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Using Visioning as a Powerful Protest Tool

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
If a developer wants to take perfectly good light industrial area and replace it with a new urban centre, on a floodplain, with buildings up to 6 stories high, on average 4 stories, with 750 residential units, a shopping centre, cinema complex and so on, how should the community respond?

They could write angry letters, organise a protest, rally people to fight against it. Or, perhaps, there might be another way to approach it. This is happening in Lewes, and people are not happy about it. The Transition Town Lewes group have come up with a great way of responding to this, with a positive vision of how the site could be. Based on Tom Atlee’s idea of a Futures Gazette, they have written a newspaper article (by the brilliantly named journalist ‘Mavis Happen’) from an edition of the local paper in 2017. Read on…
(2 Feb 2007)

Time to Get Serious About Post Carbon Training

Tim Winton, Permaforest Trust
Awareness of the ‘hydrocarbon twins’, climate change and peak oil, is rapidly creating a consensus around the need for a post carbon future – at least among those of us willing to gather and assess information from outside most mainstream media, official institutions and corporations. Climate change is starting to establish itself as a reality even in the mainstream media, and the concepts of energy decent and low carbon living will follow as undeniable evidence of these realities continues to present itself. These realities may be becoming self evident, but what does a post carbon future look like, and how do we get there?

There are predictions of cataclysm and doom, and these must be included in any assessment of risks and scenarios, but to stop there is to preclude any other outcome. Despite our historic predilection to fixate on various apocalyptic scenarios they don’t always come true and of course there is no way to know. So, we can argue about the likelihood of a transition to a post carbon future, but it can only come to be if we act to make it possible. What it will look like is another thing again, but while this is an open field there is no reason, that given enough vision and effort, it could not be a positive development.

This is not a naive viewpoint. There will be opportunities to leverage change and there will be great motivation by masses of people to take them up. There will be many such levers, but education and training must be included among the top strategies. We must develop ways for people to feel empowered and to act and we must do it efficiently: one of the defining challenges of the transition is the shrinking of all classes of resources when we will need them most.
(27 Jan 2007)
Tim’s doing a lot of work putting theory into practice at the Permaforest Trust in northern New South Wales. He writes “I have created a discipline called PatternDynamics to help people understand the complex challenges of sustainable post carbon transition. I plan on making it a really fun workshop sort of experience that empowers people to facilitate community and personal change through the understanding of how complex systems work at all levels and in all domains with a focus on the state of the complex system we call planet earth. If you’re interested here is a link to an audio file of a talk I gave in one of my permaculture classes that outlines the background to this approach. Any feedback will be appreciated as is this opportunity to clarify some of my own thoughts on the matter.”

Attention Scientists – Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking

Petition, Union of Concerned Scientists
Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world’s most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy. Although scientific input to the government is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions, this input should always be weighed from an objective and impartial perspective to avoid perilous consequences.

Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle.

When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions. This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government’s own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice.

Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front. Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies. ..

To elevate the ethic that governs the relationship between science and government, Congress and the Executive should establish legislation and regulations that would:
· Forbid censorship of scientific studies unless there is a reasonable national security concern;
· Require all scientists on scientific advisory panels to meet high professional standards; and
· Ensure public access to government studies and the findings of scientific advisory panels.
To maintain public trust in the credibility of the scientific, engineering and medical professions, and to restore scientific integrity in the formation and implementation of public policy, we call on our colleagues to:
· Bring the current situation to public attention;
· Request that the government return to the ethic and code of conduct which once fostered independent and objective scientific input into policy formation; and
· Advocate legislative, regulatory and administrative reforms that would ensure the acquisition and dissemination of independent and objective scientific analysis and advice.
(23 Jan 2007)
Does Science have a spine? The persistance of eg. those constructively involved in the IPCC suggests yes, but the silence of many others, no. -LJ

Place in 2007

Parker, Within Our Lifetimes
“We have flesh from the earth, life from the sun, and blood from the sky.”
-Fredy Perlman, The Strait: Book of Obenabi, His Songs

This past summer marked the seventh year since my family’s migration from one side of the lake to the other. During their move I was on the continent of Australia, where water flows upwards and where the land has traditionally spoken through people. A place where reality was experienced as much through dreaming as it was through walking and sharing stories. It was here I first began experiencing the intense boundaries between the timeless world, that place which is referred to as Nature, and that frenzy to escape time’s grasp, the nausiating and dizzying drone of activity to get from one day to the next, known more recently as modernity, but historically, as civilization.
(3 Feb 2007)
An evocative account of cultures losing traditional connections to nature, and an individual rediscovering them in a sense of history and the practice of permaculture. -AF