Transition US is the hub of the Transition Town Movement in the United States, and the lead for the Ready Together project. Our approach is based on the successful neighborhood project called Transition Streets which focuses on reduction of household energy, water, and waste by getting clusters of neighbors together as they work through each chapter. Transition US was asked by a number of neighborhood leaders to compile an emergency preparedness curriculum that uses this same process and brings together clusters of neighbors to work through a self-guided handbook full of practical, affordable actions over the course of several meetings.
Along with NewStories, we have been working with Deb Needham Certified Emergency Manager, City of Renton’s Office of Emergency Management as well as Hannah Heyrich, Disaster Educator at City of Auburn, WA. Together we have created a process, framework and a curriculum for neighbors to get ready together!
The core curriculum comes in seven chapters:
- Facing It All, Together
- Food & Water – Life Essentials
- But Wait, There’s Even More Supplies
- The Importance of Planning
- When You Gotta Go
- An Ounce of Prevention
- Practice Makes Perfect
The process is pretty straightforward. One person steps forward to coordinate and facilitate Ready Together in their neighborhood. We’ll provide them with the seven chapters and a facilitation guide and coach them through the process. This “coordinator” will invite a cluster of near neighbors to come together. We think 7-10 is a good number: small enough to be intimate and large enough to start to build cohesion on one’s street.
At a convenient time (typically once a week or every other week) the cluster gets together to work through each chapter, figure out what they will do before the next meeting, and then between sessions, they get it done. Real preparedness actions get implemented, AND neighbors get to know each other in the process.
We’ve drawn from a wide range of public sources for this curriculum. The information about household preparedness has been out there for a long time. Most of us know about these resources, many of us agree we should get prepared, and even so, most of us are still unprepared. There’s a range of reasons why that’s true. The main reason, we believe, is that the work of preparation is more easily accomplished when done together. It’s not so much knowing what to do, as it is doing it. And with neighbors, doing it together, gets it done.
Right now we’re pilot testing the curriculum in a few neighborhoods. We’re raising money and developing a long-term plan. That requires building out our website, creating virtual learning programs for coordinators and facilitators, gathering and sharing the stories of what happens when neighbors get prepared, together. And much more. We hope that over the next several years Ready Together will help change the paradigm for preparedness.
Our intent is to both support neighbors in communities across North America in preparing for disasters, and to normalize and familiarize local disaster preparedness to the point that people just see it as something neighbors do. We plan to grow a large network of communities where neighbors are ready together, reaching a tipping point for new behavior.
Here’s a sample from the Introduction and Chapter 1
In closing, I just want to emphasize why being prepared is so vitally important. In 2018, the United States saw multiple, unprecedented natural disasters, from the deadliest wildfire in California’s history to the worst hurricane to hit the East Coast since 1969. Rain and mudslides hit wildfire-scarred areas of California, flattening homes, covering freeways, and claiming many lives. Flash flooding devastated Ellicott City, Maryland with residents scrambling to flee streets that turned into raging rivers from the eight inches of rain that fell in under one hour. Already in 2019, the North American blizzards produced two feet of snow in the Midwest, rapid snowmelt following the storm caused historic flooding and some areas received hurricane-force wind gusts – a storm said to be comparable to the 1993 Storm of the Century. In recent years, almost every state in the country has experienced major disasters of similar magnitude. Looking at economic costs alone, in 2017-18 in the US we have had 30 disasters with a price tag in excess of $1 billion each.
While there may be things we can do to lessen the scope of some of these disasters in the future, we all need to recognize that in a real emergency situation, our near neighbors are our greatest resource. With that in mind, let’s get our households prepared and build that social safety net right on our street. Let’s get ready. Together.
Carolyne Stayton, Executive Director, Transition US