Honoring the Past and Looking Ahead

Following the recent announcement that our founding Executive Director, Carolyne Stayton, will be retiring at the end of August after 11 years of dedicated service, we (the staff of Transition US) wanted to let you know a bit more about who we are and what we are currently envisioning for the future.

Our Interim Executive Director, Don Hall, has been fortunate to participate in the international Transition Towns Movement in a variety of capacities over the past 12 years. Initially serving for two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Transition Colorado, he went on to found and direct Transition Sarasota from 2010 to 2016. A certified Transition Trainer and experienced facilitator, Don joined the Transition US staff team in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University and is currently in the process of moving back to Boulder, Colorado after a decade in Florida.

Our Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Ratih Sutrisno is an interdisciplinary communicator and designer, passionate about the efforts underway to build thriving, resilient communities. Coming from a background in environmental and social justice, she believes that effective communication is vital to broadening the movement to build a just and equitable economy that works for all people and the planet. Ratih is based in Chicago, IL and holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management and Interdisciplinary Design from the University of Minnesota.

Our National Network Organizer, Marissa Mommaerts, is an activist, organizer, grower, maker, entrepreneur, and mother. After a brief career in international sustainable development policy, Marissa left Washington DC and began searching for systemic approaches to healing our ecological, economic, social and political systems – and that’s when she found Transition. She joined the Transition US team in 2013 and has served in various roles supporting all aspects of the organization. Marissa lives in rural western Colorado with her partner Jeremiah and son Gabriel. She has a master’s degree in International Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Together, we look to the past for strength, the present to ground ourselves, and the future for vision and inspiration. We believe right now is a turning point for the next evolution of Transition in the US and hope that you will join us!

The first wave of the Transition Movement here in this country began in 2008 and continued through the end of 2012. During this time, 129 Transition Initiatives (three-quarters of the current total) applied for and were granted official status, versus only 42 in the eight years since. While this first wave of Transition appears to have been generated mostly by the brilliance and novelty of the Transition approach, the humble charisma of its founder, Rob Hopkins, and the success of Transition Town Totnes and a few other early initiatives, we believe the second wave must be based on proving that our approach can significantly improve overall quality of life, resilience, sustainability, and equity for all in a diversity of different contexts.

If we are able to accomplish this to a greater extent over the next few years and tell the story well, we will be in a much better position to unlock new opportunities that have not been previously available to us. More high-profile media coverage, increased funding, more significant partnerships, and much more widespread engagement in Transition as a whole will likely result from establishing this new level of credibility and impact. These factors will, in turn, enable our movement to expand its influence much farther and wider than ever before.

However, this is not just our vision. It is a vision that seems to be broadly shared by the more than 60 Transition and other community resilience movement leaders that we and our Board of Directors surveyed and interviewed throughout the country and around the world earlier this Spring. We are now in the midst of hosting a series of six monthly National Network Strategy Conversations, which started last month and will run through December, designed to harvest even more insights and advice from the grassroots to shape the next evolution of Transition US.

Fundamentally, we believe that our role is to act as servant leaders, listening closely to the wisdom of those who have been actively engaged in building local community resilience on the ground, learning from their experience about what is working and what is not, and providing the inspiration, encouragement, networking, training, and support the movement says it needs most.

This does not mean that we are not individuals, with our own strengths, weaknesses, and biases, but we will continue to work to the best of our abilities to help bring forth the practical and compassionate revolution our world so desperately needs. As author and climate activist Naomi Klein has been saying for years now: “There are no non-radical options left before us.”

If you haven’t already, we hope you will choose to get involved at this pivotal time by joining or starting a local Transition Initiative, volunteering with and donating to Transition US, or simply signing up for our e-newsletter and learning more about who we are and what we’re up to.

With even greater changes – both within our movement and in the world at-large – already underway, now is the time to embrace the challenge, prepare ourselves and our local communities, and join with everyone else who is currently waking up to reimagine and rebuild our world.

We look forward to working with you in solidarity!

Don Hall (don@transitionus.org)

Marissa Mommaerts (marissa@transitionus.org)

Ratih Sutrisno (ratih@transitionus.org)

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