"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

Transition Money

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 17th, 2012

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything

Last month I was one of forty or so attendees of the Transition ‘Peak Money’ day. It was a fascinating collection of people, from theorists to activists, and a potent opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing us all as the glaring errors at the heart of mainstream economics take their toll. This post is far more personal reflection than report, as Rob Hopkins has already done a great job on that front.

The key theme that seemed to run throughout the day, then, was ‘collapse’. Sadly, I was an hour late to the event, but the first sessions I witnessed were reports from Transitioners in Portugal, Ireland and Greece on the ‘front line’ impacts of the economic crunch. The talk was of collapse having already happened for many families and communities there, with statistics quoted including an 89% increase in Greek unemployment in three years, and Irish suicides having doubled since 2007.

They pulled no punches. Most of us were left grey and shaken as the harsh realities of the crisis were relayed. For me, a defining memory of the day was watching the alternative economists listening to this – people who have spent decades warning of these outcomes and trying to head them off – their heads shaking sadly with lips pursed, hands involuntarily coming to their faces in dismay as their Cassandra curse unfolds. Of course, the statistics were not new to them, but hearing these stories in person somehow always brings a heavier human impact. Watching that impact felt almost inappropriate, yet doubly powerful.

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Uncivilisation, 19-21 August 2011. See you there?

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 23rd, 2011

As regular readers will know, I am an admirer of the Dark Mountain Project – fellow adventurers in uncovering and reshaping the cultural stories that define us and guide our behaviour. Their manifesto is well worth a read.

So I have accepted this contribution from Dougald Hine, one of the co-founders, as my second ever guest post (the first remains one of my favourite moments of Dark Optimism). It was originally written for the Transition Network site, and we hope it will encourage you to join us at the Uncivilisation festival in a month’s time. I was at the first one last year, and it was a febrile, fertile space, pregnant with possibilities and realism. Hopefully I’ll see you some of you at the second instalment. Over to Dougald:

How do you describe a festival whose contributors range from a poet wielding a scythe, to a former banker talking about the idea of a mortgage strike, to an ex-Wikileaks hacker who’s been rigging up improvised internet services in Afghanistan?

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The Intergalactic Health & Safety Inspectorate

by Shaun Chamberlin on February 11th, 2011

Marc Roberts 01-GortKlaatu

The brilliant cartoonist Marc Roberts (whose work will be familiar to regular Dark Optimism readers) got in touch with the Transition Network last year offering to produce a strip exploring the Transition concept. The time has come for the results to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public!

In Marc’s own words, “they will be loosely exploring some of the Holmgren and Chamberlin scenarios through my usual combination of toilet humour and sarcasm”.

He does himself a disservice – for me, it’s a real honour to see my work used by someone whose talents I have long admired and enjoyed.

Two cartoons will be released each week. This post will be updated with the new cartoons as they are released, and they will also go out on Rob Hopkins’ Transition Culture site and on a Transition Network blog.

The first four (+ a special message from the Inspectorate) are below. Hope you enjoy them!

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Transcript of Radio Ecoshock interview

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 9th, 2010

a-Infos Radio Project

Christopher Fraser of London Transition has kindly transcribed the popular interview with Canada’s Radio Ecoshock that I posted a couple of months back. I’ve also added links at a few pertinent points.

Alex Smith, Radio Ecoshock: [addressing audience] You know we’re going to run out of civilisation’s lifeblood, fossil fuels. And if we burn what’s left, the climate may tip into a mass extinction event. Meanwhile barking madness seems to be the only growth industry in some places. Is it time for more pills, booze or Endtime religion?

Our next guest says there may be some hope left. Shaun Chamberlin’s blog is called Dark Optimism, and that may be as good as it gets. Shaun is part of the Transition Movement in Britain; he’s the author of the new book The Transition Timeline for a local, resilient future, and co-author of an upcoming report for the British Parliament on a scheme to give everyone an energy quota. Shaun, welcome to Radio Ecoshock.

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Radio Ecoshock interview

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 28th, 2010

a-Infos Radio Project

Above is a 24 minute interview I did last week with Canada’s excellent Radio Ecoshock. The full 60 minute show can be heard on Energy Bulletin here.

Dark Optimism readers may also be particularly interested in Ecoshock’s recent “Expecting Collapse” edition, featuring interviews with Dmitry Orlov and John Michael Greer, as well as clips from Professor Joseph Tainter.

Apologies to all those who’ve been visiting looking for this, I’ve been laid up in bed for the past couple of days.

Edit – Christopher Fraser of London Transition has kindly transcribed this interview in full. Available here.

Applied Philosophy

by Shaun Chamberlin on February 23rd, 2010

Resurgence cover

Below the cut is the text of my latest article for the highly-recommended Resurgence magazine. They asked me to tell the story of my own personal journey thus far, and how I ended up doing what I do. Thanks to Resurgence for permission to reproduce it here (and on my articles page).

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Debate at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre

by Shaun Chamberlin on February 17th, 2010

Dana Centre Debate

I’ve just been sent this footage from a debate on carbon trading and offsetting I took part in at the Cheat Neutral event at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre (video of the full event available at link, more on Cheat Neutral here). As will be obvious, this all took place in December, just prior to the Copenhagen conference.

Eagle-eyed readers will also notice that I have created a new page on this website with full details of The Transition Timeline, pulling together the various online reviews etc, and including the means to buy signed copies. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but I was nudged into action by receiving the happy news that the book has been selling over a hundred copies a week thus far!

Despairing of Ed Miliband, Becoming a Filmstar, and Other Adventures

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 4th, 2009

Shaun Chamberlin
It has been another crazy whirlwind of a month, with this weekend set to be the first in five which I get to spend in Transition Town Home, having spoken recently in Bungay, Glastonbury, Belsize Park and the Forest of Dean, as well at the Transition Conference (I hate that name, can’t we call it a ‘Gathering’ or something?) in Battersea, and at the Sunrise Celebration Festival.

One highlight for me was watching the world première of the movie “In Transition” and being surprised and delighted to find that I was in it (having completely forgotten the quick interview they grabbed with me at my book launch!). Another was meeting an A-Level teacher who is already using my book as a teaching aid for his Environmental Design students.

But perhaps of wider interest was the fact that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, turned up at the Transition Conference as a ‘keynote listener’, but still managed to drop a few bombshells. Read more »

The Transition Timeline – a closer look

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 15th, 2009

The Transition Timeline - front cover

The last month has been a bit of a blur, with very well-attended book launch events all over Britain, a two-day seminar at the Centre for Alternative Technology scoping out Zero Carbon Britain 2, more radio interviews, and even being caught on film for the first time (more practice required methinks!).

While I’ve been zipping around, a number of people have requested a more detailed write-up on The Transition Timeline than I have so far provided online, so let’s take a closer look. Read more »

The Transition Timeline – book launch events

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 7th, 2009

The Transition Timeline launch + Age of Stupid Premiere

Transition Town Kingston are hosting a pre-launch celebration of my new book, The Transition Timeline, at the Kingston Odeon on the 15th March (this Sunday) from 5:30pm.

This event will also form part of the nationwide People’s Premiere of new film The Age of Stupid, directed by the inspirational Franny Armstrong, produced by Oscar-winning John Battsek, and starring Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite. Tickets for the event are £10 and can be ordered here. For this you will be amongst the first to see The Age of Stupid, enjoy a live satellite link-up to the simultaneous premiere taking place in a solar tent in Leicester Square(!), witness the launch of the international “Not Stupid” campaign, and have the opportunity to discuss the film with both me and Hilary Gander, one of the founding members of the Campaign against Climate Change. I will also be selling and signing copies of The Transition Timeline at the Kingston screening, which will be the first opportunity for anyone to get their hands on a copy!

Over 100 tickets, of a capacity of 337, have been sold even before the main announcements, so make sure you book soon if you want to come support me and The Age of Stupid. Read more »