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

Untitled, 2010

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 21st, 2011

“Untitled, 2010″ was written by artist Maria Elvorith for The Future We Deserve, a book project about collaboratively creating the future we deserve, set for publication in January 2012.

David Buckland, text Amy Balkin, ‘Going to hell on a handcart.’, Ice Art.
David Buckland, text Amy Balkin, ‘Going to hell on a handcart.’, Ice Art

“The war that matters is the war against the imagination, all other wars are subsumed in it.” ~ Diane Di Prima

With each day we move towards a necessary revolution. Resource depletion, mass species extinction and the risk of runaway climate change highlight the great flaws in our current worldview and the society it has built. It is in this nebulous inner realm of intuition and story that a revolution quietly gathers strength.

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OccupyTransition, or ‘this Halloween I dressed as the economy’

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 5th, 2011

Just woke up - Occupy Wall St

This post was written for the Transition Network‘s Social Reporting project, and published there on Sunday 13th November.

Having been invited to be this week’s Social Reporting guest editor and introduce the theme of economics, the burgeoning ‘Occupy’ movement seemed the obvious place to start.

Over the last couple of months I have been fascinated as the occupations started with OccupyWallStreet on Sept 17th, followed by others joining in solidarity around the world, including OccupyLondon, which has been the London Stock Exchange’s new neighbour since Oct 15th.

I’ve not been well lately, so haven’t been able to be there as much as I’d like, but I have been following events closely online and visiting when I can. It has been interesting to note that most of those I have met at OccupyLondon hadn’t previously heard of Transition, and that got me thinking about the parallels and differences between the two movements…

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My new heroes

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 25th, 2011

I recently heard an interviewer ask someone who their heroes are, and was struck by the lack of names that came up when I asked myself the same question (although Dr. James Hansen now springs to mind…)

But now I think I have one, having discovered the brave story of Robin Bank (AKA Enric Duran). He is a Catalan activist who spent the two years to 2008 taking out loans totalling nearly half a million euros, and then donated all of the money to various social movements working to build alternatives to our unequal and suicidal economic-political system. His video message revealing what he had done and explaining his motives is posted above. I consider it one of the most inspiring stories of insight and resultant action that I have yet heard.

Edit – Dec 2011 – A new video has been posted in which Duran speaks about the ‘Catalan Integrated Cooperative’ project – this complements his ‘financial civil disobedience’ with the hard work of practically demonstrating his thoughts on viable alternatives.

And another new hero of mine is revealed below the cut.

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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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Is activism therapy?

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 15th, 2011

Just Do It film

Last night I went to the première screening of an excellent new film called Just Do It. It’s a record of the direct action climate movement – Climate Camp, Plane Stupid et al. – made with the full cooperation of the activists, and it’s worth checking out, especially if you’ve never been directly involved yourself.

It is a story of people responding to the threat to their future with courage, determination, humour and camaraderie. It’s also a film that I remember existing only as a flyer, asking whether we would like to see a truly independent film developed outside mainstream production models and distributed for free. Hundreds of us donated, and I was keen to see the result.

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Revolution – RapNews #7

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 30th, 2011

Robert Foster’s brilliant Rap News makes it onto Dark Optimism for the second time, with a comment on recent events featuring the likes of Hugo Chavez, Glenn Beck, Bono (“Tell China to end first world debt”) and John Pilger, as well as footage from the ongoing American revolution.

Well worth a watch, as is this interview, where Noam Chomsky dismantles Jeremy Paxman’s worldview to his face.

Edit – 28/04/11 – And here’s a sincere call for American revolution, from Adbusters.

Happy birthday Transition Heathrow!

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 1st, 2011

Now here’s a video to lift your soul and make your day, celebrating the first birthday of the ever-more wonderful Transition Heathrow.

As discussed here last year, the site is not safe from the authorities, but it has now got an assured future until November at least. The ultimate aim is long-term community ownership. Thanks to all readers who supported the campaign, and huge congratulations to all at TT Heathrow – you are an inspiration.

Edit – Second short video now available.

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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All Party Parliamentary TEQs report launch

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 23rd, 2011

APPGOPO TEQs front cover

What a week – Tuesday’s launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil’s report into TEQs was a tremendous success, with excellent media coverage, including Time magazine, The Sunday Times, Bloomberg News, the BBC, the Financial Times and many others (linked article list). The only problem has been that the degree of interest has been such that I haven’t found a moment to write anything here – although I have been Tweeting, I feel as though I’m the last to cover it!

A fuller, more thoughtful piece may follow when time allows, but for now take a look at the videos from the event (Caroline Lucas MP, John Hemming MP, Jeremy Leggett and me), the various blogs that are discussing the implications, and of course the report itself.

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In memoriam, David Fleming

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 29th, 2010

David Fleming and Shaun Chamberlin

My dear friend and colleague David Fleming unexpectedly passed away last night, peacefully in his sleep.

I am still somewhat in shock.

I only had the great fortune to know him for four years, but from the outset I knew what a privilege it was. He found me at a time when I was struggling to know where to direct my energies, and supported me in so many ways to learn how to build a life around doing what I love.

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