Michigan Land Trustees and the Transition Movement
By Norm & Rita Bober
In 2009 at the MLT August meeting the board agreed to work with the Transition Van Buren-Allegan program to educate people about key issues of peak oil, climate change, economic decline, and resilience as the goals for each group were similar:
"…the transition movement is a response to the coming of peak oil. When the supply of oil fails to meet the demand, the price will rise rapidly and perhaps there will be rationing. We will have to learn new skills to replace the work that oil does for us now. This is especially true in the production of food. We all need food to survive (as well as clean air, drinkable water, and the sun). With less energy available, our whole industrial society will need to be redesigned… The Transition initiative focuses on local revitalization. It's important to be prepared to feed ourselves locally, to provide local energy (i.e. solar and wind power, wood for woodstoves), to be able to get around (low-energy cars, bikes, horses and buggies) and to support each other in all of these endeavors." (From an article in the Lawton Free Reader, August 2010)
"Cultivating Resilient Communities: Michigan Land Trustees is dedicated to the goal of revitalizing rural and urban communities by promoting responsible land use and the development of localized food and energy systems." (From our MLT flyer)
As a result of this initiative, we have worked with the Transition team to set up educational programs and reskilling events to fulfill this process. Below is a list of the programs we have presented over the year reaching at a minimum over 400 people.
- November 12, 2009: "Anticipating the Transition: Community Resilience When Cheap Oil Is Gone" and "Star Trek Meets Roadrunner: Dilithium Crystals, Technological Optimism and the Transition Imperative." Dr. Maynard Kaufman (MLT) and Dr. Ron Klein (MLT). Addressing our communities response to the challenges and opportunities of peak oil and climate change with insights to alternative technologies that technological optimists think will save us.
- March 9, 2010: "The Power of Community: Are there lessons we can learn from one country's experience of a severely diminished oil supply?" Viewing of the DVD Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil with Dr. Ken Dahlberg (MLT) and Dr. Tom Kostrzewa (WMU) giving insights and observations on Cuba's experience.
- June 12, 2010: Reskilling: Lawton. Workshops included: low-cost bee keeping, fermentation, composting and compost tea, wild edible and medicinal plant walk, permaculture, forest gardening, and native plants, and making your home energy efficient.
- September 19, 2010: Financial support for the Southwest Michigan Community Harvest Fest and for its main speaker, Richard Heinberg, speaking on "Agriculture and Local Food: How to Make the Transition."
- September 20, 2010: Portage Public Library presentation of Richard Heinberg speaking on "Sustainability: How to Make the Transition." MLT and Transition members attend lunch with Richard Heinberg after his talk.
- September 28, 2010: Portage Public Library presentation: "Moving Towards Resilience: One Step at a Time" with MLT members Norm & Rita Bober, Mike Kruk & Caren Braymere, and Olga Bonfiglio.
- October 5, 2010: Reskilling: Bangor. Workshops included: energy audit of off-grid house, cheese-making, value of native plants, dealing with emergencies, fermentation, permaculture gardening.
In talking with Maynard about our events, he indicated it is more important to think of Transition as a "Movement" rather than as building an organization. In this regard, there are many more events taking place to enhance the movement. These include:
- In Bloomingdale, local members of Transition have initiated educational and working programs in their community. Guy McPherson's presentation in September, 2010 was well attended.
- In Bangor, Maynard & Barbara have initiated the Bangor Exchange and Training System. Maynard is teaching a course on "Homesteading in a World of Expensive Energy" at Lake Michigan College. Dennis has given a talk to the alternative education students on organic farming on 5 acres. In South Haven, the DVD A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash was shown with good attendance.
- In Fennville, Transition members Dana and Marilyn have started a series of videos at the Lakeshore Interfaith Center (Mother's Place) and are working towards a local Transition organization. Dana and Marilyn will be presenting at the Bioneers Conference in Traverse City in October.
- Rita and Norm have had 3 "reskilling" sessions on Herbs. One in May on Edible Wild Foods where almost 100 people attended; a session at the Portage Senior Center on Culinary Herbs, and recently at the Portage Library on Medicinal Herbs. They continue to write articles for the local Lawton Free Reader on food, farming, peak oil, community, and resilience. They hope to get a local group started in their community very soon.
Whatever name you give "The Movement" — sustainability, resilience, relocalization — it has begun and we are in the forefront of bringing it to Southwest Michigan.
Published in the Michigan Land Trustees Newsletter, Fall, 2010.