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

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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Dark Optimism on Facebook

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 4th, 2010

Hell gets a little nippy

Despite my serious misgivings about Facebook and the way it is run, I have decided to bow to popular pressure and trial a Dark Optimism Facebook page.

While my Twitter feed has proved a useful tool, whether or not I retain the Facebook page will depend on its popularity and any feedback received, so let me know what you think.

Also, for newcomers to Dark Optimism, there is now a “best posts” category here on the site, for those who want to catch up with my favourite posts to date.

Values and Propaganda

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 29th, 2010

Richard Avedon 1995

I have just spent an intrigued couple of hours musing over the outstanding new Common Cause report, which explores the battle over cultural values that underlies communications and marketing, while keeping one eye always on our environmental challenges.

The report has both stimulated a fair bit of controversy (as I will explore below the cut) and, excitingly, provided an answer to a question that has been bothering me for many years now, since reading Edward Bernays’ influential 1928 book Propaganda.

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‘Grow Heathrow’ Eviction Threat! Our support needed

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 24th, 2010

Grow Heathrow - victory!

The beautifully tended squatted community garden in Sipson, Heathrow has been served a court summons for eviction.

On the 1st of March this year the neglected plot on the planned site of the third runway was reclaimed, and for the last six months the Transition Heathrow team have worked with residents to rejuvenate, nay transform, the former market garden. They have shifted over 30 tonnes of rubbish from the site and set it to growing seasonal food, hosting workshops, teaching permaculture skills and even laying on a banquet for eighty people!

This ‘Grow Heathrow‘ project is part of a budding land movement in the UK linking communities who are taking back control of our food production, as well, of course, as supporting the successful No Third Runway campaign.

Their work in building resilience into the community is a great example of developing alternatives to the dominant system which is hurling us all towards environmental (and economic) catastrophe.

They are in negotiations with the landowners for long-term community ownership, but in the meantime they need our support. They ask for three things: Read more »

Coalition of the Willing

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 22nd, 2010

This is a really fantastic piece of collaboration animation on the subject of responses to climate change, from the striking opening comment on Copenhagen on through. Though as the creators freely acknowledge, the ideas behind it need a little love.

It strikes me that some great candidates for their proposed Green Knowledge Trust, Catalyst System and Open Innovation Centre are already coming together..

LSE Complexity Seminar – audio and slides

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 7th, 2010

Shaun Chamberlin speaking at LSE Complexity Seminar

The slides and audio are now available from the seminar David Fleming and I gave at the London School of Economics last week.

The topic was “Transition Towns and Tradable Energy Quotas: Frameworks to support a diversity of small-scale solutions to the large-scale problems of peak oil and climate change”.

Note that the slides are mis-numbered on the LSE site, so my opening section is Audio Part 1 (which begins with introductions from those present) and Slides Part 2, and David’s is Audio Part 2 and Slides Part 1!

My section was a half-hour run-through of climate change, peak energy, finance and the Transition response, much of which will be familiar to regular readers, but delivered to an interesting (and interested) new audience.

Highlights of Transition Conference Day 2 – including me just after Stoneleigh’s talk

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 16th, 2010

More video clips from the Conference can be found here, and audio here (including a quick interview with me on Energy Descent Planning for communities).

Edit – Indymedia have posted the audio and slides from the three hour workshop Jacqi Hodgson (Totnes EDAP coordinator) and I gave on community Energy Descent Planning. This is in fact the workshop pictured above, in the video’s freeze-frame.

Stoneleigh’s peak oil/finance talk at the Transition Conference

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 15th, 2010

Goodbye cruel world

This post was originally written by me as a guest post for Rob Hopkins’ Transition Culture blog, but I have kindly given myself permission to reproduce it here 😉

So here I am. I fully intended to be giving the England match my full attention right now, but I’ve been left distinctly restive by this afternoon’s long session by Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth, and feel the need to put some thoughts down.

Including the extensive Q&A session her talk lasted virtually three hours and covered a lot of ground, starting from a good runthrough of the ‘peak energy’ situation, but quickly focusing in on finance, as she believes that this is the factor that will most dramatically shape our immediate future. Notably, the talk attracted almost half the attendees of the Transition Conference, despite the numerous other Open Space sessions taking place at the same time.

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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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The art and music of our world’s predicament

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 3rd, 2010

Emma Wieslander, ‘Derwentwater I’, 2006

I got back from the Dark Mountain Project’s Uncivilisation festival a few days ago, and while I could write about many of the aspects of that stimulating week, one thread it really tugged on for me was the role – the critical importance – of the arts in shifting the cultural stories that shape our future.

So today I would like to highlight a few musical artists who have inspired my personal journey, and to invite you to suggest a few artists of any kind who have brought something to your engagement with the global problematique, in whatever way, and perhaps deserve a little more exposure.

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