May 08, 2013

Transition Erin marks launch with lunch

As published in The Erin Advocate

Transition Erin had its unleashing on Saturday May 4, with a free lunch, a tree planting and a call for a new way of thinking that could help sustain our economy without destroying the environment.

"This is the opposite of sitting in our armchairs and complaining," said facilitator Andrew Welch. "We are actually very positive about the future. We're about meeting neighbours and doing fun things. Whatever change you want to see happen – get involved."

The group has been active for the past year, but is celebrating its recent recognition as an official Transition Town group, one of more than 1,000 in 43 countries. Its goal is to foster resilience, increase sustainability and enhance the quality of life for people in Erin.

The movement supports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. In Erin that has included the Fast Forward film festival and has expanded to a series of working groups dealing with issues of sustainable development, wastewater solutions, local food and the revival of skills that can help people become more self-sufficient.

Mike Nickerson
Welch introduced speaker Mike Nickerson, the author of three books on economic sustainability, the most recent being Life, Money and Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay.

"The human species has filled its habitat – we're stretching the limits of our planet," he said. "Is it proper, now that our biggest problems result from our size, to have growth as a goal?"

The world population has topped 7 billion, but Nickerson says it cannot continue to expand at the rates experienced in recent decades. He said the current system requires economic growth of about 3% per year, meaning a doubling of human activity within 24 years. He says a basic transformation is inevitable and that we need to plan for a steady state economy.

"Will it be a story of denial and disaster, or will it be a story of creativity and celebration? Do we want to grow until we drop? We're living on a finite planet.

"We're facing a very serious matrix of problems, and the single most potent thing you can do to help get us through this difficult time is to enjoy yourself. If you can get satisfaction from being, from relating with other people, from learning, from serving, from sport, music, dance, from appreciating the world – we can actually find satisfaction in life.

"The advertising industry world-wide spends about $450 billion every year trying to convince you that you need things, to be happy. And the reason it costs them so much, is that it's not true. We don't need things to be happy. We need each other and we need something to do.

"The solution is to live as lightly as possible on the planet, and get our pleasure from living. It's so serious, we're going to have to relax."

He says that ensure our long-term well-being, human activities should use materials in continuous cycles, with continuously reliable sources of energy. He spoke of the "voluntary simplicity" movement, in which people choose to work less and enjoy life more.

"Somebody who is caught up with a lot of debts and is working really hard to get enough money to stay above water may see somebody else who works three hours a day or three days a week, and is getting to do things that they enjoy with their life, and all they have to do is not want things," he said.

"Most of the money I've made, I've made by not wanting things, and there's so much out there to not want, I'm extremely wealthy."

More on Nickerson's ideas can be found at The Transition Erin website is and more can be learned at

Councillors Deb Callaghan and John Brennan help Joel Klassen
plant a cherry tree near the entrance to Erin District High
School, celebrating the official launch of Transition Erin.