Mohonk Consultations Transition Conference
Packed Parlor Wowed at “The Lake in the Sky”
Greeted by a breathtaking blue-sky view of the Catskill Mountains to the west and Mohonk Lake to the east, keynote speaker and conference facilitator Tina Clarke of Transition US, along with over 100 regional participants, filled the parlor at Mohonk Mountain House for a day-long conference titled Building Resilient Communities In These Changing Times, which continued and expanded upon the regional dialogue started in April 2011, at the Mohonk Consultations panel presentation and group discussion, Communities In Transition: Local Strength, Local Resilience.
|The Mohonk Mountain House overlooking the Rondout Valley.|
The conference sought to further identify guiding values and principles of the Transition Town movement, which according to Transition Town founder Rob Hopkins “could create strong, safe, sustainable, and vibrant communities while solving the most urgent problems of the times.” The movement is comprised of grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in a myriad of ways. A Transition Community, in its own unique way, seeks to meet the converging challenges posed by peak oil (petroleum depletion), economic instability, erosion of community, resource wars, climate change, and declining biological diversity by engaging an entire community in a visioning process that illuminates the true needs of the community and then find ways to meet those needs locally by the community’s own efforts.
Transition Town initiatives differ from other efforts put forth by NGOs and government organizations in that they seek to mitigate converging global crises by engaging their own communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder inclusive planning as a means to increase local self-reliance and resilience.
Tina Clarke convened the conference into small groups that focused on pressing issues in our own communities such as food, energy, transportation, healthcare, the economy, arts, culture, end of life issues, and more. The groups discussed ways to deal with the scarcity of resources related to the depletion of cheap energy supplies. An emphasis was placed on networking between individuals and community organizations, all of whom were encouraged to engage in a continuing dialog that will in time result in new locally based initiatives that will support and increase community resilience and well-being throughout the region. When later reconvened as one large group in the parlor, the ideas and initiatives discussed in the smaller focus groups were aired for all to hear, with groups reflecting their own interests so as to bring ideas and enthusiasm back to their own communities.
Of the prospects for the movement, Clarke said: “What’s exciting about Transition, which is now in 34 countries around the world, is that it’s simply a means of having a conversation. It’s not top-down, it’s not one way of doing things. It’s actually just people all over the world like us who are concerned about the gathering storm of problems, and seek to move forward creatively with their local leaders to take a look at community resilience, energy dependence, and economic concerns, and also seek to have a high quality of life in this society and community.”
The Transition US website sums it well with the following passage: “If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late. If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little. But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”
Transition Town Movement Resources:
Book: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, by Rob Hopkins. Describes how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome via the means of community-based planning and initiatives. The ensuing rebirth means communities will grow more of their own food, generate more of their own power, and build their own houses using local materials.
Book: The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times, by Rob Hopkins. The Transition Companion picks up where the Transition Handbook left off by looking in detail at the process a community in transition goes through, reflecting on the experience of those communities that have already embarked on the journey of Transition.
Websites: Transition US: transitionus.org
Mohonk Consultations: mohonk-consultations.org