Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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21 Nov 2005

Urban versus Rural Sustainability

I just found a version of this article, Urban versus Rural Sustainability by Toby Hemenway on the web and had to post this up here, as you could kind of say it changed my life….

The Permaculture Activist magazine has a dubious knack of popping through my letter box at points in my life when I seem to be really ready for its contents, just not aware of the fact yet. Last November, a month after the house I had spent the last two years building had been razed to the ground by an unknown arsonist, the new issue popped though the door. The theme of the issue? Fire and Catastrophe. I had been going through a whole post-End of Suburbia thinking process around the issue of where was best to live, urban or rural.

PC Activist

After the fire we were really thinking deeply about where we wanted to live, about moving to be where we needed to be for the peak oil transition. Toby’s article was the editorial piece in that issue, and it had a deep effect on me, my thinking had reached 3 out of 10, he was a 10 already, and his logic made great sense to me. It was not comfortable reading, and it was very challenging, but I knew he was right really. I was touched by his honesty, and his openess to saying “well, that hasn’t really worked for us, let’s try something else…”. What he wrote about living in a rural community deeply resonated with my experience, the same issues of car dependence and isolation. That’s not to say that I think his conclusions apply for everyone, but they really related to me, and I think it is a very powerful piece of writing. I really recommend you read this, I was even thinking of typing the whole thing in myself it meant that much to me, but now I have found it, I offer the link and hope you find it of use. What did I do? I moved to the edge of a small town. I can walk into town in 10 minutes, I can get a train to college and even to London should I feel so inclined, and my kids walk to visit their friends, its great. Kinda miss having a compost toilet though but hey, you can’t have everything…

Categories: Peak Oil, Permaculture

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1 Comment

Sherry Mayo
1 Dec 1:29am

David Holmgren here in Australia has been talking a lot retrofitting typical australian suburbs for sustainability – at least some of which would be applicable to UK suburbs and small towns. Here’s an article about it:

I imagine there are considerable energy/efficiency benefits in working with what we have rather than everyone trying to shift to rural living (which isn’t possible anyway).