Transition Culture

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

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13 Jun 2006

A New Way of Showing The End of Suburbia (for us anyway).

eos1Last Friday we screened the End of Suburbia at Bogan House in Totnes, which was attended by over 40 people. This was the first time we tried a different way of facilitating the event, and I thought it went quite well, so I thought I’d tell you about it.

The room had no proper screen so we projected onto a sheet hung from a large wardrobe at the front of the room. As the room was packed, and as I have run out of fingers and toes to count the amount of times I’ve seen the film now, I sat at the side at the front, watching the screen from a sharp angle. This accentuated the lumps and bumps in the screen to the extent that James Howard Kunstler looked uncannily like the Elephant Man. Also, having seen it so often, I found myself observing things I hadn’t spotted before. Have you noticed the fly flying around Matt Simmons’ head and landing on his shoulder?

EOSAnyway, the idea came from something similar they did when they showed EOS in Machynlleth in Wales. We adapted it slightly. When people arrived, they were given 4 different coloured Post-It notes. They were asked to write on one colour (the colours for each question were posted on the wall so they could see) one thing I can do, then one thing Totnes can do, then one thing the Government can do, and finally one other thought that came to them from watching the film.

After the film they posted them all on the wall under the respective colour, and then over the next couple of days, Naresh and myself typed them up. I will be emailing them back out to everyone who attended. Felt a lot more productive than all just watching the film and going home again, and gave some interesting pointers for the beginning of the Energy Descent Plan project. Here are what emerged from this approach…

**One thing I can Do…**

Don’t waste energy! * Learn to grow veges * Dream and create a sustainable future * Buy my electricity from green energy, and fit LED lights * Less flying more gardening * Local campaigning against air miles * Walk more * Buy local produce * Buy a bike trailer * Work collectively * Continue buying locally and being awar of energy used * Notice all domestic energy and turn off lights * Live in town? * Escape renting? * Solar panels? * More buses * Own food growing * Live in bus * No kids? * Cycle to work * Don’t fly again * Stop work to enable living truly sustainabily now * Learn some survival skills * Learn to grow food * Car share, and walk * Find other people and groups to join. I cannot change things on my own. Together we have the power * Educate as many people as possible, and buy a bike * Learn new skills for the future * Produce as many of my own needs as possible: food clothing, housing * Buy locally produced food * Eat more raw food * Eat less! * Only work for local customers
* Get a hand grass cutter * Change home heating from oil to wood * Make others aware * Install solar panels on roof, and planning laws need changing * Grow vegetable and fruit * Grow veg * Help raise awareness * Buy more locally * Campaign
* Grow more veg * Get on my bike more an spread the word * Inspire 5 people to watch this film * Join talks September * Downscale * Reduce car usage * Finish reading Energy and Equity by Illich, and possibly make some response in writing.

**One Thing Totnes Can Do…**

eos2Try and do things locally * Involve the Council in this issue * Turn lawns and parks into gardens * Unite around this project * source local produce and energy * produce local energy * Develop a local trade system * provide a model for the post peak-oil society for the rest of the country * get together to take the initiative in local Government * Traffic-free days * a wind turbine parks * Village and town allotments in the South Hams * create an Energy Descent Action Plan * acknowledge existing sustainability projects * fight for a society where what is best for humanity is more important than profit * buy imported food which is locally available *(this is an odd one, I keep rereading it but it makes my head hurt)* * local car shares * very frequent public transport * vastly reduced consumption * car share boards where drivers write in advance where and when they have seats to share * pedestrianise the High Street * Support the development of an alternative energy system for the town from wind or waves * make sure of a good source of drinking water * make recycling easier to understand * plan and act to become self suficient in energy, all that power in the flow of the river, not to mention the tidal power in the estuary * support its own small businesses – less miles etc. Encourage these producers to adopt better energy policies. Supporting local is not enough if local intends to grow and grow and be national etc – relocalise * show this DVD to Town and Rural Planners! To allow people to get planning permission to live sustainably on the land * publicise the town’s green orientation and its pioneering use of renewable energy options * look at local renewable power provision * generate its own energy and become self sufficient in energy needs * form a local food collective and exchange * create a sustainable comunity and secure locally produced food solely supplies the community * rebuild the tramways * encourage car sharing * create a forum for people to learn how to break the consensus trance – plan to make the change less of a panic and more inspirational * get together and create solid and sustainable solutions.

**One Thing the Government Can Do…**

eos4Subsidise alternative energy development * Stop the War in Iraq and Afghanistan – do something more sensiblewith the money! We will also save energy! * support local communities and make transport relly pay its true price * the Government can improve the Building Regulations so that all new build is to BREAM Eco Homes ‘excellent’ standard * support renewables * start telling people the truth * start planning now (and be honest!) * run a high leve, long running campaign to change minds * stop fighting wars * adopt Contraction and Convergence * invest in public transport * broad-based energy policy and articulate the long term problem * be honest with the people and empower local communties backed up by central funding * open discussion * national debate and awareness of peak oil issues and solutions * not go for nuclear as a quick fix * change building regs to incorporate sloar as an essential component of new build and grants for old buildings * inform people of the situation * end cheap food and oil supply/ heavily subsidise renewable energy supply * fund public transport better and fund more sustainability ideas * education about peak oil crisis * forget about nuclear as an option. Green-oriented MPs should force Blair to help sustainable energy sources * make aviation 100 times more expensive * relax planning policy to allow for radical changes * take more notice and try to change our lifestyles so we don’t need oil.

**One other Thought…**

eos3Make things to last, not break or need updating really soon * Maybe global warming and peak oil and all those disaster scenarios should be tempered with a spiritual dimension. People need to be shocked out of their conformity * Build up tramways * Legislation to make supermarkets increase their supply of locally made food and goods * We need to start preparing for the future now * I have heard of another way of splitting the atom differently * Show this film more! * The best thing about cars: freedom and independence. But the car lifestyle has made us Dependent * Take a leaf out of Cuba’s sustainability book * It will be very important to inform the people of the scale of the challenges, and the scale of the chances we will have to make in our lives. But this is far from all bad * * When the times comes are we finally going to wake up and will we have the energy to make the solar panels etc? * A great opportunity for a better world and community * 1) Find less costly and more ecological ways of building houses.. 2) Remove excessive planning control so that craftsman/women can live and work closer to home.. 3) Keep thinking and acting on ideas * Go for various local energy sources * Take this to school and collages to inspire the young * Need to work as a group together * Changing people’s culture is the key * Time top act is now * Make a load of money and quit my job and campaign * Is government and parliamentary democracy really the best vehicle to get through this? * Don’t fly on holidays * Campaigns against retailers who do not consider aim miles * Think of how to change work patterns * Stop travelling! * Slow down *

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[…] I read THIS this morning and had to pass it along. […]

James May
13 Jun 12:56pm

Good idea.
I am holding a little meeting in Coventry in the next few weeks. Some good ideas here.

Graham Strouts
13 Jun 1:55pm

Yes, some kind of facilitation afterwards is essential.
Brian Weller gave us a suggested series of metings on diferent themes, rather than a once-off film showing. The key idea there was repetition- show the film regularly, say a series of 4 times every two weeks, and each time ask those who attend to recruit people they know- especially anyone in a position of influence- to come to the next showing. Over time, more people will get to know “oh yes, they are showing that film again” and far more hopefully will get along to see it and have discusions afterwards.
Incidentally, I just saw a copy of Robert Newman’s “A History of Oil” which was originally shown on channel 4. It is hilarious as well as really informative (how many of us think of the first world war as an invasion of Iraq by the British?)and could even be a good alternative to EOS.

Anne Stallybrass
13 Jun 3:08pm

I feel you’re doing down there what we’re doing up here albeit in a different way. I’m interested in the process of “Repeat and Refine”, and networking with this, to get the punch, the excellence, the simplicity, and the love that we need to reach ordinary people in order to tip the Hundredth Monkey scales. Please get in touch!

Donna Jones
14 Jun 7:30pm

I just got my DVD copy of The Power of Community (Cuba’s response to their premature Peak Oil when the Soviets pulled out their support) and watched it yesterday. This would be a good follow-up video, perhaps a few days or a week after showing The E of S, and might be great to build on with a facilitated discussion.

In other words, a one-two punch, the problem, and then some solutions. If you want to make a film festival out of it, show the Global Gardener series of 4 half-hour programs on Permaculture projects around the world. Lots more solutions!

15 Jun 1:07pm

I though the BBC programme “If the oil runs out” was fairly good:

Some of the drama aspects were a bit dodgy though, but otherwise the presentation was a bit more catchy that that of “the end of suburbia”

It would be even better if there was a film just set in the UK. Suburbia is a bigger issue with the US of course and there is a slight danger of people thinking it would not have the as big an effect for the UK.

1 Jul 11:04am

Hey guys!
Awesome to see people around the world getting active on this topic. Have you seen Big Gav’s peak oil site in australia? (just google him, I’m sure it’ll come up).
I’m at
and I’m trying to prove a point by commuting by bike 68km one way to my new job, and the blog is about the ride.
take care!