In 2008, a handful of neighbors concerned about climate change started discussing how to address it. We started by shifting our own attitudes and habits, and it soon became a group venture—to help mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects. Three goals emerged:
to reduce our carbon footprint, as individuals and as a neighborhood
to prepare for severe weather and possible economic instability
to build our community's resilience—and have fun while doing it.
We learned about the worldwide Transition movement: the cities, towns, and neighborhoods transitioning from a fossil-fueled way of life to more sustainable practices. We discussed books such as Pat Murphy's Plan C and Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook. (See "Resources" for more.) Then we took the next step.
Reaching out, taking action
Naming ourselves the Energy Resilience Group, we formed in 2009 as a subcommittee of the St. Anthony Park Community Council's Environment Committee, aiming to deepen local awareness of climate change. Over the next few years, we reached out, hosting speakers and a "Green on the Screen" film series. We wrote commentaries for the Park Bugle— now a monthly column. We launched a newsletter and made a splash at SAP's Arts Festivals and Fourth in the Park parades.
scrapbook, made by
Regula Russelle, who
also created our
At two 2013 community meetings, neighbors gathered around topics of interest, including sustainable food and land, transportation,
home energy curtailment, housing options, local school partnerships, community solar power, zero waste, and a Reflective Circle for inner resilience. These remain our areas of action, now with the addition of emergency preparedness, a Transition Your Money group to develop a more local, resilient economy, and a Going Home Green group sharing resources on end-of-life choices.
We were also named to the District 12 Neighborhood Honor Roll, and two years later (2016) we won a Sustainable St. Paul Award. In between, we launched a visioning process (see "2040 Plan") but then we changed course. Since St. Paul's community councils were drafting their own ten-year plans, we decided to focus on influencing that practical process. And in SAP's final draft in 2018, the top two areas of focus were equity and climate change.
All along, we've stayed abreast of other movements for environmental, social, and racial justice: 350.org, oil pipeline resistance, Citizens Climate Lobby, and Black Lives Matter, to name just a few. But while many of us take political and social actions individually, the group focuses mostly on building the world we want locally, with some overlap with other Transition Twin Cities groups.
At Lake Como we hosted 20 sustainability groups for an afternoon in July
Raising the banner at a community meeting, Jan. 2013
Slide show: Our history in pictures
Special events, in many formats
For the all-night Twin Cities Northern Spark festival in June 2017, we created an interactive "Grove of Life" art installation in downtown St. Paul.
That July we helped Transition US host their first-ever national gathering, held at Macalester College and drawing over 200 people. For us it led, among other things, to the Transition Your Money group we started that fall, looking for ways to invest in values like local sustainability. A spinoff investment club called Local Dough formed in 2018.
We've hosted a variety of other events, including expert presentations on topics ranging from emergency preparedness to earth-friendly end-of-life options. We've held a resource fair, community potlucks, biannual poetry readings, a cider pressing event, and a celebration of clotheslines, aka solar clothes dryers. We march in SAP's July 4 parade with a sustainability theme each year, and we host interactive activities at our SAP Art Fair booth. We've advocated for accessory dwelling units, involving local architects in a hypothetical design process. We collaborate with groups like Hampden Park Co-op and the St. Paul Tool Library as well as the SAP Community Council. Can we partner with your group? Let us know: info@TransitionASAP.org.