By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A local group hopes to spark a community discussion about economic and environmental issues to help make the transition to a more sustainable world.
"Our ultimate goal is to help our Quincy community become more resilient in difficult times -- that is, to have things set in place beforehand so that we can move through these difficult times with greater ease," said Sister Jane Wand, a former teacher and pastoral minister who helped form the group, dubbed Transitioning Quincy.
Inspired by the seven-year-old "transition movement" that has spread through 34 countries and at least 135 communities in the United States, the group has been meeting quietly for more than a year. The group is ready to reach out to more people who might want to join the discussion on key issues, such as global warming, the economic crisis, and the widespread dependence on fossil fuels.
"Our primary objective is to bring awareness," said group member Jim Burns, a retired teacher who also worked in student support services at John Wood Community College. "Not just awareness to the issues facing us, but ways of resolving them in a cooperative manner that will be beneficial to all within our community."
Transitioning Quincy got its start through Wand, who heard about the transition movement and attended a workshop in September 2011 at Genesis Farm in New Jersey. She returned to Quincy and invited a handful of people from different backgrounds to form an "initiating group," which met for the first time in November 2011.
The group spent the past year meeting every two weeks to familiarize themselves with issues commonly discussed by transition groups around the world.
Wand said the transition movement involves a grass-roots effort to address at the local level major issues being experienced worldwide, particularly environmental concerns.
A global network of neighborhoods, towns and cities has been coordinating various actions to help, such as recycling; reducing carbon dioxide emissions; planting community gardens to provide healthy sources of locally grown food; and organizing special events to share clothing, food, ideas and personal skills to benefit the common good.
"This is about finding creative solutions to serious problems" facing the world, but addressing them on a local level, Wand said.
Burns said Transitioning Quincy is patterned after the TransionUS organization, which sanctions transition efforts in communities around the country. Quincy is not officially affiliated with the national group -- at least not yet.
"We have conflicting interests on certain issues and conflicting needs, and both sides have to be heard," he said.
For example, Burns said growing attention is being paid to "fracking" -- or hydraulic fracturing, a process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground as a way to release natural gas from shale rocks.
While this is proving to be an innovative way to tap into a source of energy, it has raised various environmental concerns.
Burns feels there is merit in bringing together people of diverse views to discuss the details so they can "come to just and moral conclusions on these issues."
For more information, call Burns at (217) 223-7874 or visit the TransitionUS website at www.transitionus.org.