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. The energy levels never dropped after the buzz of the children's hour that kicked the day off, with gleeful kids seeing a real bee hive, making puppets out of plastic bags, writing poetry, getting faces painted etc etc while the parents browsed the stalls of local green businesses and organisations... Next, local inspiration Robin Hutchinson entertainingly introduced talks from our local MPs (although this close to the election he had to describe them as "Parliamentary candidates who you may remember from their previous jobs"!), our mayor, the head of the Council, me and the ever-entertaining David Fleming, back by popular demand, who hesitated to despoil the cake by doing us the honour of cutting it. We also received a congratulatory video message from Rob Hopkins before a planned Open Space session, in which we faced the real challenge of getting everyone to stop having passionate, deeply involved conversations long enough so that we could explain to them how wonderfully Open Space could facilitate such conversations. With Prisca Baron singing to a rapt audience of children and adults alike, DJ Matt providing the soundtrack late into the night and Toni Izard and family laying on an amazing spread of food and refreshments, it felt like a real triumph of community spirit, with smiles on the faces of old stalwarts and total newcomers alike. I didn't manage to get a handle on the numbers there (perhaps 250??), but it was great to see so many unfamiliar faces mingling happily, and contributing to the Kingston Timeline that we pinned to the wall (see some of the ideas it produced here). Even the venue itself felt like a new ally, as almost everyone attending had never set foot in Kingston Working Men's Club before, despite its location tucked away right in the heart of Kingston. A great many more people know it's there now, and hopefully a few lasting connections have been forged. For me personally, the two particular highlights in a night of delights were the deliciously brilliant (and brilliantly delicious!) cake - or actually three cakes - and the TTK movie. Credit for the first, and for the photos featured here, goes to our talented trio Libby, Jonny and Maria, AKA Caking Agent. The second was the work of Elise Toogood and Nick Barron of Tenth Egg, and you can see it in all its glory below. As both cake and film were only finished in the early hours of the morning of the event, both were genuine surprises even for those of us heavily involved in pulling the event together. Films at their best have a wonderful way of evoking a sense of overarching narrative, and for me personally it was a delight to feel this as I watched it. Despite knowing all of the projects featured - or perhaps because of that - it was deeply satisfying to see the different threads pulled together into this tapestry. Many thanks too to those who organised the surprise for the six of us on TTK's Temporary Steering Group, pulling us on stage to present each of us with our very own blueberry bush! It would be impossible to mention everyone who made the event possible, but hopefully they all enjoyed it as much as I did. I will add more photos below as they come in, including the happy crowds and impressive before and after pics from the decoration efforts on Friday evening. My apologies if this post is rather excitable - I can only confess that I'm still excited! Just as an Unleashing should, this has reminded me what a marvellous community I live in, and feels like a historic launchpad to a happier, more thrivacious Kingston! [caption id="attachment_1933" align="alignnone" width="480"] picture courtesy of Simone Kay[/caption] Poetry workshop [caption id="attachment_1934" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Bags created on the day, picture courtesy of Simone Kay[/caption] Making puppets from plastic bags Stalls and info from TTK groups, local businesses and organisations Me speaking about the origins of Transition and TTK Our local MPs, Ed Davey and Susan Kramer David Fleming speaking Closeups of the magnificent cake David Fleming does the honours Rob Hopkins' video message Kingston's Mayor addresses the crowd Organising the Open Space, raffle etc. The fantastic spread put on by Toni Izard and family Prisca Baron singing Visitors from other Transition initiatives TTK give a gift to the Steering Group - thanks all! Libby and Maria - two of the cake conjurers! Dancing late into the night Photos from TTK's history to date, mixed with relevant and inspiring quotes The Kingston timeline, created by Big Launch attendees Yes, after much cajoling from friends and colleagues, I have finally set up a Dark Optimism Twitter account. Now that the glut of big TTK events is out of the way, I should soon be able to find time to post some original writing here again, but hopefully Twitter will allow me to keep things ticking over in the hectic times too! ps A slightly excitable post about Saturday's Big Launch Party/Great Unleashing to follow later, once the pics are sent through. In the meantime, check out our swish new TTK website - it's all go here! Following on from our success in the local Green Awards, TTK has won 'Green Group of the Year' at the South London Awards. I was also highly commended in the Green Champion category, with my indefatigable friend Lucy Neal of Transition Town Tooting the deserving new holder of the title of Southwest London Green Champion. With the groundbreaking Our Kingston, Our Future documentary-creation and workshops also set to take place on the weekend of March 20th and 21st, our list of things to celebrate is now in desperate need of some attention, so thank heavens the Great Unleashing of TTK (AKA The Big Launch Party) on Sat 17th April is edging ever closer. Old stalwarts and total strangers equally welcome at the party! Despite the seemingly unnecessary opulence of the 5-star setting, the awards event itself was fairly enjoyable, as TTK's Temporary Steering Group (that's the six of us to the right of the photo, with Lucy Siegle) rarely get together without seventeen thousand items on the agenda, so it was nice to kick back and relax for once. Having said that, I skilfully avoided the moral dilemma of the HSBC-sponsored drinks bash by the expedient of a delayed train, so I didn't do quite as much relaxing as the others! Last night saw this year's local Green Awards ceremony, organised by the Royal Borough of Kingston and the Kingston Guardian newspaper. We were delighted that Transition Town Kingston beat off around twenty nominees to win the Green Group award, and that I am now Kingston's 'Green Champion'! (If they try to send me out to battle the mighty Red Champion of a neighbouring borough I'll point out that they have the wrong man, as evidenced by the typo below) Last year we were also nominated for both awards, but demurred, as we felt that we hadn't yet done enough to deserve them, and that there were more worthy recipients. This year we were happy to accept our nominations, and even happier to win! Two other members of TTK also received commendations for their individual efforts over the past year (congratulations Marilyn and Elise!), and it was great to see how intertwined TTK has already become with other Green initiatives across the Borough. The prize of an apple tree was very well-chosen too, and I will soon be planting mine in pride of place in our front garden. Any suggestions from locals as to where the TTK tree should go are very welcome. I must confess I have sometimes wondered what the usefulness of such awards ceremonies is, but nonetheless I found I was gladdened by both wins, and have decided to abandon cynicism and treat the awards as tools for raising the profile of the work we are doing, and hopefully amplifying our impact. As local winners we now go forward to the regional awards in February. I will admit to more misgivings about that, featuring as it does a lavish dinner at a five star hotel, an HSBC sponsorship and a range of prizes including the most surreal 'green' prize I've yet come across... "A picnic activity bench made from recycled Waitrose 'Bags for Life' bags, worth £500" (to who, one wonders?) Still, we'll see how it goes! Transition Town Kingston are hosting a pre-launch celebration of my new book, The Transition Timeline, at the Kingston Odeon on the 15th March (this Sunday) from 5:30pm. This event will also form part of the nationwide People's Premiere of new film The Age of Stupid, directed by the inspirational Franny Armstrong, produced by Oscar-winning John Battsek, and starring Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite. Tickets for the event are £10 and can be ordered here. For this you will be amongst the first to see The Age of Stupid, enjoy a live satellite link-up to the simultaneous premiere taking place in a solar tent in Leicester Square(!), witness the launch of the international "Not Stupid" campaign, and have the opportunity to discuss the film with both me and Hilary Gander, one of the founding members of the Campaign against Climate Change. I will also be selling and signing copies of The Transition Timeline at the Kingston screening, which will be the first opportunity for anyone to get their hands on a copy! Over 100 tickets, of a capacity of 337, have been sold even before the main announcements, so make sure you book soon if you want to come support me and The Age of Stupid. Also bear in mind that the faster tickets sell for the premiere and opening weekend of the film, the more cinemas will show it as it is rolled out nationwide, so you can play your part in the success of this important and brilliant film, which I believe has the potential to radically shift popular conceptions of climate change. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth had a major impact, and this is a much better film. You won't regret seeing it. After the events at the Odeon we have an area reserved at the Acorn 20 bar just across the road, from 8:15pm. Food can be purchased there, and those who cannot make the Odeon screening are welcome to join the celebrations there or pick up a copy of the book - 20 Richmond Rd, Kingston, KT2 5EB. I know that a number of people who were keen to come will be unable to attend these events in Kingston as they are attending The Age of Stupid People's Premiere in another of the 65 participating cinemas around the country, so they will be welcome at my official book launch at The Totnes Bookshop in Totnes High Street, Devon from 7pm on Wednesday 1st April. For those who can't make either event The Transition Timeline is now available to order here, or can be secured at the special price of £10 from me in person. I will post again soon with more details of the book itself, but for now I will leave you with the design for the back and front covers respectively, and some of the endorsements already received.
-- “Peak oil and climate change are two of the greatest challenges we face today; the Transition Town movement is firmly rooted in the idea that people taking action now in their communities can not only tackle these environmental threats but also, in the process of doing so, lead more fulfilling lives. It is about hope in an otherwise bleak seeming future. Above all, it's about the power of an alternative vision for how society could be and not waiting for government or politicians to get it right. The Transition Timeline is designed to bring that vision to life – with stories of what communities have already achieved, with updates on the latest scientific data, and with ‘maps’ that highlight key landmarks on the journey towards a zero carbon future. It's a hugely valuable manual for anyone committed to turning dreams into reality. Don't just read this book – use it to change your world.” ~ Caroline Lucas MEP, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, and co-author of Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto. -- “Shaun Chamberlin ties down the uncertainties about climate, energy, food, water and population, the big scene-setters of our future, with no-nonsense authority. What we get with The Transition Timeline is a map of the landscape we have to find a way through. Map-making is a risky business: sooner or later someone is going to use your map and come across a treacherous swamp that isn’t marked. So you need to be alert to revisions and reports from travellers. But what matters is that someone has got the key characteristics of the landscape drawn out. This is what we have to make sense of – not in the distant future, but right now. Don't set out without The Transition Timeline. Take a biro. Scribble updates, comments, expressions of shock and horror, notes to cheer yourself up. By the time your copy has been rained on, stained with blackberry juice, consulted, annotated, used to press and preserve a leaf of our autumnal world, you will have a good idea of where you are, and inspiration about where you are going. It is almost as good as getting there.” ~ Dr. David Fleming, director of The Lean Economy Connection, and author of Energy and the Common Purpose -- “There is obviously no single, magic bullet solution to climate change. But if I was forced to choose one – our best hope of averting the crisis – it would definitely be Transition Towns.” ~ Franny Armstrong, Director of The Age of Stupid film -- “Transition has emerged as perhaps the only real model we have for addressing our current crisis – a new, if vital, format for reconsidering our future. The Transition Timeline strengthens a fragile form, something that might, without a trace of irony, be called one of the last, best hopes for all of us.” ~ Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front and A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil -- “Will the future be as rosy as The Transition Timeline suggests it might be? Will the people of Britain and the rest of the world begin immediately to make better decisions, taking the welfare of future generations into account? The answer to both questions is probably no. Will serious repercussions of decisions already taken (regarding fossil fuel consumption and the structuring of our economy to depend on perpetual growth for its viability) come to bite us hard before we even have a chance to implement some of the excellent recommendations contained in this book? The answer to that one is certainly yes - we are already seeing dire consequences of past economic and energy decisions. Nevertheless, without a vision of what can be, there is no alternative to a future completely constrained by the past. The ideal future set forth herein is not a useless pipe-dream. There is not a single outcome described in this book that could not realistically be achieved IF we all do things beginning now that are entirely within our ability to do. So here it is: the map and timeline of how to save our world and ourselves. Whether we WILL take up these suggestions as scheduled is a question for the cynics and dreamers to debate. For us realists, the only relevant questions are, Where do we start?, and, Will you join us? ” ~ Richard Heinberg, Senior fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, and author of eight books, including The Party’s Over and Peak Everything -- “The next 100 months will be a very special time for humanity. On numerous fronts, the consequences of the past 150 years of industrialisation are all simultaneously coming home to roost. Even senior experts, scientists, NGOs and political leaders fail to appreciate that the most recent evidence reveals a situation more urgent than had been expected, even by those who have been following it closely for decades. The Transition Timeline provides an invaluable set of innovative approaches, new narratives and creative thinking tools that will prove vital in enabling us to shape a new kind of society and a new kind of economy; stable in the long term, locally resilient, but still active in a global context, rich in quality jobs, a strong sense of purpose and reliant on indigenous, in-exhaustible energy. It should be read by everyone, immediately!” ~ Paul Allen, director of the Centre for Alternative Technology, and project director of Zero Carbon Britain