David Gershon‘s book ‘Social Change 2.0’ has been one that quite a few people involved in Transition have found useful and insightful, so I was delighted to be able to have a conversation with him recently. My discussion with him will be spread over 2 posts, one today and the second part on Monday.
David, thank you very much for joining us. I wondered if we could start by you just introducing yourself and saying a bit about who you are and what you do?
I have been a change agent, I guess you would say, for at least 30 years. My work has been around an idea called empowerment, in particular, ‘second order change’, which is another way of describing transformative social change. I have engaged in a number of initiatives of different sizes and scales from the household and block level up to the global level, and I’ve also applied this to working with organisations that want to engage.
Looby Macnamara is a permaculture teacher and author of ‘People and Permaculture: caring and designing for ourselves, each other, and the planet‘. According to the publishers, it is “the first book to explore how to use permaculture design and principles for people – to restore personal, social and planetary well-being. People & Permaculture widens the definition of permaculture from being mainly about land-based systems to taking it right into the heart of our own lives, relationships and society”. I caught up with Looby via. Skype, and started by asking her how she came to the work that led to her writing the book (you can either listen to this podcast, or the transcript is below):
I hadn’t heard of James Balog, whose work is the subject of ‘Chasing Ice’, until I saw him give a presentation at TED Global in Oxford in 2008. It was in a session after supper, along with Nigeran novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an evening optional extra for anyone who still had any headspace after a day of back-to-back talks. I didn’t know anything about James’ project, the Extreme Ice Survey. What he shared that night was so powerful that I was unable to sleep. Unlike much that one might read about climate change, the debates, the research, the statistics which appeal to our rational mind, Balog’s work was visceral. You could feel it in your stomach. It haunted you, while at the same time stunning you with its breathtaking beauty. That’s a powerful combination, and it is that combination that makes ‘Chasing Ice’ such an extraordinary and vital film.
Welcome back to Transition Culture for 2013. It is a year fraught with dangers yet also rich with possibilities. I hope that Transition Network, and this blog, and all the other resources out there for people wanting to embrace these possibilities will continue to support and inspire you through 2013. Let’s kick this year off with a talk I gave last October at Communicate 2012: Breaking Boundaries, hosted by the Bristol Natural History Consortium. I was asked to speak about what was my vision for 10 years in the future. May 2013 bring more, and firmer, steps towards its realisation:
It didn’t start too auspiciously. My Eurostar train’s engine broke down at St. Pancras and sat there for 2 hours while engineers tried in vain to reattach the flange to the sprocket (or something). After several aborted attempts where we were told all was now well, only to grind to a halt again after moving forwards a few metres, we finally all bailed off onto another train and set off. I was travelling to Brussels to collect, on behalf of Transition Network, the 2012 EESC Civil Society Prize at a rather grand award ceremony in the European Parliament building. Would I make it in time?