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A Conversation With Rob Hopkins, Transition Movement Founder

Nicholas Jackson, The Atlantic magazine

What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on the sustainability world?

Resilience. This refers to the ability of an individual, a community, or a whole nation to withstand shock from the outside. The former manager of Crystal Palace Football Club, Iain Dowie, once referred to it as “bouncebackability.” Sustainability tends to assume that we can aim for — and attain — a way of doing things that the planet can support, and that can continue indefinitely. As the world’s economic situation worsens, and the whole concept of economic growth appears increasingly untenable, and our nearing the peak in world oil production begins to impact our economies, it is clear that, in the pursuit of just-in-time business models, we have created an economy which has little resilience. Resilience is a word which, when we started using it in relation to Transition five years ago, no-one was really using. Now it is everywhere. It adds a new dimension to sustainability, arguing that we need to also be preparing for shocks, but that if we can get that right, making our communities more resilient could be the thing that leads to their economic revival.

What’s an emerging trend that you think will shake up the sustainability world?

Urban agriculture. There are enough projects underway around the world now to allow us to get a taste of what a large scale rolling out of urban agriculture would look like in practice, and the way it is fitting into the re-imagining of post-industrial cities like Detroit is inspirational. I think the future will be one in which we grow food everywhere.

… What’s an idea you became fascinated with but that ended up taking you off track?

The idea that protest culture is the thing that can change the world.

Who are three people or organizations that you would put in a Hall of Fame for your field?

David Holmgren, the co-founder of the permaculture movement and an amazing thinker and doer in the field of practical sustainability and design. Bill McKibben, founder of and a climate campaigner par excellence. And Gary Snyder, poet and writer who for many years has brought a wisdom and a depth to thinking about the Earth and our relationship that is often deeply moving.

What other field or occupation did you consider going into?

… A brilliant daily compilation of news related to peak oil, climate change, and responses to them. I don’t really do apps.
(3 December 2011)
Blush. -EB

Making Local Food Real

Mark Bittman, New York Times
… A $7,000 loan from the city helped create a central composting facility (it’s now a profitable business), but the big plan was to provide a home for new farmers, on plots ranging from one to 40 acres. This goal was quickly realized, beautifully, and the results form the core of a regional system that’s providing local food in significant and ever-increasing amounts.

Some of these farms have relied heavily upon the C.S.A. (community-supported agriculture) method of selling their crops. In a C.S.A., devoted consumers pre-pay the farmer for a percentage of the crop, usually stopping by the farm once a week to pick up a box of assorted produce. In theory, whatever is harvested that week is equally divided among shareholders. (In practice it’s more complicated than this, but let’s keep it simple.)

But C.S.A.’s have limitations for both consumers and farmers.

… Burlington and the Intervale Center are hardly alone in building a more sophisticated system that moves food from small- and medium-size farms to local consumers via C.S.A.’s, farmers’ markets, local supermarkets (and, increasingly, national chains) and hubs. Each of these things is happening nationwide, and barely a day goes by that I don’t hear from someone touting their local food scene, each of which appears to be at a different stage and has some innovative twist.

Yet as more sound models like the one in Burlington appear, it will become easier for those communities that are newly trying to increase their production and consumption of local food to do so. As Senator Sanders says, “We’re in the midst of a food revolution.” On visits like this it really seems that way.
(29 November 2011)

Crowdshare and other events: How to share

The People Who Share (UK)
!Crowdshare November 2011!

The next Crowdshare will be held on November 20th at the fabulous Brighton Youth Centre. Get your FREE Crowdshare tickets here.

Crowdshare will bring together over 400 “sharers” as part of this pop up style, innovative event, destined to leave a sustainable footprint on the hearts of the participants, the venue, and on the nation at large.

Over a three-hour period, sharers of all ages will collaborate, create and enjoy a hilariously entertaining sharing experience using their skills, knowledge and tools to create a unique masterpiece. Part carnival, part flash mob, part promenade performance, part street party, CrowdShare draws on elements of surprise, ingenuity and sharing potential to stretch the imaginations of its participants and demonstrate “shareability” in action.

Crowdshare is a free, public, innovative sharing experience where people come together for an event to be remembered – a carnival of sharing. The first Crowdshare was held on May 28th 2011 as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe and brought together over 200 sharers who shared music, entertainment, time, talents, food, books, art and supported the Brighton Youth Centre (BYC). See pictures from Crowdshare here.
(November 2011)
Suggested by EB contributor Cecile Andrews. -BA