Posted by: Mike Grenville | 18 January 2009

Declaration of Interdependence

Brought up to date for a generation facing peak oil, climate change and economic contraction, the Representatives of the Transition Committee of Oamaru (in New Zealand) have updated the US Declaration of Independence.

Transition Declaration of Independence

Adapted from the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America (pictured)
Thomas Jefferson, 1776
Adaptation by Dr. Susan Krumdieck, 2008
US declaration
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the economic bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, Justice, the pursuit of Happiness, a Healthy Natural Environment and Sustainability for ourselves, the Third Generation and the Seventh Generation.

That to secure these rights, Organisations are instituted among Communities, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Members,

That whenever any Form of Economy becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Relationship, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Economic Relationships long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them and their environment to ruin, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Economic Constraints, and to provide new Guards for their future security and sustainability.
Such has been the patient sufferance of this community; and such is now the necessity which constrains us to alter our former Systems of Business Growth for its own Sake and Environmental Exploitation. The history of the present Theory of Economics is a history of repeated disasters, injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over communities and the environment. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, felled our forests, polluted our water and fouled our air.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has exploited our talents, put us into debt, degraded our culture and eroded our relationships with the members of our community.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has exploited mineral resources which by right should belong to people in perpetuity in order to obscenely enrich a few in the short term.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has paved our farms, sprawled our towns, and destroyed the quality of live of our people and their children and grandchildren.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has convinced us, for more than a century, to ignore the voice of scientific knowledge and reason in order to continue the acidification of our air and oceans through Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrous Oxides and Carbon Dioxide emissions from combustion of fossil fuels.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has exploited the labour of people and environments that have no protection from ill use, and has persecuted people who worked for economic justice and equality.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has assaulted the morality of our youth and treated them as a target market rather than with the respect of future citizens and community members.
    • The Growth Economy for its own Sake has corrupted the purpose of our governance and civic institutions, it has usurped the purpose of our curiosity and research efforts, and it has shifted the motivation for the education of our young from development of their intellect and character to exploitation of their labours for further growth of the economy.

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the Transition Committee of Oamaru, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of this community, solemnly publish and declare, That this Community is, and of Right ought to be Free, that we are Absolved from all unsustainable and perverse requirements of the Growth Economy for its own Sake, and that all connection between this Community and the Growth Economy, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as a Free and Sustainable Community, we have full Power to reduce fuel and electricity consumption, restore our environment, protect our culture, nurture our agricultural assets, set aside our resources, refrain from extracting minerals, stone or fossil fuels, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Local Commerce based on our own principles and theories, and to do all other Acts and Things which Sustainable Communities may of right do.

    — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

    Since coming up with this declaration, word has spread around with many others wanting to use it and adapt it and renaming it as a Declaration of Interdependence has been put forward. Here Dr. Susan Krumdieck replies:
    People from all over the world were asking if they could print out the TDI or put it on their local transition group website. I even had one request if it was ok to translate it into German. Transitioners are so polite and thoughtful! I think the answer is positively yes!. And I think people should review their history about the revolution and subsequent founding of the USA. I had the idea for this actually after an equally good idea. I think that when a transition group starts, they have to recognise that it will have to go beyond what they can do individually and it will have to eventually become part of the civic structure and will affect development and regulatory decisions. I had this idea that people could convene a transition constitutional convention. I got that idea from the Jefferson project (NPR). But before the convention they have to declare their intent and purpose. Thus, I pulled out Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece and there we are. I got serious goosebumps doing it, much like when I invent something or solve a really hard problem. That usually tells me it fits true.

    Anyway, check out my research website. Believe it or not, there is someone in academia trying to figure out how to fast track the transition through adaptation of the existing engineering capabilities. Fast-track indeed. My first lecture on peak oil and global warming was in 1985!

    For more of the background to this declaration see Rob Hopkin’s write up on  Transition Culture.

    Here Susan Krumdieck speaks on Engineering for Energy Descent:


    1. This is terrific.

      I want to help create that transition constitutional convention.

      Also I would like to have a discussion with you about some visionary work being done to include rights for nature in constitutional frameworks – Ecuador being the first country to do so, inspired by some small communities in the US. The group doing this wants to create a movement to rewrite the American Constitution.

      I honor you for this work.

      All my best,

    2. Please read the Proposed Constitution of North America as a starting point of conversation.

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