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Transition Culture - an evolving exploration into the head, heart and hands of energy descent

Rob Hopkins's blog

Interview: George Monbiot on Rewilding

In July I had the great privilege of chairing George Monbiot's presentation on rewilding at the Ways With Words literary festival at Dartington Hall.  Before the talk we found a quiet corner and chatted for about half an hour about the book, and some of the ideas and issues it raises.  If you'd rather download or listen to a podcast of our conversation, you'll find it at the end of this post. I started by asking George to give a sense of what his new book Feral is all about.  

Why Transition needs a sense of wonder

It's dusk.  The family who arrived earlier in the day and pitched their tent next to ours have just asked us if we'd like to join them for a short walk to see "something magical".  We walk in the near-darkness down a grassy track to a lane with hedgerows on either side, the sea away to our right and the lights of Plymouth giving the clouds ahead of us an apricot-coloured underbelly, until something catches our eye.  Two dots of greenish light in the hedge.  Glowworms.  

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The Transitioner's Digest (July)

This month our theme has been 'Celebration'.  We have set out to explore 5 questions: Why do you celebrate? Why is celebration important? What are the ingredients of good celebration? What is the wider context for celebration? What is the personal context for celebration?

Divest! Then what?

Last year when I visited the US, Peter Lipman (Chair of Transition Network) and myself had supper with representatives from 3 large philanthropic organisations there.  At one point, Peter asked “so do you invest in coal?”  There was some discomfort around the table, and the reply was “no, coal is a terrible investment!” – the clear implication being that if it had been  a good investment the answer would have been a different one. 

Fiona Ward on learning to celebrate a £10,000 failure

One of the things I love most about working for the Transition Network is the cheerful disclaimer…

“Just in case you were under the impression that Transition is a process defined by people who have all the answers, you need to be aware of a key fact. We truly don't know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale…”

There have already been some posts from Transition groups about when an experiment fails, like this great article by Charlotte du Cann. Within the Transition Network organisation, the board and staff team are incredibly supportive of this experimental attitude within our own organisation. If things don’t work out as expected despite our best attempts, there is a collective shrug, a gathering of learning and openness to a new direction instead.

Sophy Banks on Creating a Culture of Celebration

When I was about 12 a friend of my sister came on holiday with my family. We were quite a typical family of three irritable siblings – when someone started singing or playing an instrument another child was guaranteed to tell them to “Shut up, that sounds horrible”.  We were continually fighting over whatever shifting thing was deemed to be the desirable whatever – sitting in the middle, sitting by the window, going first, going last. My sister’s friend who joined us was an only child and I was stunned to find that she only ever said nice things – to everyone.

This month's theme: The Power of Not Doing Stuff

This is going to be a very short post.  Our theme this month is The Power of Not Doing Stuff.  All too often our default as activists is to do do do, and to give ourselves very little time to pause, reflect or celebrate.  I remember once going to the leaving party of the head of a large green NGO.  He had been in charge there for a long time, and I asked him "what are you most looking forward to about not working here any more?"  "Not working 7 days a week" came the reply.  All through his kids growing up, he'd been working seven days a week.  Here at Transition Network, we say that's not OK.  

How we celebrate! Transition Town Wilmslow's energy group

Like many Transition groups we have spawned different subgroups at different times to meet particular interests and concerns. The Energy group has been going for quite a while and what picked it up was putting in a bid for government Local Energy Assessment Funding. This brought out some new talented people, who have run businesses and charities, a Nobel prize winner on climate change, Cheshire Groundwork as fund holders, and got us a successful bid. In turn that brought in staff time to get out publicity, recruit a lot of new volunteers to use thermal cameras, and advise householders.

Celebrating Transition at the Transition Northwest Conference

Saturday 12th July saw the first pilot Transition Roadshow take place, the Transition Northwest Conference.  And if the four subsequent Roadshows are to prove anywhere near as good, then it represents a great new evolution in how to celebrate and support Transition at the local level.  The conference was held at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster, hosted by the Institute for Leadership and SustainabilityTransition City Lancaster had done wonders in pulling together the event, and their care and attention to detail was clear throughout. 

Chris Johnstone: "Without celebration, we wither away"

Chris Johnstone works in the area of the psychology of resilience, sustainable happiness and is co-author, with Joanna Macy, of Active Hope: how to face the mess we're in without going crazy. Chris appeared at both the Unleashing of Transition Town's Totnes and Lewes, and has interacted with different Transition groups ever since. He's also an accomplished musician (you can hear him playing briefly at the end of the podcast of our interview).  I started by asking him why celebration matters:

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