May 182010

The Transition Town Movement, started by a young guy named Rob Hopkins, has spread around the world even to Whatcom County. Transition Movements are in different phases of development but the goal of each is to develop a community Energy Descent Plan, a plan that will describe how the community will function to cope with changes brought about by climate change, Peak Everything or economic disruption. Key to every plan is the concept of “Resilience.”

Totnes, England is one of the first to develop a complete Energy Descent Plan. They define “resilience” as: “… the ability of a system, whether an individual, an economy, a town or a city, to withstand shock from the outside…Resilience is about building the ability to adapt to shock, to flex and modify, rather than crumble. You can think of it as being like building surge protectors into an electrical system.”

Lummi Island recently experienced a “shock from the outside.” That was, of course, the specter of losing the Whatcom Chief. The natural reaction was/is to lobby to keep the ferry and maintain the status quo. But it’s very clear that there is no guarantee that the island will always have a car ferry, or even passenger service for that matter. The future is very uncertain. Tax revenues are down. Federal, state and local governments are in trouble. Politicians will be looking for ways to cut costs. Whatcom County voters are not excited about paying for public transportation as evidenced by the failure of the recent vote on buses.

So, the question is: how resilient are we? If the Chief goes away, will islanders fold their cards and move to the mainland? Or, will we figure out how to change our lives to cope with a different situation? Will we be forced into Energy Descent?

What would an Energy Descent Plan look like for the island? PLIC is an organization formed to protect the community. Perhaps PLIC will establish a subcommittee to consider a broad range of alternatives in the event resilience is required of us.


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