The Belfast Area Transition Initiative believes in the power of community; it is in this collective belief that the 12-page 2021 Belfast Area Transition Times is being published the first week in January. The Times will be inserted into The Republican Journal on Jan. 5. It will illustrate the visions of 26 local writers and thinkers in topics areas such as transportation, health, religion, economics, education, farming — it even contains a crossword puzzle in the kids section.
Contributors wrote, painted, sang, danced and photographed their best visions for 2021 and portrayed the landscape as if their projects and dreams had come true. Artist Anne Atkinson’s painting on page 12 gives a picture of her green vision of 2020. A photograph taken by Georges Nashan at a special New Year’s By the Bay 2021 party shows people dancing in the future. A front-page photograph of the electric car in the process of being built now, designed by Belmont's Bill Drinkwater, shows his vision of low-speed electric vehicles as a popular form of transportation.
First Church minister Joel Kreuger, Seaport Commmunity Health Center visionary David Loxtercamp, and Maine Farmland Trust Executive Director John Piotti each imagine their future vision with solar panels, reasonably priced healthcare and locally grown food. Less well-known writers such as Paul Eagle and Judith Holland, among many others, emerge as visionaries within the transition movement.
The editorial board for the Times determined which articles would be used and worked with visionaries to solidify their articles. The board met on Nov. 23 to begin the process of editing entries. The editorial board included Betsy Garrold, Bindy Pendleton, Judith Holland, Marshall Rolerson, Andrew Watkins, Denise Pendleton and Jennifer Hill.
Most of the editing work went on between writers and editors outside of formal meetings and by Dec. 14, the group was ready to turn their articles over to The Republican Journalfor final editing. Journal layout artist Christine Dunkle brought a designer’s eye to the project in laying out the newspaper.
The Times was paid for, as is customary in the newspaper industry, by advertising. Twenty-one local businesses put their money on the line to affiliate with this positive view of the future of the Belfast area.
The Belfast Area Transition Initiative had its roots in a book discussion of Rob Hopkins’ "The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience." Over the course of the last year the group has coalesced to address the challenges for living in a post-petroleum economy and how best to prepare this community for that eventuality.
The Belfast Area Transition Initiative meetings are held monthly (times and dates can be found on the group’s website, at belfasttransition.org), and weekly: Transition Café discussions are held on Mondays at 5 p.m. at the Belfast Co-op, where members chat about the issues and get to know each other better.
Recently the group sponsored the 10-10-10 events that took place around the Belfast area which included everything from garlic planting at the Belfast Community Gardens to speeches and workshops at the Troy Howard Middle School to planting a new field at the Hungry Heron Farm in Waldo. The October “Eat Local Challenge” was co-sponsored by the group, at which a drawing was held for a permaculture lawn makeover to be held this spring.
One of the stated goals of the group is to reach out to other groups in the area working on projects aimed at local sustainability, by increasing communication with them and getting to know them better.
The belief of the group is that when people get together and collectively envision a better tomorrow this begins to harness our collective genius. It allows us to choose hope, creativity, and possibilities instead of collective fear, despair and old habitual behaviors.