Reaching for our goals


Pretend this is a trip to the optometrist’s office to check our vision.  We see this eyechart on the wall;

Mission: Sustainable Loudoun promotes

the development of a local community

economy based on environmental

stewardship and the sustainable

use of resources.

We see it, perceive it, and understand it.  We hold up this mission statement because of the transitions we will face in the future (either proactively or reactively) due to Peak Oil and Global Warming;

  • Oil addiction/dependency => carpooling/biking/walking/transit/telecommuting/SmartGrowth
  • Global industrial agriculture => local sustainable agriculture
  • High home energy bills => improved energy efficiency and smart conservation
  • Globalized goods and services => relocalized goods and services

A measured transition to an economy that is resilient in the face of an oil production decline will take 20 years, according to Dr. Hirsch in the Department of Energy’s report “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management”.  The report notes that even if a crash program supported by government, industry, and the citizenry were undertaken at immense economic and social costs, it would still take 10 years to make the transition.

All of the forecasts by independent petroleum geologists report (as does the WSJ in this article) the peaking of world oil production much sooner than 10 years, with many in the next two years. Clearly, we as a nation are in a reactive response to peak oil, a weak one at that.  So it is up to each of us, and us collectively, to take measures to ensure our families, neighborhoods, and communities are able to transition to an economy that will be resilient to the risks noted above.

Now, how do we accelerate our implementation of the mission statement in the first paragraph? How have other communities begun their implementation? Luckily, there is a large wave of enthusiasm and momentum that we can gather speed on and ride.

A small movement starting in Totnes, England concerned about energy resources and climate change sought to transition to a way of life with reduced dependency on foreign oil and minimized impact on the climate; this small movement has since grown to a large international grassroots organization that is composed of hundreds of Transition Towns.  Here in America, the organization is called (unsurprisingly) Transition US and there are now over  250 officially recognized transition towns already, primarily in the Commonwealth nations and the US, and  1000s more  that are starting the process.

Many in Sustainable Loudoun have shown considerable interest in starting such an initiative right here in our County (and its towns). The first thing to do is to understand the 12 steps to becoming a Transition Initiative. In order to be taken seriously, there are a set of criteria that we would need to meet to be considered genuinely moving forward and making sufficient forward progress.

In the coming weeks ahead, we will delve deeper into the implementation of our mission statement, starting a series of discussions involving energy, food, water, and the localization of these and other goods and services.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” — Gandhi

Discuss this blog article’s subject matter at Sustainable Loudoun’s forum under  Transition > Interest.

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