Abstract: Myriad social groups and movements in the San Francisco Bay Area are making important contributions to the goals of carbon economy degrowth, deceleration of climate change, and transitioning to a sustainable global society. To date the net effects are of course insufficient, but they provide a basis for greater change. Examples are numerous and diverse. Moving forward, their conjoined efforts may help to speed up necessary changes. I discuss several examples, focusing on two broad umbrella social movements, Transition Towns and Occupy. These two groups have in common the aim of transforming the root causes of the current social and ecological destruction of the planet.
It is argued that a complexity framework, including consideration of networks, hierarchies and feedbacks, provides helpful guidance for advancing the work of these and other such organizations, by highlighting and facilitating analysis of multi-sector and polymorphous societal changes necessary to sustainability. This perspective helps in various ways, for instance: (1) addressing greater shared synergistic goals via revitalization of various forms of participatory democratic processes, (2) building synergistic coalitions to advance key areas of societal change, and (3) valorizing the significance of various groups’ approaches and activities and in many instances, how they are mutually enhancing. Together, the visions and work of these groups provide a comprehensive depiction of the truly momentous nature of ‘the great transition’.
Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.