27 Feb 2007
Peak Oil World Café at Schumacher College.
On Thursday 22nd February, Transition Town Totnes (TTT) and Schumacher College co-hosted a World Café event for local officials to explore how an understanding of peak oil and climate change might inform their work and their decisions. 23 people, from local parish councils, Town Councils and the District Council, as well as the local MP, gathered at Schumacher for what was an extremely productive event. It was a very good illustration of the effectiveness of World Cafe as a tool for enabling discussion on topics such as peak oil and climate change.
The evening began with a short talk by Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth which explored the imperative of climate change, and how it compels us all to act. He painted a clear picture of the urgency of the need for action. This was followed by a talk by Rob Hopkins of TTT, who set out the case for peak oil, and argued that the assumptions that underpin most Council decisions and planning, namely that climate change is a distant threat, that oil prices will remain stable and that the move away from the household economy will continue, are deeply erroneous. He also gave an overview of the work of TTT.
Nigel Short, of the TTT Economics and Livelihoods Group, then explained how World Café works, and then the process began. Aided by a very enjoyable café-style atmosphere, with candles, wine and delicious nibblies, people soon slipped into conversation, each table discussing a different question. Three times a gong sounded, and each time participants got up and moved to another table, to discuss a new question with a new group of people. It was fascinating to hear the conversations, and how peoples’ imaginations opened up when discussing these issues in a situation where peak oil and climate change were taken as a given.
The findings were written up, and two in-residence poets/artists devised a visual poetic summation of the day. It was a very powerful event, and was enjoyed by all. It will be fascinating to see what happens as a result of it and what follow up events emerge from it, and congratulations to all those who made it such a successful event.