MIMIC THIS! When you get invited to events 3000 miles away (or 20 of them just across town), use COPY & PASTE with the really interesting events to seed your own community's plans for similar events. Why start from scratch.... Beg, borrow and mimic! More....
I am very excited to have joined the Transition site and am looking for some advice. I live in the Town of Stamford in Delaware County (NY) and have just become the chair of the town's new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. We will be developing a comprehensive plan over the next many months. Basically, I would like advice from those who may be further along the process on what has worked for them.
Transitions 'last step' is the creation of an EDAP - here is a link to Bristol in the UK that descibes it along with a high level vision
There are a few EDAPs that have been created - it takes at least two years to get to that point
I am one of the founding Initiators in Transition Louisville and I am one of the 20 US Transition Trainers. Click on Groups in Louisville and select Transition Initiatives to see the areas we are, initially, focusing on.
Reach out to me if you have other questions.
Hi Kelly. You don't seem to be asking a simple question about transition initiatives with some sucesses to describe. May I suggest that you'll receive more useful answers if you clarify both the function of the committee and the statutory requirements of a municipal comprehensive plan in New York. I'm thinking the agency or firm the committee advises may be under no obligation to consider different fuel-availability and carbon regulation scenarios. Acknowledgement of uncertainties may be all the committee can get into this plan.
Many transition initiatives seem to be grassroots first and connected with or able to affect official activities later. That said, I hope others come forward with info for you that I cannot imagine.
Visit http://www.metrofuture.org to obtain a fresh plan for the Boston metro area that, process-wise, was not Transition conscious, but, finalized, is somewhat transition intuitive.
Without knowing details of your situation (and what you call a "Comprehensive Plan", and assuming that you are familiar with "The Handbook" I'd like to recommend another book that I consider essential to the work. That is, "Post Carbon Cities" (by Dan Lerch). It's a relatively small volume and intended to address "top down" issues from the perspective of municipalities. In North America, the Relocalization Network of the Post Carbon Institute has a number of years of experience in such things. Some of those "chapters" have morphed into Transition Towns or mullers; others have gone independent.
Probably your first and most essential task is to inventory resources. In doing that I have found it useful to assume for a moment that your municipality is suddenly cut off from the rest of your region. What are your strong areas and what would you lack? How would you distribute scarce resource (priorities)? The most important factors may likely be your infrastructure and your local knowledge base. Are sufficient emergency powers in place that will make a smooth transition with lines of authority well established? Who would be in charge of what? Where does the buck stop (or, who or what agency has final authority)?
Regarding building capacity for resilience I've found that the most productive task to start with is to calculate your local carbon footprint and eliminate as much energy waste as possible. If you then experience energy insufficiency you will get by with fewer scarce resources. It also helps stretch financial resources.
Finally, I want to mention the three barriers to making progress on such things: provincialism (parochialism), turf protection, and a desire to reinvent the wheel. Everything you need to address has likely been resolved somewhere. Your task will be to research that and adapt solutions.
Finally, read some of the comments left on the other questions posed in this section. There are some very good ideas expressed that may be useful to you.
"Regarding building capacity for resilience I've found that the most productive task to start with is to calculate your local carbon footprint and eliminate as much energy waste as possible. If you then experience energy insufficiency you will get by with fewer scarce resources."
I can't see what calculating the local carbon footprint contributes to building capacity for resilience, and don't want to guess. I hope you'll elaborate. I see eliminating energy waste as much as possible is a contributor, yet wonder how you found it the most productive task to start with. Did you try, without satisfaction, to start with other tasks prior to your discovery? These questions come sincerely, from desire for effectiveness.
Congratulations on this new position. Guy Spiro, publisher of the Monthly Aspectarian in Chicago observes that we are living in the most exciting time in all of recorded history and that the decisions made by people who are alive today will affect the trajectory of this planet for the next 2,000 years. This is both exhilarating and humbling!
I believe that if communities intentionally gather to brainstorm for solutions to our universal problems, creative and durable answers will come from the community itself. I write about this all the time on my website New Community Vision. Brainstorming Ideas is one of many blog posts about this.
My beloved church, Lake Street Church of Evanston, is going to test this model for three months starting in November. I hope that the concept takes hold and that it wants to become a Transition site. It's an active, committed community so that could well happen. I am cautiously optimistic that the community steps up to this.
It's a shame that these discussions so often cannot hold the attention of participants, including initiators, long enough to get questions answered, concerns acknowledged and ideas rearranged and renewed. Except in baseball, hit and run is not a way to build something.
I have the Handbook and the "Local Food" book, but I am seeing that most people are not yet at the point where they are able to focus on the most pressing issues of managing our energy decent. So far, people seem more concerned about how we are able to attract development and identify the obstacles to such development. Development at this point can be defined as attracting further affordable housing and enticing that factory to come to town and save the local economy.
My strategy at this time seems most basic: get people to start talking about food and energy security and what we can do at the town(ship) level to promote the re-localization of these two industries.
The purpose of the town's Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee is to develop a comprehensive plan as defined by New York State municipal law, which can be used by the town board to get funding for various projects within the plan. Here is a link to the actual statute: http://www.tughillcouncil.com/NYSLawSection272-a.p
I really appreciate this thread and everyone's contribution. My personal challenge is how to bring up these topics without being dismissed and marginalized as a pessimist.
I think you're in one of those situations where you hope to be so gentle in your steering and pushing that other members of the committee end up feeling they thought of re-localizing food and energy.
If so, your principal tactic is the artful combination of fair questions such as: Can we count on that for a good number of years? On what does it depend? Can we count on that for a good number of years? Why should we recommend this risk, this vulnerability, to the taxpayers? Is there a way to obtain desired results that “we” can own and, thus, better control?
That said, it might be very important to hold some open hearings so that more voices can be heard.
As many may already know about the development of a comprehensive plan, public hearings are an integral part of the process. We are also planning on developing a survey to be mailed to all landowners in the town while also inviting them to a "planning workshop" sometime in February. The workshop's goal is elicit participants’ opinions on which pressing issues are currently confronting the town.
We are now debating what to include on the survey, but I am fairly certain that there will be two contentious topics covered in the survey (both most likely will also have come up during the workshop) based on local politics: a wind farm development and NYC watershed regulations.
My personal opinion of each is that both may easily become moot points in the future because of lack of funding for large development and land acquisition projects. Therefore, why spend the time and energy on these topics when we could focus our attention on possible local solutions for a much broader suite of problems.
On a more positive note, we just got our copy of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY's conference brochure, which I would like to distribute to all committee members at our next meeting. I am very excited about the number of workshops being offered that directly relate to the planning and development of a more resilient and local food supply. Maybe this could be a spark to start a conversation. We shall see.
Thanks again for your guidance and I am looking forward to continuing this discussion!