transition and resilience

In transition

Fui So means “ability to rejuvenate” in Mandarin. I learned this from Wong Lai-yin, a Chinese participant in last week’s Transition Towns event in London. Transition initiatives and groups are multiplying at extraordinary speed: 170 communities have been officially designated Transition Towns (or cities, districts, villages – and even a forest); and a further 600 […]

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One mound at a time

I’ve been on the road most of this month talking and meeting and transitioning (see above) like mad – but not actually dong anything practical. So yesterday I spent the day up in the mountains helping to construct a bio-intensive, multi-layered planting bed under the instruction of a noted agro-ecologist called Robert Morez. The technique […]

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What Tools for Transition Towns?

This morning I received an interesting email from Transition Towns. “We recognise that out in transition land there’s a great diversity of web tools and processes currently in use and under development” the mail begins; “some of these will be resilient and adaptable enough to support the changing needs of transition groups around the world”. […]

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Silent tree hugging in Tenerife

The criminal over-development of the Canary Islands – and the loss of biodiversity and social capital that followed – was financed by the same banks and speculators that our governments are now trying so desperately to save. Given the desecration of these beautiful islands, the bankers who financed it all do not deserve to be […]

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Feeling peaky

I have this image of the 19-strong Emergency Economy Committee sitting down in Number 10 Downing Street in London (as they did yesterday, for the first time) to discuss the money crisis. The economy war-room is lined with screens on which red graphs plunge downwards. The Prime Minister calls the meeting to order: “Any suggestions?” […]

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Alternative trade networks and the coffee system

Every day 1.5 billion cups of coffee are drunk somewhere in the world – quite a few of them in this house – but few of us in the North know much about the 25 million families that grow and produce this valuable bean. After reading a new book called Confronting The Coffee Crisis I […]

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Salvage design

Bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs or converted plastic bags: German photographer Thomas Kalak has published a book called “Thailand – Same same, but different!” that celebrates the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation. The strange objects and arrangements remind Kalak of art world “ready-mades” from the beginning of the 20th century. They […]

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De-growth

I am reading with nervous enjoyment a semi-samizdat French magazine called La Decroissance (De-Growth). An offshoot of the French equivalent of Adbusters, La Decroissance fills a big gap: critical discussion of the politics and economics of environmentalism. The issue I’m reading includes a sharp critique of the myth of ‘transhumanism’ and a mocking review of […]

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Dam Nation: Dispatches From the Water Underground

Ever since learning about water mapping from Georg Bertsch and about watershed-based planning in Toronto from Chris Hardwick at Doors 9 on Juice last year, I’ve been aware that we talked a lot about energy but not enough about water. This prompted me in a fit of guilt to buy a bunch of books about […]

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