Transition Guelph Resilience Festival Reflection

Transition movement. Community resilience festival.

I hope these words, for all of our sakes, appear more in your social circles, online or off. Why? I'll give you a brief summation.

The logo I designed for Transition Guelph

The Transition movement is really an umbrella philosophy towards many of our current societal problems, namely: food, energy, and the environment.  There are layers to this system such as social equality, true economic stability, and holistic approaches to problems, but these mostly stem from those previous three things, and are all very interrelated with one another. 

I mention food first, because it holds a significant sum of the solution.   It also should be the easiest, and quickest to enact because there is little solid debate to the arguments against it.  It’s also an easy appeal, at least to those who enjoy eating. The problems in our food system could be solved overnight if we decided it was more relevant than, oh, let’s just pick military spending.  However, I'm not diving into the heat of the political arena. 

Also, if you post political or economic-minded comments, I’m probably not going to respond!  I admit I’m not very well versed in these areas, and honestly I don’t really care to be at this point in our human ‘progress’. If endless debate could solve world hunger, I’m for it.  So far, I'm not convinced.  Instead, I’ll trade your debate for some seeds and community growing space.

The initial idea in the title of ‘Transition’ is for our culture to transition away from a society that is built around the consumption of non-renewable resources, such as burning fossil fuels through our overdependence on oil. 

I've been getting my feet wet in this organization for exactly one year now, and what a great ride it’s been.  There are some pretty heavy ideas of de-growth and decolonization, which many have referred to being borderline anarchist or even communist, but as I mentioned, I could care less about titles; I’m discussing the very clear advantages to many of the mindsets perpetuated by this movement.

It is also puts a heavy emphasis on local resilience, that is, less dependency on outside inputs that are shipped from elsewhere (that require oil to get here).  Many interpret this in their own ways, and everyone’s entrance into the movement stems from different roots.  Mine was food, nutrition, and why the creative arts seem to fundamentally clash with a system that doesn’t value space, time, and exploration (which I believe are the fundamental pillars of successful, fulfilling art and culture developing). 

As someone who’s studied the arts, it has become increasingly evident that the endless uphill struggles of expressing our personal views and stories with others, seems to be a part of our system.  When many hear this sentiment, they often declare ‘entitlement’. This view has always fascinated me, and I feel it begins from a misunderstanding of the value of the arts and their greater role in the world, as proven by countless centuries before us.  In these cases, I’ll gently recommend further study of history and more specifically the role of stories and myth in our past, to shape the sociological implications of a culture.

Without any more discussion on this, the solutions to the world's problems are already here, if you look deep enough.  I'm going to provide a look into Transition Guelph's Resilience Festival and break down some of the mindsets we should adopt, each demonstrated by various community initiatives that are occurring now, but are often suffering due to lack of funds, as has always been the case.

First up, Minga Skill Building.

Minga Skill Building workshops focus on teaching citizens of the city many of the 'old world skills' that have, by and large, been forgotten by generations of people relying on many others to figure things out for us.

Underlying principles: To be more self-sufficient and capable human beings, which provides us with a richer sense of place and understanding of the world around us.

Next up, the Yorklands Green Hub.

The York Lands Green Hub proposes an idea to turn currently unused penitentiary buildings and property into a large scale sustainable learning facility and artist residency.  I've heard some claim the improbability of this happening. Be warned friends, this is the call of doubt that's plagued innovation in our world forever. Dream big or stay awake and educate yourself until you can fathom something larger.  

The Green Hub is still fairly early on in developing momentum, but I have high hopes for the initiative. Marginalized people and students of all grades could come learn about water safety, food growing and cooking, soil health, proper maintenance of land resources, among countless other things.  I've also proposed the idea of an artist residency which I think we could use more of, and could put the building to great use.

Underlying principles: To reconnect and empower our youth and marginalized citizens to learn about growing their own food, which is critical in our current time of rapidly decreasing food standards and soil quality.  The benefits of this project, if it were successful are limitless.  Reconnecting people to the land, educating people in permaculture principles (closed loop systems with zero waste), allowing artists a space to explore their craft, and even sustainable home building, which is also in discussion.

Next up, seed sharing.

Okay, so this one's not an organization but just an event at the Resilience Festival.  The idea is pretty self evident, but it's to allow a space for those in the community to share seeds to grow their own food.  At this point in time you're probably seeing a trend here - empowering people to grow their own food is a fantastic thing.  Arguably one of the most rebellious things we can do against the state due to it's reliance on the 'industry' of food.

Underlying principles:  Let's work together.  Why do we each need to buy our own private set of everything? Does your neighbour have a snowblower?  Engage in conversation and ask to work out a system to borrow it.  Same with seeds and everything else!

Next up, free educational talks to public.

I'm not sure, but I think this talk was on growing your own food.  Great stuff.  We need more of this education daily.

Underlying principles: Not every piece of knowledge given out has to be commodified.  The more we share with each other, the more self-sustainable and resilient we'll be.

Next up, paid knowledge is important too!

It would be great if all knowledge could be free, but if you're looking for help from, 'Master Gardeners of Ontario', for example, expect there to be some monetary trade.  We're still working within the realms of the monetary system, and true sustainability is one that can continue to exist through staffing it's members.  

Underlying principles: Spend your money on useful things for the future, like learning to grow your own food.

Next up, Canadian Seed Security by the Bauta Family Initiative.

Learning about seed security is important especially considering Monsantos seemingly pure evil notion of putting a patent on seeds, to ensure you can only buy from their GMO seeds.  I'm not well versed on this one, so I'm not sure of current strides in this issue.

Underlying principles: We need to be very aware of what is happening in our world, especially in the departments of food and water.  I'd say these things are, you know, pretty crucial.

Next up, locally made chocolate!

Let's support our local businesses who want to share their passions instead of buying from larger corporations.  This can obviously be expensive.  If local businesses were encouraged and supported more by our government, we could lower the cost of local goods, and provide them to those coming from lower income brackets.

Underlying principle: By supporting local, we're strengthening our economy, and depending less on imported goods.  The less fossil fuels burned the better.  Also, fair trade!  Why wouldn't we want fairness.

Next up, Treemobile!

Treemobile is great.  This organization allows you to buy from a large number of different fruit, nut, or berry growing trees and they bring them to your property and plant them for you (I believe).  Where is the negative?  Nowhere.

Underlying Principles: Empower those who have the skills to help those who don't.  Let's collaborate, and work together to ensure there is adequate amounts of food for all.

Next up, Guelph Wellington Time Bank.

The Time Bank is an interesting system which helps to facilitate an even distribution of skills and talents. When you help someone fix their bike for two hours, you get those two hours in your time bank to spend however you wish.  You could have someone weed your garden for an hour, and have someone mow your lawn for an hour.  This works on a scale where those skills being provided roughly equal the skills being bought obviously, but still allows for plenty of community building and 'outsourcing' of errands, which allow us to focus on the tasks we're best spent focusing on!

Underlying principles: Money shouldn't be the only commodity to trade with one another in a community. Let's think creatively about alternatives ways to approach our economy, especially on a local scale.

Next up, wild food foraging.

I spoke to Luke for probably an hour about wild food foraging, which, as a microbiologist, he is fascinated by.  This man's passion in his work is evident, and infectious to anyone who enjoys hearing of the micro, inner-workings of our natural world.  Spoiler: There are tons of ways to maintain proper environmental protection right under our feet.  If you'd like to go on a nature walk and learn about the natural world in your area, contact Luke, he'll have no shortage of topics to discuss.

Underlying Principles: We should be far, far more curious of our natural world if we hope to repair and even improve our environment.  Also, why buy all of our medicine when we're surrounded by it?

Next up, chickens.  Just chickens.

Having your own chickens!  Need I say more?

Underlying Principles: Chickens! More importantly, they provide a natural fertilizer and eggs, which is great. More people should have chickens in our cities.

Next up, Appleseed Collective.

Appleseed Collective is a great initiative that harvests the fruit from trees all around the city and, I believe, gives them to places that need them, such as food banks.  Great initiative that utilizes the great food that is very closeby.

Underlying Principle: Be more efficient with our landscape, and minimize waste.  Why buy apples from a story when you can get them from a tree in your own city!  Great intentions here.

Next up, children dancing.

This speaks for itself.

Well this is most of my pictures from Transition Guelph's Resilience Festival, there were many more events happening that I wasn't able to catch.

If you can't see the value I've pointed out through each of these groups with great intentions, than I seriously recommend you wake up to the problems of the world around us and push past old appeals and systems which no longer serve us as a human race.  

At Transition Guelph we're not so patiently waiting for our governing institutions to begin facilitating these kinds of efforts.  On many of the issues of local sustainability and resilience I wish they would gently step aside and allow us to begin changing the world, because they're currently taking too long to make decisions about where to drill.  

And if you're still not convinced, here's a baby goat.


  1. great, imformative post....and love the baby goat!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Unknown! Maybe I will meet you one day? Only you will know.

  3. I'm jealous you got to hold the baby goat!! I wanted to but didn't get a lot of chances (pro/con)... Thanks for mentioning me and my little foraging booth. Me thinks we could talk longer, but sorry for talking so much, aha!

    1. Definitely Luke. Look forward to having you come teach us some foraging in Guelph at some point. Cheers!

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