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A bit of backstory here:  In the May 3 issue of The Nation magazine, Lorna Salzman ran a full-page advertisement critiquing Bill McKibben and 350.org for not telling us HOW to reduce CO2 concentrations to 350ppm.  (read the letter here)  I wrote a reply, "How to get to 350ppm," in which I pointed out that McKibben and 350, like Al Gore, are all in the business of awareness-raising, and that it is other organizations -- namely Transition Initiatives -- which are shouldering the burden of How To.  Below is Ms. Salzman's first piece, a commentary on my "How to get to 350ppm." (Ms. Salzman's text is posted with her permission.)  My reply is here.

Ms. Poyourow's response to my Open Letter to Bill McKibben is well taken inasmuch as there is nothing in it that I would take issue with,  per se. Nonetheless, my experience as an environmental organizer and activist has brought me into this issue from an entirely different direction. Furthermore, I suspect that McKibben's own areas of expertise, mainly writing and lecturing, brought him in from a different direction.

Building resilience is the cornerstone of the Transition Movement. By “resilience,” we mean our ability to flex and adapt through the changes ahead. Specifically, this means the ability to adapt to peak oil and climate change, simultaneously, combined with economic circumstances that will render large-scale capital investment unrealistic.

When considered separately, peak oil and climate change each have a set of possible solutions. Yet many of the possible solutions to peak oil – switching to coal, for example – are unthinkable for global warming. And many of the proposed solutions to global warming – switching to electric cars, or the “hydrogen economy” – are severely constrained by how much cheap oil we will have on hand to put the infrastructure in place and whether we will have sufficient economic support for the massive conversion.

Taken together, the “triple header” crisis dictates a very small pool of potential solutions. Realistic solutions are not likely to include continued globalization; we simply will not have the fuel to maintain it. The most resilient solutions tend to be simple, local, and small scale and demand few resources and little in the way of energy inputs. This set of solutions has been variously described as “energy descent”  or “powerdown.”  In any event, the crises we face have already determined that our future will inevitably be one of less energy consumption overall.

I am astounded by how this community shows up. In 13 weeks from a slightly crazy idea to help address big problems by planting and revitalizing hundreds of gardens in a single weekend, here we are with 3 days to go, 430 gardens registered and our community lit and aligned, from the water agency to cities, businesses, non-profits, churches, schools and the media...

I don't often tell people to go out and buy something.  I've long been an advocate of Transition initiatives (TI) managing their activities on next-to-no funds.  But on the list of drop-dead essential equipment for your TI to own, next to Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook, I would place The Oil Age poster.

I bought one about a year or so ago out of curiosity.  Since then I have put it on a tripod at garden classes, "intro to Transition" sessions, and at street fairs.  Even without explanation, this thing does its work.

Okay, I don't usually read Time Magazine.  In fact I can't remember the last time I picked one up.  But a friend handed me a copy of an article from their March 22 issue.  I was astounded to read a vision of the future which is not altogether different from the visions we hear through the Transition network.

It's part 4 of a "10 Ideas for the Next 10 Years" section:  "The Dropout Economy: The Future of Work Looks a Lot Like Unemployment."

Sure it contains a few snide political digs and some name calling.  And I don't totally agree with all of it.  But try this on for size:

Good day my friends,

I trust you are surfing spring's surge with grace and inspired action or at least treading water with compassion and a smile. It's a funny and humbling thing trying to tune into nature's rhythms, catching bee swarms, grafting fruit trees, sowing seeds and reviving our sense of place between meetings and deadlines. But each time we catch that glimpse of wonder and feed our connection it sticks a bit more.

This past weekend Transition Los Angeles (TLA) participated in a street fair in South Los Angeles.  As I stated in my "Diversity" article, we have plenty of work to do on our TLA team to bring ethnic and racial diversity on board.  The South LA fair was our first major attempt to begin bridging that gap.

(Video from the South LA EarthFest is online here.)

As we enter the season of Earth Day events, and Transition Los Angeles finds itself and its pods invited to or hosting (count them) SEVENTEEN events over the course of the next week-and-a-half, it might be handy to have some "elevator talks" handy. 

Elevator talks are the answer to how you would explain Transition in about 30 seconds, for instance explaining it to a fellow passenger in an elevator in the time between when he hops in at one floor and hops out at the next.  Advertisers are quite polished on the concept;  people's attention is fleeting, and you have only those few brief seconds to hook them in to your idea.

Earlier this week I spoke about the Transition movement as a guest on Southern California's leading National Public Radio affiliate.  It was a big opportunity that came to us completely out of the blue.  The show is archived (the producer tells me "in perpetuity"), so you can listen to it here.

In preparation for the show, the host described her audience to me as "fairly mainstream."  She said it would be the first time most of her listeners had ever heard about the Transition movement.

The host's introduction is quite remarkable.  She reveals her personal journey, starting with a disclaimer that she never considered herself to be "radical" or "a hippie."  But as she became aware of issues like global warming, peak oil, and environmental devastation, she began to make changes in her lifestyle.  She describes driving less, growing a few vegetables, and thinking differently about consumerism.  I think that her candid statement gives validity to the journey many listeners might be on as well.

This spring, my children's school is finally starting a food garden. You may have heard of the many projects nationwide to get children interested in "real food", and if you have school-aged children, you may have wondered what it takes to get one of these going.

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