The new buzzword, “Transition Towns,” is surfacing in many progressive communities across the United States. The Transition Town movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that help to build community awareness of and resilience in dealing with the unfolding challenges of peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis. Transition Towns get started when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with these shared concerns. This movement towards a sustainable future is gaining momentum as new communities become inspired to take the initiative.
A transition has begun, thanks to people across the United States who are making conscientious choices on how to better live their lives in sustainable ways that are more harmonious with the natural world. People are stepping away from the ease and convenience of our current culture to make a shift towards a sustainable future. Each of the Transition Town initiatives underway are as unique as the individual people and towns that embark on them. What is common among the Transition Towns is that none are claiming to have all the answers, but all seek to build on the wisdom of the past and encourage creative solutions, skills, and determination from within their communities, so new ideas can emerge. Learning and incorporating different skills into our lifestyle can have an impact. These skills include recycling grey water, recycling, preserving foods, basic home energy efficiency, practical food growing, harvesting rainwater, composting waste, and more.
Here in Corvallis, the transition towards a sustainable future is underway. The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition was formed in 2007 to increase communication and collaboration among those in the community working on different aspects of sustainability. The vision of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is “a community in which the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is a flourishing and thriving city with a vibrant economy that respects, restores, and cares for the community of life.” Working toward this vision, the Sustainability Coalition currently includes more than 160 partner organizations — businesses, non-profits, faith communities, educational institutions, government entities — and hundreds of individual volunteers.
In 2008, the City of Corvallis enlisted the help of the Sustainability Coalition to create a community-wide sustainability initiative, a landmark community process that revolved around three town hall meetings and involved hundreds of Corvallis residents and thousands of volunteer hours. The result was a Community Sustainability Action Plan that lays out long-range, visionary goals with specific targets and actions to achieve them. Some of the Action Groups include Economic Vitality, Energy, Food, Health, Land Use, and Waste Prevention.
The Corvallis HOUR Exchange is a proud partner of the Coalition. Our organization oversees a local currency for our region. Incorporating the use of a local currency helps enhance the economy by boosting local commerce and increasing the capacity for local trade.
Since this local currency is valuable only within this geographic area, the wealth of the currency stays in this region adding to the supply of money available to use. Most importantly, this local currency is owned and overseen by the people of this region. Our non-profit board is elected by the membership, who diligently work to keep the program running smoothly. Our long term goal with the Sustainability Coalitions Economic Vitality Action Group is to build an alliance with business groups and work toward a goal of incorporating local currency into 1% of the local economy by 2020.
The HOUR Exchange is just one of the groups doing work as part of the Coalition. There are many folks involved in this movement helping this region evolve as an example for other communities to follow. Communities and cities becoming Transition Towns create real hope for a sustainable future. It is a necessary response to peak oil and climate change. 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.
Change is never easy. But the increasing number of people rising to meet the challenge of finding new, sustainable ways of being is wind in the sails of progress. Or perhaps, it is really just wind in our wind energy turbines. We will get there. Change is happening one person at a time.