8 Dec 2005
End of Suburbia
**The End of Suburbia**. I’m sure that most of you reading this have seen this film already. If you hadn’t you probably wouldn’t be reading this. I tend to assume that everyone has seen it, but actually most people haven’t. I organised a number of public screenings of it in West Cork when I lived there, it is always a very powerful experience seeing how people react to it. One thing that has struck me is that when I first showed it people were deeply affected and upset, it was quite a thing listening to people’s shock and distress after the film. Now when I show it people are really inspired and want to do stuff, nowhere near so much upset and shock. It is still the same film, so I can only really assume that the people have changed in that time.
For many years, most people I met in the permaculture movement could trace their involvement back to a film called “In Grave Danger of Falling Food” produced by ABC Television in Australia and shown in the UK on Channel 4’s ‘Visionaries’ series. It featured Bill Mollison on the loose around the world, and is still a wonderful piece of television (I still show it on courses, as permaculture viewing it has yet, nearly 20 years later, to be bettered). It does contain an appalling ‘permaculture rap’, but given the brilliance of the rest of it I’ve come to forgive them. The effect it had on people really impressed on me the power of positive practical inspiring television.
The End of Suburbia too. It has sold 20,000 copies so far, and was recently shown on VisionTV in Canada in March of 2005. It doubled the their average primetime audience and was the most-watched program for the week on the network. It has also been broadcast in Sweden and will show again in Canada on the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Country Canada” digital channel this winter. Work is also underway on the sequel, “Escape from Suburbia”, expected some time during the summer of 2006. The amazing thing with EOS is how it has spread around the world mostly by word of mouth and public screenings. It is time for a mainstream TV series on visioning the future we want and showing people how to get there. It would be huge, the time is right for it.
I am just back from a screening of it in Totnes along with my colleague Naresh. We had over 40 people in a packed room, and it was a very positive feeling. We had questions and discussion afterwards, and it was all very focused and forward looking. I spoke of how we are planning a Totnes localisation process modelled on and learning from the Kinsale one, and people were very enthusiastic, there was a sense that really, having seen the film it is the only logical approach left to us. What I love about EOS is that it leaves no convenient back door to sidle out of, really it boils down to no oil, no transporation infrastructure; no transportation infrastructure, no globalised economy; no globalised economy, no nothing, apart from localisation. It is obvious isn’t it? Or is it just me? I think the film puts it so clearly.
The UK Government’s decision to go nuclear, disguised as an Energy Review, is the closest we are going to get to their admitting that we’ve peaked. Their response to peak oil is clear, business as usual at all costs, even if the way they propose to achieve it is in fact totally unworkable. So, where does that leave us? The recent success of the Kinsale Plan shows us that a ground-up, practical, common sense strategy which doesn’t point fingers, avoids confrontation and builds a community vision within a peak oil context is the way to go. When you harness the power of a community to vision what it wants AND provide a vehicle for achieving that my sense is that you are unstoppable. As I said at the end of the group discussion in Totnes this evening, I have often seen how screenings of EOS in towns act, in hindsight, as a catalyst for all sorts of things that follow. Hopefully people will look back on tonight as an historic occasion. We can only hope so.
If you have never seen EOS, you can order it from the producers. Organise a screening in your town, you’ll be amazed where it can lead…