There's been a bit of a (non-violent) bunfight within Climate Change/Peak Oil circles of late, about the worth of the notion of "Transition Towns" (which are steadily metastasizing into Transition Cities etc). It's sort of a replay of the venerable fluffy/spiky, reformist/revolutionary arguments. There has been, as is usual in these situations, a bit more heat than light, and people talking past rather than to each other.
Venerable Brighton-based newsletter SchNews (the inspiration for Manchester Climate Fortnightly) published “Lost in Transition: Schnews fails to understand the language of climate group" a few months back, which I'm told was based on a piece by Trapese called "The Rocky Road to Transition" (I've only read the former).
And Peace News recently included a piece by Kelvin Mason entitled 'When Climate Camp Comes Home', reflecting on his experience of Climate Camps and Transition Aberystwth
Meanwhile, Sophie Andrews' review of The Transition Handbook, 'Transitional Therapy' was published in The Land magazine - Summer 2008.
Well, Rob Hopkins, one of the people who launched the notion of “transition” a couple of years back, has published a response to two of the above pieces in the latest Peace News... It's well worth a read. The following bits caught the eye of this cynical burnout hack:
“In the protest movements, we take up a position outside of mainstream culture, use language, dress codes, behaviour and forms of protest which at best bewilder and at worst enrage mainstream society, yet we expect them to see the error of their ways and the validity of ours and embark on a radical decarbonisation.
“What failed to come through in Mason’s piece, and in the Trapese piece, was any sense of humility, any sense that the answers might be found anywhere other than in their fondly-held beliefs.”
Hopkins agrees with Mason [quoted below] on this much at least;
“Transition calls for a different set of virtues: patience, tolerance, perseverance…. Above all perseverance. Transition isn’t glamorous or romantic, it’s a slog - more Sisyphus than Achilles: (re)forming community, building capacity to engage with lack of awareness, apathy, complacency, fear, hostility, bureaucracy, inertia….”[the links are added by me, Dwight]
Do we have what it takes to listen to each other, find common ground and work really really hard to avoid the worst of the eco-fascist possibilities that become likely when the solid human waste makes contact with the air circulation blades? I suspect not, but it's a Pascalian Wager, innit?