Irresistible Community Builders, LLC presents: Just Transition Communities


By Tom Braford

Most people agree that as we transition to a greener economy and culture we need to include all segments of our population and world.

There is limited agreement on how best to accomplish this, however, so this is an open question of inquiry for COP 26 in Glasgow in September.

I suggest that the short poem by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty is a good place to start. It says “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Emma, of course, was referring to the unwanted people of other lands, so just immigration policies must be part of our transition to the green economy and culture. Those hallowed words now also need to be turned within and, in light of the circumstances of George Floyd’s death, the current pandemic and the reality of climate change, the line “yearning to breathe free” is more poignant than ever. 

Even the last line “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore”, given the gigatons of plastic now choking our oceans and the reeking waste piling up around our cities, speaks volumes about our current situation.

I think that a just transition must recycle people, places and our culture, as well as plastics. We can’t expect to be able to breathe free if we keep our old, wasteful, unjust culture, economy and exploitive approach to the natural world and our neighbors near and far. We can’t do it alone or expect someone else to do it for us.

We must come together in the Beloved Community that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to. Climate change was not yet a prominent issue in Dr. King’s time, but if he were here today I am pretty sure that he would be in favor of a just transition and would urge us to start in our own communities. That is what the Ecovillage community movement is all about. I hope that someday soon, you will join us so that together the world can live as one and breathe free!