Last week I wrote an article called ‘What If Friday September 20th 2019 was the Day the World Tipped?’. It was a piece, inspired by my visit to the Global Strike for Climate in Westminster, that dared to imagine how it might be if that day, and the strikes all over the world, actually proved to be the moment that we could come to look back on as the day we entered a new era of urgency, impact and possibility. While it received a lot of praise, the comments section at Resilience.org took great glee in tearing it to pieces.
On July 13th in Totnes, an event was held which brought together local Transition, XR and other local groups to ask how best to respond to local government ‘climate emergency’ declarations. Here is my write-up of the day on the day, on its learnings, and how you might run your own. It felt to me […]
Liz Canning has just produced a remarkable film called ‘Motherload’, one of the most beautiful ‘What If’ films I have ever seen, one that offers a visceral taste of what that world would be like. The film was crowdfunded, crowdsourced and is currently being ‘crowd-distributed’. It is the result of 8 years work, and I love it dearly. Let me tell you more.
What would It feel like to live through an era-defining, seismic social, cultural and economic transition? A tipping point beyond which nothing felt the same and everything felt possible? Clearly such things don’t come along very often, indeed they are pretty rare. So rare in fact that we usually don’t allow ourselves to believe that they are possible. But they are. And we are in one right now. And it’s amazing. Let me explain.
Did you watch the BBC’s ‘Years and Years’? Well, here’s the antidote. What if, over the next 11 years, a previously unimaginable transformation were to take place, sparked by Extinction Rebellion’s non-violent direct action and by the student strikes of 2019/20, the subsequent election of a government committed to deep transformation, the reorienting of capital and business, the huge mobilisation of communities and social movements across the country and elsewhere, and the intentional creation of the conditions in which the imagination can flourish?
It was a real privilege recently to be interviewed for the excellent Utopia Dispatch podcast. Here’s how its producers describe themselves: “Utopia Dispatch is the podcast talking to people with thinking big ideas and taking radical action, to figure out what a better world might look like. Follow us as we embark on our journey into humanity’s possible brighter futures”. Their chat with me opens their second season, and we had a far reaching discussion and touched on many of the topics covered in ‘From What Is to What If’.
Over this summer, I gave a talk at the brilliant Seed Festival at Hawkwood House near Stroud. It was gloriously fun, a packed room, and lots of collective imagination, a visit from Hello Barbie, an act of collective time travel (a first at Seed I’ll wager), some very silly collective storytelling about how Anneke kicked off Transition in Bristol and what it led to, and a whizz through the contents of the book. I hope you enjoy it.
“The older I get, and I’m now 76, the more I think that the imagination, really, in a possibly never-able-to-be-described way, actually alters the world. I posted to my Facebook page this notion, or feeling, that I have had lately, that it is really very weird and disorientating to feel, or think, that as I get older, and get around to dying, so is the world. It changes around you so mysteriously. I live in the most beautiful environment in New England, but all around us trees are dying at incredible rates, and the weather doesn’t behave”.
As the publication date for ‘From What Is to What If’ looms large (October 17th), I have been doing a lot of interviews with podcasters intrigued by the whole imagination topic. I thought it might make a good post to gather them all together in one place, and so here we are. I don’t know what the collective noun for podcasts is, but ‘plethora’ will do.
One of the finest books I’ve read recently was ‘Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter’ by Ben Goldfarb. Ben is an American environmental journalist who has taken great interest in this remarkable creature and its ability to, as he put it when we spoke, “help tackle many of our ecological problems if we just get out of the way and let the rodent do the work”. I was fascinated to hear his thoughts as to how living in a world full of beavers might impact the human imagination, and how living in a world without them impoverishes it. I started by asking him if he might sum up the narrative of the book for anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of reading it.