“Hi, neighbor!” After work Michelle Colussi’s husband sits on the front steps, attracting visitors young and old. This bit of neighborliness encourages relationships which come in handy — like bailing out one another’s houses when the nearby creek flooded.
In Tomorrow, the filmmakers meet with leading environmental experts who have developed practical schemes to face environmental and social challenges in search of solutions that can help save the next generations.
In March 2007, Brockville resident Hugh Campbell called a meeting of anyone interested in fighting climate change at the local level.
The Brockville Climate Action Group (BCAG), as it was called then, arose from that first well-attended meeting. The next month MP Gord Brown unveiled the group’s new website, and Mayor David Henderson congratulated the group’s initiative and hoped the City could use the group “as a resource in our efforts to do what we can for our environment.”
BCAG’s mission was to help identify personal and community-wide steps to both reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the climate changes and resource depletion that were already unavoidable.
Within a few months of its formation, the group began offering free public monthly presentations, in partnership with the Brockville Public Library, where they are held to this day. Expert speakers have enlightened the public on everything from renewable energy to green building, from degrowth to cooperative enterprises, from living closer to nature to nurturing our personal inner transitions to be more in tune with the needs of our changing world. Sometimes we screened timely documentaries. Other times we gathered for a potluck supper and open discussion.
Naresh Giangrande, co-founder of the Transition Movement, in conversation with Richard Swift, author of “SOS Alternatives to Capitalism” and an editor of the New Internationalist magazine. Brought together in the Caribbean island of Dominica, with Earthbooktv’s Jessica Canham and Timothy Speaks Fishleigh at the Earthbook retreat centre in the mountains of Dominica.
There are hundreds of examples of how this might begin, such as community shops, development trusts, food assemblies (communities buying fresh food directly from local producers), community choirs and free universities (in which people exchange knowledge and skills in social spaces). Also time banking (where neighbours give their time to give practical help and support to others), transition towns (where residents try to create more sustainable economies), potluck lunch clubs (in which everyone brings a homemade dish to share), local currencies, Men’s Sheds (in which older men swap skills and escape from loneliness), turning streets into temporary playgrounds (like the Playing Out project), secular services (such as Sunday Assembly), lantern festivals, fun palaces and technology hubs.
Turning such initiatives into a wider social revival means creating what practitioners call “thick networks”: projects that proliferate, spawning further ventures and ideas that weren’t envisaged when they started. They then begin to develop a dense, participatory culture that becomes attractive and relevant to everyone rather than mostly to socially active people with time on their hands.
What the Transition movement does incredibly well is small-scale experiments which are practical, which resonate with local people, which look as if they’re doable, and that can engage people at a practical and meaningful level. It connects up the big issues and the local issues and shows you that change can happen at a local level.
So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent… Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger…. The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…. We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now….