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 A TRANSITION FEEDBACK LOOP:

ASKING SOME TOUGH “MATH” QUESTIONS

JOIN US FOR AN IMPORTANT TELESEMINAR – “The Maturation of a Social Movement

A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement”

Date: December 4, 2014 - 11am PST/2pm ESTPlease: register online, Teleseminar Syllabus

by, Pamela Boyce Simms, KD2GU

      Certified Transition Trainer, Convener, Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

Public scrutiny and feedback are welcome and essential. Learning, a broader reach, and the healthy evolution of the Transition movement are fueled by constructive feedback. Transitioners know that they don’t have all of the answers. Creating a global web of localized resilience-building initiatives is a massive, open-ended social experiment, emphatically punctuated with a question mark. So, listening deeply and responding to feedback can help the Transition movement hone the appropriateness of its actions in the  alternative-creating adventure on which we’ve embarked.

In its critique, The Transition Movement: Questions of Diversity, Power and Affluence, The Simplicity Institute tactfully sets a mirror before the Transition movement; offering Transitioners an opportunity to take stock of their eight year resilience-building journey, and consider pathways forward.

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) welcomes this opportunity to self-refine by coalescing regional Resources Persons to engage with issues raised in the critique in a monthly teleseminar series. An overview of the series: The Maturation of a Social Movement, A Regional Response to A Critique of the Transition Movement, will be offered on Thursday, December 4th at 2:00 PM.

The Mid-Atlantic regional network, comprised 100% of engaged Transitioners in seven states, generates pragmatic, positive alternative-building activism in response to climate change, resource depletion and economic contraction. Teleseminar listener feedback contributes to keeping our work grounded; providing public perspectives on strengths, deficiencies; potential pitfalls and windfalls that exist within, and lay ahead of the Transition movement.

MATH will fold listener feedback into the ongoing process of building out an ever-adaptable operating system for its regional network. Feedback helps MATH:  1) enhance fluidity of communication, and the responsiveness of our regional work to needs as they arise, in the moment at several scales, 2) affirm and create practices that sustain Transitioner vigor, enthusiasm, and passion for the work region-wide, 3) cultivate a voracious Transitioner appetite for self-transformation and self-awareness in order to gauge ongoing operations effectiveness.

CONSIDER SOME SIMPLICITY INSTITUTE CRITIQUE QUESTIONS

Diversity      

The Simplicity Institute accurately depicts the Transitioner demographic group as predominantly white, educated, post materialist, middleclass, small community people. This information isn’t offered as inherently good or bad, but as the prevalent, de facto reality within the movement. That being said, we in the Mid-Atlantic region, which incorporates the most highly diverse and population-dense corridor on the planet ask: How does that Transitioner demographic reality impact the reach and relevance of our work? Awareness of the juxtaposition between who currently populates the Transition movement, and the demographic mix in the Mid-Atlantic region prompts us to explore:

  • Whose resilience are we concerned about, and to what end? i.e. Transition to what, where, by whom, for whom?
  • Should Transition be more explicitly concerned with social justice?
  • Does inclusion in Transition mean assimilating others into our way of viewing the world?
  • How do we encourage diversity without “othering” and perpetuating social stratification?
  • How might we fold community power dynamics conditioned by ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic stratification that shape relationships into our work?
  • How can we honestly look at, and skillfully work with various levels of vulnerability between communities, and competing interests within communities?
  • How might we address the facts that :
    • resource depletion and climate change will effect various groups in different ways?
    • relocalization may not be equally as applicable to everyone?
    • some people are more adaptable than others given that there are aspects of change that have more to do with historical power than place?

Conversely, lowest common denominator attempts at all-inclusivity could dilute the intensity of the movement’s impact by valuing “the stretching process” in and of itself over meaningful change.

Power & Control Dynamics //vs// Non-hierarchical Balance

  • Is there too much top down steering of the movement through the Transition Network, and/or national hubs which runs counter to the grassroots driven modus operandi? (This is juxtaposed to the need to preserve cohesion, coherence and some semblance of mainstream recognition.)
  • Is relocalization capable of solving political as well as environmental problems?
  • Are we making a strong enough distinction between: “Unhealthy Localism:” romanticized insularity, isolationist, protectionist exclusion (to be avoided) and, “Healthy Localism:” inclusive, intentional, open, relational, linked to other places, groups and movements (to be embraced)?
  • Can acts of resistance and micro-transformation destabilize macro-systems?
  • Can we dispassionately analyze political power without becoming embroiled in politics?
  • Co-option, i.e.: 1) Underestimation of the adaptive capacity of the current system: Transition’s non-confrontational approach may take so long that the existing system adopts, waters down, twists and manipulates the rhetoric, e.g. “resilience” without shifting any underlying structures or hierarchies. 2) use of the resilience argument to back away from government (and populous’) responsibility to help those in need.

Affluence…..or NOT ~ Consumption Patterns ~ Taboo Topics

Do Transitioners with one foot understandably in “old-paradigm think” and the other anchored in new ways of seeing the world, gingerly side-step the latent tensions around issues which might alienate people from our “big tent” movement?

  • Are we addressing head on the fact that CONSUMER CAPITALISM created our current predicament; with all that the loaded term means ideologically to Americans; and the reality of downsized material consumption lifestyles on the horizon?
  • Can self-organizing Transition communities, “ignore capitalism to death” by building a new economy in the shell of the old?
  • Are we skirting the issue of ecological damage wrought by continued meat consumption, and if yes, what is the projected impact of continuing to do so?

JOIN US FOR AN IMPORTANT TELESEMINAR – “The Maturation of a Social Movement

A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement”

Date: December 4, 2014 - 11am PST/2pm ESTPlease: register online, Teleseminar Syllabus

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Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub – TELESEMINAR

The Maturation of a Social Movement: A Regional Response to a Critique of the

Transition Movement

Thursday, November 6, 2014, 2 PM EST

  Please: Register Online

INNER-TRANSITION: COMMIT TO STAYING AWAKE

 

By, Pamela Boyce Simms, KD2GUF, Convener, Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub 

         Will cities and states along the Mid-Atlantic coastline wake up in time? One drowsy regional eye opened during the September 2014 People’s Climate March; a brief but powerful awakened moment. The PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCHvisual of 400,000 people in New York City streets screamed public recognition of the intensifying dysfunction that precipitates climate change, economic contraction, and resource depletion.

         The crowds are gone now. The hoopla of frenzied, back-to-back strategy sessions quieted. The murky, “business as usual” mist has resettled. Now what? The challenge that the dispersed People’s Climate Marchers, Wall Street flooders, and eco-activists of all stripes now face is far deeper than any policy, treaty, legislation or regulation can reach. The litmus test of authentic forward movement is to skillfully address the fear, greed and desire for power that warps the collective perception of self, others, and the Earth.

        The sleep of deep-seated conditioning to want more is so irresistibly seductive. It’s hard to stay PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCHawake when the pervasive fog of consumerism and desire for power hang heavy. Having more, and especially, wanting more, in order to strengthen one’s identity is a mesmerizing trance that fuels the environment-destroying economy. And as we’ve witnessed time and time again, in movement after movement, legislation is utterly impotent at the level of embedded human beliefs and identity formation. There is no legal shortcut. There can be no enduring outer transition without a corresponding inner-transition.

Waking Up: It’s Not About Trying to Be a Better Person

        The Transition movement as currently manifest in the Mid-Atlantic region doesn’t focus on, or exhort people to become better, or more eco-conscious by letting go of fear and desire. Liberation from that environmental hard sell is so refreshing! (Mid-Atlantic coastline megacities are some of the most climate-change-vulnerable chunks of real estate on the planet. We get it. We don’t have the luxury of PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCHwasting time by dwelling inordinately on fear. There is uplifting timely work to be done together.)

       Furthermore, fear, and greed are symptoms of collective delusion, not causes of Earth-destroying dysfunction. Trying harder to do and be better sounds like a good idea but that pursuit is just a more subtle way of bolstering self-image; artificially feeling good about ourselves.

        With a slight but important shift of the lenses, Transitioning at its best invites us to discover and get comfortable with the goodness that is already inside of ourselves. That may sound like a no-brainer at first blush, but getting comfortable with our own inherent goodness is a tremendous challenge for many. So ironically, on the positive note of emergent basic goodness, Transitioning swims upstream! Transition groups that commit to perpetually shake off the “business as usual” spell, create an environment in which goodness, compassion, and collective genius can emerge.

          It’s no wonder that there is push back to the Transition movement’s positive environmental messaging that affirms the good in humanity. FULL engagement with transitioning asks us to recognize the power of goodness in others, our neighbors and most difficultly, to accept it in ourselves!

       Transition trusts groups’ ability to non-hierarchically self-organize, make good decisions for themselves and act for the greater good; or at least work toward these aspirations. The movement continually focuses our attention on what we most deeply value, which in turn encourages most of us to act more compassionately toward each other, and the Earth.

       Therein lies the “rub” that the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) will explore in the upcoming, November 6th teleseminar, “Maturation of a Social Movement.” If acceptance of goodness inherent in emergent collective genius isn’t possible, then the bedrock Transition Principles that proceed therefrom, simply and understandably don’t make sense to many who adopt diametrically opposed approaches to environmental activism.

MATH teleseminars will get into the thick of it.

       November 6th is the first of two teleseminars that explore the Simplicity Institute’s critique of the Transition Movement entitled,  The Transition Movement: Questions of Diversity, Power and Affluence, and provide an overview of the topics that will be covered in a MATH monthly webinar series that will launch in January 2015. The topics are:

  • Taking the Temperature of the Transition Movement in the Mid-Atlantic Region

  • Transition Homeostasis: Maintaining a Delicate Non-hierarchical Balance

  • Localism and Systemic Change:

  • Transition: Urban and…..NOT

  • Diversity: Transition to What, Where, and for Whom?

  • Ignoring Capitalism To Death

        One activist arena out of which Mid-Atlantic Transition steps for example, is “threat messaging” or k3midatlanticstatesclimate-change-fact overwhelm. Voluminous amounts of research confirms that threat messaging inhibits motivation to act on problems as massive as climate change and narrows our response range down to fight, flight or shutdown. Seeking security we turn inward, away from others and circling back to the use of “stuff” to bolster identity, consumerism rears its head. So, we don’t go there. The prompts the Simplicity Institute to pose questions like, “Is Transition radical enough?” We’ll engage that query with gusto.

         Another area where we’d prefer respectful parallel play from across the courtyard concerns the choice of some movements to work within the perimeters of current institutions and systems. A suite of strategies is used to challenge the “powers that be” to adopt more carbon-neutral ways of providing the same goods and services we’re currently receiving. Again, Mid-Atlantic Transition steps out of the arena, offers an encouraging wave to the virtuous embattled, and focuses on building-out alternative ways of getting needs met at the substrate level of widespread, grassroots interconnection. This vantage point prompts the Simplicity Institute to ask, “Can localism effect Systemic Change?”  The teleseminar conversation will be rich!

      The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) network has tasked itself to collectively stay awake for long enough intervals to tap others in the region on the shoulder, and invite them to shake off the spell. We look forward to welcoming you to the discussion.

BtkpRVmIcAAsk9FCOMMIT TO STAYING AWAKE

JOIN US FOR – The Maturation of a Social Movement

Thursday, November 6, 2014 2 PM EST. Please register online

         The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) will pause to take stock of five years of Transitioning in the region during a teleseminar entitled, “Maturation of a Social Movement.” Join the discussion at 2:00 PM/ ET – November 6, 2014. The MATH network unifies the work of environmental advocates who have elected to Transition the Mid-Atlantic mega-region from fossil fuel dependency toward regionally integrated, self-reliant resilience. The cluster of cities in our megalopolis corridor includes New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Richmond.

        We work to keep our finger on the regional pulse; listening for that moment when, not a majority, but a tipping point, a critical mass of people in our region choose to live consciously, well, and lightly on the Earth.

 Simplicity Institute’s Critique of the Transition MovementDiversity, Power and Affluence

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“THE STATE OF TRANSITION”: MID-ATLANTIC REGION

The Story of The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

A Regional Overview

 

Download PDF: State of Transitioning in the Mid-Atlantic Region

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) pauses to take stock of five years of Transitioning in our region. The MATH network unifies the work of environmental advocates who have mid-atlantic-region-color.gifelected to Transition the Mid-Atlantic mega-region from fossil fuel dependency toward regionally integrated, self-reliant resilience. The cluster of cities in our megalopolis includes New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington DC, and Richmond.

Hubris? We prefer to characterize what we’re up to as an “experiment.” Regardless, we are deeply engaged in Transitioning the Mid-Atlantic region hamlet by hamlet; by village, town, city, neighborhood, street, block and building. As we work, we keep our finger on the regional pulse; listening for that moment when, not a majority, but a tipping point, a critical mass of people in our region choose to live consciously, well, and lightly on the Earth.

Sparked and spread by serendipitous word of mouth and two waves of Transition Trainings, pockets of Transitioning began to germinate and sprout throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region from 2009-2014. In May of 2013 at a five-day Transition retreat, the newly Transitioner-formed Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) sought to cross-pollinate, scale up, and steadily cultivate a regional network of Transition initiatives at multiple stages of development. The MATH Council comprised of seasoned Transitioners from throughout the region came into being.The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) which prioritizes watersheds over state boundaries, currently

Connecticut #1New York #1embraces Transitioners from the Housatonic Valley of Southern Connecticut (Coginchaug Area Transition), to the Chesapeake Bay watersheds of the Potomac-Shenandoah, Rappahannock, Big Sandy and Roanoke in the great state of Virginia.

New York State counts nineteen Transition initiatives scattered through the sub-regions of the Adirondacks, Mohawk Valley, Catskills, Capital District, Mid-Hudson Valley, Lower Hudson Valley and the New York metropolitan area.

new jerseyNorthern New Jersey is Transitioning in Newton, Sussex County and “down the shore” in Red Bank, Monmouth County. Wilmington in Transition holds down the fort in Delaware even as Transition Howard County is a dynamic Transition outpost in Maryland.maryland-county-map-2

Robust Transition activity in Eastern Pennsylvania, Media and Philadelphia, and the grounded pa_map_trainenvironmental networking of Transition State College in the bull’s-eye center of the state, are way showers for fifteen Pennsylvania Transition initiatives.

           Transition initiatives in Richmond, Staunton and Charlottesville Virginia in the Delaware #1southernmost Mid-Atlantic watersheds provide a challenging range of demographics that demand Transitioning at levels, and from an angle that are in stark contrast to strategies employed in the north.  Virginia #2

Some Transition initiatives sparked the development of others in their area. Most were catalyzed by participants in Transition Training cohorts who were fired up enough to immediately go home and walk the talk. Still others developed quietly, autonomously and in relative isolation from all but online references to the movement. Yet, - Transitioners ALL Are We - in the Mid-Atlantic region; summer, 2014. And the fact that 100% of those involved in the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub are Transitioners-to the-bone, is a key distinguishing characteristic of MATH as a network.

MATH – At Its Best – Mirrors Natural Systems

silver-bay-small.jpg

The self-organizing, ever-morphing Transition experiment is patterned after living-systems in nature, as are the operating principles of the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH). At our best, our goal of achieving integrated regional resilience is accomplished through deliberately emulating living systems patterns: 1) non-hierarchical, cooperative self-organization;  2) affirmation and encouragement of the spectrum of contributions inherent in our diverse perspectives; 3) constant adaptation to address what is emerging in the moment; and, 4) maintenance of balanced, nurturing energy flows between individuals and the whole.

 Two transformation-driven groups bonded by a permeable membrane animate the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) network. Twenty one seasoned Transitioners from seven Mid-Atlantic states and nine “Stewards” of the environment form the MATH Council, and Circle of Stewards respectively. These environmental advocates are in turn networked back within their home states to concentric rings of thousands of Transitioners who are the leaven in the bread of the regional Transition environmental movement.

Biodiversity-2In an ecosystem, trillions of organisms dance a ballet of interrelated exchange. Each organism contributes to the needs of its neighbors, to the equilibrium, and the resilience of the whole while maintaining its own identity.

MATH Transitioners who hail from a latticework of interconnected water and foodsheds set out to create a Transitioner-ecosystem that pegs the measure of its operational effectiveness to how well we mirror natural systems dynamics. We’ve accepted and internalized how essential it is that we continually monitor the degree to which we value and honor each other’s humanity and innate talents equally.

This is no easy task. To take this particular path in growing a network and Transitioning towns toward local resiliency is to deliberately step away from mainstream thought and behavior. Power-&-control, competitive, and hierarchical habits in group-work are hard to kick.

Power and control dynamics infuse the air that we breathe when we participate in the “business as usual” mainstream. We all recognize that embracing the living-systems goal requires a fundamental shift of lenses since we’ve all been conditioned in the hyper-individualistic, stratified culture that drives the US economic system.

Natural living-systems have no need for a centralized control structure for example. The power of a living-system is derived not from individual 7274477758_c9247a5fa3_b3-2participants but from how participants are organized, and the interchange among them. So while the contributions of individuals are important, the real power of systems emerges from their interdependence.

So, we vigilantly self-observe in order to head off “power-&-control-think” at the pass. Work is “convened” and “facilitated” not steered. Full self-expression and listening deeply for emerging needs and courses of action give free reign to the creative force of the collective genius.

Local to Regional Connectivity: Scaling up in Concentric Rings

The MATH network recognizes that aligning the way we live within the Earth’s biosphere means that the most vital work necessarily happens locally. Local self-organization optimizes sustainable use of the elements that support life. When constant adaptation takes place in localized microenvironments, any shock to the larger system is minimized. Resiliency is maximized. Transition Towns therefore focus on localizing the factors communities need to thrive, e.g. food production, alternative energy generation, economic interchange and more.

ConcentricCircles_1000-2Yet, while local self-reliance is a goal of living-systems that seek resiliency, interconnectedness among systems is also essential. The Transition movement’s evolution therefore mirrors nature’s interlocking microhabitats. The Transition network now encompasses thousands of towns, regional and national hubs that function as a loosely connected international web of systems. Concentric rings of subsystems nested in geographically larger systems inform the other’s process to enhance the wellbeing of the whole, while cultivating all that is unique to its own particular sense of place.

Mindfully Managed BoundariesMATH’s Growing Edge

Managing the energy and information flow among interconnected individuals, groups, and systems to allow emergence of the new is Transition’s growing edge. This occurs effortlessly in nature where each entity maintains a balanced flow of energy within itself and in continuous exchange with its neighbors. However, this type of interchange challenges Western minds conditioned to focus on disconnection, separation and competition. Through environmental work together, Mid-Atlantic Transitioners try to deeply consider how they treat each other and reorient their personal compasses toward true community.

MATH acknowledges that the movement is an evolving experiment, and that we don’t have all of the answers. We aren’t intent on finding perfect solutions, but like living-systems, we seek experimental pathways that meet the need of the hour and can be refined over time. When something doesn’t work, we’ll embrace new behaviors and adapt to emergent circumstances. Each time we shift course, the complexity of our relationships will deepen and we’ll become more adaptable—more resilient.

Pamela Boyce Simms, Transition Trainer, Transition US
Convener, The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

transitionmidatlantic.pbs@gmail.com

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Resilience for Whom, and to What End?

TRANSITION FOR ALL

Read More (PDF file):  Resilience for Whom and to What End?

By, Pamela Boyce Simms, Transition Trainer, Transition US,

Convener, Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

         It’s time to ask some thorny questions of the Transition movement. cfiles66963 We need look no further than Kingston to begin.

          In a recent critique, The Transition Movement: Questions of Diversity, Power and Affluence, the Simplicity Institute (simplicityinstitute.org/), exhorted Transitioners to: 1) pay more attention to community power dynamics conditioned by the racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic stratification that shape relationships, and, 2) work to ensure that Transition isn’t primarily a pleasurable movement for predominantly white, educated, post-materialist, middle class small community people. Acting on either suggestion requires courage and commitment.

         Transition groups are indeed for the most part, white and middle class. Transitioners in towns like Kingston where people of color comprise a full 35% of a population of 23,700, puzzle over how to racially vfiles7455and socioeconomically diversify their groups. The Simplicity Institute critique pointedly urges the Transition movement to self-observe, probe deeply, and determine, “Whose resilience are we concerned about, and to what end?”

        Climate change impacts us all. No particular group is exempt from OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe ravages of gale force storm winds, extended power outages, and drought-induced food shortages. Yet few Transition initiatives consistently focus on understanding the deeper community economic and power dynamics that generate their homogenous groups. How might Transitioners take up this extremely uncomfortable task? Should Transition be more explicitly concerned with social justice?

         First, Transition outreach planning might pose deeper questions than, “Why don’t people of color come to our friendly, welcoming potlucks?” Sincere interest in “Transition for all” compels groups to ponder as a baseline: WHO has historically, and currently lives in which areas of our town and why? WHAT social circles, institutions, economic OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAengines and patterns drive commerce and employment in town? WHERE, if at all do people of diverse ethnic, racial, age, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds intersect in town?

        Transitioners might then conduct an internal inventory of their own motivations, skills-sets; emotional, psychological, spiritual/humanitarian resources and preparedness as they embark on any diversity journey of depth that values authenticity.

        Those who seek to Transition Kingston immediately note that like many towns, Kingston encompasses several distinct micro-environments that rarely intersect. Walkable Uptown which witnessed an influx of, “more stable” retailers over the past five years exemplifies one dimension of a Transitioner’s localization dream. One can shop at the farmers market, get a haircut and aromatherapy massage, stop at the bank, visit the doctor and sample a variety of cuisines on foot. Vegetarian restaurants serve locally sourced foods, niche retailers abound, loft spaces are available in revamped industrial spaces, and one can find everything from grassfed beef to exotic fair trade chocolates.vfiles2600

         Kingston’s Rondout area offers a scenic stroll along the city’s historic deep water dock. A holistic health center, galleries and waterfront restaurants hold out the promise of similar business and exciting real estate development opportunities to come.

         A radically different economic flow pattern is operative in Kingston’s high storefront-vacancy Midtown area; the corridor which includes the “red zone” from Franklin and Broadway to Wall Street. Cyclical “tough on crime” raids in this part of town provide the economic fodder and foundation for the mortgages, purchasing power, and lifestyles of thousands of New Yorkers employed by Eastern, Esopus Bend Nature PreserveShawngunk, Wallkill, Fishkill, Hudson, Coxsackie, Greenhaven, and Green Prisons to name but a few of many penal institutions and all of the attendant branches of the NYS criminal justice system.

         New Progressive Baptist Pastor Modele Clarke shepherds a Midtown Kingston congregation consisting of 80% “returned citizens;” that is, residents who have returned home following incarceration or drug rehabilitation. On certain blocks in Kingston’s Midtown there are only three addresses that are not under some form of legal supervision. As anyone who has attended an ENJAN (End the New Jim Crow Action Network) meeting at Pastor Clarke’s church can attest, the imperative that NYS prison beds Kingston ENJANmust be kept full at all costs is widely recognized.

        The enforced economic contribution to the NYS economy of Kingston’s “red zone” according to a white ENJAN activist who served five years in Ulster County Prisons, is an ensured cell-block head count. She posits that parole policies to which she is subject make it next to impossible to find meaningful employment (for which she is highly qualified) that would help halt the circular conveyor belt back into the system. As one of only four white women in her prison “pod” of 48 women, she knows the picture is exponentially more abysmal for people of color.

       The lasting impact of movements, whether environmental or social, hinges upon the extent to which the movement emerges from the ranks Kingston ENJANof those most deeply affected. Similar to the Transition demographic make-up, social justice circles in Kingston draw white middle class activists with connections to the Peace, Civil and Women’s Rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s. ENJAN meeting participants for example, are overwhelmingly white. A practical reason for this might be that at any given point in time 50% of Midtown residents are on parole curfews and cannot be out of their homes after 8:00 PM to attend meetings.

        Further exacerbating the non-intersection of Kingston demographic 1910258_45570893649_6490_ncircles, Pastor Clarke observes that middle class people of color diligently maintain the same distance from those struggling financially in Midtown as their white non-activist counterparts. How might Transition initiatives bridge chasms of this magnitude, mirrored in towns and cities throughout the country?

        Meanwhile, as climate change indifferently accelerates, resilience as measured by extreme weather recovery speed is extremely group specific. We’ve repeatedly seen throughout the state in the wake of Irene and Sandy, that electricity is restored much faster in networked neighborhoods with connections to resource persons who can turn on the lights, attend to the roads, and cut through insurance red tape.

        How will Transitioners address the fact that:

  1. resource depletion and climate change will effect various groups in different ways?

  2. relocalization may not be equally as applicable to everyone?

  3. some people are more adaptable than others given aspects of change that have more to do with historical power than place?

         Diversification of the Transition movement is a litmus test that can OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAindicate how prepared we really are to embrace a future transformed by climate change in which the old navigation coordinates will have evaporated. The degree to which we can calm the discomfort that often grips us when among people who appear to be radically different from us, is the degree to which we can truly deepen our resilience as we wade into the unknown.

        The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) will offer a webinar series entitled: “The Maturation of a Social Movement: A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement” on the Transition US website. The series will explore diversity in Transitioning among other issues raised in the Simplicity Institute critique. The first webinar session will be offered November 6, 2014, 2:00 PM ET. Register and be part of the conversation: bit.ly/mathresponse

Pamela Boyce Simms, Transition Trainer, Transition US,

Convener, Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

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Unlikely Suspects – Deep Outreach

Diverse Initiating Groups – The Pace of Building Trust

Pamela Boyce Simms, Convener, Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)
Pamela Haines, Transition West Philadelphia

Trust makes Transitioning “stick.” Trust in people, trust in a nonhierarchical process, trust that we can joyously cope with uncertainty and the unknown, is the “stuff” of Transitioning to resilience. Diversity work is synonymous with embracing the unknown, affirming egalitarianism, and trusting that uncertainty doesn’t have to be frightening. Trusting at this level is a consciously acquired and cultivated skills-set.

Figuring out how to diversify the Transition movement is a litmus test that can indicate how prepared we really are to embrace a future in which the old navigation coordinates will have evaporated. The degree to which we can calm the discomfort that often grips us when among people who appear to be radically different from us, is the degree to which we can truly deepen our resilience as we wade into the unknown.

Recently, Transitioners of the Simplicity Institute (simplicityinstitute.org/) in a critique, The Transition Movement: Questions of Diversity, Power and Affluence, asked: 1) How can Transitioners pay more attention in our work to community power dynamics conditioned by the racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic stratification that shape relationships? and,  2) How can we ensure that Transition isn’t primarily a pleasurable movement for predominantly white, educated, post-materialist, middle class small community people?

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) will offer a webinar series entitled: “The Maturation of a Social Movement: A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement” on the Transition US website. The series will explore diversity in Transitioning among other issues raised in the critique. The first webinar session will be offered November 6, 2014, 2:00 PM ET.

There are Transitioners who are fired up and acting to deliberately cultivate the  trust-building skills-set that underlies the formation of a diverse Transition Initiating Group. Pamela Haines in West Philadelphia is doing just that.

True Relationship-building with Diversity in Mind Takes Time

Pamela Haines, West Philadelphia Transition (in… formation)

While at an upstate New York Transition workshop in April, we puzzled over the next steps in our big diverse city of Philadelphia. We arePYM Eco-Justice Working Group deeply committed to Transition and passionate about bridging the racial and class divide in our urban neighborhoods.  Susan lives in a majority poor and working-class African American community with a strong minority of activist white folks.  Pamela lives in neighborhood that is mixed class and race, gentrifying and university-dominated, adjacent to a solidly working class African American one.

Clarity emerged about half way through the workshop. It’s a simple concept:  “Our core group needs to look like our neighborhood!” Although we could get quicker “results” by moving forward with those who share a common background and culture, we’ll go farther in the long run by taking our time to build the relationships that bring greater diversity.

Susan, who founded a neighborhood sustainability network, was thrilled with the diversity of the initial network meeting.  When subsequent meetings progressively turned whiter, she slowed down to do more targeted outreach to pull people of color back in.  They are now networking around sustainable food systems.  People love these opportunities but the Transition core group has yet to materialize.

Susan is also considering a “Transition Building” initiative in a YMCA facility that is now a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building for men. A successful new garden project has begun, but there are challenges to engaging the men. It’s a labor intensive process.

Pamela set a goal for herself to build relationships with her neighbors in the adjacent African American community that would allow for Pamela Haines &, Pamela  Aviva Mill Creek Garden, Philadelphiaa truly diverse Transition core group.  She has pursued several strategies:  growing relationships (in addition to vegetables) with the handful of African Americans in her local community garden; looking for common ground around environmental concerns with women she’s met through her work in the child care community;  and reaching out to acquaintances (like the friendly woman at the credit union), looking for kindred spirits.

She has supported community initiatives taken by friends and neighbors such as an “Honoring Our Elders” event. Neighborhood groups and congregations gather to honor an elder from their midst whose life has been long, fruitful and inspiring.  It is a simple, lovely event that unites everyone from the diverse and changing neighborhood in gratitude for the lives of these elders.

Millcreek Urban Farm, PhiladelphiaAnother neighbor organized a yearly “porch hop” during which blocks designate one porch as a gathering point, and a map is made of all the participating blocks. Neighbors are invited to drop by to mingle and enjoy food on a series of host porches. Pamela helped make this year’s porch hop happen intending to recruit in the adjacent neighborhood as well. The porch hop didn’t bridge the divide but seeds for the future were sown. Still, a transition core group is no visibly closer.

The closest Pamela’s gotten to forming a Transition core group is a nascent quilting/sewing group —a common interest shared by some elders, child care workers and the woman from the credit union who have expressed concern for the earth.  In the meantime she has joined the board of an urban farm in the neighboring community, and is building relationships there with the farmer and neighbors who are glad for reasonably priced fresh vegetables.

So, Susan continues to generate energy in the neighborhood around food systems, hoping for some ongoing commitment.  Pamela is Mill Creek #5excited about possibilities at the urban farm, holds out hope for her quilting group as a context for conversations about shared interests, and intentionally pursues relationships with her African American neighbors.

With no Initiating Group to show for all our efforts, we’re both a little jealous of Transition folks who have made more visible progress.  Yet we believe that we’re on to something.  We both have found others who we wouldn’t typically have gotten to know before, and, who care deeply about the earth.  We are both weaving a web of relationships, not knowing what those webs might be able to catch in the future. We both have bigger lives as a result—and we remain hopeful that what might grow from this work will be Transition in the fullest sense of the word.

Join the conversation on November 6, 2014, 2:00 PM ET for first segment of a Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) Webinar Series: “The Maturation of a Social Movement: A Regional Response to a Critique of the Transition Movement.”  @Transitionus.org.

Aside

UNLIKELY SUSPECTS – DEEP OUTREACH

 The Curious Marriage of Two Networks

that are Made for Each Other

Resilient Response to Extreme Weather Births

Transition-Ham Radio “Practice Networks

We all cherish our comfort zones. We tend to move in social circles that mirror and reaffirm our own interests, needs and identities. Yet, intent on crafting “resilient responses to extreme weather,” Transitioners from Connecticut to Virginia are happily stretching into what is for most, the unchartered territory of electrical engineering and applied physics! That is…..Ham Radio Operations!

ham web

Transitioners are engaged in very deliberate unlikely suspect outreach with a pivotal purpose as climate change-induced extreme weather becomes more prevalent. The Mid-Atlantic Transition network (MATH) is working closely throughout the region with the amateur radio clubs of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) to build-out a Transition-ham radio “practice network.”  In these times of rolling brown outs, prolonged and more frequent power outages, our intent is to become as facile with ham radio operations as we are with cell phones.

To that end MATH encourages Transitioners to obtain an amateur radio, Technician’s Class License and is striking up rewarding relationships with a welcoming regional community of amateur radio operators. (Due to the versatility and power available to its operators, the amateur radio service is regulated by the federal government. All “hams,” as operators are called, must pass an exam based on an easily accessible text and be licensed by the FCC.) We anticipate arranging creative programming whereby at designated times Mid-Atlantic Transition initiating group members can tune into specific frequencies up and down the east coast for regular information exchanges.

Accomplishing this goal requires that we take a giant leap out of our comfort zones into the world of “homebrew rigs,” and with the help of seasoned operators, build-out our “ham shacks.” Admittedly, we’ve found that some amateur radio clubs convey the sense of a hardcore technical subculture. However through Unlikely Suspects – Deep Outreach lenses, “hardcore subculture” can be interpreted as a time honored ham tradition of mutual support and solidarity. Unconditional openness is the key to deepened outreach. Transitioners can help erase the ham operator stereotype of the quirky-loner hunched over crackly sputtering radio gear in the grey light of a dimly lit back room.Well, the crackly sound is actually in fact a reality. That hallmark sound, … the spinning dials, buttons and knobs provide the authentic “ham experience.” But that’s as far as the stereotype goes. As newcomers, Mid-Atlantic Transitioners are being welcomed with open arms into the technical and social world of amateur radio as hams in local clubs volunteer to serve as mentors; especially among those who build their own gear…. “homebrew rigs.”

Keith Tilley ARES (Amateur Emergency Radio Service) Coordinator for Ulster County, New York is going the extra mile to connect Resilience Response- Ham RadioMATH Council members representing seven Mid-Atlantic States and their initiatives to local amateur radio clubs in the region. Keith got the ball rolling by arranging for MATH representatives to attend a local “Field Day” on June 28th when they gather for a meeting in a New Jersey location that is central to MATH network members who hail from seven states. Annually on Field Day more than 35,000 ham radio operators across the country plan a barbeque and camping weekend around 24 hours of continuous broadcasting on as many amateur bands as possible. Field Day ispartly to educate the public about ham radio,…. but mostly to have fun.

Transitioners  are part of a wave of thousands of Americans who are lining up in droves to relearn failsafe, Resiliency Plan B “back-up skills;” among them, amateur radio, the Dean of communication systems that took the country by storm over a hundred years ago. The country is witnessing what we would call a spontaneous “reskilling” in the domain of ham radio, i.e., bringing highly practical heirloom technology forward to the present in the service of a better quality, more resilient future.

In fact, ham radio licenses in the United States are at an all-time high of 717,200 according to the FCC with nearly 40,000 new ones in the last five years, and 16,000 + just in the last year.

Savvy folks who are weathering back-to-back storms and prolonged power outages proactively anticipate more frequent, future weather-related communications interruptions. When cell towers, police, fire, communications and television antennas were lost in lower Manhattan during the 911 crisis, more than 500 trained amateur radio operators became the communications back up for emergency operations 24 hours a day. When President Bush needed to contact the Mayor of New Orleans during hurricane Katrina, amateur radio was the only option for getting messages through.

The new wave of amateur radio operators know that when all other conventional means of communication fails, ham radio keeps friends, families and communities connected and informed. The spike in amateur radio licenses reflects the wise forethought of those who see the handwriting on the seawalls and are ready to stay connected when loved ones and neighbors will need them the most.In addition to amateur radio’s pragmatic application during extreme weather challenges, the ham licensure surge reflects a growing awareness that true resiliency requires knowing how take full responsibility for our own lives.

Resilience Response- Ham Radio   So if at a Transition gathering you overhear one Transitioner asking another, “How long have you had your ticket?” …or waxing long about shooting DX on 160-10, busting pileups, and confiding that Elmering is what it’s really all about,”…… you’ll know that “Immersion Phase I” of our Transition-Ham Radio Practice Net mission will have been accomplished.

We are deeply grateful to this newfound network of friends for their intense dedication to their craft, welcoming openness, and willingness to take Transitioners under their mentorship wings. Ours is a perfect mission-match of otherwise unlikely suspects!

More Information: The American Radio Relay League (ARRL), National Association for Amateur Radio (www.arrl.org)

 

Pamela Boyce Simms is a Transition Trainer and Convenes, the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH),

Photographs by Jim Peppler

 

Aside

Happiness & Quality of Life Indicators

Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) Council Celebrates

Happiness, Wellbeing, and

Underscores”Genuine Progress (GPI)”

 Earth Day to May Festivities Around the Mid-Atlantic Region

 Genuine progress is the measure of what really counts. Happiness, wellbeing, measures of progress that factor in the true cost of maintaining a

MATH Council Group Photo #2 - 2013
MATH Council Members

healthy and just quality of life, drove 10 days of celebrations from Earth Day to May Day orchestrated by Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) Council members in CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, and VA. MATH Council festivities, from a happy-dance flashmob in Pennsylvania, to Resilient Response storytelling & improvisational theater, foraging & feasting on woodland edibles in New York; honoring the symbiosis between Transition and Timebanking in New Jersey; to a “fire your dryer” campaign and a Transition Ecovillage debut in Virginia, underscored that superb quality relationship rather than growth is THE pivotal determinant of progress. 

         MATH Council member activities demonstrated that there is a better way to measure progress than the limited GDP metric that measures the way money is spent rather than what the value of what  we spend it on. The Happiness Index, Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and the Social Progress Index are among tools that rigorously and comprehensively measure the environmental and social costs and benefits of economic activity.

        The MATH Council, comprised of 24 representatives from the seven Mid-Atlantic States, is partnering with the Maryland Field Office of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Washington DC to serve as a regional “focus group/network.”  MATH Council members will tap into Transition networks in their respective states to facilitate local accessibility of the IPS, New Economy: Alternative Economic Indicators Project work on ways to “measure what we treasure.”

        Transition Rosendale NY organized 10 days of food-related wellbeing activities from Earth Day to May Day that included local farmers,  an educational program for school children, wildcrafting, plant identification, yogurt making, foraging & feasting, bread making, sprouting, and  food pantries that partook of sprouts, bread and freshly foraged foods that were the products of the week’s activities.

Spring Food Festival

Foraging #1

foraging lesson #2

 The MATH, Transition-Interfaith Extreme Weather Working Group and Hudson River Playback Theater presented Resilience Stories Evenings in Kingston and Dobbs Ferry, NY. The

goal of the Resilience Stories is to generate robust individual and community resilience, defined as the ability to successfully withstand and rebound after a shock to the system.

Resilience StoryTelling

Storyteller Peter Blum

hrpt resilienc stories dobbs ferryResilience StoryTelling

Transition Newton, New Jersey Earth Day events highlighted local food resiliency and the community-building boost that Timebanking gives to Transition initiatives.


Transition Newton #1

Transition Newton #2

ClotheslineTransition  Charlottesville Ablemarle “let it all hang out” at their Earth Day Week Pop-up Clothesline Party to promote “Firing Your Dryer.” T C'ville - Earth Day -to-May-Day Fire Your Dryer Event Juggling uni-cyclists, the Green Granny Choir, laundry-soap makers and Better World Betty were on hand to help Transition C’ville demonstrate why using a clothesline reduces carbon footprints, cuts energy bills, and provides time outside to socialize with neighbors.

The historic Lochlyn House hosted the “Coming Out” party for Charolotteville’s Transition Eco-Village during Earth Day Week.

Charlottesville Eco-Village Earth Week #1The  public debut included tours of the property, a presentation by the newly formed Ecovillage Board, a sumptuous dessert bar, and lively conversation among all the guests.

      Photographs by Jim Peppler, Kim Latham, Sari Steuber, Joanie Freeman

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Resilient Response to Extreme Weather

MATH logo (1) (2)MATH logo (1) (2)

Community-Caring-Connection-Logo_v2

New York State Interfaith & Transition Communities

 The Woodstock Timebank

Resilient Response to Extreme Weather Working Group

PRIVATE SCREENING @ REGAL CINEMAS

NOAH

Starring, Russell Crowe & Anthony Hopkins

MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

Potluck Supper Discussion: Temple Emanuel, 243 Albany Avenue, Kingston

  • 5:30-6:00: Doors open, potluck supper served (Dairy-vegetarian dishes)
  • 6:00-7:00: Potluck & Noah & Resilient Response Discussion

Private Film Screening: 7:30 PM, Regal Cinemas, Ulster Avenue, Kingston

Tickets: $10 Private Screening Movie Tickets must be purchased in advance            Woodstocktimebank.org – use donation tab

For more information:                   (646) 241-8386
Pamela Boyce Simms:                      transitionmidatlantic.pbs@gmail.co
Reverend Virginia Carle:                 revmommy2001@yahoo.com

This event is supported by the Resilient Response to Extreme Weather Working Group, representatives from Transition Town networks, Ulster and Dutchess and Columbia County interfaith communities, and communications systems resource persons. The group is developing ways to collectively interconnect their networks on an ongoing basis to progressively build resilient community bonds as the best insurance in extreme weather situations. All are cordially invited, if possible, to make the potluck supper a green, BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything event: bring your plate, cup & utensils)

About the Transition Environmental Movement: Transition is a grassroots neighbor-to-neighbor environmental movement that moves towns from dependence on fossil fuels toward localized resiliency. Transition offers a positive environmental approach that focuses on local solutions and building community. More information@: transitionus.org, transitionmidatlantic.org

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

NEIGHBOR-TO-NEIGHBOR RESILIENT RESPONSE 

TO EXTREME WEATHER

          At its best, transitioning simultaneously honors the past, is keenly aware of what is emerging in the present moment, and prepares us for a radically transformed future. We vision a simpler, superb-quality future even as we sensibly prepare to navigate the turbulent transformation. The message in the present moment is clear. Frigid cold snaps, record-breaking heat waves, floods of increasing frequency, and crop failures from either too much or too little water are upon us now.

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Resilient Response, a: 1) Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH), 2) Ulster and Dutchess County Interfaith Community, 3) Community Caring Connection (C3) People’s Reporter System, and 4) Woodstock Time Bank collaboration, invites New Yorkers to get through the uncharted narrows of accelerated extreme weather victoriously, in community.

         Resilient Response is about getting to know our neighbors as we:

  1. Purposefully care for each other’s emotional wellbeing,

  2. Implement a multi-tiered non-emergency and emergency communications system, and,

  3. Train for mindful preparedness with emergency management professionals.

Get to Know Your Neighbors: 

Would you feel comfortable turning to the people who live in closest proximity to you for help in an extreme weather crisis? Do you have opportunities to really talk with your next-door neighbors and the people living on your street?

0513 thea TB Banner

New York State residents have witnessed time and time again that neighbors are the “first responders” in extreme weather emergencies. Encouraging Ulster and Dutchess County residents to know their neighbors is the first goal of Resilient Response.

Authorities, often arriving woefully late in emergency situations, warn concerned citizens, “We’ve got this. Stand down. Stay inside so you don’t make matters worse.” Yet residents who used their chain saws to free up tree-blocked roads, who knocked on doors telling others of services available nearby, or invited neighbors to share their generators were the responders who relieved suffering after the recent Superstorms.

Neighbor response consistently proves to be highly effective during extreme weather crises while government action is constricted by: 1) uncoordinated interagency information sharing, 2) insurance liability issues, 3) inability to officially request assistance from pivotal resources, such as faith communities, toward which residents invariably and immediately turn.

Community members also discovered that government and mega relief agencies measure success during emergencies in vastly different ways than residents. Agencies may consider a low death toll a resounding success, while householders declare victory when they don’t have to be without running water or electricity for two weeks; which was the case for tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Resilient Response addresses the householder level of emergency experience.

A Resilient Response Working Group of representatives from local and regional Transition Town networks, Ulster and Dutchess County interfaith communities, and communications systems resource persons formed on January 20, 2014. The group is developing ways (see below) to collectively interconnect their networks on an ongoing basis to progressively build resilient community bonds.

When Things Fall Apart We Tell Resilience Stories. Periods of transition can be disorienting and anxiety producing as once reliable patterns and institutions disintegrate around us. We can respond by embracing constructive ways to face and work through the uncertainty and anguish together.Storytelling Graphic

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH), the Hudson River Playback Theater, professional NYS Storytellers, and the Woodstock Timebank have partnered to create Resilience Stories, a storytelling platform. This spring, Resilience Stories will begin providing intimate, café and salon storytelling entertainment forums throughout Ulster and Dutchess County where residents can share stories and support each other through challenging times.

Layered Non-emergency and Emergency Communications System development is also on the Resilient Response docket.       

 The Community Caring Connection, (C3) People’s Reporter System, supported by MATH, addresses the ongoing need for better communication with municipal agencies about unmet community needs. Once identified, needs will be matched to appropriate resources, prioritizing community members in need of special assistance.Community-Caring-Connection-Logo_v2

The C3 database and smartphone application allow anyone to note a community problem by cell phone, (e.g., potholes, road erosion, dangerous trees, etc.) submit a report, and a picture of the problem; switching into high gear for critical information during emergencies.

The Resilient Response Working Group invites neighbors to map (non-emergency and emergency) community resources to build-out the C3 clearinghouse.

The second tier of “grid-down” emergency communications preparation supported by Woodstock Timebank members and MATH, involves the community development of satellite phone and ham radio classes, clubs and networks.

Preparedness Education and Training: New Yorkers who fended for themselves and spontaneously took care of each other during the superstorms could be doubly as effective if they are emergency-trained. An EPA-FEMA Training on, “Community Engagement after Natural Disasters” on January 27-28 initiated the Resilient Response Working Group’s process of connecting their networks with training from relief agency resources. The intent is to cultivate an informed grassroots cadre of, “peoples’ emergency-preparedness leadership.”

Resilient Response to Extreme Weather encourages Transitioners, friends and neighbors to come up to meet, compliment, and supplement government emergency response at the grassroots level. We are challenged to proactively demonstrate personal and collective resilience.

“If we wait for the government it will be too little too late; If we act as individuals it will be to little; but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time”
-Transition Towns Co-founder Rob Hopkins-
Aside

Resilient Response to Extreme Weather NOAH Event

MATH logo (1) (2)MATH logo (1) (2)Community-Caring-Connection-Logo_v2

New York State Interfaith and Transition Town Communities

 The Woodstock Timebank

Resilient Response to Extreme Weather Working Group

PRIVATE SCREENING @ REGAL CINEMAS

NOAH

Starring, Russell Crowe & Anthony Hopkins

MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

Potluck Supper Discussion: Temple Emanuel, 243 Albany Avenue, Kingston

  • 5:30-6:00: Doors open, potluck supper served (Dairy-vegetarian dishes)
  • 6:00-7:00: Potluck & Noah & Resilient Response Discussion

Private Film Screening: 7:30 PM, Regal Cinemas, Ulster Avenue, Kingston

Tickets: $10 Private Screening Movie Tickets must be purchased in advance at -             Woodstocktimebank.org – use donation tab

For more information:                   (646) 241-8386
Pamela Boyce Simms:                      transitionmidatlantic.pbs@gmail.co
Reverend Virginia Carle:                   revmommy2001@yahoo.com

This event is supported by the Resilient Response to Extreme Weather Working Group, representatives from Transition Town networks, Ulster and Dutchess and Columbia County interfaith communities, and communications systems resource persons. The group is developing ways to collectively interconnect their networks on an ongoing basis to progressively build resilient community bonds as the best insurance in extreme weather situations. All are cordially invited, if possible, to make the potluck supper a green, BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything event: bring your plate, cup & utensils)

About the Transition Environmental Movement: Transition is a grassroots neighbor-to-neighbor environmental movement that moves towns from dependence on fossil fuels toward localized resiliency. Transition offers a positive environmental approach that focuses on local solutions and building community. More information@: transitionus.org, transitionmidatlantic.org

Aside

Resiliency Response to Extreme Weather/Climate Change

Red Cross LogoMATH logo (1) (2)

Community-Caring-Connection-Logo_v2 Resiliency Response to Climate Change Project 

 Community Caring Connection (C3) Peoples’ Reporter System

PLANNING SESSION ~ JANUARY 20, 2:00-5:00PM  ~ YMCA  Kingston, NY

Background

Hurricanes Sandy and Irene made it abundantly clear to New York State residents that friends and neighbors are indeed the “first responders” in extreme weather emergencies.  New Yorkers who fended for themselves and spontaneously took care of each other during the last two superstorms could be doubly as effective if they are emergency-trained and empowered by effective communications systems in anticipation of extreme weather which will increase in frequency and intensity over the coming decades.

Effective ad hoc citizen action during recent weather crises took place against the backdrop of responses from government agencies that were constricted by:

1)    uncoordinated interagency information sharing systems,
2)    insurance liability issues,
3)    inability to officially request assistance from pivotal community resources such as houses of worship toward which citizenry invariably and immediately turn.

        Community members also discovered during the hurricanes that government and mega relief agencies measure success during emergencies in vastly different ways than citizens. Agencies may consider a low death toll a resounding success, while at the householder level, success is measured by not having to be without running water or electricity for two weeks; which was the case for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.  MATH’s Resiliency Response to Climate Change Project speaks to the householder, homesteader level of emergency experience.

Project Partners

  • The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)
  • Transitioners, friends and neighbors
  • Community Caring Connection (C3) People’s Reporter System created by Ulster County NY, IT executives Bob Callahan, John Gillet and Jesse Jones in response to their own experiences with extreme weather
  • The American Red Cross, of Northeastern New York
  • The Interfaith Community

Project Goal: The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) and its partners encourage Transitioners, friends and neighbors to come up to meet, compliment, and supplement government emergency response at the grassroots level. The Resiliency Response to Climate Change Project prepares community members to demonstrate personal and collective resiliency in non-emergency as well as emergency situations.

Project Objectives: Through education, training, and implementation of the interactive C3 People’s Reporter System, the partners intend to address the need:

1)    to cultivate an informed grassroots cadre of, “peoples’ emergency-preparedness leadership,”
2)    for better communication with municipal entities and agencies about unmet community needs,
3)    to match citizen needs to appropriate agencies and resources,
4)    to address the situations of those with special requirements (people with physical, mental, or medical challenges), in times of severe stress, as in the case of an extreme weather event. 

NEXT STEPS

  • Partners plan and initiate a Red Cross training series for Transitioners, Interfaith leaders and members of their communities in emergency management processes and procedures
  • A cadre of 10-15 Interfaith leaders and Transitioners will be trained on     January 20, 2014 in Kingston NY. People in this group will be Resiliency   Response point persons for their communities, and potentially trainers who turnkey  information to their networks. 
  • Community Caring Connection (C3) Participant Recruitment: Community-building, getting to know one’s neighbors in non-emergency times, will be the foundation of C3 and will involve regular community gatherings. The Interfaith Councils and the Woodstock Timebank will team with Transitioners in this effort.
  • Create a (C3) Smartphone Application: Anyone with a cell phone would be able to note a problem within the community (potholes, road erosion, guardrail damage, dangerous trees, etc.) and submit a report about the issue, potentially accompanied by an image taken with a smartphone and a specific location, so that agencies can better keep track of and prioritize “things to do” in the community. Successful models are in place in an increasing number of cities and municipalities (Portland, OR; Philadelphia, PA; Toronto, ON; Pensacola, FL; Bloomington, IN). 
  •  Invite neighbors to map community assets and resources to build-out the Community Caring Connection (C3) clearinghouse.
    • Non-emergency
    • Emergency
  • Scale up: MATH Council members representing Transition initiatives in the Mid-Atlantic states may choose to simultaneously implement the Resiliency Response to Climate  Change Project in their NJ, PA, MD, DE, VA, CT communities. Therefore: Data from the region will be collected, processed and best practices shared.
  • Specifications will be designed for a larger system facilitating replication as an open source process so that it an unlimited number of communities could adapt the model to the needs of their localities.
  • Continue to test, evaluate, refine and share the MATH Resiliency Response  Project and the C3 system.

~We hope you’ll join us in this timely community-building adventure~

Pamela Boyce Simms,      Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)
Jesse Jones,                          Community Caring Connection (C3)
Bob Callahan,                       Community Caring Connection (C3)
John Gillett,                         Community Caring Connection (C3)
Michael Raphael,                American Red Cross

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