What makes Transition Lab unique among sustainability programs is that our models can be replicated by anybody, anywhere with basic training and limited resources. Here's how:
Basic Skilled Resident
The Core Driver of Transition Lab is the Skilled Resident Program. As students become empowered with the skills to develop local resilience, they exchange their expertise for housing and other basic needs without relying on the dollar economy. For example, a current student receives housing in exchange for 10 hours/week building a permaculture garden and developing a Time Bank for the region. This way, his “rent” exchange actually becomes an asset to the larger community, and the host receives ongoing support simply by putting her guest bedroom to use. In this economic model, grassroots projects are supported by using existing resources -like a guest bedroom- that will never “run-out”. And even better, by sharing housing and other infrastructure, both the host and resident’s carbon footprint is cut drastically. The possibilities for Skilled Residents are endless and in the Spring of 2014 we will be launching website to facilitate similar relationships around the world.
At Transition Lab, students learn to meet all of their basic needs and have the freedom to make the world a better place immediately after graduation- regardless of their economic background or a fluctuating job market. Their skills also directly addresses the two biggest challenges that our economy faces with two programs:
Food Poverty Eliminator:
Providing affordable organic food to any community isn't hard. Here is how we've done it:
Our students work on local organic farms and get food shares in exchange for 4 hours of labor each week. The farmers get needed labor and pay for it with surplus food, not cash- while we get great food and education. It's a win-win and we've proved it economically viable and accessible. With that said, there are approximately 3,000 individuals in our community dependent on our FoodBank.
In 2014 a student in the Co-Creator Program will be assigned to scale up our model to involve this group of underemployed and undernourished members of the community. The only limitation to this model is a coordinating participation.
ElderCare Cook and Gardener:
Providing affordable eldercare will not be hard either: Here is how we want to do this:
In the Skilled Resident Model, we can train our students with basic medical skills for working with the elderly. Rather than just living and gardening with a homeowner, the student-member could receive both free rent and pay in exchange for offering basic eldercare. In this relationship, we could offer a model that was more elegant and efficient than the models of our existing healthcare system.
Transition Lab will begin experimenting with this model in 2014 using self-identified retiree's looking for extra help around the home.
A Complementary Economy
What all of these models have in common is that they are all designed to exist within our current system. However, instead of being dependent on dollars for their success, they take advantage of a different set of resources like time, extra bedrooms, and lawns to build resiliency. This doesn't mean that we are going to barter for everything - somebody has to pay the mortgage. What it does mean is that we imagine a future where certain needs, like local food production, come into fruition through creative relationships.
The new economic frontier will have these two kinds of economies that complement one another. Transition Lab will pioneer new models using a different set of resources to integrate with the existing economy, and work to meet our needs in areas where the dollar economy struggles.
By creating micro-economies like these which are dovetailed to exist within our current system, we can meet our needs more elegantly and efficiently. Best of all, our models are simple enough that they could be replicated anywhere by individuals with the skills and practice to make our world a better place.