This post by summer intern Kayla Baker:

From the global realization of the challenges of climate change and peak extraction of oil, the Transition Initiative movement developed in 2005. The Transition  Initiative movement addressed how cities could, in the face of shortages due to climate change and overconsumption of oil, become more sustainable through more creative means of energy production, education, health care, and agriculture. Since its creation, the Transition Initiative has channeled efforts into establishing community groups that take in hand local issues (reliance on long-distance food transport, increasing waste from businesses, etc.) through programs and projects. Butting heads with tradition and bringing innovative developments to cities is an immense battle, but as of May 2010, the Transition Initiative has given rise to over 300 successful community groups (known as Transition Towns) all over the globe.

Locally, the Sandpoint Transition Initiative (STI) group has successfully spearheaded several sustainable projects. A few months after the group’s foundation in February of 2008, Sandpoint became the second town in the United States to be officially designated as a Transition Town. One of its most notably fruitful missions was Sandpoint’s Community Garden, started in 2009 by a group of 70 individuals. It began with 36 garden plots and a sizeable patch devoted to produce for the Food Bank, Senior Centers, and any members of the community in need of help. In a year, the garden nearly doubled its amount of plots.

Along with the Community Garden, STI’s green thumb was put to good use in a collaborative effort with a garden club from Northside Elementary School to develop vegetable gardens at the Kootenai Elementary School and Sandpoint Charter High School. Both schools’ gardens were well received among dozens of students, who participated in designing and planting the garden. The Northside garden club hopes that these projects will inspire more edible schoolyard gardens in the future.

The Transition Folk School, another of STI’s accomplishments, is Sandpoint’s take on a 19th-century movement established to provide an affordable, foundational education to the public. Sandpoint’s Transition Folk School focuses on certain tenants, including: the preservation of indigenous wisdom and skills, the encouragement of art appreciation, the promotion of lifelong learning, as well as the development of cultural appreciation. Transition Folk School offers classes on a variety of topics, including Wood Carving & Sculpture, Pest Management, Lawns to Landscapes, and more. The Folk School also encourages individuals to share their knowledge by submitting teaching applications and creating new classes.

This week, in KEA’s final Lunch and Learn program before breaking for the summer, Richard Kühnel from Gentle Harvest of Sandpoint will give a presentation on how to set up a local Transition Initiative group. Join us at the Iron Horse Restaurant on June 16 at noon to learn how to be a part of the local movement toward a more resourceful community. This is an excellent opportunity to receive an introduction to the Transitions US training program that will take place in Spokane next month.

Dig deeper into the Initiative at: http://www.transitionus.org and http://www.transitionnetwork.org.

The Sandpoint Transport Initiative’s website may be found at http://www.sandpointtransitioniniative.org.