Thursday, January 15, 2009

OKC Transition Town Pre-Meeting

Sustainable OKC has invited me to co-chair the Oklahoma City Transition Town Initiative! I met with Shauna Struby, President of SOKC, last week just to talk principles and strategies and whatnot, before we have our first Steering Committee meeting. I will be blogging about this process for anyone who is interested in starting a Transition Town.

The Transition Town concept, as pioneered by Rob Hopkins, is more applicable to "towns" of 5,000 people than to cities of 500,000+ people, so we are going to have to modify our approach a little, maybe including the Post-Carbon Cities model. We will also use Richard Heinberg's Resilient Communities approach, which focuses on being prepared for a peak oil shock, ready to offer advice and plans to the local government and community. Because frankly, it's just a fact that a lot of things that will need to be done post-peak are not going to get done pre-peak.

We like the Transition Town principles of permaculture, positive energy, and psychology. We want to create an enticing, attractive future for people to feel excited about, rather than paint a grim, frightening future for people to be scared of. We want to address the human side of feelings and culture, not just the technical aspects like peak oil decline rates. Because unless we help people confront their addiction to oil, they won't change. They'll just disengage.

There appears to be some kind of required training before we can officially designate our project as a Transition Town. I don't know when we might be able to do that - while it looks extremely helpful, I do have an 18 month old toddler to take care of.

Obviously, this project is going to be a huge undertaking. I am very excited!

So far, we've come up with some preliminary goals for our project. One interesting thing about Transition Towns is that the Steering Committee (hopefully to be called something friendlier) is designed to have a lifespan of about a year. By then, the project should be released into the wild and Sub-groups, such as Food, Energy, Education, Sanitation, whatever, will have started their own projects. The leaders of these groups will then become the new Steering Committee.

Preliminary goals (subject to change with our first meeting):

  1. Raise awareness about peak oil and climate change.
  2. Stimulate the creation of a positive vision of a future with less energy.
  3. Provide a supportive environment for people to cope with a realistic assessment of the future.
  4. Provide information and resources to help people prepare for a future with less energy.
  5. Inspire projects to help Oklahoma City become more resilient and sustainable, and help coordinate those projects with existing resources and community groups.

And here's the rough draft of our first agenda:

OKC Transition Project

Welcome and Introductions

Peak Oil - the dilemma (quick review of information sent by email)

Transition Town Concept - why we are here (quick review of information sent by email)

Sustainable Energy Alliance - how we started (quick review of information sent by email)

Exercise: Pair up and answer 2 questions each:
1. My concerns about peak oil and climate change?
2. My positive vision for Oklahoma City in the face of these challenges?

Transition Town Principles, Model and Psychology (quick review of info sent by email)

Resilient Communities (info previously sent by email)

Set Project Goals (3 - 5 top goals)

Decide Project Name

Discuss commitment to the project - time, attention, timespan for dissolution.

Discuss and decide how to proceed:
- Budget / Funding
- Website / Blog
- Marketing - Logo, business cards, pamphlets
- Raising Awareness and Creating a Vision - film screenings, speakers, ????
- What events are upcoming that we could partner/ co-sponsor/ piggyback with?
- Resilient communities
- Hands - on preparation projects
- Information sharing with other Environmental, Social Justice, Disaster Preparedness, and Government groups

Set date and time for next meeting - 2 weeks

Well - the first meeting is scheduled for next week. Let me know if you have anything to share about getting these kinds of projects off to the right start!


Lewru said...

Well hot damn! That sounds like quite the project! They could not have found a better person for the job!

Amber said...

Congrats on being part of such a great initiative. I discovered Transition Towns last year and would love to have something like this where I live in Canada. Looking forward to updates on your progress!

Parma Powerdown said...

I will be following your progress closely as I plan to start TT in my area as well.


Jennie said...

Hi! I have grandparents in OKC. They've lived in OK all their lives, Grandpa grew up on a farm there and he still maintains a decent sized veggie garden at their OKC house.
When you get to the point of meetings open to the public, I'd love to let them know the when/where. Will you post them here or elsewhere?

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Hi Jennie - that's great, we'd love to hear from them! I will be posting times/locations both here and on the future website for OKC TTI.