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7th Annual Earth Conference - Transition: Co-Creating Resilient Communities

Given the transformation of our society due to climate change, depleting resources, and an economic system based on the myth of endless growth, we are faced with the question, "How will we equip ourselves to address these coming changes?"  The Transition Movement, a global effort, offers unique solutions, seeing the challenges with which we are faced as the beginning of something new.  A culture of transition turns the quest for solutions into a search within. 

Rather than looking somewhere else for someone else to lead us, we seek the skills, strengths, and leadership present with ourselves and our local communities.  The Transistion Movement encourages communities to come together and recreate their future - a future based on localized food, renewable energy, and resilient local economies.

In this conference: We looked closer at the values of the Transition Movement and how our communities need us to come together to create a transition culture which focuses on inner transition, placing value on resilience and community.

Keynote Speaker - Patricia Benson

Patricia Benson is a public speaker, educator, and community organizer who believes change is realized by investing energy in building community relationships.  While working for a faith-based nonprofit as a community organizer, and searching for a process for addressing behavioral change at the community level, Patricia stumbled onto the Transition Movement and embraced its values.

Patricia has since served on the board of directors for Transition US and was deeply inbolved in the unleashing of Transition Northfield, the first Transition Town in Minnesota.  Presently, Patricia is a co-manager of the Minnesota Street Market, a food and art co-op in St. Joseph, MN.  With her children, she does extensive gardening and is studying for a Master's degree through Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education.

During a reflective time, conference participants were asked to answer the above question.

Transition Stories

Hometown BioEnergy of LeSueur County, Minnesota.  This is an innovative renewable energy initiative.  THe multi-town venture will use agricultural and food processing wastes to create electricity, nutrient rich fertilizer and undigested biomass, a solid fuel source sold as an alternative to replace coal.  Kelsey Dillon is Vice President of Avant Energy, Inc. of Minneapolis, which procides technical assistance to Hometown BioEnergy.  She will speak to us about this exciting new cooperative venture of eleven rural Minnesota communities, the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA), which will help meet Minnesota's 25% renewable energy requirement by 2025

Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry (CESRM).  As Co-Director of CESRM, Lisa Coons, M.S., has begun some of the work of Transition in her home community of Mankato.  With a dedicated focus on food production onsite, connecting with small sustainable farmers and teaching food skills to others, the Center has grown into a hub of activity, information, and resources.  Lisa will share how this connects to the work of Transition and creating more resilient communities.

Open Space Facilitated Conservation

In the afternoon, conference participants engaged in an Open Space session.  Open Space is a philosophy, practice, and process that enables groups of any size to come together around complex, important issues and accomplish something meaningful.  With an interactive format, we created an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations around issues that were important to us.  We began to create with intention our shared futures. 

This was an afternoon that empowered participants to discover potentials and co-created solutions that helped us all move forward, towards a future of possibility.

The session was facilitated by Katie Boone.  Katie has completed training with the Bush Foundation's InCommons Art of Hosting and Convening Conversations that Matter.  In her experiences with Art of Hosting and Open Space, she has witnessed conversations shift communities forward in ways that collectively empower new systems to emergy and achieve more for the common good.

All table conversations were documented and then typed up into an information harvest and shared with conference participants.  You can read the conversation harvest by clicking here.  (Original document contained contact information for people volunteering to head certain conversations/projects following the conference, that information has been removed for privacy reasons.)

Conference Themed Bookmarks

Each participant received a bookmark with one of 5 inspirational quotes on the back.