I invite you to join a discussion about transition in large urban areas, defined at 100,000+ population. Are you ramping up a Transition Initiative in such a city? I am living in Oakland and we are doing events under the name of "Transition East Bay" which covers millions of people. Discuss your experiences and concerns. Personally I'm not sure about following some iterations of the Totnes model, because there are so many more people, and we don't know each other well if at all, and we lack the kind of community and familiarity that a small town like Totnes has. What are the steps we need to take to increase awareness and participation in a Transition Initiative, towards creating a critical mass and local resiliance? Here's the link to the Transition East Bay ning site: http://transitioncalifornia.ning.com/group/eastbaytransition
I haven't read the Transition Handbook, yet. I'm still in queue at the local Libarary for it.
I'm not having much success at organizing Eugene/Springfield, OR Metro area or the Willamette Valley Watershed, so I can relate to what you wrote.
I couldn't find the "Transition East Bay" group on this Transition United States website. I was going to join and make some contributions and particpate, if appropriate. I've been trying to establish relations with others in the Oakland area. Like Mohummed Ali stated, "an ACORN turns into an Oak".
We have a similar challenge in DC and we have no models to follow. As you rightly observe, the Totnes model doesn't exactly fit our conditions. Merely showing the End of Suburbia does not necessarily bloom into an initiative. Like the East Bay (i went to CCA in Oakland so know it somewhat) the Washington area includes many communities and municipalities so we interpret TransitionDC to include the entire national capital area within which we encourage and support local initiatives. For instance, there is a neighborhood within the District called Brookland which has its own character and identity and they are starting their own Brookland Sustainable Transition Network under our umbrella.
What seems to be working for us is that there are already numerous groups organized around various issues related to some aspect of sustainability, whether urban gardening, clean energy or peak oil, and they seem to recognize the Transition model as the necessary connective tissue to build coherence and collaboration to make sense of it all. Once we make it clear we are not trespassing on their territory which they guard jealously, but only wish to support and augment their efforts, they are very open to the idea. As a result of collaboration with Simplicity Matters Earth Institute which has numerous circles, we are making presentations in Greenbelt, Bethesda and Baltimore. Working with faith-based groups which have environmental justice ministries, we've done a workshop in Frederick and are slated to participate in a Maryknoll conference in May.
Like Oakland, DC has a well-developed social justice community because of the huge disparities in income and benefits, precisely the conditions that make us un-Totnes-like, and we are slowly connecting with these groups to extend our reach and impact. We are beginning to make contact with local government officials and participating in official meetings. It seems we're doing many of the 12 steps all at once and in no particular order. We had worked on the White House organic garden campaign, kinda hoping we could turn it into our Great Unleashing but events unfolded much faster than we were prepared for. It will take something of that magnitude to be our Great Unleashing to have any public impact, so that's another particular challenge that we have. We may well have a series of Lesser Unleashings, more like Hawaiian volcanoes than Alaskan.
Because of the lack of small town familiarity, it takes time to network, build trust and just get yourself known. Don't forget the simple flyer at the neighborhood coffee-shop and of course all the Web 2.0 tools. In addition to our Ning site, we have Facebook and Meetup. We started in June of last year and we are now getting invitations to speak, present, do workshops.
If i were to suggest anything you could do, it would be to say trust your heart, make it up as you go, don't try to manage it, remain open, and most of all have fun. This is the most exciting time to be around, as Rob Hopkins says, "Those who are involved in Transition Initiatives are part of one of the biggest and most important research projects underway anywhere in the world." Literally awesome.
As someone who spend the past several months in Dallas, I've done a lot of thinking about the megalopolis problem. My feeling is that breaking down the mega-cities into manageable chunks - towns, communities or whatever - is the way it's going to have to go. (not to mention that's the way that many of these large cities started in the first place!)
At an ecocities conference last year I saw one urban planning firm's vision for LA, consisting of pulling the one sprawling whole into multiple (20, 30, 50?) interconnected centers, with greenways & wildlife corridors in between.
I know the Transition group in Austin has decided to focus on making South Austin a Transition Town in its own right, before worrying about the rest of the Austin. I know their ultimate vision is also for a series of self-sustaining yet interconnected hubs, with the city of Austin proper as the main hub.
Just some food for thought from the southlands... :)
Many cities have chapters of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), a national organization that's mature and robust, compared to any Transition initiative in the USA. Most of the business owners and many of their customers will be Transition allies and more. A number of chapters are growing a focus (including comparing notes) on developing local food systems. Look for info regarding your area's chapter here. Also, see this, on this site.