up to this point, simply because the number and scale of problems that individuals and communities will be confronting will snowball. Whether we like it or not, those of us who have put ourselves forward in the public eye as having answers will be looked to for practical solutions to very basic problems like homelessness, unemployment, hunger, decaying infrastructure, lack of heating fuel, lack of capital, and bank failures.

Obviously, what Transition and PCI have been advocating (community gardens, local currencies, etc.) are in fact at least partial solutions to these very problems, but so far we have discussed them in terms of proactive efforts to keep the problems from happening, or to build a better world in the future. Should the growing presence of these problems affect how our solutions are described (to the general public, to policy makers, or among ourselves) and/or how they are implemented?

Again, this is only meant to be a conversation opener. We’re all figuring this out as we go along—at least I am!

With all best wishes,
Richard.

January 9th 2009.

Dear Richard,

Happy New Year to you. I have been giving your email some thought over the last couple of weeks and wanted to respond with some feedback. I agree with you that some element of Emergency Planning (which feels like a more appropriate term to me) is vital, but I wonder whether it is something that either falls completely outside of the work of Transition groups or, while connected, has somehow to be kept clearly distinct for the reasons below.

To begin with, that kind of emergency response work is usually done by local authorities, or in the US by groups like FEMA. It is hard to figure out how one would come up with a community response plan that would be more effective, or able to mobilise what they are able to mobilise, than what they could do. I haven’t tried to find out who is responsible for that in Totnes, but I suspect that whoever it is would not be entirely welcoming of well-meaning approaches from us offering to input some Transition flavouring.

At the root of it is the old bottom up/top down question. Is it possible to design a bottom up emergency response plan that is effective? At present, in the event of an emergency, in theory at least, the government agencies swing into action, organising water, energy, food and so on (although of course Katrina is an example of exactly the opposite happening, but what would a pre-planned community response in New Orleans have looked like?). Of course this raises fascinating questions, as I suppose in a few years a community fully engaged upon energy descent would be far better at dealing with emergencies than “the authorities” - and in the past bottom up emergency planning worked superbly in the anarchist led communities during the Spanish Civil War. Having said that, those were communities which were already, and explicitly, united around a common vision; ie more like communities already meaningfully engaged in energy descent than the current early adopting transition initiatives.

I think about this in terms of the principles of Transition. Does Emergency Planning lead to increased resilience? Maybe yes, but maybe not. Tends to be peoples’ last consideration in times of panic. The priority turns to short term survival. We are already seeing in the Ukraine people felling trees left, right and centre in order to keep warm, and Ireland during the Famine had barely a single tree. Short term emergencies tend to move people away from resilience, something that, it seems to me, can only really be created in a longer term, intentionally designed way. On the other hand, does that mean that principles of resilience should be put to one side in an emergency? While the answer to that must be no, I’m struggling to see what one does with the resulting tension.

In terms of ‘Inner and Outer Transition’, I think this creates a huge challenge. There are very few people who can really delve into the nitty gritty of emergency planning without feeling deeply despondent.. there are a few grizzled doomers who would thrive on it, but how to create a meaningful community process of planning emergency responses without breeding powerlessness on an unprecedented scale is hard to imagine. There may be a need for working out how to do trauma counselling on a huge scale, training a team of people to support the freakouts that would happen, but again, on that scale it needs the Health teams and the NHS.

In terms of subsidiarity, emergency planning is something that has almost always come from the top down. I would be fascinated to hear your thoughts on what an effective bottom-up response might look like. Wouldn’t bottom up responses to emergencies, almost by definition, be actions which emerge rather than follow a pre-determined plan? The piqueteros in Argentina appeared as a result of dire need/emergency, but not because of a previous plan. It may well be that within a TI a few people who are so inclined might write such a thing, but I can’t see it being something many people would choose to engage with.

I feel that absolutely key to all of this is the fact that, in terms of visioning, there isn’t a positive potential outcome to use to inspire and engage people. Transition is very deliberately designed to be non-threatening, to be inviting and engaging. It could be argued that emergency planning is the opposite. The danger is that if the vision becomes collapse next week, that the Transition group becomes seen as a survivalist cult, and loses people. It is hard enough for us to engage and work with our local authority here, and we are presenting ourselves to them as rational, positive thinking people with ideas they need, answers to questions they aren’t asking yet, although no doubt we are still seen as fringe players. If we were to take a very doomy position, and invite them to prepare for meltdown next week, I suspect we would find it far harder to find a way into them.

I think the question for me is more around how does one ’speed up’ an EDAP. Most of the work in one tends to focus on their first few years, and if it is written properly it should really engage that kind of input. For example, if we want to have food gardens in place in time for an emergency, the same obstacles still exist to their creation now that exist in an EDAP. It is about designing things that are viable in one economic context that will also be viable in another entirely different one. It is a big job, but those gardens aren’t going to appear by magic, they need to be planned, created and maintained. Same with woodfuel, local markets and so on.

I find it hard to see how the things that would actually lead to increased resilience could be done any faster, short of actually being in that emergency scenario by which time, in some ways, it is too late to do that effectively. Say the UK’s gas is shut off tomorrow, leading to a speeding up of the current economic troubles… not too much in the way of meaningful gardening to be done in Totnes in January.. Would be at least June before much is produced. An EDAP would be looking for triggers for rapidly speeding up the numbers of people growing food, other institutions that could help, identifying potential growing land and so on. It is hard to see how it might be done any faster.

Finally, there are lots of other organisations, community groups and so on, who don’t engage at the moment, but who would in an emergency. I think the EDAP creates a template for how they might be invited to direct their energy. So, my feeling is that the creation of Emergency Plans is something that could either happen in parallel with the EDAP process, or could be the work of a separate group. I think it would shift public perception of the work of that initiative away from it being seen as a positive, forward looking and inclusive thing, to being a doomer cult, the embodiment of what everyone always suspected environmentalists were all about in the first place. It certainly has an important role, but perhaps it is something that just happens discretely…

Finally, turning to your explicit question:
“My question is: should the Transition movement ignore this new fact-on-the-ground, address it as just a bump or pothole along the way, or take it very seriously as (1) a potential challenge to the Transition program if people feel that their optimistic efforts are being overwhelmed by catastrophic economic conditions including closure of local businesses and loss of jobs and funding by key organizers; (2) a potential opportunity both to grow the movement and to offer tangible help to people in genuine need; or (3) both of the latter?”

I think we clearly can’t ignore it or view it as a bump or pothole - and my gut feeling is that it is (3), the combination of challenge and opportunity. It may be though that the truth is that the opportunity is that the emergencies coming towards us will serve to demonstrate the need for transition more than anything else.

Thank you for having raised this issue, which is absolutely vitally important. On re-reading the above, I’m not sure that we’ll get to a completely clear answer, but I look forward to your further thoughts with great interest. It might be worth looking at the idea of publishing this exchange of emails on Transition Culture, and/or elsewhere, as I know it is a subject of conversation elsewhere. There is, for example, an interesting thread on the Transition Network forum exploring this.

Rob

February 2nd 2009.

Dear Rob,

Many thanks for your thoughtful reply to my earlier letter about Transition and emergency planning. I think the best way for me to continue the conversation would be to respond to specific points you made.

“Is it possible to design a bottom-up emergency response plan that is effective?”

If not, then I think that we (that is, those of us who desire to see an orderly, decentralized transition process) may be in danger of being written off as irrelevant at some point—perhaps in just a few months’ time. As you point out: during an emergency, people are much less interested in long-range plans and much more focused on satisfying immediate needs. The emergency is unfolding, and it is not going to be transitory. So as people deal with survival issues, how can their collective efforts trend toward sustainability?

“In the past bottom-up emergency planning worked superbly in the anarchist-led communities during the Spanish Civil War.”

This is an encouraging example to think about, even if—as you note—circumstances are very different now. In fact, I think communities are going to be left mostly to their own devices, once the efforts of national governments begin to fail—and fail they will. So how will communities get by? Who will help them organize their response to an almost complete economic shut-down, so that families still have food, water, shelter, sanitation facilities, work, and health care? I think anyone who can offer tangible help will be regarded with some respect.

“Does Emergency Planning lead to increased resilience?”

As you say, emergency planning doesn’t necessarily lead to greater resilience, but on the other hand I don’t see how a society can be resilient without it, especially when there are so many crises looming.

“I would be fascinated to hear your thoughts on what an effective bottom-up response might look like. Wouldn’t bottom-up responses to emergencies, almost by definition, be actions which emerge rather than follow a pre-determined plan?”

Yes, but such responses are likely to emerge more quickly and effectively if a few folks within the community begin running scenario exercises ahead of time, identifying community resources and thinking about how those might be mobilized. Such efforts could in fact be crucial to preserving societal coherence.

And this is what I fear most, frankly: the loss of societal coherence. If that goes—if we are each on our own, competing for food and drinkable water—then we have lost the game. This is what Orlov is talking about in his five stages of collapse (www.energybulletin.net/node/40919): it is social and cultural collapse that we must avoid if at all possible. We are seeing financial and commercial collapse now, and the beginnings of political collapse in many nations. How far down the chain are we going to go? Can we interrupt the process at some point by creating more cultural coherence? Transition is in fact creating more local cultural coherence—we’re on the right track!—but is it enough, and of the right sort?

“I find it hard to see how the things that would actually lead to increased resilience could be done any faster, short of actually being in that emergency scenario by which time, in some ways, it is too late to do that effectively. Say the UK’s gas is shut off tomorrow, leading to a speeding up of the current economic troubles… not too much in the way of meaningful gardening to be done in Totnes in January. Would be at least June before much is produced. An EDAP would be looking for triggers for rapidly speeding up the numbers of people growing food, other institutions that could help, identifying potential growing land and so on. It is hard to see how it might be done any faster.”

Fair enough—we’re all working as hard as we can, going as fast as we can go. But maybe there are unseen opportunities here.

In the beginning of your letter you point out that, “that kind of emergency response work is usually done by local authorities, or in the US by groups like FEMA. It is hard to figure out how one would come up with a community response plan that would be more effective, or able to mobilise what they are able to mobilise, than what they could do. I haven’t tried to find out who is responsible for that in Totnes, but I suspect that whoever it is would not be entirely welcoming of well-meaning approaches from us offering to input some Transition flavouring.”

I think you might be surprised. The few emergency response folks I’ve talked with are frankly very worried. A lot would depend on the manner in which they were approached. If they sense that we are merely pushing an agenda, they are likely to be quite hostile. If we appeal to a shared interest in addressing real looming problems, there is likely to be at least some openness to collaboration. These are the “adults” in the community, people who are taking responsibility in ways that aren’t always fun or rewarding, but are doing things that need to be done for everyone’s sake. I’d like to think that we are in the same category (though I wouldn’t rule out the “fun” part).

Moreover, emergency response officials aren’t the only ones who are worried: my guess is that Community Resilience campaigns undertaken right about now (with cheerful smiles, holding garden implements, but acknowledging that the economy is falling apart and that we have to act fast) might garner even wider support and interest than Transition is already doing.

“Finally, there are lots of other organisations, community groups and so on, who don’t engage at the moment, but who would in an emergency. I think the EDAP creates a template for how they might be invited to direct their energy. So, my feeling is that the creation of Emergency Plans is something that could either happen in parallel with the EDAP process, or could be the work of a separate group. I think it would shift public perception of the work of that initiative away from it being seen as a positive, forward looking and inclusive thing, to being a doomer cult, the embodiment of what everyone always suspected environmentalists were all about in the first place. It certainly has an important role, but perhaps it is something that just happens discretely…”

If there is no looming emergency and you are planning for one, people may call you a doomer. When the emergency is palpable and undeniable and everyone is filled with a sense of urgency, then people may call you a realist—if you can describe what is happening accurately and point to solutions in a helpful way. Much depends on one’s tone of voice. This is the source of much of Obama’s attraction: he has earned the nickname “no-drama Obama” because he’s so unflappable. At this point, no one is going to call us doomers for engaging in disaster planning unless we have shrill voices and are buying up all the ammunition in town. A calm voice with a realistic yet helpful message will get you a long way these days.

Maybe, as you suggest, aspects of the disaster-planning/EDAP process need to be discrete, but at this stage I think the existence of such a process is more likely to be a drawing-point than a put-off. I agree that the EDAP is already a helpful template in guiding existing groups to pitch in to address crises, though perhaps that could be more explicit.

“I think we clearly can’t ignore [the economic crisis] or view it as a bump or pothole—and my gut feeling is that it is (3), the combination of challenge and opportunity. It may be though that the truth is that the opportunity is that the emergencies coming towards us will serve to demonstrate the need for transition more than anything else.”

Yes, I agree completely. Yet somehow I still think there is more we could be doing. I understand: in the past two years Transition has taken off like a rocket; if it’s working, why screw with it? Perfectly sensible. At the same time, I have to underscore my sense that what we are seeing unfolding in the world right now will change just about everything. And everyone will have to adapt to survive—Transition (and Post Carbon Institute) included. I’m looking for both a plan to save the community, and a plan to help our efforts remain relevant and perhaps become much more so.

It’s worth asking: What is Transition actually capable of doing to respond to an unprecedented economic crisis? In the most cynical assessment, it consists essentially of a lot of well-meaning local activists wanting to envision a better future. These are not the sorts of people to engage in serious emergency response work, nor do they have the support mechanisms to enable them to do it.

But who does have the ability to do that work in the context of a vision of what needs to be done also to solve the longer-term crises of climate change and resource depletion? For whatever reason, Transition is appearing on the world scene at the right time, it is viral, and it has a positive, hopeful face that people respond to. It needs to keep that positive, hopeful visage, but perhaps it also needs to be perceived as being responsive to changing circumstances. If what we are proposing to do can only succeed if we have a decade or so of “normal” economic conditions during which to grow our base, train more trainers, and deploy our methods, then . . . it may indeed be too late. But if we can adapt quickly and thereby strategically help our communities adapt, the result may be beneficial both to communities and to those who are organizing Transition efforts.

Obama is telling Americans that the economy is going to get much worse before it gets better. He was elected on a platform of hope, but he’s dishing out some pretty grim forecasts these days. I want him to succeed, but I fear that circumstances will overpower his ability to respond.

You’re likewise a hopeful, unflappable public figure, Rob, and people love you for it (as well as for other qualities—your ability as a writer, your humor, and more). I suspect that there are a lot of folks out there waiting to see how the Transition message will evolve in response to changed circumstances. But I shouldn’t presume to speak for them; I am really just stating my own thoughts here.

The emphasis of my own work will change from here on. I know I gained whatever notoriety I have on the basis of my gloomy writings about Peak Oil, but that may be a near-dead issue for the time being. I won’t leave it entirely behind (energy is ultimately where it’s at and I still have a book and some other publications on energy issues coming out in the next few months), but this year I intend to focus primarily on identifying efforts taking place in communities around the world that (1) address basic human needs in the context of economic collapse (2) are replicable and/or scalable, and (3) set us on the path toward sustainability. In fact this will also be the main focus for Post Carbon Institute for the foreseeable future, as we expand our Fellows program. I hope that what we come up with as a think tank will be immediately useful to Transition initiatives everywhere.

I’m confident that in our partnership we will be able to do some really useful work. I realize that my suggestions are vague. Maybe overt disaster planning is just not practical at this stage (it may well be too late, and we may well not have the capacity), and maybe all that can come from this is a some new messaging that acknowledges the dire circumstances and that promises that useful ideas for responding to communities’ burgeoning problems will be forthcoming.

In any case, I’m delighted to be working in collaboration. I have nothing but admiration for what the Transition Network has accomplished so far. May those accomplishments grow!

Best wishes always,

February 4th 2009.

Dear Richard

Thanks so much for your considered and fascinating response. I’m delighted you feel happy for this exchange to be made public, as I think it will be of great interest to people. As you say, things are moving so very fast, it is fascinating to observe. I was very interested to hear you say that you feel that peak oil is in danger of becoming a non-issue… would it be fair to say that some of the peak oil community, in an understandable effort to communicate the implications of peaking, didn’t communicate clearly the possible implications of peak demand being reached before peak supply? I still find it a very useful lens to help people view things through, but as you say, we have to stay nimble and on our toes, as the economic situation is what is most clearly in peoples’ faces.

I feel that your last email actually gave me a certain ‘Eureka’ moment. As you state, Transition “is working, so why screw with it?”, but at the same time, as you put it, “in the most cynical assessment, it consists essentially of a lot of well-meaning local activists wanting to envision a better future. These are not the sorts of people to engage in serious emergency response work, nor do they have the support mechanisms to enable them to do it”.

Yet what Transition groups have done most powerfully in my experience is at least start to weave into their communities a powerful web of connections and links that weren’t there before. It has developed a language and an approach that is as accessible to Councils and businesses as it is to teachers, activists and estate managers. This, I think, has been one of the things that is most powerful about it. In Totnes for example, were the shit to hit the fan tomorrow, TTT now knows the best gardeners, the best people at teaching it, who are the main landowners, who are the local funders, and so on, so the drawing together of those pieces is far easier than it would have been before. This is highly valuable, and is perhaps one of the key contributions, alongside the awareness raising work..

My Eureka moment comes from thinking about how to best combine the need to build resilience as well as the need to build the ability to better respond in emergencies. As you know, the Transition idea emerges from a background in permaculture and bioregionalism, although permaculture training (and I write this as a teacher of many years) tends to assume a gentle transition in its perspective. While it offers an invaluable set of thinking tools, its longer term focus on ‘permanence’ perhaps doesn’t lead to a sufficiently appropriate set of tools. For example, teaching sheet mulching with vast amounts of cardboard and compost may not be the best approach for people faced with turning a football pitch into allotments.

Were a training, presented in the Transition way, i.e. positive, empowering, visionary, yet intensely practical, to be developed and rolled out though Transition groups, this could be a very useful tool. It could pull together the best from bushcraft training (but without the excessively survivalist flavour), the best from bioregional studies (i.e. how to read where you are, what is home, what is the nature of where you live), the best of appropriate technology (how to build simple yet effective tools and then how to use them), biointensive horticulture (most amount of food from smallest amount of land), traditional allotment gardeners (growing food with what you’ve got), and also emergency response organisations (how to organise amid chaos, how to prioritise based on situations).

Indeed, it could also create a very dynamic interface between emergency response organisations, green groups, Transition, education providers, probation/youth offenders services, and a range of training providers, among others. Perhaps even the Army (now there’s a sacreligious thought!!). What would be important would be that it would move beyond the usual crowd that go to such courses. It would draw as much from the work of activists such as Catherine Sneed, engaging young men who have been in trouble, as it would the usual permaculture course-going public.

Such a programme, which could become core in schools and colleges, would start to create a team of people who would be ‘on call’ for this, and who could undergo regular additional training. My friend who is a fireman did his core training but then has to do regular top-up trainings. Perhaps then a key part of the EDAP is looking at how that training could be developed and then rolled out, as well as how it might be funded. The key aspect of it, as with all of this, is tone. If it is presented as an emergency response force training, I don’t think it would be as effective as if it was Transition Teams or something. It would be great to get some marketing/advertising bods on board with it, to really focus the presentation and the language. I think Chris Martenson’s Crash Course was designed with some of this in mind. There is also a fascinating area of overlap in terms of working with young men, and menswork, which is a vital thing to look at too in all this.

I think that such a training, if properly designed, could run alongside the regular work of Transition initiatives, and run alongside the EDAP process, while at the same time generating useful insights for that. It builds on the positive slant of this. I do wonder though, thinking of my family and neighbours, just how much this kind of approach would engage people, given that many people will respond to the developing economic situation by thinking “how can I remortgage the house so as to reduce my payments”, “how can I reduce my overheads by switching to a different home phone provider” and “how secure is my job”, rather than “how am I going to store rainwater”, “how am I going to dig up my garden” and so on. In that regards, the Transition awarness raising stuff it clearly vital alongside this.

In that sense, one could still have a Transition emergency preparedness group, if there were people keen to do such a thing, but Transition Network could design and pilot such a training that could then be rolled out through the network. The EDAP would be doing the longer term resilience building, while at the same time training and mobilising a group who would be of use in both scenarios. This would, as you say, create more “adults” in the community, but in a sense of maturity rather than paranoid survivalists. Key, as you say, in maintaining ’societal coherence’.

Anyway, just a few thoughts. The field we are exploring here is so vast and wide, it is hard to pin it down to particular things, but for me I feel that the above maybe offers one way of building on what is best about Transition while at the same time developing a practical and relevant side to accompany the awareness raising work and the networking that combines to create the EDAP.

If you’re interested in looking in more detail at how to develop this line of thinking, perhaps we could fix a time to have a telephone or skype conference, with me and Peter and Ben over here? If it seems to be fruitful, perhaps we could look at running a workshop on it at our conference on 24/5/6 April, with you attending electronically?

With very best wishes

Rob

February 4th 2009

Rob,

I love your idea. At New College (R.I.P.) we always offered experiences in backpacking, camping, and primitive/appropriate technology alongside our heady course work in anthropology and social critique. It’s what many of the students came away remembering best. It gave them a sense of basic mammalian competence that took the edge off of the grim information we were imparting. The key will be to offer skill-building experiences that are both inviting/fun and relevant to the kinds of practical challenges people will be facing.

As you say, many people will be focused on questions like

“how can I remortgage the house so as to reduce my payments”, “how can I reduce my overheads by switching to a different home phone provider” and “how secure is my job”, rather than “how am I going to store rainwater”, “how am I going to dig up my garden” and so on.”

If we can address people’s very real economic concerns, we will be offering tangible benefit. What are some strategies for saving money? Get family and friends to move in with you. Find ways to cook with less fuel (solar cookers are only one of many strategies there), use less water (gray-water recycling with or without re-plumbing your house), ditch your car, share stuff, repair stuff, make stuff. How to live happily without x, y, and z. How to live more happily and healthily than ever on a fraction of the income.

The big question on everyone’s mind is: How can I get by once I’ve lost my job (or now that I’ve lost it)? Learning how to raise capital and form cooperative ventures that benefit the community (and are therefore worthy of community support) could be a life-saver. Also: how to set up barter networks, how to make community currencies work for you.

The design of such a course will be easiest if we get together three or four people who have complementary skill-sets and who are already teaching many of these things. The Voluntary Simplicity people have some of this down; also the appropriate technology folks; the primitive tech folks; the co-op venture folks. Now that I think of it, it might take more than three or four “experts.” But maybe there are those like Chris Martensen who are already aggregating these skills. It would not be so good to initiate a course design process that requires months and months of work and lots of investment, given that time and money are in short supply. The key is to synergize existing resources. As you know from the success of Transition itself, if it’s the right idea at the right time, circumstances will conspire to help.

Editorial Notes: We are hoping to post the link to Richard's presentation from the Transition Network Conference here soon.

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