How Can A Big City Become a Village?

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Left to right: Rand Chatterjee, Ann Pacey, Ross Moster

How do you empower an entire metropolis to transition towards a post-fossil fuel era, towards more localized living? I think that’s a pretty tall order (read: daunting task), but the folks in Vancouver, BC are undertaking the task with impressive results.

Village Vancouver Transition Society Founder Ross Moster and board members Ann Pacey and Rand Chatterjee joined me in a spirited conversation. Their approach is to see each Neighborhood as a Village. So the metropolis of Vancouver is a network of neighborhood-sized villages. Each neighborhood has a distinctive character, like a village. A neighborhood is a workable size for meeting people and doing things together.

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Village Vancouver has sponsored, collaborated and participated in an astonishingly wide range of activities happening since starting in 2008. Here’s a sampler:

Festivals and street fairs, including one in which you imagine your ideal neighborhood

“Spaghetti” Nights and Neighbour Savour and other ways of sharing food and community

Collaborations with government and civic groups like the Vancouver Food Policy Council and the Parks Board

Permaculture blitzes, plus Collaborative and Community Gardens

Interest groups like Chicken Coop Co-ops, Beekeeping

A speaker series, a film festival, and arts collaboration

New Economy Summit and Right Livelihood Meetings

Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness project

A food action plan as energy becomes more costly and/or scarce

What are some of their keys to working so effectively? They work to meet people where they are, Ross noted. And they assume that the solutions are sitting there — they just need to find and implement them.

They rely heavily on people power: talking to your neighbors, networking, finding what matters to people. And they draw people in by imagining possibilities, having fun and celebrating. Perhaps these are keys for any scale of community-building. I like the inviting spirit of their bookmark: “Have a desire to create a happier, more livable future for the next generation…and to have fun while you’re at it?” 

As one of the largest and most active groups in the worldwide Transition Network, they’re a model for other metropolitan areas. They’re building community at a scale people can relate to — their own neighborhood, where they can meet nearby villagers face-to-face. [VillageVancouver.ca]

Watch video Village Vancouver – How Can A Big City Become a Village? (episode 302).

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