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

A rather odd dream I had about scaling up

I went to a conference once where at the beginning of each day, for the first 10 minutes, people were invited to share any dreams they had had the previous night.  The thinking went something along the lines that when a large group of people spend time together, their dreams may often resonate or provide insights for other members of the group.  Or something.  

Every morning we'd hear a few dreams.  I rather enjoyed it.  A few nights ago, I went to sleep thinking about scaling up, as I was thinking about what to write for Monday's opening blog on the subject.  That night I had a curious dream which I can't make heads nor tail of, so in the spirit of that conference, I thought I would share it with you.  

I dreamt that myself and a few other people had a seemingly great idea to help Transition scale up, which was to reintroduce football (or soccer for US readers) in the way it was originally played in medieval times.  That early version is described thus:

According to a legend, the people of one village would try to kick the “ball” (a skull in many cases) along a path to another village’s square. The opposing village would try to stop them and kick the ball to the first one’s square. Surely, it must have sparked a considerable amount of riots.

Medieval mob footballIt was also known as "mob football", and often took the form of a near-riot.  According to some accounts, any means could be used to move the ball to a goal, so long as it did not involve murder or manslaughter.  

Football was actually banned between 1324 and 1667, a ban covered by over 30 royal and local laws.  Yet repeated legislation failed to stamp it out.  King Edward II was so disturbed by it that in 1314 he issued a proclamation stating:

"Forasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls from which many evils may arise which God forbid; we command and forbid, on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future."

AshbourneThe game has actually had something of a modern revival.  In Ashbourne, Derbyshire, the game is played every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, during which time, apparently, "Ashbourne becomes a war zone".  In Alnwick in Northumberland their version, called 'Scoring the Hales' survives and is kicked off (so to speak) with the Duke of Northumberland dropping a ball from the battlements of Alnwick Castle.  It is still played in several other places too, and has only stopped being played in several other places relatively recently.  In Teddington, where it no longer happens, "it was conducted with such animation that careful house-holders had to protect their windows with hurdles and bushes".  Here is a short video giving a sense of what it looks like when it's played in Alnwick:


So anyway, back to my dream.  So we had this idea that reintroducing mob football through Transition initiatives could be a great way of giving Transition a boost.  We trialled it first in a few small places and it went really well, people really enjoyed it, it proved to be a real community celebration and brought people together.  My thinking was that communities need the opportunity to come together and let their hair down and go a bit wild, like the Pamplona bull run, that festival in Spain where everyone throws tomatoes at each other, Brazilian carnivals, or Holi festival in India where everyone chucks coloured powder at each other.  

In my dream though, suddenly the idea really took off.  It started happening all over the country, but it rapidly got out of hand.  People come to associate Transition with mob violence, people looting shops while the 'mob' is passing through a shopping area, and before long, Transition is associated with civil disorder and chaos.  The dream ended with a sense of deep anxiety about what we had unleashed.  No idea what that's all about. Any suggestions welcome.  Or maybe I just ate some particularly strong cheese before I went to bed!

Comments

Carolyn Strauss's picture

Keep going

Dear Rob,

I too enjoy hearing people's dreams and I thank you for sharing yours.

All this means is that, YES, you have unleashed something, and you need to trust in that process.

Transition is a powerful idea, and part of its power is that no one person is in control. There can be a bit of 'wildness' in all those people trying to do something unprecedented together, but at worst the wildness represents the raw energy that dedicated people bring to something they believe in. But you already know that!

Anxiety is the mind or ego's way of trying to undermine what we know to be true. So I ask you: What do you know to be true? When you allow the anxiety to subside and you drop back into your heart, what is the scenario you see unfolding before you, before all of us? Is it the energy of the raucous mob? Or is the energy of positive change, of the Great Turning, that which the amazing Joanna Macy calls "the essential adventure of our time"?'

Carolyn Strauss's picture

Keep going

Dear Rob,

I too enjoy hearing people's dreams and I thank you for sharing yours.

All this means is that, YES, you have unleashed something, and you need to trust in that process.

Transition is a powerful idea, and part of its power is that no one person is in control. There can be a bit of 'wildness' in all those people trying to do something unprecedented together, but at worst the wildness represents the raw energy that dedicated people bring to something they believe in. But you already know that!

Anxiety is the mind or ego's way of trying to undermine what we know to be true. So I ask you: What do you know to be true? When you allow the anxiety to subside and you drop back into your heart, what is the scenario you see unfolding before you, before all of us? Is it the energy of the raucous mob? Or is the energy of positive change, of the Great Turning, that which the amazing Joanna Macy calls "the essential adventure of our time"?'

Toni Weir's picture

Football nightmare

I know what you mean Rob, I went to Pamplona in my youth; a week of complete and utter madness, there is something very energising about 'allowed' mayhem. 

I wonder what was wondering around in your subconsciousness.. although if you're worrying about what is going to happen if we don't manage to scale up in time.....     perhaps a Jungian trained transitioner could help?  Or you could carry on the experiment and see what happens if you munch on chocolate instead of cheese.... sweet dreams  :-)

Isabela Maria Gomez de Menezes's picture

Let's keep dreaming together!

"Um sonho que se sonha só é só um sonho que se sonha só, mas sonho que se sonha junto é realidade"  

This is a phrase of a Brazilian singer called Raul Seixas and it says:

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream you dream alone, but a dream you dream together is reality"

Transition is this lovely international living dream! And as the brain  does not distinguish dream from reality......... let's keep dreaming together.

But i would love to participate of a Transition Carnival Parade!!!

A good year for us all.

Issa From Brazil

 

 

David Lyons's picture

Enduring rough folk traditions...

Another similar tradition is Haxey Hood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haxey_Hood ).  I went to it some years ago - not that violent..but highly charged...and a bit dangerous.  Like Padstow Obby Oss it is respected by all local people - young and old as part of their heritage, of their calender of events to look forward to...and a bit of fun.  Many revived folk traditions eventually (after 30-40 years!!) gain general acceptance (and ownership!) by the populace as people grow up and grow old seeing them.

I am going wassailing on Friday night...there may not be many people ...but every tradition starts somewhere!  We have been working hard to increase recognition of the value of our apple trees in the village and the village (ie transition) apple press has been out on load continuously in October/November.  Saturday will see our second cider competition (for the Wassail cup!) at our January low carbon party - another tradition now in its 4th year.

Anyone curious to know more about Wassailing could do no worse than read Colin Cator's book on the subject at http://www.hedinghamfair.co.uk/hedingham_fair_books.htm - I am part way through it!

David Lyons

Tony Buck's picture

scaling up

You may have some sub-conscious anxiety that with scaling up all control will be lost, not that you're looking to control it. From my personal experience scaling up won't come easy. Let's think about things we've known for some time and how they've scaled up. 

What about the health food store movement? How much has it scaled up since 1980 when I embraced it? I helped introduced tofu to a wider audience into the West country of UK in 1981, how much has that product scaled up in society? Well, it's probably in every supermarket now. However, Transition is more important than that, I feel. 

A large percentage of Transition is still theoretical awareness raising. Your reconomy reports about local energy generation from individuals to shared ownership and home energy retrofits, now that's applied Transition, when we see that getting traction on a society-wide basis (read subsidies) we'll say it's scaling up. By the way, that's one of the only large enough mechanisms to regenerate the economy for a while. (A positive economic bubble?)

Anna O'Brien's picture

Happy New Year

Hi Rob, you dreamed about a game being changed, a gamechanger. You went to sleep thinking about a Transition article on scaling up. That'll be £50, thanks.

James Young's picture

YourDreamsInterpreted.com

Very entertaining!

I would say that if you've ever tried to have an honest discussion about climate change with someone who really doesn't want to believe it, no matter how strong your reason and logic, then you will know the aforementioned Medieval Football is the perfect metaphor! Including the skull kicking.

Getting across the idea of Transition is maybe more akin to "who wants it more" or who believes it more deeply rather than about what are the actual facts and reason; it turns into medieval football sometimes. Sometimes the veracity of one's beliefs are just as important as the actual scientific backing.

As for the second part regarding the ill reputation gained by the Transition Football League (TFL) after the highly successful scaling up, this is a bit more opaque, to me anyway.

I would say for one, that half of Transition means giving up so many comfortable things, that if you just focus on that part, then yes, Transition appears to be the tearing down of society. Looters, pillagers, and destroyers of modern life is what Transitioners are! Admit it! At least partly. This is what makes Transition such a hard pill to swallow for many people, I'm sure.

However, the tearing down part is done in a spirit of reclamation of our world, to make a better one before it all comes crashing down on its own. So Transitioners are looters in a way, but we're stealing the intact beams and girders of a dilapidated building that's about to fall anyway, and we're building something better with those still-good parts.

And that's the second half of Transition that we can't forget to communicate. The building of a new society from the old is really what we're about, not just the tearing down of the old.

But there will be a tearing down of many things and perhaps it's just a warning that we can't lose sight of in our march to victory; people will suffer. We need to be sure they know it's because of the effects of peak oil and climate change and not coming from the act of Transition itself.

Or maybe it's just the bad cheese coming back on you.

That's my take anyway. Thanks

Carolyn Strauss's picture

Great insights!

Thanks for sharing this, James.

 

Rob Hopkins's picture

Thanks everyone

All very fascinating.  Thanks everyone.  In particular James, analysed by a professional!  I am expecting the bill in the post now for your services!  Thanks everyone.  Mob football as an analogy for the climate debate, hadn't seen it like that before!  Thanks all...

Rob

Marian van-der-Veen's picture

Rob's odd dream about scaling up Transition

Hey Rob, I'm rather late with sending you my best wishes for 2014, all readers included in it. Thx for sharing that dream! While reading it, I remembered Joanna Macy's comment "Without balance, there's no sustainability"There's always a light and shadow part, as long as we're in duality consciousness.

The other comments mention this too, I guess anxiety as an ingredient in processes of change is a familiar one to many of us. And likewise is finding balance, I think.

You might be clear now, in the meantime, about taking the next step in scaling up Transition. Now that you've worked through some of the UK collective anxiety on your own, while dreaming ;)