15 Sep 2010
What Can Communities Do? My Contribution to the Post Carbon Reader
My section of Post Carbon Institute’s ‘Post Carbon Reader: managing the 21st century’s sustainability crises’, due out in October, has just been published online. You can download the pdf of my part here, and can see all the previous pdfs that have been published so far here. For a sense of the final book, you can see the contents page here. It’s going to be a great book. Here is an short extract of my piece: Community matters when we are looking for responses to peak oil and climate change because of the power that emerges from working together and creating meaningful change through shared action. In a world where social capital and a sense of connection to community are in decline, it is the taking of practical action that enables us to rediscover meaningfulness and community.
It is my observation, through seeing what groups inspired by Transition have done, that happiness and fulfillment are achieved through meaningful activity, and meaningful activity needs to happen with other people. If we see climate change and peak oil as purely environmental and energy problems that someone else will fix, we give away our potential to create change, and we close ourselves away and feel powerless–and the last thing we need at this point in history is people feeling powerless.
…Given the scale of the challenges humanity faces in the early-twenty-first century, already outlined in great detail in earlier sections of this book, it is clear that a range of responses is required. Government is part of the solution, but it tends to be reactive rather than proactive.
Local government is often so focused on meeting immediate needs with limited resources that it doesn’t feel it can be imaginative or take much initiative. Local citizens often feel disempowered after years of being ignored in the decisions made about their community.
However, any sufficient response to these challenges requires all of the levels of response working together, driven by the twin objectives of massively reducing carbon emissions and building resilience. The Transition movement embodies this approach with an attitude that might be summarized this way: “If we try and do it on our own it will be too little, if we wait for government to do it it will be too late, but if we can gather together those around us—our street, our neighborhood, our community—it might just be enough, and it might just be in time.”