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.
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.
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!
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.