Creating social change,  Transition movement

Growing Strong in Los Angeles

photo (2)DATELINE SEPT 2020:  The last of my blackeyed peas are planted, the summer’s harvest of tomatoes is drying in the solar cooker, and I’ve gathered in the seeds of chard and cilantro.  Time to take a break from late summer’s heat, to take a little walk down memory lane.

I remember back in 2013, when mine was one of the few houses on the street with front yard food, and the only house in the neighborhood with backyard chickens.  Today it’s the rare house that still has a lawn, and a few progressives are now starting to remove those sacred backyard fences.  The triumphant call of laying hens is commonplace.  Figs and pomegranates are dripping from the trees we planted five years ago along many streets of the city.

(Photo at top:  a Transition Los Angeles city hub meeting, 2020)

Back in 2013, we were in the thick of it, going to farmers markets and events to educate people and get signatures on petitions because the first of the country’s GMO bans had not yet been passed.  Today that seems incredible, since today most states and counties have some form of legal protection in place for clean food and heirloom seeds.

water tanks

Back in 2013, some people thought Andy Lipkis was impractical with his talk of rethinking L.A.’s attitude about water.  A mere 7 years later, there are now plenty of cisterns being installed, and rainwater policy has been completely transformed.  It’s almost laughable now to think back on those days when most greywater installations were considered illegal.

(Photo to right: The 5,000 gallon watertanks that are now commonplace throughout the City)

Back in 2013 we had to explain concepts like time banking, the sharing economy, and the benefits of localization.  The government was still focused on “creating jobs” and training people for the mythology of corporate “recovery.”  But social change has been so very rapid.  Today there are time banks active in most of L.A.’s 270 neighborhoods, and it seems like just about everyone has some kind of local business — from fruit tree pruning to bicycle repair to acupressure healing.  Most of these businesses flourish within what used to be dismissed as the “alternative” economy, yet today that fresh, new economy is an alive and vital force.


(Photo to left: the 10 freeway at rush hour today – so very different from back in 2013!)

I remember how in 2013 there was much uproar over the first green-painted bike lanes in Downtown LA — the film industry complained it was the wrong shade of green for their cameras.  Today there are wide dedicated lanes that have been turned over to bicycle traffic on most major streets throughout the city — so many that they no longer bother with the green paint.  Even Sepulveda Blvd., once hotly contested as it crossed political jurisdictions, now has major bike lanes, even where it crosses beneath freeway and airport.

And that airport!  Everyone has quit fighting about expanding LAX airport — people finally realized that passenger volume was never going to “recover” and that there was indeed no way to run an air transport industry after the end of cheap oil.  These days L.A. City Council spends long hours debating over possible uses for the vast acres which had once been reserved for airport-related facilities.  (Our citizens group is pushing for urban farms!)

Back in 2013, our local group brought Rob Hopkins to town.  His visit was a very big deal and we used the opportunity to introduce the Transition concept to just about every local mover-and-shaker we could, and all the media outlets too.  We had this audacious idea that L.A. media could change the face of the world.  Boy, were we surprised when IT DID.  The Transition concept has spread like wildfire!

Today there are nearly 100 active Transition-style groups in neighborhoods around Los Angeles.  We have a city hub office that mentors new groups and facilitates sharing of resources.  It seems hard to imagine now, but back in 2013 there were just 18 groups in all of Southern California!  (and in 2008, only one!)

But enough reminiscing.  I’ve got to make my dish for tonight’s potluck over at the Emerson Avenue Community Garden.  We’re begining to plan our 10-year anniversary celebration party — still growing strong!

This article was written for a newspaper “from the year 2020″ that Transition US is assembling.  All part of the fun as Rob Hopkins tours the U.S.  

Where are those photos really?  The top one is when Vandana Shiva spoke in Watts in September 2013.  The 5,000 gallon water tanks really do exist outside Metabolic Studios, just north of downtown L.A.  The freeway pic … my son was lucky enough to be one of the first 5 cars on the 10 freeway when they reopened it after the Mullholland bridge closure!  Ah, we dream it will be so!