Prepared by Mike Kastre and mailed by Tom Lewis on August 12.
Transition Exploratory Meeting
August 8, 2013, 7 PM
Bank of Romney Community Center
Twenty-nine people attended this meeting.
Facilitator Tom Lewis opened the meeting by providing an overview of how his journey as an author, editor, and journalist gradually brought him to the realization that the industrial era based on cheap and abundant oil is inevitably coming to an end. He talked briefly about how this will impact our lives, and his conclusion that while it is too late to save everyone from its consequences, we can still save anyone who will do the hard work of sustainable living. People who resolve to grow their own food, produce their own energy and the like also need community, and that was, he said, why he suggested this meeting.
He mentioned the Transition Program, but stated that while our efforts might parallel theirs in many ways this was not the driving force behind his efforts to explore how interested parties might find ways to learn, share ideas, and cooperate to make our lives easier and more sustainable. Additionally, he noted that sustainable living is what you do to make the transition to life after peak oil, climate change, and systemic collapse.
Tom was nominated and accepted responsibility for chairing the meeting. He established the rules of conduct (a light version of Robert’s Rules of Order), including refraining from injecting politics into the discussion.
Tom then invited all attendees to introduce themselves and summarize why they were there, what their concerns were, and what they hoped to gain if such a local movement were to become reality.
Common threads among the comments made ranged from the merits of such things as high tunnel greenhouses and solar power to doing things in a more ecologically friendly manner. They fell along the lines of food, energy, and natural building techniques. (Some of these are overlapping or redundant, but still offer a starting point.) Specifically, they included:
- Potential field trips to visit those who have actually installed solar systems, greenhouses, and smart agriculture to learn and share.
- Compiling a master list/database of local food producers as a resource.
- Finding ways to share crops, (e.g., one person has corn, but no wheat and someone else has wheat, but no corn…)
- Exploring ways to establish a barter system, e.g., someone who knits sweaters exchanging those for such things as food or trading chickens and eggs for vegetables. (There was even mention that one group had created its own currency to facilitate trading…)
- Establishing ways for novices to informally learn about such techniques as canning and preserving food.
- Establishing a website to facilitate everything from communications and bartering to education and finding needed resources among membership of the group.
- Exploring practical ways to cook better and get away from processed food.
- Smart meters.
- Developing a list/data base of skills as resource to all.
- Developing effective networking, including contact list and designated meeting place during emergencies.
- Developing and sharing ways city dwellers might participate, e.g., roof top gardening.
- Finding ways to foster multi-generational sharing.
Again, lots of concerns and stories, but mostly centered around how to live better, be more self-sufficient, and find ways to make the right connections to help each other and learn.
- Agreed to meet again in one month (with Thursday as the designated week day)
- Try to place an article in the Hampshire Review (and other surrounding newspapers) about the gathering. (Tom and Mike) Might help to attract others. (It was also mentioned that we might set out some meeting signs right before the meeting—like groups such as the TEA Party do—to attract others.
- Do whatever research we can on such things as the transition group (transitionus.org which is an offshoot of the international groups) and sustainability organizations to facilitate discussions at the next meeting. (This will also be helpful in talking about the future since we are not sure whether or not we should even be formally part of the Transition Program.) (all)
- Be thinking about a mission statement.
- Consider signing up for the one or more of the following work groups at the next meeting. (all)
- Energy (start to pull together what is available, affordability and technical issues, etc. Tour local installations, organize presentations by experts, etc.)
- Food (including such things as organic gardening, greenhouses, livestock raising and slaughter, food preservation.)
- Resources (perhaps start to catalog resources to facilitate such things as field trips to gain knowledge and lessons learned…)
- Communication (both internal -- website, newsletter, barter and exchange media -- and external -- outreach to media, civic groups, churches and the like,.)
- Plus any other groups that someone believes should be established at this point.
If the group continues, the findings/work of these groups could start to be put together into reports to share with the members as resources.