By Rita Bober
Local Lawton is part of the Transition Town Movement that is taking root in the United States. This is a positive, non-confrontational approach to change. It searches for ways to build bridges and cultivate commonalities among people as they respond to increasing signs of climate change, the challenges of growing economic instability and issues of rapidly accelerating energy costs. In Michigan there are Transition Town efforts in Chelsea, Cadillac, Traverse City, Bangor, Fennville, Michiana (upper Indiana and lower Michigan), and Lawton.
I’ve talked about the Transition Movement before in the Lawton Free Reader (August, 2010, November, 2012) and want to give you an update on what’s been going on. Since 2010, we have had a Reskilling event where 80 folks attended workshops on various resilient skills like beekeeping, composting, fermentation, etc.; viewed films such as Food, Inc., The Power of Community, and The Economics of Happiness; assisted in founding the Lawton Community Garden with St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; started a school garden at the Elementary school; and recently began a Seed Saving Library in partnership with the Lawton Public Library, MSU Extension Master Gardeners, and the Community Garden. A subgroup has also formed to provide and plant flowers in downtown Lawton. Like astronaut Neil Armstrong stated as he landed on the moon, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
This is a grassroots movement where instead of “doom and gloom,” neighbors reconnect and build community relationships to solve problems on a local level and have some fun learning something new while doing so. Along with the programs described above, Adams Hardware has also held events to educate people about local resources – Diana Dalquist from Porter Organics talking about using worm compost and Mike Ives talking about hunting turkeys. These are positive ways to help our community become more resilient.
In checking out what other Transition Towns are doing, I found numerous exciting events taking place. Key areas focus on agriculture and food security, education and health, transportation, housing, energy alternatives, economy (local money), leisure and entertainment, and more. Because we don’t know what we need in our community unless we know what we already have, at our next meeting we will begin a process of “mapping” Lawton and surrounding areas. What food sources do we have? Are there any CSA (community supported agriculture)? What Farmers markets are around? Where are local Grocery stores and other places to find food? What fruits, nuts and berries grow around our area free for the taking? What transportation systems do we have? On housing – green housing available, alternative buildings, tools? What energy alternatives – local solar and wind systems, other options are out there? I’m sure we will come up with a great list showing our strengths and weaknesses. What is resilience? Webster Dictionary describes resilience as: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. As our goal is to gain resilience, we know that things change and to ignore or resist these changes is to increase our vulnerability and forego emerging opportunities.
We meet on the first Sunday of the month at the Lawton Community Room, 125 S. Main St., (same bldg. as the Library/Clerk’s Office). Our next meeting is May 5th from 3-5 pm. All are welcome!