Transition Sao Paulo

The first project we filmed on this trip was the Houston Texas branch of the Transition Movement. The last project we filmed on this trip was the Granja Viana and Brasilandia branches of the Transition Movement in Sao Paulo.

It’s not a coincidence. We chose the first project because we had heard of the Transition Movement and were curious to learn more. The last projects we visited because after all we had seen over more than a year of travel we were convinced more than ever that the Transition Movement is the single greatest sign of hope for the future, and joining the movement is the single best thing any of us can do for the planet.

What is it about transition that is so cool? Well partially it’s the attitude. As Isabela Menezes of Transition Granja Viana says in the video, “It’s spreading with such speed primarily because it’s a positive movement. A movement which brings sadness and suffering isn’t sustainable.” It’s a simple idea, but it’s so powerful, so true. People are sick of hearing about how hopeless and awful the future is, they’re tired of being told that corporations control their lives – they know all that already. Even if they won’t admit it, even if knowing it hasn’t changed their lives, they know still deep down inside that it’s true. What they’re waiting for is for someone to tell them what to do about it, for someone to show them the way forward. And that is exactly what transition does. It takes seemingly insurmountable challenges like climate change and inexorably rising oil prices, and it gives you a 12 step process to build a community that is strong enough to deal with them, a community that is resilient and proactive and prepared, a community that is stronger than climate change or peak oil.

Each town follows the same steps, but reaches its own solutions in its own local style. No two transition towns look alike. Brasilandia is a poor urban community, where fighting social exclusion and injustice is just as important as the environmental struggle. Granja Viana is a wealthy suburb where people who can easily buy themselves whatever they want need to learn to restrain themselves for the sake of their children’s future.

In Brasilandia, food security means teaching people how to cook with fruits and vegetables, and then building urban gardens to provide cheap produce from within the community. In Granja Viana, food security comes through a farmer’s market that works to keep local farmers on their land, working to preserve a green belt and a viable foodshed in an area that is continually pressured by the seemingly unstoppable growth of one of the world’s biggest cities.

And yet they work together. Monica and Isabela told us in our interviews of how people from Brasilandia had skills that were useful for people from Granja Viana and vice versa. In Granja Viana, for instance, people produce a tremendous amount of waste – while in Brasilandia, more meager incomes mean more pressure to preserve and avoid waste at all costs. Brasilandia has been able to teach Granja Viana how to be less wasteful. And Granja Viana has taught Brasilandia as well. In particular, the wealthier lifestyles of the suburban residents have taught them how to handle money well and how to manage budgets and funds. They have been able to share this experience with the people in Brasilandia, helping them to start small businesses and manage their financial resources more efficiently.

Everything about the Transition Movement is infused with the values of the Earth Charter. From the very first principle, “Respect Earth and life in all its diversity,” to the very last, “Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace,” the principles of the Earth Charter put into community action are the Transition Movement. Both these transition towns work in schools to, “integrate into formal education […] the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life,” the sheer audacity of a transition town in a favela works to “uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being,” and to “eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.” The list could go on and on. And that’s why the Transition Movement is so amazing – because it’s all there, it covers everything, it is a vehicle for the whole world to move forward.

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