Most would probably call them idealistic, but the Daum-Astier family of four is part of a growing movement to localize and reinvent stronger and healthier communities.
“We’re out to change the world!” Charlotte beamed this week from inside her family’s converted school bus. For two days, the vehicle’s been parked in front of Marathon Bio-Diesel while she spent the day aboard a commercial fishing vessel.
Two weeks ago, the family first discovered GLEE’s community garden in Key West where they met with board members and discussed the evolutionary history of the island chain’s food supply. Armed with a flip camera and questions about environmental and economic sustainability, Charlotte and her husband, Camille, are aiming to document groups and individuals who are focusing on localizing economic activity and relieving their dependence on foreign oil.
“It is not about us,” Camille, an independent computer programmer by trade, explained. “We want to help connect people across these communities we’re visiting.”
They’re learning how folks like Midge Jolly and Tom Weyant of the Florida Keys Sea Salt farm on Sugarloaf Key took a devastating occurrence like Hurricane Wilma that flooded their property and helped them “transition” their focus to harvesting salt from the surrounding Florida Keys waters.
Charlotte reported on her blog that when the pair shared their vision of transition with Jolly, she was naturally enthusiastic.
“Here, everything needed to be rebuilt and it is possible everything will have to be remade again. It is a perpetual transition.”
So what exactly is the Transition Movement?
Author Rob Hopkins launched a pilot project in the city of Totnes, England in 2006 that established a community aiming to be more resilient, more self-reliant and prioritizing the local over the imported.
According to transitionus.org, The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis.
Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and “environmental” groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in homegrown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self-reliance and resilience.
It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: How can our community respond to the challenges and opportunities of peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis?
Charlotte and Camille began their journey south from Canada in November with a six-month time frame in mind.
From the Keys, the Transition Bus will head to the west coast of Florida to visit Transition Sarasota. Their next destination will be New Orleans.
“There are hundreds of Transition towns across the globe,” Camille elaborated. “The first part of our project was leaving our house to see if our family of four could live in a bus.”
An engineering school near Toronta was instrumental in the transformation of their school bus into a mobile home.
They’ve traveled nearly 5,000 kilometers since their departure with two and a half months left in their initial pilot phase, and they’re taking their time to enjoy the journey and raise their sons, Alekei, 4, and Ilya, 2.
He described their former conventional life of working harder at an increasingly faster pace to earn more money.
“Can we continue business as usual? We’re looking to take current situations and try to imagine new solutions,” Camille concluded. “It’s harder because we’re not in the main stream community, but we get to take things a bit slower.”
To learn more about their day on the water with Captain Allen Lee and mate Michael Gonzalez setting more than 100 stone crab and lobster traps, follow the path of the Daum-Astier family and the people they meet along their travels at transitionbus.org.