There is something profoundly important and good going on in the World today and our political commentators simply do not understand it. Jeremy Paxman’s interview of Michael Moore on last nights’ Newsnight was a case in point. Gone are the days when mainstream political parties offered meaningful choice, as Moore pointed out, virtually all politicians have sold out to corporate interests, the greed of the richest 1% seems boundless and their indifference to the suffering of the 99% seems inhuman. The global media like the political parties are in hoc to the corporations.
2011 may go down in history as the year when citizens around the World “have gotton up off the sofa”, said “enough is enough” and got out on the streets. The Arab Spring with the toppling of dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya may on one level appear to have little to do with the emergence of ‘the outraged’ or ‘los Indignados’ in Madrid, Athens and many other places in May or the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the City movements in New York, London and elsewhere in September and October. Everywhere the yearning for freedom, justice and fairness is palpable. This is an overwhelmingly and explicitly non-violent process for change.
Capitalism has protected the interests of the dictators, the rich elites and the privileged for far too long. The people are fed-up and want change. Governments around the world have failed in the challenge to do anything meaningful to address climate change.
Meanwhile the peoples of the world are becoming increasingly networked together, via the internet and mobile technology. Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest suggests that there are between one and two million organisations around the world working for global social justice and ecological survival and renewal. Just one, Avaaz, has grown from 5 to 10 million members in the last few months, and it reflects the nature of this interlinked global movement better than perhaps any other organisation, and certainly better than any established political party. But the strength of this movement is in its diversity and in its solidarity. The opportunities to create a more ecologically sustainable and socially just world are almost infinite, and I will continue to advocate change through my writing, speaking and teaching, knowing that there are many millions, billions even, who share my hopes and aspirations, and who are working in their own ways to help bring about a better future. Exciting times to witness emergent, grassroots, bottom-up, non-violent, socially and ecologically conscious participatory democracy in the making. How truly historic a movement this is only time will tell.
The organisation Occupy Wall Street has a good website. http://occupywallst.org/
Paxman’s interview with Michael Moore: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9619110.stm
The business case for going radically green is becoming clearer by the day. While those economies that are still addicted to oil slide ever further into debt and financial chaos those communities that are at the cutting edge of the transition to a post fossil-fuel economy are experiencing rapid economic growth, falling unemployment, falling carbon emissions, increased local economic resilience and increased biodiversity. The last two blogs looked at Gussing, an example of sustainability, and the unsustainable US debt, a result of an unsustainable economy.
Gussing is not alone. Many other places around the world are showing what can be done. Varese, in Liguria, Italy, is one such. The island of Samso and the town of Frederikshavn are two of many possible examples from Denmark. These and a growing number of other communities are pretty well 100% self sufficient in local renewable energy: heat, electricity and transport fuels. The small Bavarian town of Wildpoldsried is perhaps even further advanced in that it produces about three times as much energy as it consumes. All these places have seen tremendous economic and ecological advantages as they have made the transition to a post fossil fuel economy.
In Herefordshire, where I live, we have tremendous opportunities to make a similar transition with multiple benefits. There are a few great businesses striving to do good projects, and there would be strong community support if people could see what has been achieved in some of these examples of best practice. I’m taking this message out into the community of Herefordshire: in January I shall be teaching an evening class in Hereford, Kington and in Ledbury, each course will consist of 8 sessions. Watch this blog for all the latest on that. Meanwhile:
- Saturday 15th October I shall be speaking at the opening of the Clehonger Village Hall Community Solar Roof, 11.00 am to 4.00 pm at Clehonger Village Hall. (Drop-in event)
- Tuesday 18th October I’ll be giving a presentation to the students doing the Bulmer’s Masters Degree in Sustainability Advocacy. (Not open to the public)
- Thursday 20th October I’ll be talking at the REconomy event at the Bishops Palace in Hereford, 7.30 to 10.00 pm. REconomy is a process that seeks to Re-imagine, Re-view and Re-create the local economy, and is a project of the Herefordshire in Transition Alliance. (Booking required via Nick Sherwood, text 07957348885 or e-mail email@example.com)
There is a terrific youtube video of Wildpoldsried here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9mnrKdI_QY