I was copied on an email exchange between Elizabeth Timberlake-Newell, who wrote a piece for the latest issue of Voices, and Jackie Bonomo, a Transition Town State College steering committee member and Tait Farm manager of edible plants.
Here’s the full email exchange (edited for punctuation, etc.):
1. How do you envision State College if it becomes a Transition Town? What will be different about our town? Will anything about the infrastructure or fixtures (such as street lamps or other fossil-fuel consuming objects) change?
The purpose of the Great Unleashing (tentatively schedule for October 2, 2011) is to gather many State College and Centre region community members and envision together what we want to see, do, and experience in a future 20-30 years out from now (given post-peak oil and climate change).
My personal vision is only a bit part and certainly doesn’t have the scope of a community vision.
The differences will be huge! Imagine life without inexpensive oil; most of us are totally unaware of how many things oil is used in and how much we won’t have transported to us if daily supply is cut off.
I was just yesterday given the book $20 Dollars Per Gallon by Christopher Steiner. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks very good and would, I think, answer some of your question about differences of life without oil.
Our food system will be based on seasonal eating – no strawberries in winter, and likely few bananas, coffee, avocados, etc. I think passive solar buildings will be in high demand and geothermal heating and wind generation of electricity along with photovoltaics will be much more common.
People will wear more wool sweaters, socks (even inside) & mittens. “Fleece” material is, guess what, made out of oil. Maybe it is a good time to invest in sheep! They would be a good replacement for lawn mowers. There could be a shepherd in each neighborhood who rotates the sheep to different yards and parks each day.
Then again, few people will have grass lawns, more yards will be in food crops.
2. How much local, State College support does the Transitions movement have? (Not counting Penns Valley supporters.)
We are just beginning the process of outreach to other groups who are doing many of the pieces of transition work in food, transportation, and sustainability issues.
Part of the difficulty is that each of us knows some people working on an aspect of the problem, but it’s hard to get a sense of the whole network which is part of what the Transition movement hopes to do: link us together and make a stronger weave in the cloth of our community.
3. Would Penn State University and its large on-campus population be engaged, and if so, how? Is it a problem that a major employer such as Penn State is heavily involved in Marcellus Shale fracking for natural gas?
Yes, University involvement is very important. There are so many bright minds and so much creative energy. And the students are the people who will live on into the future – they have a great part to play in how that future unfolds.
Personally, I believe that fracking is a very serious pollution problem. The various departments and staff of the University are not all of one belief and do not have the same information. There are many people there who are working on sustainable solutions and have valuable ideas and information.
4. Are you concerned that you could alienate runners, bicyclists and hikers if there is a push to reestablish a railway system on the trails that were formerly railways?
I, too, love places like the Lower Rails-to-Trails bike path. But it is probably easier to re-route a bike path than a railway. If we want to travel out of the area, as gas prices and availability make car travel obsolete, or get goods from other places in the state or country, we may decide that we can forego the rails-to-trails paths. Perhaps bikes and foot traffic will have many formerly highly-trafficked car roads to use.
However, if we don’t start building the infrastructure to support such changes now, while we still have oil at the current price, it will cost much more to do so later.