Our use of this word comes from the transition movement (also known as transition network or Transition Towns), which is a grassroots network of communities that are working to build resilience in response to peak oil, climate change, and economic instability.
For us, transition describes the process needed to reach a sustainable (please read our page on this) human culture for this region. The natural history of this region clearly shows that the current state of life systems here is dire. Significantly depleted native species populations, topsoil loss, dry creeks, biodiversity loss, declining water tables, and increasing pollution all indicate a crisis situation. A political system that is increasingly controlled by corporate motives makes the crisis significantly worse.
As we are in a crisis, the first step is often harm reduction. For instance, since the industrial food system is very wasteful, unstable, and a primary driver in the degradation of lands throughout the county and around the globe, it makes sense to shift our staple foods away from that system to ones that you can control: stop buying meat, and instead learn to manage your land with Predator-Friendly Holistic Planned Grazing and/or hunt feral pigs to supply your family’s meat; reduce or stop buying grains, and instead transition to gathering and eating acorns. Even if you have to use some products of the unsustainable industrial economy (like electric fencing, guns or freezers) to make any of these happen, these approaches will greatly reduce your role in the harm caused by the industrial food system. And you will be freer and more capable of enduring economic downturns.
It makes sense that the transition begins with the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, fuel for cooking and heating, clothing, medicine. Looking at each of these in the current culture, we find none of them are met in a sustainable fashion. This crisis of the natural world–the foundation of our needs–means there is a crisis of human necessities as well.
A crisis situation requires that we stop being wasteful and stop generating more problems by our way of living. Ultimately, all of our basic needs are met through the natural world, so it follows that restoration of native plant and animal communities and natural water cycles should be a top priority. Sustainability is impossible without resilient lands in good health, so the primary transition has to be from degraded soil and ineffective water cycles to fecund land and flowing creeks and rivers full of life.
The current approach to living, both in Tehama County and the bigger world with which we are intertwined, is extractive and is taking us in the opposite direction, causing desertification in brittle lands and making the future look very bleak for the generations to come. If a transitional approach is not taken globally, the natural correction of exceeding one’s carrying capacity–called overshoot–will take place. This means a die off. There is no getting around this painful issue. The human population cannot infinitely expand on this planet of finite resources. Likewise, an economy also cannot grow endlessly on a finite planet. There has to be a retraction. So the most humane and wise approach is to plan for a smooth transition to sustainability. Not doing so ensures a painful collapse that leads to resource wars and tremendous suffering for most of humanity, as is already experienced by millions of people in the global south. Technology cannot overcome this physical reality, no matter the size of the sacrifice zones, as each of these will become depleted, so the need for more and larger sacrifice zones will continue.
“We in the industrial world have gradually accustomed ourselves to a way of life that appears to be leading toward a universal biological holocaust. The question is, shall we choose to gradually accustom ourselves to another way of life–one that more successfully integrates human purposes with ecological imperatives–or shall we cling to our present choices to the bitter end?” – Richard Heinberg
As individuals and as a community, it makes sense to use the power we do have to make changes. Our web site offers many ideas and suggestions for landowners that require no government oversight. But as a community, we also need to set local policies that head us in a direction that models our best understanding of what it means to live sustainably here in our chosen homeland. So our local government needs to be reformed to become transition-minded. And we need real democracy.