March 15th, 2010
I read the Transition Handbook last year. It’s a growing movement, and it’s full of great ideas for making sustainable local communities. There are lots of issues to figure out, about how to interact with local government, and finding the people who have the time and talent for organizing. I’ve spent some months thinking about how my community could use the Transition model, and there’s one other major issue: Geography. Transition works with face-to-face meeting; that’s a fundamental pillar. Not just monthly face-to-face either, but frequent. That means a community that lives close to each other, within a small area.
The area i live in, Ahualoa, is around 3×2 miles, 6 square miles. That might be OK size-wise, but there are drawbacks:
1. A 1000-foot rise from one end to the other makes getting around more energy-intensive.
2. Few roads (no grid or spokes) and no paths, so to avoid trespassing you have to walk/drive a long way, to go a short way as an ‘io flies.
3. Many sparsely-inhabited 20-acre lots means low population density.
4. No central point or public space. 60 years ago, we had several small schools and, i believe, a store. These are long gone. There’s nowhere to meet or barter.
You can see the pattern of big lots with few roads:
Unless we can improve these issues, Ahualoa remains in danger of being a 100% car-dependent ‘bedroom community’ to other places – which is a very bad place to be when only the rich will drive cars.