Important Meeting December 1! And Other news

Hi everyone.

It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks for me, work, family, weather, this group, business, other stuff…. crazy time! I apologize for not updating the blog.

That said, its also been a busy time for this group! We have another meeting coming up, our only December meeting, on December 1st at 7PM. There will be no Film night in December. The meeting will mainly deal with nailing down our “founding document” (which you can see in the Constitution Group on this website).

You may have noticed one of the things that did change on this website was the name!

We are now officially called Alberni Valley Transition Town. As part of talking about the Constitution Document, we actually had our first small debate about the name and a vote last meeting to decide what to call ourselves… and that was the result!

So Congratulations to Us are in order. It’s certainly a milestone.

The name was in preparation for a delegation to Port Alberni City Council. They had invited us to present to them a report on how we’re doing. So I did that this past Monday night. It wasn’t broadcast on Shaw Cable unfortunately because Shaw Cable did not attend, but we were well received by Council and we got in a couple requests to Council, one to provide us a letter of support to bolster our application to the Transition Towns network, and another to get going on the recommendations made by the Port Alberni Climate Change Committee. Both of those requests were granted by Council.

We also applied for a grant-in-aid from the City to cover the costs of renting Echo Center in case we need it for larger events or gatherings in the New Year. The City will decide on that during the course of budget deliberations in the New Year.

I don’t have too much else to say right now.

Please keep an eye on the Groups and do join one if you are interested! Remember, joining a working group does not mean you get bombarded by emails or have to go to every film night.

The Working Groups are about Getting Positive Work Done in the Community to address Peak Oil and Climate Change!

So pick a topic, connect with other people there, and get to work!

……

Since most didn’t get to see or hear it. Below is what I told Port Alberni City Council on Monday, November 23, 2009. I thought it would be worthwhile to post it here… as a sort of benchmark to come back to…. and as a matter of public record.
Thank you Mayor and Council for inviting me, Colin, and the Alberni Valley Transition Town Initiative here. The last time I was here in front of you was back in July of 2008 when I addressed Peak Oil and mentioned the Transition Town movement as a way of mitigating both it and Climate Change. I am very happy to come back to you today and again thank you for inviting us as a delegation. I must first say that our group would not exist were it not for the Climate Change Committee and Public Forum that was so strongly supported by this Mayor and current and former Councillors and also for the encouragement and support of City Staff namely The City Engineer Guy Cicon and Economic Development Officer Pat Deakin.
For those who may not know, the Transition Town movement is based on the notion that the challenges of CLimate Change and Peak Oil are pressing and interrelated and we need to act now in order to really have a chance to address them successfully. Much can be done at a local level to help insulate a community from the negative effects of these huge societal problems. Using a holistic, collaborative and inclusive approach, we can manage change at a community level and network with other communities on the same path.

By all scientific accounts the effects of Climate Change seem to be accelerating and our collective fingerprint is pretty clear. As a weather hobbyist myself, I look at the storm last week which caused a state of emergency in both Courtney and Duncan, and think back to the storms of 2006 which caused a similar state of emergency here, and I wonder if we are not already seeing the effects our fossil fuel and carbon use has had on the planet.

As far as Oil goes, oil production outside of the OPEC bloc peaked 6 years ago. And the globe as a whole likely past peak in 2008. The International Energy Agency confirms this themselves though only in their numbers, and not in their statements. So any economic recovery will be limited by how much oil we can pump to support it.

There is a step-by-step that Transition Towns are meant to follow… we are still really only on step 1 or 2 of a dozen, we’re trying to take a measured approach and we’re making good progress. Just this morning I received confirmation from the government that we could apply to become known as the Alberni Valley Transition Town Society. So we will be doing that in due course.

The biggest focus since our first meeting in April has been to raise awareness in the community and create some initial working groups based on member interest. We now have 3 core working groups on Education, Food, and Energy issues. We’ve been quite successful in raising awareness as well as creating debate through the local media. Our last event that John Mayba and Bonnie Ruttan organized in support of the 350.org movement was incredibly successful.

We’ve developed a good core of membership. We’ve had numerous inquiries from local teachers in schools and at North Island COllege about what they can do in their classrooms. Students are asking to become involved in our group and we already have a number of teachers in our membership.

At the moment the most popular path for our members has been around revitalizing local Food production both in a backyard sense as well as a farming and distribution sense. Mike Lewis put together two excellent gatherings, one at his farm out in Beaver Creek, and the other at the Collins Farm at Arrowvale where our members learned about local farming and the issues around it in the Valley. We also hosted a couple well attended movies on the topic. We have a number of local farmers and gardeners that attend our meetings and I think we might see a new Co Operative or a new Community Supported Agriculture initiative happen. Look out for a gathering of consumers and local farmers for early in the new year to address how better to connect the two in our community.

We would like to expand not only the numbers of our members but also the experience.

Specifically we are looking toward local businesses to see what ideas they have that would help make Port Alberni less carbon and energy intensive and more resilient and connected.

Many Transition Towns have started up local currencies that have become very successful. Salts Spring Island has had it’s own dollar for a number of years and the Comox Valley apparently started one up as well just recently. Our challenge to the local business and financial community would be to see if they could pull something like that off here.

We will be continuing with film nights and our regular meetings through the winter months. Our next meeting is on December 1st. We have also applied for a Grant in Aid to cover the cost of rooms at Echo Center for larger events in the new year and we are hopeful for the mayor and councils support in that request. We’re connecting with the BC Sustainable Energy Association to help deliver programs to schools on energy conservation and in the spring there will be a backyard garden workshop for people who want to learn how to get the most out of their gardens.

By the new year we plan to submit our application to the Transition Towns worldwide network to put Port Alberni on the map as an official Transition Town. There are currently 6 cities in Canada including Victoria, Nelson, and Ottawa that are official Transition Towns and hundreds more around the world.

You can see all of this information, and ask questions or connect with us on our website at WWW.PATRANSITIONS.NET

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday December 1st at Abbeyfield seniors home at 6PM. Everyone is welcome to come and learn about what we’re doing, and come share their own ideas about how to Transition the Alberni Valley to a less carbon and energy intensive lifestyle.

We do have two requests for Mayor and Council that we hope you would consider:

#1: We request a letter of support so that we may submit it to the worldwide Transition Town network along with our application for official Transition Town Status.

#2: We request that Council redoubles its efforts to address the recommendations outlined in the Port Alberni Climate Change Committee report of July 2008.

Again, thank you for inviting us here.

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