15 Jun 2007
How Much Can the Transition Movement Do? Holden/Skrebowski/Leggett.
At Monday night’s**Food and Farming in Transition** evening, a question was asked to the panel which generated some interesting responses. The question was “What proportion of what needs to be done can be done by the Transition movement?” It was during this evening that Jeremy Leggett, as he does here, used the term “scaleable microcosms of hope” to describe Transition Towns, which I really rather liked.
**Chris Skrebowski**. I think it is a slightly false question. I think the thing about the Transition movement is that it is a movement from the bottom, a movement of people relating to each other. It creates a pressure, it creates a momentum, and it is this momentum that hopefully becomes unstoppable and then carries the other parties along with it who may technically have more decision-making power, but because they are being forced from below will have no choice but to act.
**Jeremy Leggett**. I’ think the most likely survival strategy has to involve meaningful leadership in all three main areas, Government (local and national), business and then people/communities. In the search for scaleable microcosms of hope, we have to have meaningful leadership in every area. And we’ve got it in Sweden: in Sweden top companies, and communities, together with Government, are establishing a policy with a real plan to go zero-oil, to get off oil, to be the first nation in the world to do that. I think it is so important that genuine business leadership emerges, and I think it is.
You can wake up some mornings feeling slightly enthusiastic, and I’m well seasoned to greenwash, I worked for Greenpeace for 6 years and I’ve seen genuine, sustained, pan industry greenwash and egregious rubbish from these companies – there is definitely something happening that has never happened before. Although some of them may be doing awful things with the one hand, some of them are doing meaningful things with the other. It is in that context that the emergence of the Transition Towns movement is, I think, so exciting, because here is a platform focused on ordinary people seeing the things they can do locally themselves, with their communities and then within a much larger context. If one can create a story that helps us to see an impossible place and then how to get to it, way more daunting than the abolition of slavery, then it is vital, not just in Totnes, but elsewhere.
**Patrick Holden**: I don’t think it is possible to answer that question, but I agree, I think its really important that the Transition movement grows hugely before, and I’m not saying here that if Government woke up tomorrow it’d be a bad thing, they should be interested in this, but in a way, the stronger the movement is, the less likely it is that it’d be possible for Governments and industry to pervert it when they do finally get it. I think this is an opportunity for the ideas to really properly be rooted among individual citizens at a community level, and then obviously, all change happens inevitably when public pressure manifests at a political level, and at the moment the public pressure is still, unbelievably, below the radar screens of most politicians.
It’s got to be a gain anyway, but I think if it gains a tremendous amount its got to be a fantastic thing, so the more the Transition movement can really make lasting changes, the more resilient it will be.