Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Transition Towns, Permaculture

I've been hovering about this subject for a long time, but Sharon Astyk has written a long and very good post on it and said very clearly a lot of what I've been thinking in a much fuzzier way. Now it may be that I'm part of self-selected group of semi-misanthropes who have managed to wall themselves off into a little world of their own. I'd be the first to admit there's some truth in that. But putting that aside I think Sharon is to be commended in facing up to some of the difficult key issues for those of us in the Preparing-For-Disaster game. Are we some sort of club for like-minded people? Do we have special insights — are we like a whole lot of Moses's leading our people to the promised land?

There are a lot of complicated issues going on here. Marginalised types (and an awful lot of us feel marginalised these days!) can have this strong urge for some Messianic role. We might feel we have some insight which can Save the World! And there is the natural human urge to congregate with the like-minded, which is so often associated with a subtle or not-so-subtle tendency to put down those outside our group. After all, we are the cool people with the deep knowledge! Often that is how people in groups tend to think and act. History is littered with examples of this sort of thing and somehow we never seem to learn the folly of it.

Sure, groups can be very powerful and get lots done. They can support their members in all kinds of real and pleasurable ways. The individual is weak and fallible. That is the way we are.

But I don't think we are going to find ourselves in a situation where any group will have a handle on what the best way forward is going to be. We may all have insights. If we can share them that's great. As for me, I regard myself as being someone who's looked up from what they were doing, seen the approaching danger, and shouted the Peak Oil equivalent of "fire" to everyone around me. Of course I'm caught up in wondering what the best response is for myself and my community, but having shouted "Fire" it's up to those who've listened to me to do what they think is best for them and respond as they see fit. I don't know enough to say what's best for anyone else. I have my ideas, but experience has taught me that ideas can come from anywhere or anyone.

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