Festival will showcase community’s Transition Town effort

If the words “smaller footprint” and “stronger community” sing to you, mark Saturday, April 20, on your calendar for the All St. Anthony Park Transition Festival.

That’s when Transition Town ASAP (an effort initiated by the District 12 Energy Resilience Group) will showcase an ambitious community venture that organizers hope will start moving the neighborhood toward less dependence on fossil fuel.

The festival will be held that Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Ave., and will feature local musicians and children’s crafts and activities, but most important, information on how to get involved.

The Energy Resilience Group, a subcommittee of the district’s Environment Committee, held community meetings in January and February to gauge interest in helping St. Anthony Park become a Transition Town, a movement started in 2005 by Rob Hopkins, a British instructor of ecological design. Its goal is to “build resiliency,” meaning find ways to make a community as self-sufficient as possible to help it withstand the economic and environmental difficulties that may come as oil prices increase and climate change intensifies.

The group’s February meeting culminated with the creation of seven groups with distinct goals that community members can join: Getting Started (community outreach), Sustainable Food Production, Zero Waste, Transportation, Home Energy Reduction, Densification (housing), Community Solar Power and Reflective Circle (finding a place where people can find emotional support while working on the issues).

Each of the groups will have booths set up at the All St. Anthony Park Transition Festival with information on how to become involved.

That’s the point of the festival, said Lauren Fulner-Erickson, District 12 community organizer. “At the end of the day, that is what organizers hope will happen: either join an existing group or start one.” There’s something for everyone in this, said Fulner-Erickson, and that’s what she likes about the Transition Town movement: it’s positive and accessible.

“It’s not just the save-the-polar-bears crowd; it’s not one issue.” It’s also about community, the local economy, health care, education, the aging population and more, she said.

“It brings people in who may or may not be that interested in climate change or peak oil, but community is their priority,” she said. “They want to connect with their neighbors and if it helps with climate change, well OK.”

What began as “a core group of people meeting in living rooms and just talking and reading books and watching movies” has moved into a highly energized effort, Fulner-Erickson said.

“It just seems like the Transition Town principles are deeply rooted in a lot of people’s lives in the neighborhood. It’s a community that is already connected to each other and that’s a big part of what Transition Town is all about. It’s impressive to me. It makes me excited to be a part of it as a staff person.”

The festival was timed to be close to Earth Day, Monday, April 22, and to piggyback on the annual Kasota Ponds Cleanup, which will take place the morning of April 20 from 9 to 11 am. If you are interested in helping clean up this valuable wetland, check in with the coordinator in the parking lot at 2536 Kasota Ave., west of Highway 280, for supplies and directions then meet up with your fellow neighborhood volunteers to clean up the ponds. Contact Matt Hass at greatwent80@hotmail.com with questions or to RSVP.

 

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