On Sunday May 23rd, Transition Albany is showing the new film about the international Transition movement – “In Transition 1.0 – from oil dependence to local resilience.” It’s a delightful film that plays on the relation between present and future and has several child stars. If you miss the showing, you can watch the whole thing on Vimeo: in fact, why don’t you watch it with your neighbors to spread the word?
Breaking news is that Ernest Callenbach, a local author and visionary creator of the 1975 utopian novel Ecotopia, will be with us on Sunday to talk about his current vision of a sustainable future. We will end the afternoon with an opportunity to suggest, find support for, and/or hook into practical projects that will move us further towards community resilience in Albany.
After seeing and talking with several Transition communities in the UK on a recent visit to my new granddaughter (yes, I flew, and I’m prepared for that to be the last time for the foreseeable future. Mother Nature delayed my return by sending volcanic ash into the air, and it looks like she hasn’t finished that game yet!), my impression is that there is a huge wave of grassroots energy moving inexorably towards more local self-reliance, and Transition towns are popping up like mushrooms. Projects that I’ve seen include local food production, creating alternatives to individual motorized transport, encouragement to reduce energy consumption at home, relearning skills that were taken for granted in a pre-oil-rich civilization (“reskilling”), or putting more emphasis on individual production rather than simply consuming more store-bought stuff. It doesn’t have to have the name Transition to be an essential part of our transition away from centralized, energy-intense living to a more local, energy-lean and community-based lifestyle.
Dated City Codes
Here in the East Bay there are already many backyards dedicated to growing food. My own tiny space produces more at times than I can keep up with. But it’s coming to my attention, thanks to an article in Terrain magazine, that city ordinances are written to dissuade people from engaging in urban farming within city borders. They probably date back to a time when it was seen as chic to be moving away from the drudgery of countryside living.
For instance, in Albany’s code (under Animals) it seems at first glance that keeping bee hives is not permitted. However the city did assure me that, as long as you ask them for and receive express written permission and pay a fee of $160, you can legally keep bees here (within limitations designed to maintain good neighborly relations). This makes the situation similar to that with chickens (up to six hens are allowed, no roosters). However, goats, sheep and horses are still listed as forbidden, and these are animals that do play a part in the low-energy Albany that some of us envision 20 years from now, along with super efficient motorized transport and high tech solutions. We are looking at major changes in the next couple of decades – let’s be foresightful and prepare the way.
So, come and watch the film and listen to one of the first people to express a utopian vision in writing on Sunday May 23rd and we’ll have a chance to share specific visions for Albany afterwards. In 20 years this community could look, sound and feel very different from Albany today. What do you envision?