Kicking the Oil Habit
Guest Blogger: Jenny Campbell, Southland Branch Secretary
Right. Lets not beat around the bush. We are running out of oil. The bounteous supply we have enjoyed in the past 60 years is now dwindling to a few inaccessible pools buried deep within the earth or reservoirs set in environmentally sensitive areas.
We’re populating this earth at great speed – with some predictions estimating that in 2030 the population will be double that of our population in 1980. Do the maths, and you’ll realise that peak oil is hot on our heels.
It begs the question – how is our oil-addicted society we going to survive without it?
When faced with this question, a British teacher/permaculturalist decided to try to get his town to kick the habit. Since then, the transition town movement has spread across the world.
Over 55 communities across New Zealand have put their hands up to kick the habit, and recently a few members of our Southland branch decided to join the movement by meeting with others across Southland who wanted to explore the concept. Like any good rehabilitation programme, it has a twelve point plan, plus a generous time line – five years.
The philosophy behind transition towns involves tapping into the various skills, resources and capabilities of a community, so no two transition towns are the same.
By harnessing the same creativity & ingenuity that was used to create all this energy, the initiative asks communities to create a living that is ‘more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment’. That means looking at sustainable transport, food and buildings.
Energised by the creative opportunities presented by this proposition, Forest & Bird members well-versed in the philosophy behind transition towns listened to others who have experience from other communities. Through an umbrella environmental group*, which was established 8 years ago, we joined others and began working towards the first point of the plan: awareness raising.
Since then, we’ve been involved in various awareness raising film screenings, presentations and talks and the group is looking at how we can tackle peak oil and climate change through perma-culture projects, community gardens and workshops on cob-brick buildings.
Those wanting to participate can choose to work towards a transition town in any which way they choose, and dictate their level of involvement.
The very organic nature of the project and the underlying philosophy (‘be alert but not alarmed’), allows the community to find the best course of action, and re-build itself accordingly.
How Southland is going to re-invent itself is still undefined however with a few committed spirits, we believe that we can make the concept of ‘transition towns’ more than just a buzz word.
People who are interested in finding out more about the group can access contacts through the South Coast or Invercargill Environment Centres firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on transition towns see: http://transitionaotearoa.org.nz/
*This includes people from the Invercargill Environment Centre, Te Whenua Awhi & F&B members