Transition Culture

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

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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.

6 Oct 2006

A Review of Legacy by Joanne Poyourow.

legA couple of weeks ago I asked if anyone out there in **Transition Culture**-land would like to review Joanne Poyourow’s book Legacy which she very kindly sent me to review. With the pile of books next to my bed in danger of causing serious injury should it topple over during the night, I decided to delegate, and Robert Morgan of The Green College nobly took up the baton. The book attempts to tell the story of the transition from the present to a sustainable society, something I have long argued to be a powerful tool, helping people to imagine how that journey might be. Unfortunately our guest reviewer Robert Morgan was somewhat underwhelmed… here is his review.

**Legacy: A Story of Hope for a Time of Environmental Crisis by Joanne Poyourow. Reviewed by Robert Morgan.**

Legacy sets out to chronicle the campaigns of Tia Chandler and her husband-to-be Ari Damek, as they tussle with government, big-business and public apathy in the fight against global warming. The book opens with a distant descendent reading a letter written by Tia’s mother Cassandra, an environmental campaigner herself who has come to the conclusion that the human race has little future in the face of global climate change. “Ah, but someone was listening

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Robert Morgan
6 Oct 7:23pm

If you have clicked on the link to The Green College kindly put in by Rob, you will have seen that, erm… there is not a proper website there yet. However, please bookmark it if interested as we will be completing the website in the next few days, to begin the promotion of our Eco-Living Diploma course which we will be launching in January.

Thanks and apologies,


Joanne Poyourow
6 Oct 7:45pm

It is unfortunate that Mr. Morgan so completely misses the point of the book. He appears to be looking for a graphic description of the downside scenario of global warming and peak oil, presumably in hopes to scare the public into action.

I, on the other hand, think that much of the intelligent public has already heard the doomsday scenarios. There comes a point of “overload” in which the listener freezes in inaction.

We have, however, a shortage of visions. Faced with a public who is yearning for “What Can I Do?” we have relatively few solutions-based stories. As far as positive environmental outcomes, perhaps Kim Stanley Robinson, Pacific Edge. Or Earthfuture, by Canadian Guy Dauncey. Yet the works of those two authors drop us into a future where the transition is already worked out.

The point of Legacy is to explore the transition period – the time between our outrageously unsustainable Now, and that sustainable Then.

Legacy is not just a peak oil story. Nor is it just a global warming story. It’s the story of the interrelated panorama of issues which face us – the entirety of David Holmgren’s Permaculture Flower ( It’s an exploration of how our societal paradigm must change if we are to attain Holmgren’s “earth stewardship” alternative of energy descent (description at My book depicts a scant 40 years at the beginning of that journey. On Holmgren’s timeline (Permaculture: Principles and Pathways, p.xxix), 100 years barely makes it around the curve to reach the “descent culture”, let alone 40.

Earth stewardship, Sustainability … How do we get there from here? We need a vision. Moreover, we need more than one vision.

Mr. Morgan speaks of wasted oportunity. On the contrary, I hope others will jump on board, envisioning the future, by using real environmental science to build stories which take us from Now into a sustainable Then. We should flood the market with stories that explore possible ways out of this mess. There should be many different versions. Because if people can’t see it, they can’t do it.

I wrote a story about possibilities. A story intended to inspire rather than depress or tear apart. It’s sub-titled “A Story of Hope” for a reason. We need hope right now. We need possibilities put before our eyes. We need encouragement, in order to rally the courage to change the course of society.

Perhaps Mr. Morgan skipped p. 373. After nearly 20 pages of footnotes documenting the nonfiction positive news used in the story, I challenged readers: “we can indeed craft a better Legacy than this.”

But first we must hold at least a glimmer of belief that a positive future is possible.

Thank you, Rob, for putting Legacy on Transition Culture. I appreciate your blog and the change-focused energy you cultivate here.

Joanne Poyourow
Los Angeles

“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.”
–Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth

7 Oct 2:02am

I loved this book! It is unfortunate that this reviewer chooses to look for the negative instead of the positive. I found this book to be not only a great read but also inspiring. In my opinion the authorspeaks from the heart but has a passion about bringing awareness to others. If we choose to work together and to take from each other the pieces that work, then we can make a difference in this world. No one has all the answers, the problems and the solutions are uniquely complex. But why not put energy into pulling ideas together rather than choosing to waste energy towards unconstructive remarks?

16 Jan 10:18am

This book is truely inspirational and educational. Whilst being a brilliant story the references give a solid understanding of the current and future issues we face. It is a perfect book for those who are just realising the need for transition or infact need some pursuasion as well as those of us well and truely behind the transition movement. I have bought 3 copies; given 2 to local TT groups for them to share amoungst their memebers and 1 has been released into the book crossing world ( Read and enjoy!! Thank you Joanne, from myself and future generations…