Transition Culture

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

Transition Culture has moved

I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

26 May 2006

The Power of Community Premieres in Totnes.

cubadvdLast night around 95 people attended the UK premiere of the Community Solution’s film ‘The Power of Community’ at the Totnes Methodist Hall. The film explores what happened to Cuba when their oil supply disappeared, almost overnight, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. It looks at the positive way in people responded and relocalised many aspects of their lives. At last, a peak oil film which is also positive and inspirational. The film was very well received, and the group discussion afterwards was lively and very positive about the film. The discussion touched on some of the following points;

* Cuba has a very different climate to the UK and feeding people there is much more possible
* Relocalisation here will lead to the discovery of lots of fruit and vegetable varieties that we have forgotten about the grow here very well.
* Why did Cuba not explore large scale alcohol production from its sugar cane? (I don’t know the answer to this one…)
* How wonderful it was to see a positive peak oil film!
* What will the role of local Government be in a future of enforced localisation?
* The need for the planning system to recognise the need for people to reinhabit the countryside in sustainable and productive ways.
* How impressive it was that Cuba, even when things got very tough, still prioritised funding for health and education
* The relevance of the experience of the Second World War in the UK, where 10% of the national diet was grown on allotments. * The point was made that at that time, most of the nation’s resources were directed outwards to fighting a war, whereas if they were focused inwards, it would be very different in terms of what were possible.
* The need for productive land use to become a core principle of the planning system.
* The need to begin withdrawing support from multinationals and supporting local businesses.

There were many more, but as I was chairing it I was unable to take notes, so these are just off the top of my head. My deepest thanks to the folks at Community Solution for allowing us to call it the official UK premiere, and for making such a powerful and inspirational film, and also to Schumacher College for kindly lending us their projector.


This screening was the first in a series of three films called **3 Films About the Impending Energy Transition That You Really Shouldn’t Miss…**. The other two are **The End of Suburbia** which will be shown at 8pm at Bogan House, High Street, Totnes, on Friday 9th June, and **Peak Oil – imposed by nature** followed by a talk by Rob Hopkins on relocalisation, at 8pm at Birdwood House, High Street, Totnes on Friday 16th June. Come along!

Categories: General

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


26 May 8:44am

Sounds engaging and useful Rob, thanks for the tip. And also perhaps links up with the Fuelling the Future dvds, which I just watched – another excellent piece of ’empowering response to peak energy issues’.

Cuba impresses for various reasons in this way, especially the swift re-establishment of relocalised, effective, organic agriculture at appropriate scales. I think their per capita yields are now up to 90% of the pre-Special Period levels, but with just a tiny fraction of the energy inputs. That’s highly relevant – and dependent not so much on the centralist government structure’s command economy model, as on the creativity, dynamism, focus and freed up decision making of communities at their own levels.

How important (as we and others stupidly lurch towards the nuclear precipice) was the Cuban decision to use the remaining dribbles of oil they did have access to, as a primary fuel for electricity generation?

Cuban Patriot
26 May 12:55pm

Do you realize that the vast majority of the Cubans are cooking with wood fired stoves; lighting their houses with candles; and they have no air-conditioning and only get electricity four hours a day so that they can keep their refrigerators cold enough so their foods won’t spoil?

26 May 4:09pm

It’s important to note that Cuba started at a relatively low oil consumption rate and decreased it. Their only real concern was farming, since transportation and infrastructure had been ravaged by embargos for sometime. It’s kind of ironic, actually, that the sanctions against Cuba may have strengthened it to survive a global fuel shortage, while the US is left rather vulnerable.

Over here in the colonies, it’s hard to get people to accept the idea that maybe we have something to learn from Cuba.

29 May 12:56am

When you have a benevolent dictator it is possible to make decisions like Cuba (Castro) has done but under the Oligarchy we have (both in Britain and here in Australia) you cannot get the land reforms in place because that are needed for this to occur .The decision makers (those that give the information to the majority of the population) have too much to lose
In my opinion we need to form into small groups who are dedicated to a co-operative system (rather than the competitive system we have in place) so that we can work outside of the system, as much as we are able.
The move Castro made when he imported one million bicycles from China helped quite a bit as an alternative to the oil use for transportation
Castro’s friendship with Chavez (Venezuala) is having an effect on the American dream too