An (imagined) future entry in Internet Movie DataBase:
Transition (US, 2014)
As the film opens, twenty people from a dozen households in Cascades, a progressive urban neighbourhood within a city in Oregon, USA, are meeting for their monthly reading club. The book being studied this month is the Transition Handbook. Instead of setting aside the book after the meeting, the group decides to transform itself into a Transition community, and begins to self-organize to make its members more sustainable and self-sufficient, reduce their collective environmental footprint, and make the neighbourhood more resilient to possible energy, ecological and economic crises.
Over the next ten years the group begins to redefine itself as a true community, becoming more cohesive, setting aside significant parts of their land and investment resources as community property for food growing, self-education, grey-water recycling, self-financing, community transportation and the creation of new sustainable enterprises, operated as cooperatives designed specifically to increase the community’s self-sufficiency. As it grows slowly to 500 members, the community develops enough renewable energy resources to drop off the grid, creates its own well-being clinic, its own theatre and art/artisan/music production and performance institute, and its own internal currency. In the process, some neighbours drop out and leave, others, attracted by the publicity the neighbourhood is getting, move in, and as this happens, relationships are inevitably complicated by idealism, love, distrust, impatience and ideology. At one point, frustrated by rezoning and other impediments to what they are trying to do, Cascades closes its streets to through traffic and threatens to secede from the city that surrounds it.
The political dispute is set aside when a major economic and energy crisis hits. OPEC countries, concerned about the crushing level of American debt and the instability of the US dollar, act on rumours of the dollar’s devaluation by creating a new currency based on oil reserves, and requiring all purchases to be made in the new currency. The US threatens military action but China, Russia and many European nations (the EU has, by this time, substantially broken up) agree to purchase OPEC oil in the new currency. Supplies of oil to the US are throttled, the US dollar plummets, trade seizes up, and many US companies and governments go bankrupt, including the government of the city in which Cascades is located. The resilience preparedness that Cascades’ Transition initiative was designed to provide is put to the test.
As Cascades thrives relative to the rest of the country, its members reach out to show other communities in the area what they have accomplished, and how to replicate it. As the film ends, a proposal is made to create, in the political vacuum and turmoil of the times, an Autonomous Communities Federation in the Pacific Northwest to replace bankrupt state and local governments. But uncertainty remains: Is this a truly new and sustainable model of urban living, or is it repeating the patterns that led to the unsustainable and un-resilient behaviours of the past? And new crises loom: Will even Cascades be able to survive what seems to be a global disintegration of interdependent markets, systems, institutions and infrastructure?