Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Transition Sheffield

A few months ago I went to Robert's screening of the film 'What a Way to Go' at the Meeting House. The film deals with the linked crises of climate change, peak oil, overpopulation and mass extinction. It spoke powerfully to me, making me face up to my own feelings of despair, anger and fear at our wholesale destruction of the living world.

Afterwards, I ordered a copy of Joanna Macy's book 'Coming Back to Life', which contains a set of group 'spiritual exercises' that aim to work through our collective suffering at the fate of the world, in order to engage in its healing.

Macy's work is based on the Buddhist-inspired insight that facing and acknowledging our own suffering at the fate of the world can be a path to rediscovering our connectedness with other living beings and ecosystems. By allowing ourselves to feel and speak our grief, fear, anger and despair, we can discover that we are not separate, isolated individuals. We suffer with the world because we are a part of it. By allowing ourselves to feel this suffering, we are also open to fully feel our love for creation and our desire and commitment to work together to preserve it.

Macy writes of the present time as a period of opportunity, when the overwhelming threat of environmental crisis may act as a catalyst for what she calls 'The Great Turning', away from the Industrial Growth Society based on limitless economic growth, and towards a 'Life Sustaining Society.

A life sustaining society requires a new economy, a new culture with different values, stories, spiritualities and power relations. It is not just a matter of individual lifestyle changes, or changed government policies. We need to create a form of human society that can enable us to live together, without destroying the systems we rely on for our existence.

Shortly after reading and slowly digesting this book, I came across a reference to the Transition Towns movement. This is a movement of towns and communities that are exploring how we can respond to climate change and peak oil by relocalising our economies, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, rebuilding local community and sharing skills and resources. The aim is to build communities which are more resilient, less energy and carbon intensive, and which are also healthier and happier, offering the seeds of 'a better life beyond oil'.

Now there are the beginnings of a Transition initiative in Sheffield, which is starting off with a series of film and discussion evenings in Meersbrook, Nether Edge and Burngreave.

If you'd like to receive updates about future events in Sheffield, you can register for email updates at: www.transitionsheffield.org.uk

Transition Sheffield Film Programme

Tuesday 16th September - St Peter's Community Centre, Nether Edge, 7pm

Six Degrees Could Change the World

A National Geographic documentary based on the highly acclaimed book by Mark Lynas. Using stunning special effects the film looks at how each 1 degree of temperature rise would affect the life on earth up to six degrees.

Wednesday 1st October - Meersbrook Park Pavilion, 7pm

What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire

An intense and passionate film. After examining the problems the film looks at how we got to the state we're in - tracing humanity's past, cultural myths, psychology and more.

Monday 6th October - St Peter's Community Centre, Nether Edge, 7pm

End of Suburbia

High fuel and food bills, recession and unemployment are just the beginning of a crisis known as peak oil: the beginning of the decline in global oil supplies. The implications of this crisis mean a profound shift in the way we live.

Tuesday 14th October - Burngreave Vestry Hall, 7pm

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis, the massive reduction of fossil fuels, is an example of options and hope.

Weds 29th October - Burngreave Vestry Hall, 7pm

A night of film shorts: Carbon Weevil, The Story of Stuff, I Am Only a Child.

We kick off with an amusing animation about the carbon cycle and climate change, then delve into an enthralling and provocative animation of consumer culture, and round off with a compelling call to action from the Environmental Children's Organisation at the 1992 Earth Summit.

Monday 3rd November - Meersbrook Park Pavilion, 7pm

Designing Pathways from Oil Dependency to Local Resilience

Rob Hopkins, founder of the transition town movement, tells his inspirational story at the Positive Energy Conference in the Findhorn Ecovillage.

Monday 10th November - St Peter's Community Centre, Nether Edge, 7pm

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

Monday 17th November - Burngreave Vestry Hall, 7pm

Designing Pathways from Oil Dependency to Local Resilience

2 comments:

Robert Kirchner said...

Dear Craig:
This looks very exciting. I would love to see this Transition Towns idea catch on in Edmonton. Is that a UK organisation, or is it international? Thanks for the pointer to Joanna Macy as well: this sounds like just the spiritual work I need to be doing.

Craig Barnett said...

Hi Robert,
The Transition movement started in England, but is very rapidly expanding worldwide. On the official website there's a list of communities where people have registered an interest in setting up a group, including Edmonton...
See their list here.