Time to transition – now

French film crew for Transition film

Last Sunday, the doorbell rung. Turned out to be a French camera crew wanting to film the allotments from our flats. I was the only one in our block who had answered the buzzer.

“Entrez,” I said. It was a random meeting but I recognised fellow media-types.

When the director came into my flat, I noticed he had a copy of The Spark under his arm.

“Tiens, voila,” I said, and introduced myself as its guest editor for the summer 2009 issue.

I gave him a copy of The Source, explaining I was now its food editor. (Never one to hold back on networking opportunities, moi. Even on Sunday morning).

He laughed. “I have just been reading that.”

He said he had really liked our features on local food:

Rachel Fleming’s take on UK food security policy and my review of Local Food, the great new practical action book by Tamzin Pinkerton and Transition co-founder Rob Hopkins.

Guess what? It turned out Nils Aguilar, the director, and his cameraman, Jérôme Polidor, were filming a movie on Transition. People in France are asking: how shall we eat when the oil runs out? Industrial food production relies on oil-based chemical fertilisers and long-distance transport.

The film is to introduce la belle France to Transition, the vibrant international green movement.  Transition encourages practical grassroot local solutions NOW – rather than waiting for the proverbial sh*t to hit fan – and works with existing green groups to achieve it.

Fortuitously, I had just seen the movie In Transition, premiered by Sustainable Redland. I liked it because it shows an amazing range of sustainable projects for food, transport etc which are already up-and-running.

The director agreed: good to be positive.

I had seen The Age of Stupid the previous Sunday at Coed Hills festival in Wales. The human stories were heart-breaking but seemed to link more in my mind to the destruction caused by oil wars and pollution rather than climate change. I can connect them in my head but not in my heart.  (Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth woke many up but made me go to sleep – all those graphs).

Is it because – despite my green beliefs – I am in denial too?

What I am trying to say is my meagre grasp of the science does not affect my drive to save the planet.

It is common sense to save our precious non-renewable resources and reduce CO2 emissions to stop the ice caps melting – to search for another way of living.

To paraphrase a comment on George Monbiot’s post about climate change denial:

If you believe in climate change, you end up living in a just and caring world. If you don’t believe in climate change, it’s business as usual: exploitation, pollution, disease and oil wars.

Or as climate change campaigner George Marshall says: the facts are not enough to effect change. You need belief too.

Stop press: I just read a comment on the Transition blog from a woman in Wales whose spring is running dry for the first time in over a hundred years.

Climate change is not an intellectual debate.

Wake up. We need to wake up.

8 responses to “Time to transition – now

  1. Mon Dieu! Talk about serenpidity. The film crew came to the right place.


  2. Yes indeed we need to wake up, but it was good to see In Transition (which I did a couple of days ago) just to hold onto one’s sanity. It’s not that I’m in denial, far from it, I just get so depressed if I dwell on it for too long. Wake up first and then try and do the best we can and work with others so we don’t feel as though we are the only ones who care.


  3. My partner is desperately trying to get some resilience into the food we grow by breeding different sorts of root crops that will end up coping with our climate – simple reliance on the potato which is so susceptible to blight is a bit of a worry. Check his blog out at http://radix4roots.blogspot.com/ I know I’m biased but it’s well worth a look.


  4. Hi Choclette – what a lovely organic chocolatey blog you have. A great resource for baking moments.

    And I had a peek at your partner’s blog which looks fascinating – I confess I know nothing about oca, mashua and ulluco plants, but this looks the place to start.

    It makes complete sense to breed different sorts of root crops, in our changing, uncertain, warming climate.

    It’s great to have alternatives to potatoes. As you say: susceptible to blight. Look what happened in the great Potato Famine, when Ireland grew potatoes as a cash crop monoculture – this over-reliance on one crop was disastrous.

    Plus potatoes are not my nutritional favourites – not everyone find them digestible perhaps because they belong to the deadly nightshade family. Apparently potatoes are cooked for over 12 hours in central America to make them more digestible.

    Thanks for responding to my meditation on denial. It is a balancing act between knowing the depressing facts but not getting overwhelmed by them, or dismissing my own small green acts.

    As Tony Benn says: “Hope is the engine of change.”

    I’d like to add both blogs to my blogroll. Thanks again.


  5. This latest piece of news (5 November 2009) is interesting.

    An executive has won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs.

    Ecological Internet, commenting on this case, says: “Climate change not a religion. Connecting with Gaia, Earth system, biodiversity & ecosystems is, though.”


  6. That’s really good to hear.

    Am always rather worried when I say at work that I won’t fly for ethical reasons and keep waiting for the moment when they tell me I have to.


  7. “How do we love all children of all species for all time? That is the first question we must answer.”

    I like McDonough attitude in that he is trying to inspire, not reprimand people, as words of fear will close ears and minds but words of genuine hope will open hearts and eventual inspires.

    In the following are beautiful quotes from William McDonough.


    “How do we love all children of all species for all time? That is the first question we must answer.”

    “The world needs to be seen as a place where abundance can be celebrated by all of us. Nothing is beyond our limits,”

    “Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, water, soil and power… economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed. Which part of this don’t you like?”

    “Well I think as designers we realize that design is a signal of intention but it also has to occur within a world and we have to understand that world in order to imbue our designs with inherent intelligence, so when we look back at the basic state of affairs in which we design. We, in a way, need to go to the primordial condition to understand the operating system and the frame conditions of the planet and the exiting part of that is the good news that’s there, because the news is the news of abundance and not the news of limits and I think as our culture tortures itself now with tyrannies and concerns over limits and fear we can add this other dimension of abundance that is coherent driven by the sun and start to imagine what that would be like to share…”

    by McDonough http://www.mcdonough.com/

    Imagine an Economy

    …that purifies air, land, and water.
    …that uses only current solar income and generates no toxic waste.
    …whose materials replenish the earth or can be infinitely recycled.
    …whose benefits are shared by all.

    Source: http://www.greenblue.org


  8. Hi – thanks for introducing me to the work of sustainable architect and designer, William McDonough.

    I love the vision of an economy which protects and shares the earth’s natural resources. Yes!

    I like what you said: “Words of fear will close ears and minds but words of genuine hope will open hearts and eventual inspire.”

    I agree!

    It’s a balancing act to describe problems yet not sound doom-y and thus disempower. I hope I did not sound too doom-y in my post above. I remain above all an optimist, believing humans are terribly versatile and inventive.

    One of my favourite quotes is from UK politician and peace campaigner, Tony Benn:

    “Hope is the engine of change.”


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