Transition Towns Leader to Speak

Bill SharpTITUSVILLE -- William Sharp, founder and director of the grassroots organization Transition Centre, will speak at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, about how communities can take responsibility for their own futures.

Sharp’s presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Boomer’s Café. In 2008, Sharp founded Transition Centre, a grassroots movement that encourages residents to address the challenges their communities are facing ultimately to secure their future.

The idea to invite Sharp to Pitt-Titusville was Mary Ann Caton’s, an assistant professor of history and political science, who discovered and became interested in the grassroots movement several years ago.

She sees bringing Sharp to campus as an opportunity, both for Titusville residents and for her students.

“Titusville is the perfect size to become a transition town,” Caton said. “It has a strong sense of community to support it.”

“Titusville’s immediate challenges are largely economic,” she said. “We have been affected by the same difficulties as every other small town, but we need to do more.”

Caton said residents need to look at several challenges, including ensuring a steady food supply should the supply chain break down or weather creates shortages; figuring out energy supplies should gas and oil supplies become scare; and addressing the local job deficit.

“A drive around town shows just how much poverty we have,” she said. “We cannot look to the state and federal governments for help as we used to. We have to come to terms with learning how to restore our communities ourselves.”

As for her students, Caton said making them aware of the Transition Centre movement is a natural part of their education.

“One of the most important tasks of a university education is to prepare students to become resilient while also preparing them for a career, but maybe even more importantly, preparing them for the difficult changes that lie ahead.”

Sharp will be talking to students in Caton’s classes on Oct. 8 and will be meeting with students and community leaders for breakfast the next morning in McKinney Commons.

“I hope to spark curiosity in our students, to take Sharp’s ideas home with them and help spur Titusville’s residents to begin the work of organizing habits and institutions that will enable us to survive the coming changes.”

The Transition Towns movement originally was formed in 2006 in the United Kingdom and has since spread to communities around the world. Sharp founded Transition Centre in 2008 with the intention to help local communities adapt better to economic and environmental changes and help residents learn how to become more self-reliant.

Sharp has a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in urban sociology. 

A question-and-answer session will follow Sharp’s presentation.