Elements of building a transition town[edit | edit source]
As a result of previous and modern interest, throughout the underground culture, in theories of alternative societies, several movements and intentional communities began/are beginning all over the world to provide alternative services to the own community and people outside it. Since the mid-sixties the beginnings of a free society have begun to flourish. People are searching for tools and methods to take control of their own lives and reclaim power from the establishment.
Alternative housing[edit | edit source]
Housing is provided to the community by such means as organised squatting, tipi and yurt making, house sharing and a system called, in hippy jargon, Crash pad networks. This latter involves keeping a list of participants' addresses on file at an alternative information centre and then when someone is travelling and, upon arrival in a different city, wants a place to sleep (crash) they could go to the information centre and get an address. Upon arriving at the address they can get free accommodation (maybe a bed, maybe a floor - it is potluck) and, in exchange, when they are back in their own home (pad), they can offer similar accommodation to another traveller (see also Hospitality Club and Couchsurfing for an equivalent of this, boosted by the internet). Another alternative solution to housing problems is thought by some to be possible through the construction of geodesic domes, a structure which can be built quite quickly from widely available materials such as scaffolding and tarpaulins. moladi uses plastic formwork to mould a house in a day with all services cast in-situ, reducing time and skills required.
Alternative transport services[edit | edit source]
Alternative travel services are arranged by car sharing networks or simply by hitching. The emphasis is on creating social structures from the bottom up. Examples of car sharing networks are the City_Car_Club, ...
Alternative eating services[edit | edit source]
Alternative soup kitchens and free food distributions (eg by the Hare Krishna) are also arranged.
Alternative information sharing[edit | edit source]
Free bookshops for swapping books, shops where everything is free (see also give-away shop) and free festivals have also sprang into existence. Other methods of information sharing include the free sharing of e-books and other electronic media via the internet.
Underground press services[edit | edit source]
Underground press, in this sense, is a very elastic term. It refers to everything from a nationally or internationally distributed newspaper to a small local Zine or Samizdat. The underground press has continued since those days and is now enhanced by the power of the internet to enable individuals and groups to publish blogs. News events and information may also be distributed in towns trough a RSS-powered bulletin board. A current day incarnation of the underground press is Indymedia. Examples of Alternative Information Centres are less thin spread. Release, along with Resurgence are amongst the few available today. They both have been in existence since the 60's. Release is specifically a drugs information centre.
[edit | edit source]
Several neighborhoods and countries and have been formed based on the alternative society-models explained above (eg by Mahatma Gandhi, E.F. Schumacher, Satish Kumar , ...). These include (amongst others) the neighborhood of Christiania, the countries of Tokelau, somaliland, ...
Neighborhoods[edit | edit source]
Christiania, a partially self-governing neighborhood in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, which has established semi-legal status as an independent community, was founded in 1971, when a group of hippie squatters took over an area of abandoned military barracks. The proliferation of marijuana in the frontal region of the community, known as Pusher Street, has given rise over the past decade to legal conflict. In response to recent crackdowns and raids by the Danish police, supporters of Christiania have adopted the slogan "Bevar Christiania!" (Save Christiania!).
Countries[edit | edit source]
Around 700 B.C. ,the Daoist cult of Zhengyi Dao; settled at Jiangxi (Jiangnan and especially Mount Longhu ) created one of the first regions which was based on a system considered “alternative”. This system was heavily opposed to the state and rulers, and focused on autonomy. The state the zhengyi thus created was a true Taoist state, enclosed by the (then opposing) kingdom. [[]] The state made a big impression on the Chinese mindset and had been an important setpoint in the history of alternative societies. Aldough now Jiangxi has again integrated into China, the Zhenyi remain an important religious group and still have many temples in both Taiwan and Jiangxi.
Today, all over the world, many local communities (such as Somaliland) struggle to create viable legal/governmental alternative structures of society in the wake of collapsing previous governments. They are doing so using systems as “councils of elders”, ...
Present movements supporting alternative societies[edit | edit source]
The alternative society is often characterised as a society of alternatives and this includes a great interest in pseudoscientific theories such as pagan, Jain, and Taoist, Confucianist, ... religions and romantic mystical speculations. Besides religious and mythical organizations, environmental organizations/movements are also present in the group supporting alternative societies. Often, as is the case with certain religious movements and cults as Taoism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...[[]], they can have several deviating beliefs (eg in the case of Buddhism, both their belief and their environmental care can be considered “alternative”.
Religious and pseudo-religious groups[edit | edit source]
Religious and pseudo-religious groups are on the alternative society's mental map of the world. The existence of ashrams, kibbutzim, moshavs, Buddhist monasteries, the religiously-inspired African Hebrew Israelites Kingdom Enterprises [[]], Salvation Army centres, religious retreats [[]] Hare Krishna free food distributions and various churches and gurus form ' meeting places around the world' which provide an existing framework upon which the alternative society can grow. The relationship is symbiotic.
Other religions as the Quakers, Rastafarians, Yogada Satsanga Society of India, Jesus_Army, Self-Realization Fellowship and certain religious sects as the Samkhya, kabirpanthi, Lingayats, Ramakrishna_Math [[]] aswell as some self-styled gurus (eg Swami_Kriyananda, Paramahansa_Yogananda, Satish Kumar, ...) were also seen to jump on the bandwagon and support alternative societies.
The religions and pseudo-religious cults have gained lots of new members from the alternative society scene. This has been in such degree that concerns amongst politicised travellers have arisen wary of becoming brainwashed by cults. Therefore, if the left wing of politics can be broadly said to empower the public sector and if the right wing can be broadly said to empower the private sector, then the alternative society could be considered as the political empowerment of the voluntary sector.
Environmental and survivalist organizations[edit | edit source]
Due to renewed intrest in the environment, aswell as emergency preparedness [[]] and fear of climate-change induced catastrophes (eg hurricane Katrina), the alternative society and its organizations are spreading rapidly, Today, environmentalists, survivalists [[]] green anarchist groups are reshaping the relationships and bonds at the roots of society to create an alternative system which would respect our resources, both human and elemental. Emergency retreat centres, supported by these organizations form are used to accompany the physical alternative society-framework. Various models of sustainability have been put forward and tried. Among the most successful environmentalist restructurings of social structure to date have been the Global Ecovillage Network and the permaculture movement. Besides these succesful (ongoing) projects, there are new projects being undertaken to build new societies from the bottom up (eg by creating new organizations or combining existing ones). In addition, the concept of alternative currencies is still alive and kicking (See LETS).
Other organizations[edit | edit source]
Besides the organizations/groups marked above, other organizations can be noted aswell. These organizations often try to combine existing organizations or form new ones. The physical centra they have to accompany the alternative society-framework is often formed by homesteads, community farms, ... Practical examples of this are the Integral Urban House, Sandhill Farm, Zendik farm, ... Also, certain entire villages and )  .
The organizations trying to combine other existing organizations are: Green Kibbutz Group [[]] [[]], The Alliance of Religion and Conservation, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, National Council of Churches: The Eco-Justice Working Group [[]] the Fellowship_for_Intentional_Community, NextGEN, ...