Ophelia and Gabby

Submitted by Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler on Monday, 2/27/2012, at 8:20 AM

This is your space, use it in whatever ways  feel useful to you and your project.

Final Thoughts on Transition Amherst:

Submitted by Ophelia Hu Kinney on Monday, 5/7/2012, at 12:29 PM

Completed Project Reflections

Many of our tasks at Transition Amherst revolved around outreach and marketing to a younger demographic.  We feel like this was best realized as a result of our creation of the Transition Amherst Facebook page.  As the internet has become a major mode of communication – especially among younger people – we wanted to make sure that Transition Amherst is well connected online.  The Facebook page we created not only presents an efficient way for the group to market itself and demonstrate its past events, but also provides us with an idea about what people on Facebook are actively interested in the Transition initiative.  We’ve provided an extensive history and “timeline” of Amherst’s past and upcoming events, major decisions, etc.  We’ve also worked to improve the home website of Transition Amherst by making it more accessible, rewriting the text, and using it to actively promote the various events Transition Amherst organizes. In addition to website work, we have networked with various campus and off-campus groups, businesses, etc., took part in steering committee meetings and contributed to decision-making, helped to organize various events, and performed other miscellaneous tasks.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TransitionAmherst

Website: http://www.transitionamherst.org/blog/

The meetings have generally been very methodical group discussions led by a facilitator intended to address the current state of the group and organize future events.  When we first joined Transition Amherst the main focus of the meetings was intended to be planning for the Great Unleashing. However, as more discussion followed it was decided that the Great Unleashing would be moved, and as a result it felt for a time like the steering group was really unsure as to what they wanted to do next.  As of late the meetings have been more productive. Although we do feel that the group tends to get wrapped up in discussion, there is a lot of organization and careful allotting of time in these meetings so that there can be as much addressed as possible. The meetings have generally been a time during which we could discuss matters that the subcommittees had taken on throughout the week or new items that had arisen. They are strictly regimented, and minutes are monitored with expert precision, since the group could otherwise become sidetracked or bogged down on any of the countless contentious matters.

Minutes for different meetings. Some of these minutes we have catologued, ourselves: http://www.transitionamherst.org/blog/blogs/

           As stated earlier, the core of our mission with Transition Amherst has been to do outreach. In addition to social media networking we have also made an effort to connect directly with other residents of the Five-College area.  We currently have (and are working to augment) a list of local media, networks, businesses, and college/university contacts in the hopes that a broad range of contacts will help spread both the name and the mission of Transition Amherst.  We have also been working for some time to reserve an on-campus location for the group to host its film screenings and skill-building workshops.  Though this has been something of an arduous task involving partnering Transition Amherst with campus groups, we believe that an on-campus venue combined with some good advertisement will definitely increase student interest in the Transition initiative.

As Prof. Mead had said in class, a successful organization balances results, process, and relationships. Transition Amherst is very invested in cultivating caring and deliberate friendships and in perfecting process, but has yet to balances these strengths with greater emphasis on results. The last couple of meetings heavily stressed problems with process, since some of the members had developed grudges and had long lists of grievances that they had not previously aired. Because process is very important to the organization, some of the result-oriented matters were put aside in order to address and attempt to resolve process kinks. Perhaps some of the recreating of society, which is at the core of Transition’s mission, requires the careful consideration of process and relationships. After all, it espouses a radically different society based on localized economy, the centrality of relationships, and interdependence. According to Transition’s model, an organization that does not consider the wellbeing of its minorities cannot effectively serve its constituents. Thus, while results are slow, Transition seems to believe that hasty results are worse than no results at all. We have realized recently that the group’s stagnation, and thus our own, are due in large part to the group’s priorities, which are not entirely a liability.

One of Transition’s biggest current obstacles is its inability to attract young people. A few students from the other colleges have shown up to meetings sporadically, but the format of the meetings just doesn’t seem to attract students sustainably. The group has no ability to pay interns, and unless young people are deeply invested in Transition's mission, they will find the pace of Transition a difficult transition from the bustle of college-paced life.

Despite the group’s imperfections (and imperfections are endemic to every group), our time at Transition has been very valuable. It helped us to see the great and not-so-great aspects of community building, and through our time we encountered various realistic situations that a group like this must undergo. Because both of us are interested in the environmental studies and consider ourselves environmentalists, we were able to learn a lot from a local environmental group taking the reins from an international movement. We also have felt like we were able to contribute a little to the group’s progress. Through our internship, we have also made friends with remarkable, loving, passionate, and very capable people and have learned a lot through our interactions with them. We are very thankful for the opportunities we’ve had through Transition to be learners and participants in Transition’s work. While we see some areas in which Transition can improve in order to more effectively build their community, we are certainly still not experts, and we saw ourselves as coworkers in the Transition community. Our time at Transition has been a rich and challenging exchange.

Member Bio's:

Submitted by Ophelia Hu Kinney on Tuesday, 3/13/2012, at 7:53 PM


Molly Falsetti-Yu
Molly has lived in Amherst, MA and the suburbs of Amherst and Pelham for over 18 years. In Amherst she became aware of and interested in questions of sustainable transportation and currently views this as a critical issue social/environmental justice. She has a love/hate relationship with her car and takes the bus as much as possible within the Pioneer Valley. She also likes learning about local resilience in all capacities.
Molly teaches Spanish language and cultural production in Spanish at Smith College. Her seven-year-old son Alex keeps her on her toes.
18 years
Rick Martin
"Dr. Rick" is a practicing psychotherapist and conflict-resolution specialist involved with co-housing groups. and he travels to Israel/Palestine for a month each spring to do peacebuilding. He is also involved with international mediation, presently in Nigeria.  He loves gardening and maintains a greenhouse.  He served 20 years in the ministry of the Episcopal Church and another 22 years as a psychotherapist, having earned a Doctor of Ministry in Psychology, 1988.  He plays the guitar and leads the singing of peace-and-transition songs at meetings.  Dr. Rick believes in an economy based on the joy of giving, and in continuous transition toward a better world.
11 years
Mona Naimark
For over twenty years Mona lived part-time in a remote Guatemalan village using solar for electricity.  In 2004 Hurricane Stan cut the town off entirely 
from the outside world of food, water, power, cell phones, and air/road/water transport. Returning to Amherst, Mona gained a heightened awareness of 
climate change issues. In response, she is growing a larger vegetable garden, planting fruit trees, and canning with neighbors.  Her experience living in both rural Guatemala and "developed" Amherst has taught her the value of building community 
and living sustainably.
11 years
Jon Kent
Jon would like to contribute to people's capacity to hear, understand, accept and collaborate with one another. In pursuit of that goal he has received extensive training and practice in nonviolent communication. He has also been trained in group self-governance through the Sociocracy method. He took a Permaculture Design Certification program that concluded in April 2011. Jon's training complements his experience practicing law for 25 years and his M.A. in Conflict Resolution. Jon is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Transition network. 
17 years
Gabor Lukacs
Gabor began life in Hungary, where money was just a token and human connections mattered much more than money. Arriving here, he went through culture shock, but now feels lucky to see different ways of living, as they help him to see society in a different light. Gabor loves his life, working as a programmer, getting around only by bike, and thus living locally. He is well-established in his community and knows his neighbors well because of a 15 year-strong tradition of monthly neighborhood brunches.
He is also active in spiritual development with the belief that emotional preparation is one of the most important aspects of taking the coming changes with grace, and he is interested in men's inner work, climbing trees, growing bamboo, building bicycles and bamboo trailers, and gardening. He feels lucky to live a life that provides possibilities for self development, and in a house surrounded by trees, bamboo, and a big garden that he shares with neighbors.
19 years
Betsy Krogh
Betsy Krogh feels deeply rooted in her home, her neighborhood, and her community. She began organic vegetable gardening in her early 20's as part of her interest in the Back-to-the-Land movement. A stay-at-home mother of two grown sons, Betsy served on the Amherst Solid Waste Committee; led classes and study groups on simple living and sustainable living; participated in a bio-regional group; and practiced re-evaluation counseling. Betsy has been a leader of the First Congregational Church UCC's Earth Ministry Team for 20 years, moving her congregation toward going green and lowering its carbon footprint. Betsy and her husband have taken many steps to make their home more energy efficient including adding insulation and solar hot-water panels, and they grow and preserve food from their garden and edible perennial plantings. Betsy is studying home herbalism.
27 years
Carol Lewis
Carol Lewis has been a carpenter, nonprofit administrator, member of the collective staff of a Food Coop and of a paper recycling business, and a teacher of college freshman-level English. She has also participated in an 
prison Alternatives to Violence program, a housing cooperative, and Common Good Finance - an organization working to create a depositor-controlled banking system. Carol is a trained mediator.
15 years
Bernard Brennan
Bernard J. Brennan V, PhD, is an evolutionary biologist turned community farmer. He owns and manages Amethyst Farm in Amherst, MA, where he increasingly farms with draft horses. He serves as a board chair of Green America (formerly Co-op America), was a founding member of Transition Greater New Haven, and is active in the local currency, slow money, permaculture, organic, and local food movements. He was honored by the Governors Steering Committee on Climate Change as a "Climate Hero" with the 2010 CT Climate Change Leadership Award. Bernard's move to Amherst two years ago was motivated largely by the Transition movement. 
1 year

About Us:

Submitted by Ophelia Hu Kinney on Tuesday, 3/13/2012, at 7:31 PM

We are a group of folks from around Amherst, MA, who work together to build strong community and have fun. We believe that our lives will be strongly affected by changing global and local economic, environmental and energy circumstances. We believe that we can work to prepare for these changes!

We support each other and our town, and network with surrounding communities by applying what we’ve learned from Transition and other social movements.

Our group has:
~ offered a film series
~ hosted book discussion groups
~ participated in numerous community events
~ offered workshops on canning and preserving food
~ presented a workshop on building a solar oven
~ and another one on winter bicycling
~ participated in local sustainability festivals
~ helped people to prepare emotionally and physically for changing times
… and much more!

Instead of idly despairing, we actively grow and expand our community, and we are not alone! There are +100 Transition towns, cities and regions in the US. (Amherst is the 102nd!)

Amherst Transition Town Initiating Group meets on alternate Thursdays from 7 – 9pm, preceded by a book discussion and potluck dinner at 6:15. We meet at the home of Bernard and Patty Brennan: Amethyst Farm on Northeast Street. Before coming, please confirm meeting time and date by e-mailing the Amherst Initiating Group.

Please browse our website to see how you can be a part of Transition Amherst. There are endless opportunities for you to offer your insights and skills. Come along and be empowered to build community with us!