Joe Daniels discusses the Transition movement and ideas with Christy Lauzon and Ken Shaw.

Joe Daniels discusses the Transition movement and ideas with Christy Lauzon and Ken Shaw.

Transitioning Prince Rupert

Two years ago the seeds of sustainability were planted, and the growing season is now.

Two years ago the seeds of sustainability were planted, and the growing season is now.

Transition Prince Rupert is working toward creating an independently sustainable Prince Rupert capable of providing for itself in both good and bad economic times. Transition started in Prince Rupert in January 2011, and up to this point the main priority of Transition has been leadership development, facilitation training and try to model what good group behaviour looks like.

“One of the basis’ that we have is focusing on how groups work together rather than what actually emerges. Through proper group facilitation and leadership, groups will naturally come up with the right idea for themselves,” Lee Brain of Transition Prince Rupert said.

Transition has five major phases over a period of three to eight years, with the movement gradually building. Prince Rupert’s Transition is in phase one of a five phase process with the group’s first round of projects underway between February and June, known as the growing season. The season system ensures volunteers don’t become burned out and don’t feel guilty if they can’t commit to the group long-term. Transition encourages different people to take on leadership roles each season, instead of having a continuous leader.

“Transition is a never-ending process. It’s going to go indefinitely. We like to have it so people can commit to small amounts of time and can come in and out of leadership roles when it’s convenient,” Brain said.

Earlier this month groups met up to discuss the progress of their projects, which range from small scale undertakings that encourage recycling to larger goals like a skills trading bank.

“These projects will introduce people in the community to things that are different. [The projects] highlight topics around sustainability and show volunteering is fun and can be cool and leading edge,” Brain said.

Two of the projects aim to trigger interest in sustainable energy, but will enhance the look of the community as well. The first is Wind Wall, an art display that would highlight the abundance of wind and get people thinking about usage of wind with rotating aluminium blades that independently move when hit by wind. The group is currently looking for options to pay for the project, as it would cost approximately $15,000.

The second is Generation Station, an energy generating merry-go-round that would power a display of lights and a cell phone charger for parents and guardians. The hope of the project is to kick off discussion about alternative energy, what it would mean for Prince Rupert, and to get children and  parents interested in the idea of sustainable energy.

Likely the quickest project of the five to be up and running will be Recycling Mods, attachments onto the City’s downtown garbage cans to carry empty beverage containers rather than having them end up in the trash.  The group is working with a fabricator on the design, which would hold containers in spot during windy conditions and not fill up with water when it rains.

Another Transition project will get people exploring the outdoors. The Trails to Transition group will plant geocaches, GPS-enabled devices that navigate people to the a specific set of GPS coordinates, where they can attempt to find the geocache hidden at that location. The group will plant geocaches during weekly excursions and, at the same time, do some light spring brushing on the trails. The group will be holding a kick off event in June.

The largest project being worked on this season is a time banking system, which would create a second economy for people to fall back onto. The time bank would have Rupertites trade an hour of their time doing a task for another person’s hour of time doing another task. Whatever people’s skills are they can trade for another person’s, like some who is tech-savvy trading an hour of their time repairing a computer while another person helps care for their children.

For every hour a participant deposits in the time bank, by giving help and support to others, they are able to withdraw equivalent support in time when they are in need of something. The system wouldn’t always have to be a direct change, and wouldn’t have to take place at the same time. With all needing to be done to implement the system, the group said it’s unlikely to be in place by the June deadline.

Brain ensures Transition isn’t about replacing the current economic system, but creating a new system that coincides with it.

“It’s not saying goodbye to the other system… It’s just creating an alternative model along side the current model,” Brain said, adding the movement could be helpful in the future if there were another economic downfall because it would give Prince Rupert alternative systems to fall back on.

“A lot of people are clearly upset about global affairs… Transition has nothing to do with that. We’re about creating a positive, forward-thinking movement, that’s about creating solutions and moving forward. We have no political motivation. It’s 100 per cent solution oriented.”

For the next two years Transition will continue to focus on leadership development and facilitation training, community projects, workshops, skills training and awareness raising. The movement hopes to eventually move on to larger scale projects that address areas such as energy, food and housing.

Prince Rupert’s Transition is based on the Transition Towns movement which began in England in 2005, and has since  expanded to 2,000 communities around the globe.