Last night I attended the Guildford Environmental Forum (GEF), where Ben Brangwyn, one of the leading lights of the Transition Town movement and a founder the Transition Network. He talked and we asked questions for more than 2½ hours – which, bearing in mind that he had had a lousy journey from the far end of the country that day, was pretty impressive.
Late in the conversation, he discussed the ‘7 Buts’ – the reasons people give for not doing anything about the environment. No. 4 is ‘But no one in this town cares about the environment anyway’. In response to this, Ben told us about an old man who told him that, before the Second World War, almost no one had worried about what was coming. But 5% of the population could see the signs and took steps to prepare. So when war actually came, a good deal was ready. Britain’s legendary ‘turning on a sixpence’ (or the USA ‘turning on a dime’) depended heavily on the readiness created by a few.
I think this is a good metaphor for what the Transition Network should be doing. As well as actually making changes – proving the truth of the transition model by practical means – we should also be preparing to accelerate this process when suddenly not only a lot more people but also governments at every level need to get things done. As well as an ‘Energy Descent Action Plan’ (EDAP) each community should start to build a ‘Transition Mobilisation Plan’. And just as, like the EDAP, no one can tell a local community how to carry out their own transition, but they can certainly be provided with a proven toolkit for a very wide range of tasks, including plenty of built-in options and adaptability.
So part of the role of the Transition Network should, I think, be to create the readiness for when action is urgently needed and many more people are motivated to take action.