Dark Optimism is the not-for-profit public interest research, activism
and writing of Shaun Chamberlin, author of The Transition Timeline, working with
a wide network of friends and partners around the world.
We are unashamedly positive about what kind of a world humanity
could create, and unashamedly
realistic about how far we are from creating it today.
A personal post this, on the sixth anniversary of my dear friend David Fleming’s death. A mournful day, but also one of great satisfaction, as his incredible books finally spread their wings and find the audience his genius always deserved.
Ten years on from our first meeting, on the Schumacher College course that utterly reshaped my decade since, and six years on from his death, I carry simply this immense gratitude for all that David was in my life and in our world.
What I wouldn’t give for one more side-splitting, enlightening conversation. And what an absolute honour to have been invited to teach a week’s course on his work at Schumacher College in February, a decade on, with fellow friends like Rob Hopkins, Mark Boyle and Stephan Harding alongside. May its ripples spread as far as its ancestor’s, which also gave birth to the Transition Towns Network.
At the top of this post I release footage of Jonathon Porritt discussing David Fleming’s legacy at Oxford University. And I hope David will forgive me and Schumacher College for having unearthed his below slightly nervous, rather endearing, rather brilliant public talk from the week of that course (immortalised in Rob’s foreword to Surviving the Future). Rest well, dear man.
Transition is a wonderful melange of conversations, projects, interactions, inspirations, hard work, failures, successes and entirely unexpected events which we are altogether unsure what to make of! Transition initiatives themselves are as unique as the people who make them up. Initially termed ‘Transition Towns’, they have twisted and squirmed out from under that label like squealing children from under a favourite uncle, becoming Transition Islands, Sustainable Villages, Cities in Transition and all the rest.
To use Rob’s favourite quote from Moominland:
"It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. (You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end).”
Yes, Transition: fun, exciting, inspirational, powerful, even maybe uncharacterisable!
But, remember, it is just one thing, this Transition.
Deadening isn’t it, this counting?
What does it even mean anyway: "one thing"? Surely Transition is a mess of thousands of different people, communities, activities, passions..? At best it’s one category. And who wants to be categorised?
And what’s a category anyway?
There is always a difference between any one thing and any other, so to say that there are two of something (let alone two hundred) is always an imperfect statement, in the same way that an analogy between two things is always imperfect. Analogies may highlight important similarities between two things, but they gloss over important differences too, which is why they can be dangerously misleading when applied too widely. Numbers too are imperfect analogies for reality, and are dangerous in just the same way.
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!
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.
So the big day finally came and went, and glorious it was too. I’m still smiling from the wonderful energy of it all. Pause a moment to take in the brilliance of the TTK cake (TT Kake?) before clicking through to a peek at the many-splendoured event itself, including a chance to see the accomplished and inspired short movie of TTK‘s story to date that premièred on the night.
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 »
Last month I discussed some of the national and international developments that are shaping our future, but in spite of the ongoing climate talks in Poznan, today I’d like to focus on the importance of local-level action.