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Do Worry Be Happy

Elle magazine May 1, 2009
Do Worry Be Happy by Lisa Chase,
Looks at the psychology of Transition, and is a piece based on the journalist’s immersing herself in Transition.

Pretty good article, here are a few extracts:

The descending slope of Hubbert’s bell curve is pretty damn steep, so if oil sources are depleting, the stuff will stop flowing faster than we can kick our addiction. Given that our electricity, our transportation, and most of our goods depend on oil, we’re pretty screwed.

This is where Transition taps in. The movement offers a framework for planning an orderly and even a "prosperous way down" the curve, to quote a book well known among Peak Oilers, to a world with less oil. Transition is about communities—in particular "relocalizing" them, and this you probably know something about: eating local and buying local, but also manufacturing local. It’s also about "reskilling"—learning to do the things our great-grandparents knew how to do, such as growing food and building things. Most importantly, Transition is about resiliency, or, as Hopkins says in his book, "a culture based on its ability to function indefinitely and to live within its limits, and to be able to thrive for having done so."

"The first thing we do to get a Transition initiative going in a town is show The End of Suburbia," said Michael Brownlee, an early Transition "trainer" and a founder of Transition Boulder. "Two things usually happen. Some people get very upset and say, ‘How could you create all this fear?’ And others say, ‘Thank you, thank you so much!’?" The thank-yous are the definition of resilient: They’re usually intelligent, social, often optimistic, and can hold complex and contrasting ideas in their heads, such as, Global warming and peak oil create an opportunity to build something better.

It turns out that community, resilience, and optimism are all bound up together, Fredrickson said. "To be doing really well in life is to be handling the hard stuff well and with clear eyes and to find the ability to have positive emotions. What I’ve concluded is that positive emotions are the fuel in a way, the active ingredient that allows people to be resilient and optimistic."

This is where Transition seems different from environmental movements that have come before: in striking a psycho-eco balance, putting emphasis on small-scale pragmatic action, rather than on making policy or protests. In some ways we’ve become a culture of what psychologists call "learned helplessness," and as we wait for others to solve our problems, the problems get harder to solve. But resilient people don’t wait; they think that their actions make a difference in the world.

The full article is here: