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

What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 20th, 2012

What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto
Greek anger


Out today from Pluto Press is What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto – a book to which I was delighted to contribute.

My chapter, “The Struggle for Meaning”, wraps up the section on ‘New Economics’ and addresses our collective fight for meaningful lives, and the importance of the beliefs and stories that shape and power our struggle. It considers the Transition movement and TEQs through this lens, viewing them as part of the vast, diverse upwelling of people around the world resisting the current death march and fighting, so simply, for a future.

I feel most honoured to see my work published alongside inspirational writer/activists like John Holloway, David Graeber and Ann Pettifor.

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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 reflected in their expressions 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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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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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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Heroes and villains in Copenhagen, and beyond

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 5th, 2010


“Tell everybody
Waitin’ for Superman
That they should try to
Hold on, best they can

He hasn’t dropped them,
Forgot them,
Or anything,
It’s just too heavy for Superman to lift”

~ The Flaming Lips

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Carbon Offsets and the value of money

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 1st, 2009


Off the back of the comments on carbon offsetting in the two videos I have posted in the last week, I should mention that this Wednesday evening I will be on a panel discussing offsets, carbon trading and carbon rationing as part of CheatNeutral‘s spoof chat show ‘Going Neutral’ at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

(edit – the debate can be viewed retrospectively on my site here)

So this feels like the perfect time to take a look at the concept of voluntary carbon offsetting, the most recognised example of which is the planting of trees to ‘soak up’ our carbon emissions, thus supposedly making our net impact ‘carbon neutral’…

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Rituals for Lover Earth

by Shaun Chamberlin on October 16th, 2009

Lover Earth

This is Dark Optimism’s first ever guest post. The below article was originally published a week ago by Charles Eisenstein, on the Reality Sandwich web magazine.

It blew me away, exploring the themes of cultural stories and definitions of self that will be familiar to my regular readers, yet bringing to light their deeper reaches in a way that I found both enlightening and exciting. It is longer than my usual contributions, but well worth the effort.

As Charles kindly gave permission for me to reproduce his article here, I will let his words speak for themselves.

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