Posts Tagged ‘Transition Town’

Julian Rose ~ Constructing the New Society

This essay by Julian Rose discusses many of the things we’re working towards in Goshen. Many of the suggestions dovetail with Transition Town ideas, but I love how Julian leaves things open for any community to begin asking these questions, brainstorming solutions and taking action steps towards change. As Julian says, “To bring a dream into reality is hard work.” In order to transform our world, we must dream and act.

Constructing the New Society
‘Eight Steps’

By Julian Rose

We who engage in postulating solutions to the dominant issues of this time, use much energy speculating on unknown outcomes. But how much energy do we use in laying the ground for a future of our own making?

How much time do we give to devising the template for the new society we must create?

To bring a dream into reality is hard work; it’s a lifetime’s work at the very least. Yet many hold back from ever embarking – rationalising that such a quest is a futile exercise that will surely be swamped by a reactionary and repressive status quo.

Somehow, this failure to embark on the single most important mission of our lives, characterises a great swath of sleepwalking humanity. But not only, also a significant percentage of supposed ‘spiritual aspirants’ who confuse the azure bubble in which they live with the stark reality of the new world which needs to be chiselled and honed into existence.

So here are a few suggestions about what can be done now, to ensure that life on Earth gets a better chance under our stewardship than under the present and past masters of control.

* Bring into consciousness a realistic vision of what your neighbourhood should look and be like in a positively transformed state.

* Note down on paper the basic ingredients necessary to bring about this positive change.

* Add to this mix anyone living in the area who you feel could make a positive contribution to this process.

* Go back through your blueprint and allow your creative imagination to paint in some colourful innovative elements that will give movement to the plan. For example music, drama and seasonal celebrations.

* Check that the essential simple necessities are in place: local ecological and integrated food production; fresh water availability; the resources for renewable heat and power generation; the existence/planting of orchards; woodland areas for timber needs – and all other such similar needs that offer food and shelter security within a community intent upon transitioning away from state and corporate dependency.

* Now research current activities in your neighbourhood and see what there is that may already touch on the key elements of your vision. There may be two or three such initiatives already being considered or even practised. But chances are they are not ‘connected-up’.

* Using your holistically conceived blueprint as the crystalising factor, get involved in helping to create a working symbiosis between these different initiatives so that they each draw benefit from the other and increase the overall awareness of all involved.

* Book an available space in your local town/village hall or home – prepare your ‘bigger picture’ plan – and map the interconnections that, when all the key elements are functioning fully, will bring renewed life and direction to the whole community.

Once having completed these eight steps, alert your local media and invite local residents to share the vision which you started. Show what progress has already been made and what still needs to be done. Encourage the formation of working groups to take these different complementary initiatives forward and to periodically share the results of their efforts. Forging, bit by bit, a metamorphosis of life in your neighbourhood.

Such a project can be done by anyone. No need for any particular qualifications or skills. Just a strong desire to help your community stand on its own two feet and free itself from dependence upon the hierarchical control model which holds so much of society in its thrall.

Very soon your energetic approach will draw fellow enthusiasts to your scheme – while others will back-off. This is an essential part of any process of creative change, and one which defines where true commitment can be found and where fake enthusiasm reveals itself for what it is.

I have put this concept to the test and had very positive results. The initiative involved developing a template for a UK market town of 10,000 inhabitants to become largely self sufficient in locally produced food, fuel and fibre over a fifteen year period, starting in 2000. While it was not possible to give as much time as I would have liked to this project, it was possible to share its vision with local motivators and witness a steady process of transformation get under-way – which continues to this day. The town in question has since attracted a significant number of national awards for its innovative socio-economic practices.

Don’t be swayed by the cynical voices who say ‘it can’t be done’. My reaction to such remarks is to be stirred into ever greater determination to show that it can!

We have one life – at least in this body. It is a brief flash, a spark, which flares-up into fire, flickers and transforms into something else. To waste this brief and precious gift by evading its call to action – is an error which in all probability cannot be recalled.

If we are serious about turning around the fortunes of this planet, then it’s time for talk and action to become synonymous. If we are not, then it’s time to get out of the way.

……………………………………………….

Julian Rose is the author of “In Defence of Life – Essays on a Radical Reworking of Green Wisdom” available at Amazon.com and independent bookshops. He is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, an international activist, social entrepreneur, actor and author. His website is:
http://www.julianrose.info

“Cultivating an Inner Life”

I recently joined a book study group with some visionaries, spiritual advisers, organic farmers, permaculture activists, and other “big picture” thinkers from Goshen and nearby Three Rivers, Michigan. I missed the introductory meeting due to an errant email, but tonight we have our first actual book discussion of Carolyn Baker’s “Navigating the Coming Chaos.”

As preparation, we read the Introduction and Chapter 1. I’ve already read much further, but we’ve been asked to answer the following questions related to the Intro and first chapter. Given this book’s powerful message, which aligns so closely with what I try to offer through this blog, through my own life’s expression(s), and during individual sessions, I thought I’d answer the questions here. Although many Transition Towns have leaders actively studying this book, you do not need to be involved in the Transition Movement in order to benefit from it. As the famous Medical Intuitive Caroline Myss says: “What a pleasure it is to endorse a book of this quality and genius. But more to the point, a book of great urgency. I not only recommend this book, I urge you to it.”

So do I.

What was most encouraging about what you read in “Navigating the Coming Chaos”?

In a bizarre way, I feel like I’ve been co-writing a companion volume through my blog. Since my philosophy and experiences dovetail so easily with the book’s premise and message, I began using it as an external checklist of my own internal preparations. So few people have developed strong enough inner lives to be able to look chaos in the face without flinching, running away, numbing themselves or going crazy. I found it encouraging that others recognize the importance of beauty, poetry, mythology, and art as essential to surviving any sort of “long emergency.”

Having gone through my own extensive traumas, including a brain injury microcosm of the societal macrocosm of having all structures forcefully and suddenly stripped away, I’ve long known the importance of cultivating and soothing the soul. Surrounding myself with (and creating my own) art, poetry, culinary delights and sacred spaces immediately transmuted the usual hellish experience of TBI into something mindful, beautiful and deep.

As a teenager, my mom went through multiple severe health crises that forced me to step up as parent to my siblings, house organizer for my dad, and emotional support system for everyone involved. That “long emergency” changed me in irrevocable ways and taught me early on that life as we know it can change in a heartbeat. Support structures we take for granted can disappear and not return unless we ourselves build suitable replacements. If we don’t step into our strength, we can easily drown in the torrents of change. My mom’s health crisis occurred on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes. I saw my first demon during that time period and learned to walk protected among some incredibly dark agendas and intentions parading themselves as “helpers.”

As a scared fourteen-year-old pretending to be an atheist so no one would inquire about my inner life, I faced many Dark Nights of the Soul. I devoured ancient philosophy and classical literature, and my “atheist” teenage journals read like devotionals, with my own “hymns” of praise and cries for help as I tried to make sense of my little world gone mad. Those journals examine what it means to be human, how can we find meaning in the midst of chaos, and how do we burn in the fire to become the phoenix rising from its own ashes? I continued this obsession with appearances vs. Reality, alchemy and transmutation, and inner transitions through my college honors thesis on angels in “Paradise Lost,” into my graduate studies, and into the present day.

I’ve sometimes considered my need for beauty as a weakness; however, reading Carolyn Baker’s book, I realize that I just happen to be much more in touch with my soul than most. She explains why humans need to cultivate a strong inner life, and recognizes how the shift away from the inner life actually caused the biggest challenges we face today — whether from government, natural disasters, environmental destruction, economic crises or the seeming inability of the masses to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Carolyn underscored what part of me already knows: “My perceived weakness is, in truth, my greatest strength.” Recognizing that I need beauty as well as food from my garden; prioritizing ways to offer moments of joy and delight to the traumatized; following and cultivating advice from dreams and daydreams; understanding that my walks in Nature, sacred chants, creation of sacred spaces are truly, deeply necessary — that recognition is a gift, not a character weakness, because these are real, human, healthy needs whose value our dangerously ill society rejects or minimizes to its peril.

What was most troubling?

I initially felt so overwhelmed by the confirmations in this book that I needed to set it down for a few days. For decades, I’ve received premonitions of coming emergencies and the precariousness of our current way of life. I had premonitions before 9/11 and an immediate sense of a darker agenda than the commonly presented story — this at a time when I watched no news and followed no politics. I just knew it was a “false flag” even before I knew that concept or term. I also recognized the massive opening for transformation and growth. The most troubling part of “Navigating the Coming Chaos” is the recognition, in black and white print, that these “random intuitive instructions” I’ve received over the years “to prepare myself for the coming chaos” aren’t so random after all. I’m intrigued, comforted and completely freaked out that someone like Caroline Myss endorses this book, because on the one hand, that’s quite a validation. On the other hand, holy sh!t, that’s quite a validation.

My initial reading of the book also happened to occur when one of the “signs” I had been told would mark a clear indicator of the coming chaos occurred, namely, the shutting off of the EBT cards. That sign has presented itself to me so clearly for so long that I actually had made long-standing promises to myself that I would implement certain things if and when that sign ever occurred. We received a temporary reprieve with the “agreement,” although millions will still face food stamp cuts this coming November 1 because a non-renewed supplementary program expires on Halloween. I experienced the synchronous timing of the EBT failure “test” at the same time I began reading “Navigating the Coming Chaos” as further validation of my intuition and a major nudge to implement my own specific promises to myself in a timely manner.

Once I honored my need to set aside the book for a few days and simply garden, chant (bhakti yoga), paint with Runes, obtain certain supplies, sleep more (to cultivate dream guidance), and nurture myself, I began to experience relief. Point by point, I went through Chapter 1 and realized, “Hey, I’m already doing these things. I’ve been doing them for decades. I’m not crazy or eccentric for valuing such things. I receive excellent guidance through my intuition, prayer and synthesized abilities to intuit and to strategize. What Carolyn calls my ‘Internal Bunker’ is extremely well-stocked.”

While reading the book, I still experience waves of: “Crap! Someone else with an intelligent, intuitive and soulful background sees the same emergencies I do; that means we’re really facing emergencies; this isn’t just me being paranoid.” — but then I feel gratitude that someone else has created a toolkit and personal development guide for people with less well stocked “Internal Bunkers.” Ultimately, the more of us with tools and strength “to face the mess we’re in without going crazy” (to quote Joanna Macy), the better. Together, we can tap into our unique gifts and skills to create something extraordinarily good.

Do you have a favorite quote?

The Rumi poem at the beginning, and the quote from Plotkin’s “Soulcraft”:

“Nature has much to teach us in her vast classroom. You can acquire an entire education merely by observing carefully. But you must be patient and offer your attention, like a lizard stalking a fly. This takes skill, and practice. What you find in nature is what works. It wouldn’t be there if it didn’t. Boundless wisdom awaits.”

What do you intend to DO after reading the intro and chapter one — in the process of Inner Transition?

I intend to continue along my multi-pronged preparation path, which at this point, includes reaching out to local people and organizations to create as strong a community safety net as possible. Although not a focus of the intro and chapter one, these actions flow from long-term, very insistent intuitions, feelings and dream guidance I’ve received, in some cases since childhood, but at least for several years. I find that doing and following through on intuitive nudges results in relief and peace. I have also increased my studies of the Faery Realm, Old Ways, permaculture and magickal self defense.

At the very least, I will know that I have done all that I can do. Spirit, Mother Earth, the Unseen Realms and other humans can meet me halfway or not, but at least I know that I’m fulfilling my end of the bargain. That in itself brings me tremendous peace, comfort and a sense of purpose. I love what I’m learning, and I intend to enjoy the journey, whatever the destination.

A Suggestion in Light of the EBT Failure

I just sent the following email to the two main facilitators of Transition Goshen, but I thought I’d share the suggestions here, as well. You don’t need to live in a Transition Town in order to view the writing on the wall and respond to that with preemptive action.

Here’s what I wrote, in light of this past weekend’s food stamp “glitch,” minus the personal details to each of them:

As you both know, I have long been predicting that the food stamp program would lose its funding and that this could become one of those traumas for which Goshen prepares ahead of time. I’m not sure if you’ve both heard, but the EBT (food stamp) program got shut down in 17 states this past weekend. I immediately felt this was a test to see how people would react, and predictably, in some stores, immediate looting, ransacking and threats of riots occurred. In others, where the stores took pity on people unable to bring food home to their families, the stores allowed temporary $50 checkout limits that would be retroactively deducted from cards. This resulted in various people checking out multiple times, in one case racking up nearly $700 in false charges.

The system only went down for a few hours in 17 states, and people freaked out. Despite three vastly different reasons given for the EBT outage, along with assurances that this was “just a glitch,” the USDA just this week instructed states that EBT would no longer be funded after November 1 — in any state — unless they reach some compromise in Washington. Who knows how this political charade will play out, but that’s not my point in writing to you.

Looking at this from a systems point of view and a “the problem is the solution” mindset, I’m wondering if you might want to post something on Facebook and/or send out an email suggesting that people could preempt a local crisis if those who are able would make some sizable food donations to various local organizations like The Window, Salvation Army, etc. I don’t know what all of these would be, but it seems to me that there may be increased need for things like baby formula, food for children, non-perishables like canned foods, pasta and dried veggies, etc.

People do horrid things to one another when they cannot feed their children. We live in a good community with a lot of caring people in it. Why not address this situation ahead of time by providing as strong a community safety net as we possibly can? Why not keep our community’s support for one another as a strong point, rather than allowing a me-first survival attitude to kick in because people feel forced to steal for food?

Please feel free to post my words or revise them to your own specifications. I just feel this is a very important message to get out to the Transition Community. Perhaps the wackos in Washington will find ways to compromise, but any number of other situations loom in which having extra food available for those who need it would be an excellent idea. Failing to prepare for this scenario invites unnecessary trauma from which it may be difficult for people to recover. In this time of increased political rhetoric polarizing and agitating citizens, let’s face our looming challenges and do what we can ahead of time. Community safety nets can be stronger, more voluntary (and much more important) than government ones.

Many Thanks!

Laura Bruno

The American Collapse: A More Optimistic Response

I tried to leave the following as a comment on Zen Gardner’s recent post, “The American Collapse ~ One Giant False Flag.” For some reason, the computer kept eating my comment, telling me to “Please fill form,” and yet (miraculously) not deleting that comment when I hit “back.” After three tries, it occurred to me that maybe this was a nudge just to post the comment here in a slightly expanded form. Perhaps it will inspire some readers to action, and with any good fortune, a pingback will enable my comment where I meant it to post. 🙂

Three words: permaculture, permaculture, permaculture. Seriously, have any of you heard of Transition Towns and permaculture? Yes, we face challenges, and certainly, many will not survive, but there ARE many of us actively working together at the local community level to have systems in place for when the SHTF. Are those systems/options already fully functioning? To varying degrees, but relationships among like-minded, problem-solving, spiritually grounded, caring, local people ARE already happening, at least in some areas. If they’re not already happening in your areas, wherever you live, it would be a really good idea to cultivate those relationships now. It can start with even just being friendly with your neighbor.

I have clients who went through 9/11 and various other disasters. They have, almost uniformly, shared with me the deep bonds they developed with friends, neighbors and family during those times. Natural instinct is for people to join together. Yes, there will be looters, but if people see the writing on the walls, they can still work now to set up some local safety nets.

Some good books to read: “Navigating the Coming Chaos” by Carolyn Baker; “Active Hope” by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone; as well as any good gardening books you can get your hands on such as “Four-Season Harvest,” “Gaia’s Garden” and “Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on a 1/4 Acre.” I personally also like to have hard copies of whatever books I find give me spiritual and poetic inspiration in the event that the internet shuts off.

I would also include learning some form of self-defense, whatever that means for you. For me, personally, that involves more energetic and magickal self-defense, but that only works if you’re really committed to and knowledgeable about how to move those energies. Joining in community is an excellent insurance policy. So is learning personal energy management — shift your vibration, remind yourself “I am always in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.” For those who want other methods of defense, I would say, decide on something fast, acquire it now, and start learning how to use it ASAP.

Yes, we face huge, life-altering challenges, but some of us HAVE chosen (deliberately) to stick around in the US in order to help the shift. For a taste of this process, check out what’s happening at the hyper-local level with organic farmers in Detroit. It’s a whole ‘nother world beyond the disaster. Most preppers think of protecting their own, and that’s one way to go about it. Another way is to look around and assess what’s needed in your community, find others willing to help bring those things into being, and git ‘er done. Time’s a’ticking, illusory old codger that it is…

Peace!