Transition Ethics and Local By-Laws

The Transition Movement includes participants from many different faith traditions as well as agnostics and atheists–as well as a diversity of political outlooks. The goal here is to be as inclusive as possible, while also seeking some essential ethical common ground.

There is also a real urgency to this challenge. The Transition movement has learned it is not wise to try to be all things to all people. In Europe, for example, some neo-nazis have become attracted to some features of the peak oil/relocalization movement and tried to both set up and dominate local Transition Town initiatives. They have tried to used their “Transition” platform to highlight scarcity, fear, “life boat ethics,” the need for weapons training, and a vicious anti-immigrant politics.

Because of this unexpected challenge, both the Transition Network and Transition US have become much more explicit about their ethical foundations and are also encouraging all local Transition initiatives to explicitly state in their local constitutions or by-laws that their Transition initiative fully embraces 1) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2) the Earth Charter, and 3) the basic permaculture principles of:

Earthcare: recognizing that the Earth is the source of all life, that the Earth is our only home and that we are a part of the Earth’s web of life, not separate from it.

Peoplecare: supporting and helping each other to live in a way that is not harmful to ourselves or the planet, and to promote just and healthy societies.

Fairshare: ensuring that the Earth’s limited resources are utilized in ways that are equitable and wise for both the present and future wellbeing of the human family and the entire biosphere.

Transition US even has a nice resource page with downloadable constitutions from local initiatives that they think are exemplary. Personally, I’m happy that the constitution that I helped draft for the Transition Keene Task Force is included. I’ve heard from both Transition Putney and Transition Brattleboro that they have modeled their local constitutions after Keene’s. Anyone else is welcome to do that as well! 😉


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