Whenever I buy grapes imported from Chile, fill my gas tank with fuel sourced in the Persian Gulf, or select underwear made in Thailand at a department store headquartered in Minneapolis, I can’t help but wonder how much longer we can all go on like this. That our survival hinges on the economic vitality of countless far-flung suppliers of food, energy, clothing and other essentials gives me pause. So does our reliance on cheap oil, natural gas and coal to deliver that stuff to our doorsteps and keep us warm, cool or plugged-in once it gets there. Not to mention the equilibrium of our planet’s climate, now threatened by the relentless combustion of all those fossil fuels. One of my greatest fears is that, someday, our remote-controlled, global commodity delivery system will collapse, and we’ll all have to scramble to meet our basic needs.
One of my greatest fears is that, someday, our remote-controlled, global commodity delivery system will collapse, and we’ll all have to scramble to meet our basic needs.
It turns out that I’m not alone. United by concerns about Peak Oil, a warming planet and global economic instability, some 27 groups throughout New England — part of 151 groups in the U. S. and 477 worldwide that have formed since 2006 — are taking collective action to transform their communities into walkable, locally-resilient “Transition Towns.” Such efforts empower residents to produce and consume more of life’s essentials where they live, all while minimizing their reliance on fossil fuels. By shifting their hometowns from a global to a local economy through urban farming, community-owned solar power stations, local currencies and other grassroots enterprises, these groups are advancing an alternative, post-carbon world that’s more ecologically sustainable, economically robust and socially cohesive than the one we currently inhabit.