The Transition Movement and the Working Class

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Attracting the working class

Transition Towns and the Transition Movement as a whole suffer from an image problem in that the ordinary man and woman in the street seem to see it as something only for the better of middle and upper classes; for those “who can afford it”, and those in predominately rural settings.

While there may now be sections of urban areas becoming transition towns, such as Brixton, in South-East London, once a notorious problem area, Ealing in the West of London and Tooting in the South-West, the perception is still the one previously stated.

The great majority of people still cannot see how they can become part of this even if they were entirely persuaded.

Then again, “going green” is seen by many in the lower income brackets, the working class, the proletariat, as something that they cannot be part of as they think that lots of money is required to do so.

Going by the prices that are being charged for “green” products the existence of such perception is not surprising, I must say.

Going green would, by ways of savings, benefit especially those on the lower incomes. They, however, do believe, due to all the false advertising, that there is no way for them to get involved and take part because all the things are so expensive.

No on e seems to want to communicate to them the message though that there rs, primarily, no investment needed.

The Green Movement and the Transition Movement have so far, in the main, been unable to touch the working class and this must change.

A way must be found to do that and to engage the working class and to bring to them the message that going green is as much for them and doable by them as by those with money.

Reuse and upcycling (see my book:”Let's Talk Rubbish”) is for all of us, whether rich or poor and will benefit those who have little the most. We all must get out of the consumption trap.

The frugal way was the way of the poor always bar, it would seem, in the late 20th and the early 21st century in the developed world. They used to use the principle of “Make Do and Mend”, of “Waste Not, Want Not”, and of others but they seem to have forgotten those by around the later 1970s; maybe before even, sadly.

I believe that, after the end of the austerity, resultant from World War Two and after, such as the end of rationing in Britain, people decided to “live it up”. Americans seem to have started this before the European in the so-called “free” West then, and those in Western Europe often tried and still try to aspire to and emulate the American Way of Life.

The American Way of Life is, predominately, built upon oil and especially cheap oil and with the oil going to be history sooner rather than later that way of life is going to come crashing down around their ears in the not so distant future.

The American Way of Life and its cousins in the Europe, including the spend, spend, spend society in the UK, are not sustainable, oil running out or not, and we must change our ways of living now before we have destroyed the Planet in our constant pursuit for more.

This is something that the poor in our affluent society can as much participate in as the rich and the Transition Movement and the Green Movement are missing a few tricks here in not properly communicating that message to those of the working classes.

We must, however, get working class people signed up to the movement, so to speak, and get them convinced so that they can spread the message to others.

I am working class and am involved in green issues and especially trying to live lighter on the Planet for donkeys years, probably every since childhood as a young Rom, and this should be proof enough that anyone can do it.

But this message must be communicated to others of the working class and also to those of other classes for unless we can get the great majority aboard we are wasting our time and it will remain all somewhat of a dream.

As I have said before, the fact that we have now a number of Transition Towns in inner city areas in the UK and also in Berlin, Germany, this does not detract from the fact that presently the Transition Towns and the Transition Movement are still something that is mostly something in smaller towns and in the countryside; in Britain at least.

The Transition Towns the Transition Movement, and the Green Movement in general, must work hard to change their perceived image for the poorer classes to be see as something in which they can become stakeholders as well.

© 2010