6 Dec 2007
Transition Bristol’s BIG Event.
In Wayne’s World 2 (“you’ll laugh again, you’ll cry again, you’ll hurl again”), the two hapless heroes Wayne and Garth, decide they want to run a rock festival. They book Aerosmith to come and play, but are aware that they don’t have any money to pay them. They are constantly reassured by a series of Castaneda-like visions of Jim Morrison in a desert not to worry; “book them and they will come”, he tells them. In the run up to Transition Bristol’s BIG Event it was an analogy I told the organisers a few times as the scale of what they had planned dawned on them. This was indeed a big event. Hosted in Bristol City Council’s City Hall, this was a big leap of faith for the Transition group which only began less than a year ago. As it turned out, people came, and the event was a huge success (lucky I hadn’t told them that as far as I remember, in Wayne’s World 2, nobody actually does turn up).
I’m not really the best placed person to give you a blow by blow account of the day as a whole, mostly because I missed at least half of it! Due to a mixture of rail timetables, line repairs going on between Exeter and Totnes, and my getting on the wrong train at Exeter (doh) I didn’t actually get to the event until 1pm, so I missed Richard Heinberg and David Strahan (although I heard both were wonderful).
I did hear, in the first session after lunch, Jeremy Leggett give an excellent overview of peak oil and climate change, setting out why we have to look at them both as two aspects of the same problem. We will not be able to avoid a serious economic downturn, he told the audience, because technologies such as solar PV have been suppressed for too long. What we are looking at is designing the renaissance which follows that, and renewable technologies will be a key part of that.
After the break I spoke, celebrating the fact that I didn’t have to talk about peak oil or climate change as they had just heard it from some of the best people on the subject. I set out the various principles of Transition, a run through the 12 Steps of Transition and then an overview of what is happening in some of the other Transition Initiatives. I concluded by reading a few paragraphs from the closing section of the forthcoming **Transition Handbook**, which describe how one can either view the forthcoming Transition as a cause for misery and crisis, or as the opportunity for the greatest social, economic and cultural renaissance the world has ever seen.
I was followed by Dr. Chris Johnstone, who set out his 5 principles for cultivating inspiration for change. It was a wonderful talk, practical and encouraging, setting out antidotes to powerlessness and overwhelm. His talk ended with the whole hall engaging in a bit singalong and doing a spontaneous conga down the middle of the hall! How many conferences on peak oil and climate change have ended with the delegates doing a conga down the hall (perhaps they could make good use of that in Bali at the moment).
Alongside the main speakers was a packed programme of workshops on a range of subject. Mike Feingold gave one on permaculture, Ben Brangwyn gave one on alternative money (see right), Patrick Whitefield gave one on something or other (I can’t find my programme) and the Zero Carbon Britain boys were in town and did one too. The place pulsated with that Transition buzz, and the various local ‘village’ groups from the different parts of Bristol displayed their wares and what they’ve been up to. People had headed down from all over the country to be a part of it too. There was a bike doctor fixing peoples’ bikes and lots of media interest (see Transition Network chair Peter Lipman being grilled below).
Alex Munslow, Transition film documenter supreme, filmed the event, and had begun editing the talks to put on YouTube, with Jeremy Leggett’s one complete, when his computer went into meltdown and the lost everything (although he still has the original tapes). He assures me that at some point the rest of the Bristol talks will be edited, and when they are I will let you know, but for now, here is the first, Jeremy Leggett’s excellent talk. Congratulations to Transition Bristol for a wonderful event.
All but one of the photos above were taken by **Tulane Blyth**, to whom I am enormously grateful. The copyright is hers.