Kelly posted earlier in the week talking about the power of story-telling in the Transition movement. I am a horribly practical person who has difficulty imagining what things may look like in the future unless I can see the steps that are needed to get from here to there. My involvement with Transition Guelph has revealed to me a number of elements that I was unaware of, and that have now empowered me to envision a future I am more interested in living in than the one I feared was on its way. For me, the most impactful element has been connection with like-minded people. Being in touch with people who see similar story lines flowing through the world, and who want to live similar stories in the near or distant future has shown me some of the steps I needed to see, and has given me enough belief in our power to shape the future that I have been able to begin envisioning my story.
My story still feels modest and new to me, but it’s where I’ve been able to start. I believe that as I see parts of it falling into place, I will be able to dream bigger and add to it. It has been a very interesting exercise for me to write down my story, and I would encourage others who feel even some interest in it to spend some time writing theirs as well. I would love to read what you write – please post a comment if you have something you’d like to share.
Without further ado, here is a part of the story I want to live…..
I wake up in my Alice St. house in Guelph. It’s 7:00 am on a July morning and sun is flickering across my bed. I rub my eyes, absorbing for a moment the solar energy coming through my window, and then roll out of bed. My partner meets me in the kitchen and together we prepare our morning meal of toast, yogurt and berries. The toast is from home made bread, the flour for which was ground with the mill we bought with our neighbours. The yogurt was made by our neighbours – I give them a loaf of bread when it’s fresh from my oven and in return they share their yogurt. The cherries and raspberries grow in our backyard, from trees and bushes we got from the Treemobile a few years ago. The meal is sweetened with honey from down the street.
We sit in the sun on our porch, savoring the flavours of our locally-born breakfast as we talk about the day to come. Once our dishes are cleaned up we head out to the back of the house to garden. Over the next hour, our housemates join us in caring for the food that sustains us through the summer and that we preserve in fall to get us through at least part of the winter. We weed, we harvest, we turn the compost.
Mid-morning we head to a neighbour’s house – the one we trade bread for yogurt with. Their greenhouse needs a repair; one of the supports needs reinforcing and they’ve asked for a couple extra hands. As we work another neighbour comes by – she needs to run an errand and wonders if we would watch her kids for an hour while she’s out. She offers eggs from her backyard chickens in return. The little ones run around, enjoying the flowers, while us bigger ones finish the greenhouse repair and get some food ready – an omlette from the eggs and some backyard veggies. After a shared meal, my partner and I head home.
In the afternoon we welcome a new friend over. We have connected with her through the Guelph-Wellington Time Bank and she is here to do some maintenance on our bikes. When she’s done we share a glass of local iced herbal tea, grown and mixed by yet another neighbour who owns a small herb business. I bought it earlier using Guelph Dollars, our local currency, which I receive as part of my regular salary.
For dinner we head to a street-wide potluck. Many of our neighbours have gardens and have prepared dishes from their yards, and we light a fire in a fire pit to cook meat from our cow co-op. Wine made from grapes from a few streets over is poured. Discussion is lively. One group shares news of old neighbours, another welcomes new ones. Another pocket of people chat about about local energy companies – they’ve been looking at Transition initiatives in the UK which have started cooperatively owned solar companies in their communities. Others look attentively over a map that my partner recently put together of the easiest and safest bike routes through town – suggestions are offered and taken, a group trip to a second-hand store is planned. The neighbourhood message board is busy too – people put up offers of things they would like to share (a bike trailer, camping equipment, rides to a hardware store) and requests for things they need (a meal for a busy day next week, help choosing plants for a tricky garden patch, a knitting lesson).
As the light begins to fade, the solar-powered garden lights that the neighbourhood invested in together come on to guide people home. Conversation continues quietly even as the crowd disperses – the final details are settled for a work bee to set up a new garden and a meal train for a neighbour with a new baby. My housemates, partner and I head home as well, talking about the conversations and connections we shared over the course of the evening. We are happy, connected, well fed.