One of my most recent reads has been The Transition Companion – making your community more resilient in uncertain times. Transition, as you no doubt know, is a worldwide grass roots movement that looks climate change and peak oil squarely in the face and dismisses the utter impossibility of endless economic growth on a planet of finite resources. It offers community based solutions to help people in villages, towns and cities adapt to the inevitable challenges of the oncoming reality of profound economic and social change unflinchingly and with a good degree of humility and good cheer. It’s a collection of recipes for building community, environmental regeneration, re-localising economies and so much more.
Transition – a movement which has only been going for a few years but is already a worldwide phenomenon – has really come of age. It encourages us to be brave and get out there and try new ideas, meet new people, and learn new skills. It defies cynicism and disappointment and gives us all heart and hope. It encourages us all to talk everyone’s language and excludes no one. Its aim is to be both accessible and kind as well as a potent tool for change.
The process of creating The Transition Companion itself demonstrated the capacity of the Transition movement to co-operate, akin to the literary device of ‘the play within the play’. Rob Hopkins asked people all over the world to share their stories and report back their experiences. A good part of the book was literally ‘crowd sourced’ from all over the world, an act of participation made possible by the technology of the internet: blogs, social networks, websites, email… I love it when humans beings act with group consciousness and work together across nations and cultures to create new thinking. This is the big step we have to take to move from Piscean to Aquarian consciousness; to let go of our comfortable identities and see ourselves in a greater context; to feel the urgency of the times and be open to growth.
True leadership is about letting go. It does not promote the cult of personality or the supremacy of the tribe, it is about inspiring and empowering each other to take on challenges and run with them, whoever we are and wherever we live. Rob Hopkins can do this because he is not hamstrung by his ego. Another such inspirational person is Polly Higgins, the barrister who is coordinating the Eradicating Ecocide campaign (www.thisisecocide.com). Briefly, this is now a global movement to make the destruction of ecosystems the fifth UN Crime Against Peace, along with Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and Crimes of Aggression. It would legally outlaw practices like tar sand extraction and corporate negligence that, for example, causes large oil spills and it would positively gear investment into new renewable, clean technologies. Polly’s altruism shines out and she too is keen to engage others in positively changing the world. Like Transition, this is a shared endeavour. It goes beyond the cult of personality and is a demonstration of service.
One of my roles is to help connect people to the life enhancing, transformative, and innovative, rather than to what is gloomy, broken and corrupt. Every time I turn on the TV news, I am aware that we are exposed to a rising tide of fear and dismay in the world… but that this is just one side of the story. The other side of this duality is the beautiful, good and the true. These qualities are not confined to the abstract, they can be demonstrated in practical spheres: in permaculture, new technologies, law, community skills, architecture, agriculture… there are so many disciplines and areas of expertise.
So as this year comes to a close and 2012 arrives, I am conscious of the need for us to celebrate what is good, beautiful and true. In our celebration, we need to mark our contribution to manifesting these qualities in the world. So wherever you are, I raise a glass to you. May our collective capacity for wisdom and goodwill grow in the coming year and may we be empowered.
Much love, Maddy
Maddy Harland is the editor of Permaculture Magazine – inspiration for sustainable living.
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