The other day I got up before dawn to listen to the dawn chorus so I could sit and read, for you, the part of ‘From What Is to What If’ that talks about getting up before dawn to listen to the dawn chorus. I hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it might inspire you to get up for a dawn chorus near you?
I found myself reflecting the other day that in many ways that world I have heard expressed now in so many different settings (because these shared visions are usually very similar) has already arrived. Such acts of imagining are so much easier and more possible than they were 4 weeks ago. Just look out of your front door.
A while ago, Australian permaculture educator Morag Gamble came to visit Totnes and we had a long chat about permaculture, imagination and much more besides. I thought you might enjoy it. Morag is the founder of the Permaculture Education Institute.
I haven’t yet written a comprehensive, illuminating blog about these Days of the Coronavirus, partly because many other people far wiser than me are already doing it far better than I would, but also because I am still trying to make sense of it all. So instead I have decided to do something counterintuitive, and write a blog that I really hope you won’t read, because its intention is that that you might instead use the time you would have spent reading it to close your laptop screen and go and do something else instead.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned by Zeus to endlessly try to push a large rock to the top of a hill, an activity Zeus had rigged so that as it neared the top, the rock would roll away from Sisyphus. The story captures the ultimate in frustration and activities that take all of our energy but with no end in sight. The whole exercise was rigged against Sisyphus from the outset. The poor sod was never going to beat gravity. Even though it was Zeus’ punishment for Sisyphus’ supposed hubris, you have to feel for the guy. Indeed if you’ve been involved in activism or campaigning or activism on climate change or any of a range of other issues, you’re probably finding yourself identifying with him right now.
A few months ago I was invited to Bruges in Belgium by ‘Visit Flanders’, the region’s tourist organisation. I was asked to present at a conference, along with Andrew Simms, Daniel Wahl and others, on the question of how tourism might adapt to the world we are living in. I took the brief a bit further, asking what if tourism acted as though this were actually a climate emergency? How would it be different? What might it look like? It was a fascinating day, and I am delighted to be able to share the video of my talk here.
I’m just back from a six day speaking tour in France, organised by Sans Transition magazine. It followed on from a similar tour last year, hence this one being dubbed ‘Transition Tour #2’. The first stop was in Lorient in Brittany, in a huge room at the football stadium of Lorient football club. In the afternoon, I did a shorter session for people involved in local organisations and businesses. Then in the evening, a longer, more in depth session with over 400 people. A really engaged, dynamic crowd.
We were invited to go out in groups of 4-6 people, and to put ourselves into a ‘What If’ frame of mind. We were to assume that nothing is impossible. That there are no constraints. That there is no right answer. And we were invited to take a 50 minute walk in the snow, to weave some play into what we were doing, and to come up with ‘What If’ suggestions that would be appropriate to the company’s increased ambition and to the global crisis.
From What Is to What If? is so full of rich examples of how to reach that brighter future that there’s only room for a few of them here. But if you’ve grown tired (as I have) of the posturing, political rhetoric, hatred, and violence that daily captures headlines in our newspapers, magazines, films, and television programs, that spews social media-driven vitriol through our cell phones onto our breakfast tables, Rob Hopkins will inspire you to keep on dreaming, to imagine and create the positive future we all remember and long for.
In the summer of 2019, I invited the audience at my talk in a packed Imaginarium at Shambala (is there a better festival?) to make history. I invited them to join with me in attempting the first act of time travel in the festival’s history. They formed into pairs with someone they didn’t know, and closed their eyes.