The role of the arts in helping to inform and inspire people around the issues of peak oil and climate change is one we have explored here at Transition Culture before. It was fascinating to read about a recent project by ‘sonic artist’ Janek Schaefer, and his original installation produced as artist in residence for the IF:Milton Keynes International Festival 2010. ‘Asleep at the Wheel’ created a ‘ghost road’ of cars in an abandoned supermarket, and introduced people to thinking about peak oil and related issues in some intriguing ways (you can read more about it here). Here is a short film about the installation:
Jared Flesher’s film ‘The Farmer and the Horse’ is a joy, an absolutely fascinating immersion into the world of three people who have fallen in love with working with horses. In a world where the production of food is hugely dependent on the availability of cheap liquid fuels and where, in the UK, the average age of farmers is 58, this film follows 3 young people trying to get into agriculture in New Jersey in the US, each of whom has a passion for working with horses.
Transition Town Totnes has been running now for just over 4 years, and recently a group of us sat down to try and capture what has actually been achieved by the process. It has been a very illuminating process, one that is very useful to do in terms of being able to get a sense of what has actually been achieved on the ground (I highly recommend it). The name of the report, ‘So, what does Transition Town Totnes actually do?‘, comes from the question often asked by visitors to the town who come to see a Transition town, wander round the High Street and wonder why there are still cars and not windmills everywhere. This report is designed to explain all that is going on below the surface (as well as on top of it…).
Three years in the making, I am delighted to announce the completion and availability of my PhD thesis, which offers the most in-depth study yet of the Transition concept in practice. It can now be ordered here. Exhaustively referenced and comprehensive in its analysis of the thinking underpinning Transition and of its impacts in practice (running to over 90,000 words), ‘Localisation and Resilience’ is a pivotal addition to the literature on this fast-growing response to peak oil and climate change. It takes as its focus the Devon town of Totnes, the UK’s first Transition initiative, looking in detail, using interviews, oral history, focus groups, surveys, World Cafe and Open Space methods, at the impact Transition Town Totnes has had during its four year existence. It also takes a detailed look at the literature on resilience, and argues that the combination of resilience thinking, localisation and social enterprise offer a powerful tool for the economic revival of communities and for achieving a low carbon economy. If you are interested in resilience, sustainability, Transition, and the future of local economies, this is an essential new publication.
As the final arrangements are made for this weekend’s Transition Network Conference (the weather forecast is looking good, by the way!), a newly released report from Lloyds Insurance and Chatham House does an amazing job of putting the case for Transition to a business audience (you can download it here). Although given the mad, pre-conference swirl, I haven’t yet read it in detail, its conclusions are striking, indeed quite extraordinary, and I have reproduced them below. Nothing about the role of communities, but then this is a report aimed at business. It does, however, state that any business seeking to be successful in the future will need to be prepared for ‘dramatic changes in the energy sector’, and that energy dependency will become a key vulnerability. It is interesting also that it arrives just after the new UK government announces it is commissioning a review of global resource scarcity and how it will affect the UK. This is, in effect, the Hirsch Report for British business… and provides the perfect case for the work that Transition Training and Consulting are now doing with businesses.