Joining the Transition Town Movement is Easy
When I tell people about Transition Longfellow – my neighborhood sustainability group – the most common response I hear is: “Gee, you do a lot of fun things! How do you do it?” That’s usually followed: “I/we couldn’t do that.”
I want to tell you, YES, YOU CAN! Even if you have a full-time job. Even if you have children (especially if you have children). Even if you don’t have a big social network. You CAN start to make things happen in your home, on your block, in your church, and in your community. Just decide to do something and then commit.
My experience has been that once you commit and you start to talk about it, the path forward appears. People and resources begin to come to you. It’s not magic; all those people and resources were there before, it’s just that you didn’t recognize them because you weren’t looking for those opportunities. But once you start a Transition group, and begin to take action to reduce your carbon footprint and become more resilient, you will see opportunities to learn and grow all around you
In 2014 I went on the solar home tour, hosted by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. I visited the urban homestead of Lee Olson, a case study in transition, with big gardens and a fruit tree orchard, chickens, solar panels, and lots of energy efficiency and conservation improvements. I was so impressed. I just knew I could learn a lot from her. I told her about our group and sure enough, she knew about Transition and had been involved in Transition West Side/West St. Paul.
I noticed that she had beautiful insulated curtains and asked her about them. She makes them – and she’s keen on seeing more people use this simple technology to cut down on their heating bills. (Insulated curtains keep warm indoor air from hitting the cold window glass, cool and “falling” onto people sitting or sleeping near the window. When we feel these “cold drafts,” we turn up the furnace. By preventing that draft, we don’t feel the need to turn up the heat to a whole house.
I told her I’d love to make some myself and I bet other people I know would like to do that as well. I could already envision a group sewing activity. So could Lee. She graciously agreed to come teach a workshop for Transition Longfellow.
I took the idea back to our core team and although we had never done a sewing skill share before, we decided to make it happen. We talked to everyone we knew and found a few experienced sewers to help teach newbies. Other folks donated the use of their sewing machines for an afternoon. We had Lee, the teacher, and we secured a room at a nearby church. We were ready!
10 people made curtains the first year and we’ve done that event twice since then. We learned a lot that first time around and we made succeeding workshops smaller and gave them more time. After all, this is a volunteer project so it has to be fun, not just work. It’s wonderful to see people who have never sewn before proudly display their new curtain. And I’ve gotten to see these curtains hanging in my neighbor’s homes.
An afternoon’s work, a few hours of pre-organizing, and it’s good feelings all around.
So how do you start a Transition group? I’m going to share my ideas on that in future posts. And I’m always available to talk with folks who think they’d like to start a group. I’m your resource. Just ask.
These skill shares are so much fun, and a great way to meet neighbors and make new friends. I’m reminded of one of the easiest ones we did, Winter Seed Sowing. We asked people to collect plastic milk jugs, we chipped in on a couple bags of potting soil, got some seeds, and invited two people with experience to lead the activity. We did it in the church basement, but you could do it at someone’s house. We had so much fun– like kids planting beans in plastic cups. And seeing all those snow-covered jugs in neighbors’ yards was a great conversation starter, and really created a sense of community. Anyone can do it!