When we all pull in the same direction, change can happen. We’ve seen that over the past few years with the changes of regime in the North of Africa, and throughout history.
In the UK, though, and I speculate in other western cultures as well, we are too disconnected for change to have a chance. Yes, we are increasingly widely connected via the web, but there is a lack of human contact within our local communities.
For an example, take Berkhamsted, where I live. The town is of medium size, with good access to London and to the north. A large proportion of the residents commute to London. They spend the day at work, come home on the train. They then spend the evening in their homes, watching the telly. Sometimes they will go out in the evening and they may know a few people in the town via a couple of clubs and the kids.
Therefore there isn’t a great sense of being part of a community, as our lives are largely insulated from those around us. We are more likely to compare ourselves with the neighbour than we are to lend them a lawnmower; more likely to complain about the litter than get together to pick it up.
Our personal health and well-being and the quality of our lives are improved if we spend more time with each other. You may recognise the feeling of not having enough energy in the evening to do anything much. You may also recognise the fact that even when you feel tired if you go out and meet people then you have a great time and feel energised.
Arguably the greatest benefit of the Transition movement therefore is to re-build and cultivate that sense of community. The aim of the Transition movement is to help move us to the low-carbon future, addressing issues such as resilience to the effects of climate change, peak oil and financial austerity. This is a big ask and not one that can be achieved without a community in place that is capable of acting as one.
I have been involved in Transition Town Berkhamsted (TTB) for a number of years, and was elected co-leader in May 2012. It is a very rewarding movement to be part of, plus of course a great challenge, as so few are motivated to address the issues.
The Transition Network or Transition movement encompasses about 1000 different communities around the world. The communities, dubbed Transition Towns, might be a neighbourhood or might be up to a whole town or district. About half are in the UK, where the movement started, the rest are spread over the globe, in particular in the states.
This might be a good focus for my time.