Transition movement offers resilience & hope

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How inspiring to spend the day with community activists, visionaries and formerly “pissed off” moms actively transforming personal despair about our collective uncertain times into compassionate sustainable living interventions and aspirations of resilience. In an old Ford Plant of West Richmond, now home of both Rosie the Riveter and Buddhas by the Bay museums, was held the Nor Cal Regional Transition Conference. Over the past 5 or so years, Transition, originating in the UK, has become an international movement with a basis in permaculture. Encompassing inner as well as outer “transitions” to champion people, cities and regions’ cultivation of sustainable lifestyles and resilience to weather upcoming changes of economy, society, energy availability and climate. Now these actions are spreading, deepening and developing in many languages, cultures and flavors according to its national directors. Faith-based efforts by Quakers, UCC and Buddhists have also sprouted. “Inner transition” is also known as Heart & Soul in some local areas. This inner and outer work mirrors my life and career in public health and mindfulness. Seeds of this Transition movement are found in teachings of Joanna Macy, who has suggested we “take what is broken, embrace it and make it whole.” I have been very inspired by her recent book, “Active Hope”; where living example can be seen in sustainable local Transition communities, such as Transition Albany, Transition Berkeley, Transition Sebastopol, Transition Santa Cruz… and hundreds more across the planet.

During the conference representatives of Northern California community efforts presented their challenges and success in changing economies, or re-conomy and adding permaculture based on principles of wise, sustainable living. Urban and rural areas each creating appropriate solutions. Some examples are turning front and backyard lawns into “food forest” gardens, creating community gardens, promoting alternative modes of transportation (electric cars, mass transit, bikes), develop local banks, developing alternative currencies and trading, swapping of clothes, food, tools and more. Strategies to unite communities include movie nights, group garden planting parties, sustainable housing tours as well as other ways to get to know each other and create mutual support and understanding. Transition is now a powerful grassroots movement bringing together individuals, towns, businesses, and elected officials with a will for change, giving active hope for a brighter future to be possible. If there’s not a transition town where you are, perhaps with some friends you can help get one started. Wonderful that at conference end Betsy Rose sang her own songs reflecting our pain and optimism touched on throughout the day. A mindful songs classroom lesson by Betsy posted on  “May I Be Happy”.

More about Transition USA at

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