A couple of weeks ago I was in Paris to speak at the wonderful ChangeNOW event. Here is the film of the talk I gave, on the stage with the most stunning backdrop I’ve ever spoken on, as well as being the hottest stage I ever spoke on! I hope you enjoy it.
Our four day immersion in London Transition activities started on Thursday evening at the Doreen Bazell Hall, a Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) Hall on the Goldington Estate in Camden, to visit one of the weekly meetings of Camden Think and Do, an initiative created between Camden Council and Transition Kentish Town.
I was recently in Lancaster to run an afternoon workshop for Lancaster Food Futures, which was a lot of fun. About 70 people came and took part. Nina Osswald of Closing Loops was there and she took some beautiful photos of the day. Rather than write up what we did, I’m just going to share her photos to give you a flavour of what people coming together to fire up their imagination can look like in action…
I have no idea how many trees have been planted by Transition groups since the movement began (17 years ago), and no way of knowing, but it must be a pretty huge number by now. But how do they organise to do it, and what lessons might they be able to plant on that might make it easier for you?
I gave a pretty much identical talk twice during Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ protests over the weekend, both of which were a lot of fun. A few people came up and asked if I might be sharing the text as they wanted to use it in different ways. So here it is. These are the notes I used anyway, so they are a bit ‘notey’, but hopefully they give what you need.
The first day of my current week-long adventure in France began at Campus De La Transition, a fascinating place near Montereau about an hour from Paris. Set in a beautiful 19th century chateau, it is an attempt to create a kind of French Schumacher College, a place that describes itself as “a training centre for social and ecological transition, a research laboratory, and an ecoplace that experiments a sustainable lifestyle”, working towards creating a kind of French Schumacher College.
What would it sound like to live in a future in which beavers were now considered an essential part of our now rapidly-rewilding landscapes? If flooding in towns and cities across the UK was now hugely reduced thanks to the remarkable hydrological reengineering of the landscape done by these hard-working mammals higher up in the catchments for those watersheds? If their reintroduction had led to an explosion of biodiversity? Curious as always, last summer I once again hopped into my Time Machine and set off to find out.
I keep coming back to how vitally important it is to create space for the imagination, what I call ‘What If spaces’, whether in our own lives, our organisations or our communities. In this article, I want to share some examples of what this can unlock, and some thoughts from people doing this work on the ground on how to do it well.
I am always on the lookout for new tools to use in helping people to imagine a different future, in helping people to cultivate nostalgia for a future that turned out as well as it possibly could have done. It’s not easy, as we so often get stuck in what’s in front of us, unable to see beyond it. As Mariame Kaba puts it, “we live in a system that has been locked into a false sense of inevitability”. How then to break out of that? Perhaps one way could be through the skilled use of the humble pencil?
When getting it ready for time travelling, first of all, I need to check that the disbelief suspenders are all good, and that the Cynicism Overriders and the Discombobulation Bypassing circuits are working fine. Once that’s done, it’s a remarkably powerful machine. I use it to take friends, guests on my podcast or on one memorable occasion 1500 people in a hall near Brussels, to 2030.
In my ongoing search for the actual sounds of a successfully realised radically lower carbon future, a more just, fair, equal, beautiful world, I’ve been off adventuring once more in my Time Machine™. I’d just had it serviced, so this time I wanted to experience, and to be able to share with you, what a pedal-powered city would sound like, in particular what bicycle rush hour would sound like in a city where the huge majority of journeys are made by bicycle.