Transition Culture

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

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29 Jan 2007

Soil Association Conference Podcasts Available.

poster**One Planet Agriculture**, the Soil Association’s conference exploring peak oil and the relocalisation of food and farming was an extraordinary success. Their most popular conference to date, it could have been sold out at least twice over. During its 2 days and one evening, it was immersed in the reality of peak oil and in the exploration of what practically might be done to prepare for it. Most of the presentations were kept to the first morning, allowing the rest of the time to be dedicated to workshops on different aspects of the challenge. The speakers on the first morning were Jonathan Porritt, Colin Campbell, Jeremy Leggett, Richard Heinberg, Carlwyn Jones, myself, Andre Viljoen and Peter Melchett. The presentations were designed to take the delegates on a journey through peak oil and on to what we might actually be able to do about it. You can now hear all the presentations as Soil Association podcasts, and I recommend them highly. Of course these podcasts do rather make bloggers like myself who take copious notes during such talks in order to bring the insights from the presentations to you first somewhat redundant. Anyway, more about the conference will follow….

Categories: General

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Oliver Dowding
29 Jan 4:01pm

Rob, your offering at the Soil Association conference was wonderful. And scary!
Now, how are we to get the policy clowns in the Planning Departments, Government et al to take serious note and also be proactive?
Happy to help.
Best wishes
Oliver Dowding
SE Somerset

29 Jan 4:05pm


Thanks for your input into and shaping of the Soil Association’s conference; I was there for the Friday and found the whole evolving ambience very worthwhile – some to my mind unlikely people ‘getting it’ about peak oil issues and the potential catastrophe overlap with climate change and so on. A strong media presence having to take on board complex and irreducible matters of fact, for once.

Moreover, as well as the familiar effects of post-petroleum disorder manifesting (you gave a homeopathic dose of just about ideal proportions I reckon), I encountered many people actively discussing approaches to amelioration, mitigation and acceptance of the energy descent pathway. Thirsting for more, enquiring with their own minds, not parroting tired truisms. I also heard from many delegates the refrain ‘it’s going to take me a while to digest all this’ – so perhaps there will be scope to keep people involved, interested and connected through their existing organisations, new initiatives (transition towns spring to mind) and places such as this site. I certainly hope so anyway. Something real seemed possible growing out of the event.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for your part in propelling the event, creating connections between people and organisations, agendas and talents, pundits and experts; and getting the deepest issues into people’s minds in a sane and workable way; and on a personal note, to say it was good to meet and shake your hand.

7 Feb 5:16pm

Rob, it was good to listen to the podcasts of the recent Soil Association conference. I must say that I was disappointed by the coverage by BBC Correspondent Sarah Mukherjee.

I wrote to her (part of my letter)…

“Were you really at the same conference? You barely mention anything about the main theme of the event – the absolute dependency of our current food production and distribution systems on fossil fuels, the fact that oil and gas are both about to peak and that this will leave us with less and less energy in the coming decades. Did the presentations by Colin Campbell, Richard Heinberg, Rob Hopkins, Jonathan Porritt and Jeremy Leggett really leave no impression on you at all? Did you take any time to talk to any of them afterwards?”

…and received this reply:

“The point of those blogs is to provide people with a flavour of the behind the scenes stuff in the conference from a light hearted point of view, ther esort of things most people would chat about to theirfriends if they’d been to the conference themselves. If they want earnest write ups, they can go to lots of other webpages.

If you had talked to Patrick Holden, Rob, Jeremy Legget and Jonathan Porritt, you would not only have discovered that I speak to them on a regular basis, you would find out that I have already expressed a lot of interest in the subject of the conferece – and indeed was the only national news journalist to do so in the weeks leading up to the event.

As they are more than well aware, I will be putting together some material on this in the coming weeks, but I wanted to spent time creating some really good radio and telly instead of knocking off a visually unattractive piece which was unlikely to get attention.

In the blog, I focussed on the main news lines to come out of the conference, which I was the only one to cover, because, again, I was the only national journalist outside the specialist farming press to attend, which I hardly think suggests a slapdash attitude. The people who organised it were more than happy with the coverage they received.”

Does Sarah Mukherjee understand what the conference was about? Or have I missed something?