Bridging Class Divides to Create Community Resilience

BetsyDoes your community group want to engage people from diverse class backgrounds? Do you want to increase turnout at your events, and effectively engage the public to enhance resilience in your area?

Check out the slides from our webinar with Betsy Leondar-Wright of Class Action for tips on creating a cross-class community initiative. (Due to technical glitches with the GoToWebinar software, a recording of the webinar is not available.)

Download the Slides (PPT)

Also check out Betsy’s groundbreaking new book, Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures.

The Art of Hosting: Building Resilient Communities and Organizations

April 11 – 13, 2014
Ferry Beach Park Association
Saco, ME

Register here

Scholarships are readily available for leaders of grassroots groups!

Presented by Transition US ~

The Art of Participatory Leadership, now practiced and offered worldwide, is an intensive 3-day event where you will experience and practice a set of simple, yet powerful, processes for building community, facilitating powerful conversations, building strong partnerships, and leading change. Come explore how to unleash collective genius and build adaptive and leader-full communities.

We invite those engaged and committed to the many aspects of resilience to come together from Transition Towns, sustainability initiatives, local economy, permaculture communities, sustainable business, local food, healthy families, and more.

Our hope is to create powerful ways to learn together, build effective teams and partnerships that help us work better in our own communities, as well as invite others to build resilient communities. There’s an incredible amount of work going on in many different networks. We are thrilled to bring these powerful networks together, to add to what Transition’s Rob Hopkins has been speaking about scaling up through building learning networks and core teams.

Our intention is to work together to build capacity for the next evolution of work in New England. We also invite passionate friends from other areas who want to learn with us and create transformative change.

Rooted in the Four Fold practice of the Art of Hosting, this event teaches a participative approach for leading, convening, and engaging groups. The practice begins with being present and hosting one’s self, from there we participate in learning conversations, hosting and convening conversations, and co-creating (initiatives, change, teams, etc.).

Why?Why The Art of Participatory Leadership?

Build Learning Networks – connect with other leaders and innovators.  Explore how we can work and learn more powerfully together.

Build Strong Core Teams and Partnerships.  Broaden the skillset within your group, work more effectively and enjoyably together, engage teams, organizations, and community stakeholders in meaningful conversations that promote resilience, belonging, innovation, and contribution.

Enhance our skills and abilities to work with complexity, uncertainty & change.  Develop chaordic confidence, face challenges that don’t have solutions, use wise process planning architectures for small and large scale initiatives, and host strategic conversations.

Apply what we are learning to change projects that you bring. From policy and national initiatives to grassroots organizing, business change, local initiatives, social ventures and movement building. Grow your hosting practice and try something new!

We hope you will join us!

Camp Commons: Living in the Transition – An Activist Family Summer Camp


THEME: Living in the Transition to a New Economy
Facing the Future, Building Hope: Tools for Community Resilience

Thursday July 17 through Sunday July 20, 2014
World Fellowship Conference Center
White Mountains, near Conway, New Hampshire

Come for a day! Come for all four days!
Bring your kids! Bring your parents!

Join a group of fun and engaged activists for the joy of exploration, singing, rethinking, dancing, laughter, eating, sharing skills and organizing strategies, and more singing, storytelling and game playing.

Camp Commons is a multi-generational four-day summer camp for community resilience activists working on economic, ecological and social justice, strengthening the commons, community resilience and the transition to the new economy.

Costs start at forty-six dollars a day, including all meals, lodging, programs and recreational opportunities. Options range from private rooms to camping. Reserve your spot directly through World Fellowship at


Talks and Workshops

  • Transition to a New Economy: A Lay of the Land
  • Changing the Story about Economic Growth
  • Divest from Fossil Fuels – Invest in the New Economy
  • Organizing for the New Economy:  Mutual Aid, Affinity Groups & Resilience Circles
  • Breakout Sessions: Challenges Facing the New Economy Movement
  • Storytelling for Activists –Hone Your Story!


  • Swimming, Hiking, Napping, Biking, Sun Bathing!
  • Friday Fun night variety show
  • Saturday Story Slam.  Theme: “Transition”
  • Cosponsored by New England New Economy Transition and the Institute for Policy Studies


  • To build community among activists and cultural workers from different areas, bringing our whole families together
  • To learn from one another in a relaxed and natural setting
  • To celebrate our work and tap into our creativity and humor to strengthen our morale for the struggles ahead


The historic World Fellowship Center, near Conway New Hampshire and the White Mountain National Forest

Founded 1941, during the war, with motto: “In a time of war, prepare for peace.” World Fellowship has a rich history of political and cultural resistance, the “Highlander Center” of the Northeast.

Costs start at forty-six dollars a day, including all meals, lodging, programs and recreational opportunities. Accommodations range from camping to private rooms. Book your accommodations directly through World Fellowship today!


Thursday, July 17

Evening: Opening Plenary

“Transition to a New Economy: A Lay of the Land”
Featuring members of the New Economy Working Group

The current economic debate pits austerity against prime-the-pump economic growth. Neither approach addresses the extreme inequalities of wealth and the ecological limits to growth that our economy is facing. What is the alternative vision of a new economy?  What are the stages of how we get there?  What is possible at the local level and where can we engage meaningfully at the national and global level?

Friday, July 18

Morning: The New Economy in New England: Challenges and Opportunities
Members of the New England Resilience & Transition Network

What exciting innovations are happening around New England and beyond to create community resilience? Many believe that we must go beyond localism and support community resilience strategies that impact larger regional and national policy.

Can New England as a whole take steps to ensure that we all live well in the new economy? Join members of the New England Resilience & Transition Network to discuss these challenges and opportunities.

Afternoon: Ongoing discussion and breakout groups

Evening: “Fun Night”

Saturday, July 19

Morning: Organizing for the New Economy: Mutual Aid, Affinity Groups, & Resilience Circles
Sarah Byrnes and Samantha Wechsler

How do we organize for real, deep, and lasting change? Many believe that we need a revolution that goes “all the way to the bottom, all the way down to our basic understanding of self and world.” In this interactive workshop, we will explore individual and collective approaches that help us to deepen this kind of understanding. Participants will learn about small group organizing — a a powerful strategy that helps people overcome isolation, build lasting community ties, and help each other meet needs in this tough economy. In groups like Resilience Circles, affinity groups, and mutual aid networks, people are discovering alternative ways of meeting their needs, such as barter, gifting, and mutual aid.

Afternoon: “Storytelling for Organizers”

Storytelling is essential to effective social change work.  Come practice your story telling skills and consider telling a story at the evening story slam!

Evening: Storytelling Slam
MC: Mary Hannon & Chuck Collins

Theme: “Transition”

Sunday, July 20

Morning: Divest from Fossil Fuels, Invest in New Economy
Chuck Collins

The movement to divest from fossil fuels was sparked on college campuses but now has spread to religious networks, governments, pension funds, and individuals. What is the case for divestment? And how to do we shift capital to build a new economy that is sustainable and equitable?

Region-Wide Resilience: Here We Come

On March 15, sixty-five people from around New England gathered in Keene NH to tackle a big topic: the resilience of our region as a whole. We had a lively discussion and came away with nine fun and impactful Action Ideas to build region-wide resilience. Check out the map below to see where attendees hailed from.

To get involved with the emerging network of resilience and Transition groups in New England, fill out the blue box in the right-hand column or contact Sarah Byrnes (

Dakota Butterfield

Dakota Butterfield

We started the day off with a “Common Ground” exercise to find out who was in the room. We stood in a big circle – barely fitting into the space! – to start. Dakota Butterfield, our able facilitator, first invited folks from Connecticut to step into the circle. They each said their name, and were welcomed by the whole. From there, we met folks from the rest of New England’s states, and lastly, our participant from outside the region (Pamela Boyce Simms, the organizer of the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub). Folks from Transition Initiatives, Time Banks and universities were invited into the circle, as were gardeners, bike-riders, and people “who have found a way to live joyfully during this time of crisis.” A heartening number of folks stepped into the Circle at that invitation.

Dan Jones

Dan Jones


Jennifer Atlee

Jennifer Atlee

After these fun intros and some inspiring words from the President Steve Jones of Antioch University in New England, we heard a brief “Story of New England” from Dan Jones and Jennifer Atlee. Their story grounded us in the layers of history upon which we stand here in New England – although, as Jennifer pointed out, “at one time New England didn’t exist.” Their story called to mind both the proud legacies we carry and the dark moments from which we need to heal. As Dan put it as he discussed the Puritanical belief in predestination, “We have to be careful about which set of cultural memes we hold on to.” Read their full Story of New England here.

The story led us into a moment of reflection. Dakota invited us to silently think about the past, the future, and this moment. What is calling for our attention? What is calling for our energy and work right now?

IMG_6446Keene 2 med IMG_6455This grounded us to launch into a conversation about the pre-drafted Concept Paper on Region-Wide Resilience. This paper spells out a rationale for considering the regional scale (in addition to the local and national ones), and lists ten key dimensions of regional resilience. Participants were invited to note where they disagreed, most strongly agreed, what “sparked” their interest, and more. The “dot exercise” and full group conversation revealed large areas of agreement among us, and we also identified areas that need further discussion (see the full notes from the discussion).

Over lunch, participants self-organized into tables focused on topics such as time banks (with hOurworld’s Linda Hogan) and the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (with Pamela Boyce Simms). In the afternoon we jumped into “Action Ideas.” We heard a brief overview of each of the nine ideas, and then went into breakout groups to dig into the planning of each.

One Action Idea was to create “Whole New England Catalog” modeled loosely on the Whole Earth Catalog of the 1970s. It will be a book showcasing the resources, tools, and other goods and services produced in New England to support our regional economy. Another idea was a New England “Photo Slam,” where folks from around the region will be invited to submit photos of resilience and Transition during the month of May. The pictures will be displayed online to show the collective impact of our work. Stay tuned for when and how to send in your photo!

IMG_6478Steve Chase summarized two other ideas in his blog post: first, a New England network of college and university faculty and students supporting the Transition movement through community-based research, student internships, and various service learning and civic engagement projects; and secondly, region-wide use of the the Sustain-A-Raisers “Starter Kit.” Developed by the NH-based, grassroots organization Global Awareness Local Action (GALA), the “Starter Kit” includes volunteer recruitment strategies, press release templates, a list of needed materials and tools, step-by-step construction guides, talking points and training curriculum, branding support, and an online orientation to help local community organizers engage their constituents in a people-powered sustainable home and yard makeover movement.

Huge thanks go out to Transition Keene Advocates and Antioch University for hosting the event, to Sarah Harpster and her team for the amazing food, and to Dakota for facilitating. Thanks also go to the “Ad Hoc Planning Team” and to the convening organizations: Transition Keene Advocates, Somerville Climate Action, Global Awareness Local Action, the Resilience Hub of Portland, Transition Montpelier, Transition Newburyport, and the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition. Thanks lastly to the Institute for Policy Studies and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund for providing financial and other support.

To get involved with the emerging network of resilience and Transition groups in New England, fill out the blue box in the right-hand column or contact Sarah Byrnes (

Coming Up in New England…

Announcements & Upcoming Events

April 10 2pm Webinar: Net Zero New England – How our Region Can Supply All its own Energy through Renewables. With Commissioner David Cash of the MA Department of Environmental Protection. Read more here.

Camp Commons: An Activist Family Summer Camp. July 17 – 21, World Fellowship Center, White Mountains, NH. Come for a day! Come for four days! Bring your kids! Read more here.

Training for Transition: Launch Workshop. March 29-30, Wilton NH. Contact Mike Anderson (rma@updownway.com603-654-6639) or Michael Conley ( for more info.

The Art of Participatory Leadership. April 11 – 13, Saco ME. An intensive 3-day event where you will experience and practice a set of simple, yet powerful, processes for building community, facilitating powerful conversations, building strong partnerships, and leading change. Scholarships are readily available for grassroots leaders! Read more here.

Training for Transition: Launch Workshop. June 21-22, Greenfield MA. Contact Susal Stebbins ( or Tina Clarke ( for more info.

The Slow Living Summit. June 4 – 6, Brattleboro VT. Read more here.

CommonBound: Moving Together Toward a New Economy, June 6 – 8, Boston MA. Read more here.

Webinar Series: Building Community & Regional Resilience

Net Zero New England: How our Region Can Supply All its own Energy through Renewables
With Commissioner David Cash of the MA Department of Environmental Protection
Thursday, April 10, 2pm ET
Register here! 

According to experts, New England has the potential to supply all of its own energy needs through clean renewables. Maximizing off-shore wind turbines alone would produce so much energy that a surplus could even be sold back to the national grid. Find out more about this intriguing possibility during this webinar with David Cash, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection in Massachusetts. We’ll hear the case for “Net Zero New England,” and consider how grassroots groups can play a role in a transition to a self-sufficient region. Register here! 

A “Regionally Reliant” New England Food System
With Food Solutions New England
Spring 2014, Exact Date TBD

Join us for a conversation with Food Solutions New England, whose research shows that we can produce 70% of our own food within our six state region—even with a population of 17 million. Learn more about their vision for health, nutrition, and resilience in New England’s food system.

Bridging Class Divides to Create Community Resilience
With Betsy Leondar-Wright of Class Action
Tuesday, May 13, 12pm ET
Register here!

Does your community group want to engage people from diverse class backgrounds? Do you want to increase turnout at your events, and effectively engage the public to enhance resilience in your area? If you answered yes to these questions, you don’t want to miss this webinar. Building on insights from Betsy’s groundbreaking new book, Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures, this participatory workshop will enable participants to look through a class lens at their own community work. It will offer tools to draw on the strengths of all class cultures to build cross-class alliances for change. Register here!

How to Measure Progress? Replacing GDP with the “Genuine Progress Indicator”
Stories from Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, and the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub
Thursday, May 22, 12pm ET
Register here!

What if we defined economic success not by the money we spent and the goods we consumed, but by the quality of life we create? The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) does exactly that. From the costs of crime, pollution, commuting and inequality, to the value of education, volunteer work, leisure time and infrastructure, the GPI helps us understand the true impacts of our policies so we can create the sustainable economy that we want.

Did you know that Maryland and Vermont have adopted the GPI at the state level, and Massachusetts is considering doing the same? Join us to hear about the role grassroots groups and activists are playing in these states and beyond to support alternative economic measures. We’ll hear stories from Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, and the mid-Atlantic Transition hub, and consider how our own states can continue—or begin—to measure what matters.

Concept Paper: Region-Wide Resilience in New England

Reflections for Consideration

Drafted by: Jennifer Atlee, Natalie Berland, Dale Bryan, Sarah Byrnes, Dan Jones, Orion Kriegman, and Conrad Willeman

This short paper offers some “grist for the mill” as we consider together what regional resilience could mean for New England.

Download this document as a PDF

New England has a long tradition of radical communitarian culture. The colonists came here as congregations or communities rather than as individuals. Communities banded together into state parliaments here and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution. The region has a tradition of social change, moral crusades and entrepreneurial invention which provides its unique character. It is no wonder that today New England is home to many thriving grassroots Transition and resilience groups. Our region has already organized three region-wide gatherings to share stories, lessons, inspiration and more, bringing together over 200 people from 50 communities and all six New England states.

While Transition and other grassroots groups focus on the vital task of local resiliency, it is becoming clear to many of us that the demands of our time, and the transition now unfolding, also require us to think regionally. What follows is an attempt to sketch out a rationale for thinking at a regional scale — as opposed to only the local, national, and global ones we are more accustomed to.

This document is offered in the spirit of provoking reflection and as a springboard for further discussion. We hope it sets the stage for a deeper dive into the ideas of regional resilience. We also hope it serves as an invitation for us all to collectively imagine the kind of region where we, our children, and our grandchildren, can grow and thrive.

“New Normals” and New Responses

Our lives are currently lived within a global economic system that is unjust and unsustainable. Those of us involved in the Transition effort, along with many others in our region, understand that we are living in, and must respond to, an era of “new normals” caused by climate change and deepening ecological, economic and political crises.

It is clear that the federal government and the other institutions of the past are incapable of the innovation and adaptation needed to even address the most pressing issues we face. As community groups and regional activists, we need to pioneer our own path and lead by doing.

Why a Regional Response is Necessary

Citizens can have the greatest impact closest to home through community-based, local action. The Transition movement, and many others, honor the principle of subsidiarity, which means that action should always be taken at the smallest, most local level possible. To this end, Transition, sustainability and resilience initiatives have created community gardens, community educational opportunities, local transportation improvements, local currencies, and much, much more. Now, some Transition activists are wondering if we should take the principles of re-localized communities and apply them to re-localizing New England.

The leap to regional thinking is happening for many reasons:

We recognize that none of us is resilient until all of us are. Equity and social justice are intrinsic to true resilience. Gated resilience that is only for the well-off may break down when neighboring towns and less privileged individuals seek to get basic needs met under challenging conditions. Both pragmatically and morally, we are profoundly interconnected with each other, and we recognize our obligations to be good neighbors both within and beyond our communities.

We are nested in large systems of culture, climate, and exchange, and many life-sustaining systems are larger-than-local. Sometimes it is not possible to effect change at the local level, so the principle of subsidiarity leads us to work at the next scale. We find that our drinking water is managed regionally, and so is energy production, waste management, and many of the “invisible” aspects of our lives. Rejuvenating the health of bio-regions that cross municipal and state boundaries is essential if we are to sustain the resources we need for our well-being and the biodiversity that fills us with awe and wonder.

A regional economy strikes the best balance between efficiency and resilience, and could circumvent the injustices of the global political-economy. We know that regional trade played a role in many low-energy, pre-industrial cultures to meet needs that cannot be met locally. Producing things within New England — rather than across the globe — reduces carbon emissions, makes us less vulnerable to energy shortages and price spikes, and produces local jobs and forms of livelihood. You might be amazed at how much is made and nurtured in New England. We urge everyone to start wondering: what might we stop importing from afar and start producing within our region?

Many New Englanders are also eager to withdraw from the global political-economy for moral reasons. This economy is based on a model of extracting wealth from the poor and transferring it to the rich, and many of us find this morally abhorrent, as well unsustainable.

A regional decision-making system is more accountable than a large national one. In our national political system, the average citizen’s voice is simply inaudible. We can have much greater impact at a smaller scale, and participate more fully in the decisions that affect our lives. New England’s communitarian history also supports a human scale decision-making system.

Why New England?

Many of us already lead regionally-based lives and feel some connectedness to “New England” as a whole. Depending on whether we are recent immigrants or have deep New England roots, we feel different levels of cultural affinity to this region. For some of us, our relatives are scattered throughout New England, we may regularly vacation Down East or on The Cape or in the Green Mountains, or we may have taken a meandering life-path that moved us from Boston to Maine to Rhode Island. Many of us even commute regionally to work. Our sports teams are another bond that helps knit us together (New England Patriots, Red Sox Nation).

We do recognize that working within the region of New England is somewhat arbitrary. The political boundaries of New England consist primarily of three “eco-regions” (the Northeastern Highlands, the Northeastern Coastal Zone, and the Acadian Plains and Hills). New England does not align with a single foodshed, watershed, or other natural designation. There is a good argument to consider a larger North East Region (inclusive of New York state, and parts of Canada) composed of smaller bio-regions. However, New England seems a handy starting point for a conversation, given the Transition gatherings that have already been held and in light of its established political identity. This discussion is in its infancy, and all options are worthy of more reflection and discussion.

Key Dimensions of Regional Resilience

As mentioned above, this list is offered in the spirit of provoking reflection and as a springboard for further discussion, and is not meant as definitive or comprehensive. The drafting team highlights questions about ten key dimensions that we have given some thought to, but there are surely others we have missed which you may want to add.

1. Skills, Livelihoods, and Knowledge – Challenges posed by “the long emergency” require different habits of mind than the past two hundred years, and new skills and forms of education. Many “high skill” crafts of the past have been devalued in our fossil-fueled industrial age, and the number of expert craftspeople has severely dwindled, along with their accumulated knowledge. For example, growing food is no trivial task, especially in a changing climate, and requires new forms of ecological agriculture suited to the landscape. How do we choose to re-skill ourselves to respond to the coming changes? How do we help our children learn skills useful to the world they will inherit? How do we foster experimentation and unleash innovation toward the new economy transition.

2. Manufacture – To stop importing goods from afar and establish a regional economy, New England will need to start producing its own supplies. Can we build our own wind turbines and solar panels? Who are the garden & farm tool manufacturers? Who makes nuts and bolts and building supplies?

3. Financial/Monetary – While the problems with the global financial casino are vast, we know that we will need to mobilize some recognized version of wealth and savings to be invested in a new infrastructure. This will allow us to make the transition to renewable energy while creating new jobs and businesses. A parallel or at least insulated regional monetary system would buffer us from the shocks of continued global financial collapse while facilitating trade within the region. State banks, like the one in North Dakota, proved particularly resilient in the last Wall Street crash and helped buffer the state from negative impacts. What interrelated financial system can we imagine in New England? How could we facilitate the coordination needed to support that effort?

4. Governance & Decision-Making – We know the corporate-capture of the federal government has led to national stalemate and stagnation. However, leadership and innovation is happening at state and local levels (albeit unevenly). Most of us remain alienated from supposed “democratic” institutions, and are unable to find ways to make our voices heard as participants in shaping our destiny. Historical boundaries of government often have no connection to eco-regions, and cross-boundary pollution of shared resources poses huge challenges for bureaucratic agencies unable to operate outside their jurisdictions. Can we carry forward the values of the American Revolution and renew a grassroots democracy rooted in liberty, justice, equality and freedom? As we organize our own movement, creating a regional network linking local initiatives, we create the seeds of future governance. We must keep alive within our work the values of transparent, accountable, and inclusive decision-making.

5. Transportation – Our region has the advantage of pre-car settlement patterns – we have ports still in use, waterways once used for moving goods and the potential to re-construct rail systems with sustainable rolling stock. Transit infrastructure could help knit our communities together, allowing tool manufacturers in Massachusetts and Connecticut to supply farmers in Vermont and Maine. In reverse, it allows these farmers to bring their food to urban markets. Coordinating land-use laws across different state jurisdictions is one of many challenges to rebuilding a robust non-fossil fuel dependent system of transportation.

6. Food – In their “Regional Reliance” diet, Food Solutions New England has shown that 70% of our food could be produced within New England. In this vision, a substantial portion would be grown in small lots in cities, suburbs, and towns. (FSNE is primarily advocating a “50X60” diet, where 50% of our food comes from New England by 2060.) Already, New England farms produce half of our dairy. The Champlain Valley was once the breadbasket of New England, and the Erie Canal was built to bring the grain from central NY state to the cities. Could we return to such a food reality? What are our visions for local and regional food production? What is the value-added of New England agriculture, what should be its focus in a resilient region? As we transition away from the industrial model of agriculture, what new infrastructure is needed? For example, slaughterhouses and meat markets closer to cities might be needed. What opportunities for re-skilling and new forms of livelihood emerge?

7. Energy – Some experts claim that New England has the potential to become completely self-sufficient through renewable energy production. Decentralized energy systems can be combined with larger publicly owned existing hydro-power and new off-shore wind developments to provide basic power to the region. Maximizing off-shore wind turbines alone would enable production of surplus energy that could be sold back to the national grid to recoup the costs of their construction. Models of cooperative community ownership, such as what has been achieved in Europe or more recently in Boulder, Colorado, or more locally in Scituate, Massachusetts, would strengthen local communities rather than large corporations. Net Zero New England will be difficult, but we need to get there eventually. Shouldn’t we start now?

8. Equity – While we seek to strengthen our local communities, not all communities have equal or sufficient access to resources to make a successful transition to a new economy. Some communities have more advantages and privileges than others. What are our obligations to help each other? Surely, we are not trying to replicate the grossly unequal system of gated wealth and private security keeping out the poor. We need to ensure that all of us have access to food, housing, health care, and education in the New Economy. This is not just a moral obligation, but is also in our self-interest; our resilience is stronger when everyone is healthy and people’s skills and talents are not going to waste.

9. Decreased Consumption – The current economy relies on economic growth, requiring ever-increasing extraction of Earth’s resources and an insatiable consumption of products and services, many of questionable use. Additionally, the primary objective of this economy is wealth accumulation for a global minority, where profit is based on the exploitation of the labors of the majority. By contrast we envision an economy that serves all people rather than people serving it to benefit few, where development and growth concerns humanity, all species, and Earth’s well-being. In a sustainable and just economy people engage in cooperative ownership of the means of production for enhanced sharing of needed goods and services for happiness and survival.

10. Climate Migrants – New England is blessed with many natural and cultural assets that will aid its transition to a new economy. Other regions are far more susceptible to greater disruptions such as droughts and flooding. What are our moral obligations to our brothers and sisters struggling to make a life in these areas? “Climate migrants” from abroad and from parts of America are already arriving in New England – and we can expect their numbers to increase as the world grows increasingly chaotic. How could we prepare to incorporate these and more new immigrants into our region? How do we have a democratic discussion about how to respond when chaos increases around the country?

Drafted by: Jennifer Atlee, Natalie Berland, Dale Bryan, Sarah Byrnes, Dan Jones, Orion Kriegman, and Conrad Willeman

An Exciting Manifestation of Transition

On October 4, Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman of the Transition Network stopped by Jamaica Plain, Boston, as part of their US tour. Rob and Peter spoke at a packed breakfast hosted by local leaders and then went on the “New Economy Walking Tour” in JP. This tour is led by Orion Kriegman and Chuck Collins. Rob later reflected on his blog that JP NET is an “exciting manifestation of Transition.” Check out the pics above, and stay tuned for a full post from Rob dedicated to JP NET.


Sticker Shock

Take a look at this photo. It’s small local butcher shop, right?

Sticker Shock


Look more closely and you’ll see – it’s actually a sticker stuck on an abandoned building. The repeating identical hams give it away.

Rob Hopkins began the talks on his US tour with arresting image. Rob, the founder of the international Transition movement, found this “sticker economy” shot in the Irish town of Belcoo, which was anticipating a visit from the G8. To impress the dignitaries, Belcoo literally papered over its crumbling local economy. The irony is overwhelming: after all, local economies are crumbling because of groups like the G8.

But Rob points out that there’s a reason that sticker didn’t portray a Walmart – no one wants to look at that. Even fancy dignitaries want to look the signs of a vibrant local economy.

But how do we build these economies? How do we scrap the stickers, and do the real thing?

Transition Regional Gathering, Portland ME, Oct 5 2013

Transition Regional Gathering, Portland ME, Oct 5 2013

The Transition movement has inspired hundreds of people all over the world to do just this. Along with resilience building efforts of many stripes, Transition Initiatives are shopping local, growing food, finding sources of local energy, and reconnecting with their neighbors. They’re fighting climate change and preparing their neighborhoods for emergencies. They’re creating local, living economies.

Transitioners Enjoy Lunch at the Oct 5 Gathering

Transitioners Enjoy Lunch at the Oct 5 Gathering

And these groups are connecting with each other. The day after Rob’s stop in Portland, ME, 120 people from across New England stuck around to talk to the real experts in community resilience: each other. It was a great meeting of the minds, hearts and spirits, as people shared stories, inspired each other, and met in Open Space to discuss topics as varied as creating a vision of New England-wide resilience, to the use of livestock for carbon sequestration.

This was the third such New England-wide gathering of Transition and Resilience groups. Conversations are continuing, and people will meet again in Keene, NH in the winter or spring (sign up in the blue box to the right to get updates).

For more on Rob’s thoughts about revitalizing the economy, check out the excellent white paper he co-authored with Asher Miller of the Post Carbon Institute, “Climate after Growth.”

Rob’s Stop in Jamaica Plain

Rob Hopkins and Peter Lipman of the Transition Network also stopped by Jamaica Plain, Boston, as part of their US tour. Rob and Peter spoke at a packed breakfast hosted by local leaders and then went on the “New Economy Walking Tour” in JP led by Orion Kriegman and Chuck Collins. Rob later reflected on his blog that JP NET is an “exciting manifestation of Transition.” Check out the pics above, and stay tuned for a full post from Rob dedicated to JP NET.

Letter from Carolyne Stayton, Co-Director, Transition US

Dear Transition Leaders,

We are thrilled that you all are gathered today and we wanted to give you a quick overview of highlights from the global Transition movement as well as an update on some exciting activities we have coming up.

Transition Initiatives are now in 43 countries – including Brazil, Japan, Greece, India and South Aftrica! Transition Greyton in South Africa is a relatively new TI and shows an impressive take on Transition beyond western culture.  An inspiring 7 min. video here (if you choose to watch it):

In December 2012 the Transition Network won the European Economic and Social Committee Civil Society award for their REconomy work. This prestigious award, in part, has stimulated the most exciting news we have.

For those who have not heard this.  Rob Hopkins was invited by an international foundation to be personally introduced by them to a number of funders and foundations in the US.  Although Rob has not flown for a number of years he weighed the value of potentially bringing substantial financial resources to the overall global Transition work and decided he had to come. Adding to this initial fortuitous expedition with his foundation hosts we are planning a cross-country tour for Rob with the intent to both energize Transition work and help raise public awareness.

One objective we are holding is to schedule a stop in the Northeast in early October for all of you to meet with Rob and for Rob to meet all of you.

A little more context on his visit: For the first time on earth we have passed 400 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere – on track for a 6 degree C rise in temperatures by 2100. I won’t go into the more sobering implications other than to say that there seems to be a consensus that the window for making pivotal change is now – as is the opportunity to fire up the ordinary person into action.  Now more than ever, we have to ignite the sentiments of the nation.  In the fall of 2013 Transition US will be putting a tremendous amount of effort into this awareness-raising campaign starting with Rob’s tour.  It will be a great opportunity for us all to build on that momentum. So think creatively on that today too!

Another avenue Transition US has been avidly promoting and organizing is an advanced training module that we will launch across the US.  This course is really geared to provide groups with a number of skills to more effectively work together and organize their communities into action.  An international communities’ study came up with the results that 90% of groups fail because of poor group process! We are determined to outdo those odds by leaps and bounds. To that end we hope to schedule a 2-day Effective Groups course in your area too in the fall.

Lastly we are collaborating with a host of others on an extensive Resilience Indicator toolkit project for communities to better assess their vulnerabilities and chart a more focused and impactful way forward. A path forward that, by its design, brings with it the major community stakeholders.

Please keep apprised of all of these new offerings through our website and email distribution lists.

Finally some other overview bits: Transition Initiatives have started in 139 cities, towns and regions in 35 states with more than 200 others currently forming.  Although some TI’s have gotten rather quiet, changed into something else or stopped altogether we are now uncovering inspiring legacies – all of those projects/actions/hard works that have been sparked within communities because of the catalyzing efforts of Transition Initiatives.  To name a few: In California – the whole Grange movement has been reignited.  In Ann Arbor Michigan Reskilling festivals are rocking and in Sandpoint Idaho they now have a well established and permanent Folk School.  There is so much to learn from every part of the process.  So much to celebrate. So much new wisdom to put back into the system. While we are busy at this remarkable resilience-building work let us build that muscle of experimentation, of giving things a wholehearted try, of learning and of celebrating both our successes and our failures.

There are of course too those many Transition Initiatives that are currently making impact in large and small ways. Like Transition Sarasota FL that gleaned 75,000 tons of food for their local food banks, the energy tours conducted by Transition Sebastopol that is seeding the way for Sonoma Clean Power – a community choice alternative energy option, or Transition Amherst that is creating 350 new edible gardens. During the month of May there were more than 7,000 actions taken across the country by many of you and by many others who participated in the Transition Challenge. Actions saved water, conserved energy, grew food and built community. All over the country new gardens sprang up, fruit trees were planted, grey water systems were installed, and communities came together in meaningful and colorful ways.

With Rob’s visit likely being so prominent, we have a rare opportunity to highlight the groundbreaking and painstaking work being done by the Transition Initiatives across the US.  To help with this we have sent out a survey (really short – only 10 minutes!). Information from this will be a guide for Transition US’s next steps.  The results too will form the basis of a report that Rob can enthusiastically refer to while meeting funders and giving talks.  To sweeten the survey deal Post Carbon Institute is providing Transition Initiatives and Mulling groups who complete the survey with their Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth coffee table book.  So please fill out the survey!  If you have any questions email us at

I wish you all an inspiring, heart-opening, momentum-building day. Believe me when I say we would love to join you/meet you/roll up our sleeves with you!  Please let us know what you learn, what inspires you and what we might do stronger and better together. All our best from Transition US.

Carolyne Stayton
Transition US