From mitigation to adaptation


Increasingly, governments and disaster planners are recognizing the importance of social infrastructure: the people, places, and institutions that foster cohesion and support. “There’s a lot of social-science research showing how much better people do in disasters, how much longer they live, when they have good social networks and connections,” says Nicole Lurie, a former professor of health policy who has been President O’Bama’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response since 2009. This writer definitely considers my locally based connections-from my church to my band- to all be invaluable parts of my social network, but because of our unique geographical constraints in this Appalachian region, almost everyone involved in my various networks is separated from one another by miles and miles of highway. The very people who I might need to depend on in a disaster or an emergency, or simply in a localized economy, don’t really exist for me.

To that end, I’ve been seriously considering trying to form a social/community infrastructure like the ‘Transition Initiatives’ I’ve been reading about and studying for the last couple of years. The core purpose of the Transition Initiative is to address, at the community level, the twin challenges of Climate Change and Peak Oil, and this blog was so named because of my desire to meet those challenges. But, even as the Transition movement continues to spread around the world, my personal efforts seem to be trivial and I am unable to influence anything at a local, much less a national level. I find myself paralyzed between the apparent futility of the small-scale and impotent in the large-scale. However, The Transition Initiative works right in the middle, at the scale of the community, where actions are significant, visible, and effective.


Yesterday, the President delivered a major speech on climate change and I was happy to hear his climate action plans. I really want to believe that we still have time to slow down the heating and CO2 emissions, so that we won’t have to adapt to a hotter, crazier climate. When I first began to pay attention to what was then called the inconvenient truth about “Global Warming”, I had high hopes that the world would understand the problems and find ways to reduce the warming. Now, ten years later, what we’re experiencing has been changed to the more encompassing term of “Climate Change”, the deniers have pretty much been drowned out and proven to be wrong, but my hopes for solutions have fallen. I’m noticing more and more books, websites and articles are dealing with how societies can adapt to climate change vs how we might mitigate or forestall it indefinitely.

Consequently, now that we’ve officially moved more to an adaptation mode, I think forming a local Transition Initiative should be my next step. Will you take a look at the Transition Network’s website here:  http://www.transitionus.org/, subscribe to their digital newsletter, and seriously give consideration to attending an informational meeting about such an endeavor this fall? I’ve been reluctant to even suggest starting such a group for fear that it might end up falling on my shoulders completely, but the more I read about these initiatives in the US (currently 139 towns in 35 states, including our nearest neighbors in Asheville, NC)  and around the world (463 in 43 countries) the more I’m convinced that it  would allow us to  face the future in a way that is more vibrant, abundant and resilient. Please feel free to send your comments to me privately or even better, post them publicly below to start this conversation now. If there’s enough interest, we’ll set a date, time and place to begin mulling over the possibilities together. What will it be-mitigation or adaptation?

the transition


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This sounds interesting. I signed up for their newsletter.

Comment by Crystal

I am happy to join this network. Thanks, Sam, for sharing this!

Comment by Kae Robbins

Thanks for initiating this. I’ve been in the adaptationist camp for several years now and would be eager to participate in a group that starts with the premise the “train has already left the station” and is ready to move on to the problem of transition. I share your sense of futility but don’t agree with your evaluation of your accomplishments. You have made a difference in this community; thanks and keep at it.

Comment by Jerry Nagel

If anyone wants to get involved in a Transition group in Southwest VA (we’re in Damascus VA, about 15 minutes from Abingdon), let me know. We had some momentum for a while (including a radio show and a number of great events), but at the meetings, it was just two of us…so. We would love if others wanted to get involved! Our facebook page is: Transition Washington County. Not a lot of activity, but that could change with your help. Thanks, Cassa
Sam, hope this is okay to add this comment to your blog. I commend you for going forward on this! Love all that you do!!!!

Comment by Cassa

Thank you for this information Cassa! If we can drum up enough interest in the TriCities, perhaps you’d be willing to come to a meeting in the fall to give us some direction and inspiration? Hindsight is soo much clearer than foresight.

Comment by Sam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: