A group of Rim Country residents who want Payson to become more self-sufficient, both economically and environmentally, have been making the rounds of local groups trying to plant seeds of support.
The group is advocating more use of solar energy, backyard crops and policies that don’t trash the environment as part of an international “transition town” movement.
The Transition Town idea started in Ireland when residents, local government officials and a community college in Kinsale, Ireland joined together to brainstorm a town that was completely ‘off the grid.’
Getting ‘off the grid’ involves unplugging from a reliance on large corporations to support sustainable practices, such as solar, geothermal, organic gardening, and electric cars.
The Payson group has joined the movement and registered as Transition Town number 121.
Recently, Payson Transition Town supporters John Hulburt, Monte McCord, Rob Ingram, and Mike Voden presented their mission and goals to the Democratic Women’s group.
On its Web site, http://transitiontownpayson.net, Transition Town Payson states, “In the face of climate change and resource depletion, Transition Town Payson’s mission is to encourage people to work together to build an environmentally resilient community.”
Working together to create a balanced community resonated with Pat Rollins, vice president of the Women’s Democratic Club.
“Normally we bring in political speakers,” said Rollins, “but their (Transition Town Payson) values are Democratic values.”
The Transition Town Payson group advocated creating an independent community.
On a blog maintained by Ingram, the Transition Town folks watch and report on the readings scientists make on the levels of toxins in the atmosphere. They take note of the number of natural disasters around the world, as well as monitoring worldwide temperatures, economic events, oil production and the increasing prices of food and fuel and they say, “Enough is enough!”
The Transition Town Payson group has identified three areas to focus change in Payson: energy, resilience and community.
Although none of the Transition Town group would agree that any one member is in charge of anything, (Hulburt calls them a horizontal organization), each of the four men had more of an interest in one area or another.
Ingram has taken up the Payson Transition Town Web site. The Web site publicizes the Community Garden classes, film festivals at the Gila Community College, and has information on Habitat for Humanity, local food banks, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the lower Verde Watershed.
Ingram’s blog covers topics such as fracking for natural gas, rainwater harvesting in Tucson, and how fish, wildlife and plants will adapt to climate change.
“My last blog reminded everyone that Richard Nixon signed all of the environmental laws that are on the books right now,” Ingram said to the club members.
McCord likes to focus on alternative energy.
He has put his money where his mouth is and donated a Porsche to the Payson High School Auto Shop class to convert from a gas-powered car to an electric car.
“It’s a tough project,” said McCord.
He said finding parts to fit has proven a challenge and now that the high school has hired a new auto shop teacher the project has taken a back seat. He hopes to jump start the conversion soon.
McCord also supports and broadcasts information on solar energy.
“We know of a couple of people that have installed solar and geothermal systems and we’d like to have tours,” said McCord.
Currently, the Federal government has tax incentives for people and businesses to convert to solar and/or geothermal energy sources.
Locally, APS is busy converting schools and government buildings to solar energy. Just take a peek at the Payson schools. Solar panels cover the high school parking lots and the elementary school playgrounds.
Voden prefers environmental issues. He participates in the Payson Community Garden.
Hulburt likes to educate. He did a wonderful job at the Democratic Women’s Club meeting using a Power Point presentation to make his points.
“Our motto is to reduce, reuse and recycle rather than make more,” said Hulburt. “We have a different way of looking at things.”