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The Transition Movement Comes to NYC

From 2014 - 2015 I volunteered closely with Pamela Boyce Simms, the lead Northeast trainer & organizer for the US Transition Movement. We held a lot of educational events, and for our test project, set up a highly ambitious community resilience convergence in Rockaway, Queens.  The local partners seemed enthusiastic at first, but leading up to, and at the event itself, it became clear they really didn't care.  Likewise, the community organizing method put forth by Transition didn't get traction in NYC or other northeast communities. Perhaps there are factors in British culture - or in the cultures of other countries - that enable to Transition to thrive as it supposedly has been.  In any event, we gave it a good effort, and all went on to other projects.


MATH Builds Mid-Atlantic Extreme Weather Resilience



Far Rockaway: A Beacon for Mid-Atlantic Coastal Communities

Statement by the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)

Climate change has drastically accelerated the frequency with which the Mid-Atlantic region will experience what had been classified as “once in 100 years” storms. Encompassing the megacities of New York, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, and Washington DC, the Mid-Atlantic region is the most powerful, influential, and resourceful urban corridor in the world. Imagine Atlantic coastal cities, while vulnerable to ocean storm activity, fortified by increasingly localized economies; connected via commerce to cities within 100 miles in order to meet most of residents’ needs. Relocalization is the definition of resilience, the ability to bounce back quickly, in an era of recurring climate disruptions.

Residents of Atlantic coastline and flood plain communities have an ally in the Transition Towns environmental movement. The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH), a network of Transition towns and cities in the six-state Mid-Atlantic region, supports groups of local residents who strategically build foundations of long term community resilience. Transition is 100%, an “ordinary-people-led movement.”

Extreme weather is rapidly becoming the new norm. Residents of Mid-Atlantic cities and towns can determine not to be at the mercy of flooding and the debilitating power outages suffered during hurricanes Sandy and Irene. The Transition movement is a neighbor-led community organizing response to climate change, resource depletion and financial instability with over 1,100 local initiatives in 44 countries and over 150 in the US. The Transition Neighborhoods process, adapted to the specific needs of Mid-Atlantic communities, invites neighbors to strengthen their sense of place, build relationships as they map their neighborhood's current state of resiliency, looking at food, energy, water, waste, consumption and transportation. The goal is to proactively move communities away from reliance on fossil fuels, toward a much more resilient, improved quality of life.

The Transition Towns movement, originated in permaculture systems-design, cultivates a shared mindset shift to the new climate change, energy, and economic, “normals.” Like natural living systems, “transitioning” happens at interconnected and communicating hyper-local, local, water/foodshed, state, regional, national and international scales. The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) facilitates the flow of support and communication among all of these levels. The Transition Neighborhoods process, designed by activists in megacities, directly reflects the resilience-building needs of the densely populated, highly diverse chain of metropolitan areas in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Far Rockaway NY: A Beacon for Mid-Atlantic Citizen-led Community Resilience

Residents of the Mid-Atlantic region are encouraged to pick up the resilience baton and run with it. MATH spotlights Far Rockaway NY as an example of friends and neighbors’ determination to shape their own capacity to bounce back from extreme weather interruptions. Experience such as that of Sandy-devastated Far Rockaway must reverberate throughout the Mid-Atlantic region if we intend to skillfully ride the wave of climate change.

Traumatized by the storm, Rockaway was subsequently exploited and abused by a sea of bureaucratic red tape in Sandy’s aftermath. Residents of storm-ravaged, marginalized Rockaway are using the Transition Neighborhoods process to stand tall and grapple effectively with recovery and oncoming climate change. So too can residents of other climate change-vulnerable Mid-Atlantic communities. MATH stands ready to assist.

The Transitioning of a town, village, hamlet or a city, (neighborhood by neighborhood), starts with a series of small group meetings. Interested residents then request a Transition LAUNCH training and get into action. Following numerous Rockaway needs assessment “listening meetings,” and a Transition LAUNCH training in April of 2015, Transition activists and Rockaway residents recognized the need to prioritize local food production. This spring, led by permaculture designers and local master-gardeners, the two groups built community gardens using an innovative combination of donated, recycled and repurposed materials and tools. Hoop houses and aquaponics are next up on the docket.

Together, Rockaway residents, Transition NYC and the Mid-Atlantic Transition network produced a June 27th “Convergence” event to promote local climate change resilience, health, community-building, neighborhood food security and production, renewable energy, and creative waterfront restoration.

The Transition Neighborhoods process, encompassing projects like the gardens collaboration and all of the resilience-building possibilities that were showcased at the Convergence, can easily be replicated elsewhere throughout the Mid-Atlantic coastal region, and beyond. Transition Rockaway is now part of, contributes its experience to, and is supported by the Transition community-of practice comprised of colleagues throughout the region.

The Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH) is dedicated to creating a non-hierarchical, ever-evolving regional human ecosystem. Residents of the magnificent Mid-Atlantic region are encouraged to take part. The goal is to maintain a balance between deeply understanding the gravity of the environmental, energy and economic crises we face, and experiencing the joy of working in supportive community in order to ACT: harmoniously, consistently, strategically and effectively.


If we wait for the government, it'll be too little too late.
If we act as individuals, it'll be too little.
But if we act as communities, it might just be just enough, just in time.


View the MATH "Rockaway Work In Progress" Retrospective presentation here. > > (646)-241-8386


Rockaway 4th Annual Community Health Fair

andTransition Convergence
Sat. June 27, 10 AM - 6 PM


Battalion Pentecostal Assembly Church, 454 Beach 67th St, Arverne, NY 11692
Take the A train to the Beach 67th St. stop and walk three blocks north.


Sponsors: Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub (MATH)  and NYC Transition Hub   

No charge to attend. Celebrate the recovery of the Rockaways!  Enjoy a day of exhibits, music, fun and learning activities for the entire family. As climate change accelerates, extreme weather events will become more frequent.  We don't have to wait for government to prepare! Come out and meet initiatives that neighbors can use to make the Rockaways – and any neighborhood – more sustainable and resilient.


• urban and backyard farming / permaculture: Hellsgate Farm and Smiling Hogshead Ranch, Astoria and Long Island City, Queens; Cycle Alimenterre, Montreal, Canada
• energy conservation: NY State Energy Research and Development Authority, National Grid

• soil remediation and composting : Queens Compost Project
• community garden support: NYCHA Garden Program 
• NYC Community Emergency Response Teams  
• ham radio: Amateur Radio Emergency Service
• solar power: Solar 1, Power Rockaway Resilience, NY Center for Sustainable Energy
• creative waterfront restoration with native plant seedballs: NYC Seedballs  
• green job training programs / community services / developing new supermarket and Rockaway credit union: Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation  
• culinary skills & healthy eating for youth in the Rockaways: Culinary Kids
• entrepreneurship: NYCHA Resident Economic Empowerment and Sustainability Program
• biking: MATH bicycle advocates and Transportation Alternatives  
• water catchment: rain barrel advocates and Keepers of the Waters
• chicken keeping: City Chicken Meetup  
• aquaponics: Brooklyn College Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center 
• food preservation: MATH Transition re-skilling advocates  
• learn how to make your own natural cosmetics  
• how to flood-proof your building: The Elevated Studio  
• local activists: Rockaway Wildfire 
• free health tests: blood pressure, glucose, spinal and HIV  
• local health services  

Learn about the Transition environmental movement, a neighbor-led organizing response to climate change, resource depletion and financial instability, with +1,100 local initiatives in 44 countries and over 150 in the US. Contact 917-319-2924 or

"If we wait for the government, it'll be too little too late.  If we act as individuals, it'll be too little.  But if we act as communities, it might be just enough, just in time." 


Featuring: Re-Claimed: Stories from the Storm – an art show of stories, objects and images of what was lost in the storm and gained after as told by the people of the Rockaways.

Please share this event on Facebook


The Transition movement is a community organizing response to climate change, resource depletion and financial instability, with over 1,100 Transition groups in 44 countries and over 150 initiatives in the US.  It brings neighbors together to assess the resilience of their communities and catalyze effective grassroots projects, using the Transition Neighborhood Field Guide process, targeted to the specific needs of NYC and other big urban communities.  Visit and our Facebook page for updates. Please contact us if you would like to volunteer.





Building a Community Garden, Sat., May 23

On Sat. May 23, NYC Transition activists and permaculturists built a community garden with raised beds, alongside Rockaway community members building back from Sandy devastation.  Walls of the beds are made of wooden boards donated by Build it Green, and burlap bags from coffee roaster White Coffee filled with wood chips from NYC Parks Dept., and filled with plants donated by Home Depot. This method can be used to create gardens on other urban sites anywhere with soil in need of remediation.  More pictures at our Facebook page.



Rockaway Transition Workshop, April 18

MATH presented a workshop about Transition to Rockaways residents, joined by permaculture designer Wolf Bravo from the mid-Hudson.  Wolf donated a large number of repaired garden tools to the church, and gave a presentation about creative ways to use found objects to build container gardens.  Besides wooden boxes, you can use cans and bottles, and wooden pallets and tires.   



Visit and  Contact us at 917-319-2924 or if you have any questions.

Want a short description of Transition you can hand out? Ask for our one page flyer


Urban Permaculture Demonstration Projects in the Rockaways


Our community partners are identifying yards and lots on which permaculture design projects can be installed this spring.  We're inviting permaculture designers to send their design proposals for each space, which will be reviewed by senior designers.  Winners will be connected with property owners to organize volunteer workshops during which the projects will be installed.  Click here for details and site pictures.



Transition Neighborhoods
Launched in NYC


The People's Climate March on September 21 (2014) brought over 300,000 people out in NYC, with thousands of supporting events around the world.  Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Council announced a new platform of city actions to reduce fossil fuel use.  We honor both events as being necessary parts of the great turning now underway, but see the urgent need for a third approach, something quite new.  

Now that the March is over, what are the steps that you can take personally to move NYC away from fossil fuels?

On September 23, Pamela Boyce Simms,  the  lead trainer of the Mid-Atlantic Transition Hub, and convener of Transition activists in a seven-state region, spoke to a crowd at the Friends Meeting House on 15th Street near Union Square. 

Transition, she explained, is a community level response to climate change, resource depletion and financial instability.  It's a way of creating people-to-people connections among neighbors that starts with a series of structured discussions. After its creation in Kinsale, Ireland in 2006, the award-winning method has been successfully refined in hundreds of initiatives in the United Kingdom, and used in thousands of other community projects worldwide.  


Pamela walked attendees through the steps leading up to Transition Neighborhood program. Start by building a list of community contacts, and inviting them to a chat at a local coffee shop.  See who's game for the series of twelve meetings, using a guidebook that explores aspects of our urban lifestyles - food, water, waste, energy, transportation, communications, money.  Group members review good practices in each area, dissolving the silos that can easily separate different focuses, and support each other in implementing action steps. When the sessions are complete, members have developed and deepened the personal connections that are the foundation of personal resilience.  If they wish they can take on new projects, and proceed deeper into the Transition process.  Contact us to find others who want to bring Transition to your neighborhood!             
Contact NYC Transition Hub at 


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