OK so we have this bloody great challenge to make a rapid and managed transition away from fossil fuels and create community resilience. I’d not expected oil prices to start to spike so soon or so quickly but now they have, we’ve just got to sort ourselves out even more urgently.
Lewes is one of the most high profile transition towns so people often ask me, How do you know it’s working? I was at SEEDA (South East Economic Development Agency) this week trying to get funding for SETI (the South East Transition Initiatives, of which there are now more than 30 emerging) and they basically told me I’d only get government funding if we were able to demonstrate behavioural change in terms of per capita CO2 emissions saved. Not on your nelly!
So how do we measure success? This morning I ran into a friend who was getting on a train. She’d dropped out of Transition Town Lewes because she was too busy. But, she said, she’d been busy creating a new vegetable garden and cycling to Lewes from Ringmer. How could she get the council to make the Ringmer Lewes Cycle route to happen more quickly? Someone else admitted she was taking the train for the first time because of rising fuel prices. Another friend passed on an old book in a cotton bag. One of my neighbours was riding home on a new bike last night and my next door neighbour asked me over the weekend about where to find willow for a raised bed of vegetables to replace his lawn.
How do you measure those changes? How do I know they were as a result of Transition Town Lewes? Is the change fast enough? I don’t know and I don’t care. I am trying to do what Joanna Macy, the deep ecologist, says: to free myself from the tyranny of constantly trying to calculate our chance of success.