A transition shift. Not a mass “movement” to be hoped for or a set of projects managed by an organization; it is something gathering up around us. It takes in Transition Towns and the Dark Mountain Project. It includes the new agrarians, in town and country. There are ‘friends of Ishmael’ and Rainbow gatherings, intentional communities, old skill rendezvous, and organic churches. There is permaculture, alternative money, mutualism and steady-state economics. There are rewilders, new tribalists, doomers of all stripes, luddites, simple frugalists and “plain” folk like the Amish. And the Crash Course enthusiasts, and locavores. There are survivalists, the scavenging freegan, new monastics, and collapsitarians. Millions of people around the globe have come out of denial. Millions more are on their way. The transition shift includes all the people, yet alone and in groups, anywhere and everywhere, who have made it their business to awaken into a new awareness, and to begin actively transitioning to a sane human world.
This transition shift is not dependent on some magical “right leadership” – it depends on each human being saying no to the current dysfunctional order of things, and embarking on the adventure of a lifetime: a decaying civilization provides the compost for new growth… a new way of living is born. Some have been motivated by concern over climate, or peak oil. Others by collapsing economies and financial terrorism. Or by the horror of vast ecosystems devastated, mountains leveled into rubble, seas turned into grimy dumps and lands turned into desert. Yet others are guided by disgust over the decaying public sphere and civility, or by their devotion to God’s kingdom on earth. Some are spurred on by their rage toward this civilization. There is no one right beginning. All transitioners are pilgrims on the path.
Some of us still yearn for a movement, but an understanding is growing that a movement is not what we need; some anarchists have called for “building movement, not a movement.” Movements dream of, and aim for, a large membership that will sweep them into power. On the other hand, a cultural shift is evolutionary, brought about by people who embody what they believe and care about. The desired change evolves through the multifarious doings of many people, many groups, with many views.
We need 10,000 conspiracies, and more. Rather than pushing for membership growth, we focus on the replication of small successful endeavors that will bring about an aggregate transruptive shift. Nobody has the One Right Answer. Diversity is key to our survival and success. A movement can be coopted or destroyed. But bazillion home-grown, low-flying groups each undertaking their own custom “unofficial” path toward self-reliance, resilience, reskilling, retooling, and relocalized cohesive communities, transcending most political divisions, are virtually unassailable. An evolutionary shift cannot be coopted or destroyed because it has no center, no leader, no core ideology, no organizational edifice. It is everywhere. It is within.
But isn’t the term “transition shift” a redundancy? Perhaps not. ‘Transition’ means a passage, a journey. Such journeys have been known to meander, and to end in getting lost. ‘Shift’ implies a definitive discontinuity and a new configuration, as in the rocks shifting under my feet. It provides a balance for the concept of transition. This particular journey is no mere tweaking of the status quo. It brings me to places I have not been to before, realms not made by me but gradually yet unmistakably rediscovered and co-created with others, coming to be inhabited by you and me as we walk the path. The once and future path of resilience.