Many of us feel that the writing is on the wall: The burgeoning world population, coupled with the twin crises of global warming and dwindling fossil fuels, which need to be obtained from harder-to-extract places at ever-greater environmental cost, point to the need for a change to a more sustainable way of living. That entails both relying on renewable, less environmentally harmful energy sources and a more frugal, less materialistic lifestyle. Among the various grassroots groups that have sprouted up to promote this agenda is the Transition Movement, which started in Great Britain and has now spread to 34 countries.
Ulster County boosts five Transition communities: the fruit of a team of committed Transition members who trained at Lifebridge, based in Rosendale, last June. Various events tied to green living are planned for Kingston, New Paltz, Marbletown, Woodstock and Saugerties, one of which is a synchronized film-showing on Groundhog Day, February 2.
Each of the three films that will be shown on that day envisions what a more sustainable future would be like. The Economics of Happiness features voices from six continents on the subject of future sustainability and the benefits of a deeper connection with one’s community. It will be shown in Kingston at the Beahive at 314 Wall Street at 7 p.m., and in Saugerties at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore, located at the corner of Main and Partition Streets, at 6:30 p.m.
Transition 1.0 features communities that have made a commitment to lower their energy use in the future. It will be shown in New Paltz, in the auditorium at the Coykendall Science Building at SUNY-New Paltz, at 7 p.m. Fixing the Future, a one-hour PBS special that examines communities across America who have adopted innovative approaches to creating jobs and prosperity, will be shown at the Marbletown Multi Arts Center in Stone Ridge, and at the Colony Arts Café in Woodstock, located at 22 Rock City Road, both at 7 p.m. All of the film showings will be followed by discussions, and the showings in Marbletown and Woodstock will be preceded by snacks, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
“Our model is leaderless,” noted Transition member Pamela Boyce Simms, who is also the development officer at the KTD Monastery in Woodstock. But she said that the model also has a clear structure, which involves training teams to increase public awareness, sponsoring a major event (in Ulster County, it will be held in September), forming working groups for specific projects and then getting buy-in from municipalities.
Simms emphasized the positive basis of Transition’s goal: “Regardless of the shift in the way we live now toward sustainability, it’s about community-building, joy, connecting to each other,” she said. “It’s all about deepening relationships and moving toward a simpler, less consumer-driven way of living that’s closer to the land. It’s not about a Doomsday scenario.”