Thursday, 4 June 2009

Small Candles

Rising from the present climate of frustration and despair (which I seem to express repeatedly on this blog), I see candle-flames of hope. Lights which are growing and which may lead to the changes we need.

The Transition movement (http://www.transitiontowns.org/) seems to me to be one such light. The community-based, decentralised nature of the movement with its focus on identifying local solutions and resources to meet local needs is a positive step towards the change of paradigm which we need. The very concept of "Transition" in its transformational nature expresses this.

For many years, writers and activists from the Deep and Social Ecology movements have been highly critical of "shallow" "reformatory" conservation. Writers like Arne Naess and Murray Bookchin argued convincingly that ethical and social transformation is a necessary first step towards dealing with the oncoming crisis and that without this we will be doomed to slow, despairing failure. The growth in environmental consciousness and grass-roots movements offer hope that such a transformation is possible.

I live in Bedford in the UK, which features in the excellent film Age of Stupid (http://www.ageofstupid.net/) – not in good way. But even Bedford has taken its first steps with the formation of a Transition Bedford group (http://transitionbedford.wordpress.com/) and people from this group attended the national Transition Town Conference recently. The fact that the Transition Town movement is now big enough to hold a national conference, and that even people from a green "desert" like Bedford attended it, is definitely a good sign. This is not to minimise the huge challenges we face, but it is encouraging that so many people believe they can make a difference and are making concrete plans to address climate change at the community level.

It is essential in this process that we communicate! Others have different skills, viewpoints and knowledge. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel, and discussion of differing views is essential to avoid parochialism and isolation. When we are planning for the eventual transformation of our society, then the "hows" "whys" and "what ifs" must be thoroughly discussed.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Kester,
    Glad you've found some like minded people in Bedfordshire. I expect right now many there,sadly, are more concerned about the immediate future of Vauxhall rather than the long term future of the planet. It is so hard for people when they are losing an old way of life. Transition Towns really are a positive and practical step in the right direction.

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  2. Yes I think many are currently more concerned with job losses, with the economic crisis and the need to "get the economy back to growth" without considering the effect on the environmental crisis.
    We must make the radical shift and adapt. Change is always hard, especially when everything is telling you to consume and that your consumption is the measure of your success, but we must!

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