Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

Transition: Unlocking Sonoma’s collective genius

Suzie Rodriguez, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat (California)
For more than a year, Sonoma Valley residents have gathered on the third Thursday of each month to watch free, thought-provoking films with titles like “Transition to a World Without Oil,” “No Impact Man,” and “The Economics of Happiness.”

These films probably won’t make it onto People Magazine’s hot list, but they’re an important first step for a fledgling organization. They’ve proven so popular with locals that about 100 were turned away from a recent screening of “Home.” Most viewers stick around for a discussion and the occasional potluck supper.

The force behind the films is Transition Sonoma Valley, part of the grass-roots Transition Network movement that began in England in 2005. It now has community-led projects in nearly 1,000 worldwide locations, including Sonoma Valley.

“We’re at the end of the era of cheap oil,” said Ed Clay, one of Transition Sonoma Valley’s first three members. “It’s going to dramatically alter our economy and way of living. We have to act together, as a community, now.”

The Transition movement has a simple goal: to unlock the community’s collective genius, applying it to problem solving. It’s a sort of “trickle-up” theory.

If communities around the world find local fixes to problems brought on by climate change, diminishing cheap energy and economic contraction, the people in those communities become stronger and happier. The benefits then extend upward to the larger society.

Each community decides what problems it wants to tackle.

Ongoing local initiatives around the world include projects in areas of food, transportation, energy, education, housing, waste, the arts, the creation of barter systems and local currencies, and much more.

“Transition Houston (Texas) is very active with Permablitzing,” said Carolyne Stayton, Executive Director of Transition United States. “They have work parties on a Saturday, where people toil together, turning a person’s lawn into a garden to provide food.”

Stayton also cited Pennsylvania’s Transition Pittsburgh, which rents and purchases homes in blighted areas, moves into them, and establishes neighborhood gardens. And in Rhode Island, a Transition group called Revive the Roots, “rented a plot of city-owned land at low cost and gives farming classes. I think everyone in that group is under 20 years old.”
(5 February 2012)

Standing on Your Own Two Feet: Young Adults Surviving 2012 and Beyond

J. Z. Colby, Nebador
I am an author of personal power novels for young adults, and I just released my first non-fiction book, a guide to dealing with peak oil, climate change, and associated predicaments, especially for young adults. I am offering it free to (or for) any young adult, including print editions for those who cannot use a download.

Description of Standing on Your Own Two Feet: Young Adults Surviving 2012 and Beyond:

If the world keeps moving toward economic collapse, climate change, resource depletion, civil unrest, wars, famines, and other nasty things, young adults will find they can no longer live exclusively in the protected worlds of the shopping mall and the fast food stand. This book provides a mixture of story and information that motivated young adults (or anyone) can use to help them stay alive and happy during challenging times,
regardless of what anyone else around them is doing (or not doing).
(February 2012)
PDF version. Other formats are available from the website.

Building Sustainable Future Needs More Than Science, Experts Say

Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service
VANCOUVER – Contrary to popular belief, humans have failed to address the earth’s worsening emergencies of climate change, species’ extinction and resource overconsumption not because of a lack of information, but because of a lack of imagination, social scientists and artists say.

At a conference for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) here in Vancouver, British Columbia, experts argued that the path to a truly sustainable future is through the muddy waters of emotions, values, ethics, and most importantly, imagination.

Humans’ perceptions of reality are filtered by personal experiences and values, said David Maggs, a concert pianist and PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

As a result, the education and communication paradigm of “if we only knew better, we’d do better” is not working, Maggs told attendees at the world’s largest general science meeting. “We don’t live in the real world, but live only in the world we imagine.”

“We live in our heads. We live in storyland,” agreed John Robinson of UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

“When we talk about sustainability we are talking about the future, how things could be. This is the landscape of imagination,” Robinson told IPS. “If we can’t imagine a better world we won’t get it.”

This imagining will be complex and difficult. Sustainability encompasses far more than just scientific facts – it also incorporates the idea of how we relate to nature and to ourselves, he said.
(20 February 2012)
Also at Common Dreams. One of the presenters at the conference was Sacha Kagan, who has many articles online, such as the following. -BA

Toward Global (Environ)Mental Change

Sacha Kagan, Heinrich Böll Foundation
The global crisis of unsustainability is not only a crisis of the hardware of civilization, it is also a crisis of the software of minds. The search for a more sustainable development in the ‘developed’ world has, so far, been focusing too much on hardware updates, such as new technologies, economic incentives, policies and regulations, and too little on software revisions, that is cultural transformations affecting our ways of knowing, learning, valuing and acting together. The cultural software is, nevertheless, at least as much part of the fundamental infrastructure of a society as its material hardware.

We need a global (environ)mental change, that is a transformation process to affect the many relationships between our minds and their environments. There are several environments to the conscious mind, such as the subconscious, the shared culture(s) and the natural environment. They are not all just environments, but also part of our minds. This is a bit like a hologram: Each part of the hologram contains some information about the whole. Each human mind echoes elements from its environments, and is connected to them in many ways. Global (environ)mental change will highlight complex interdependences and will teach us, not to be afraid of these complexities. This requires a movement away from our culture of unsustainability which is hindering our grasp of these interdependences (part 1).

Some changes are already underway, affecting lifestyles in daily practices, as several social-cultural movements across the world are illustrating. The spread of the commons, transition towns, permaculture and right to the city movements bear some promises for a cultural transition (part 2). Certain types of artistic practices and experiences of art also bear great potentials to reconstruct the software of our minds (parts 3 and 6).

Among the cultural categories that need revision, is our modern, Western understanding of “nature”. Instead of a nature/culture dichotomy, global (environ)mental change induces us to think in terms of a dynamic NatureCulture complex (part 4). Some other dichotomies also need revision, such as markets/ State and mind/body (part 2).

To help us face complex interdependences, I am suggesting that we foster our aesthetic sensibility to complexity (part 5). And to help us learn and experiment sensible ways out of our unsustainable lifestyles, I am suggesting that we foster serendipity and learn to induce profound changes in society not with spectacular actions but with subtle maturation (part 7).

(2 February 2012)
The PDF for the 44-page book is available online.