Sunday, December 4, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
The screening of the film Economics of Happiness in June (by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick & John Page) for Transition Nambour attracted 60 people. It was a powerful and positive message on the value of localisation and involved a strong critique of the damaging, often crazy, global economy and political merry-go-round.
We also hosted a stall at World Environment Day with much interest and discussion.
Strength and resilience comes first and foremost at the local level. In July we had a local ( Buderim) speaker - Mitch Laurie - with a powerful message about career and business sustainability, illustrated by an excellent Powerpoint slide show – an incredible evening. The Powerpoint is available at the link below.
In August we heard about what it takes to be a good advocate for change, from Bob Lee whose work is as an advocate for differently abled populations .
The value that we as a Transition group gather from these talks, and even just the gathering together in a meeting to discuss the issues that are affecting us, is hard to quantify. The Transition Network is spreading worldwide a GRASSROOTS (PEOPLE’S) movement cutting through bureaucratic
Transition shows what people can do in a group over, above and beyond the involvement of government at any level and it has more influence to change things by being a community movement.
In September John Isaacs-Young, through a series of photo slides gave an explanation of how you can
We are planning to show a really interesting and pertinent DVD called
On : Wednesday 26th October
At : CWA Hall, Short Street, Nambour
When : Wednesday 26th October at 7pm.
Gold coin donation, tea and coffee available.
Pertinent ? Why ?
Nicole's message ( see her potted bio below) is relevant to our understanding of the brinkmanship economic conditions prevailing in the European and North American Economies at present ( particularly in Greece which is seeing a systemic break down). The question we all want to know is .... how will this play out in the short to medium term overseas and in our own economy ? The debt level in many economies threatens the economic existence we have become used to in the developed world. In economies where they propose to pay off these debts with more debt it seems it can only get worse. Nicole Foss is an expert on this type of calamitous decision making, having had experience in Russia during the transition from Communism, and having studied, first hand, the effects of a deflationary economy on how people live. We can learn how these events play out abroad and how they may effect us in Australia. Nicole has "walked the talk" by fleeing the from the UK some years ago and in setting her family up on a small farm in a self sufficient manner, in Canada. Apart from her obvious CV qualifications this makes her a uniquely interesting communicator.
This evening is a prelude to a visit by Nicole who is booked to come and speak to us, YES, US ! at L'il O'l Transition Nambour on 9th February 2012 , PLEASE BOOK THIS DATE IN YOUR DIARY. We feel it is important to know something of her message prior to her arrival so we can encourage others to come to what we hope will prove to be a big and successful presentation. This talk will be part of an Austalian tour that starts with us and goes on to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and WA.
Please come and join us. I include some links to her work which may be of interest as well.In particular her work for the the blog site THE AUTOMATIC EARTH.
Nicole Foss – Some biographical info.
Nicole’s academic qualifications include a BSc in biology from Carleton University in Canada (where she focused primarily on neuroscience and psychology), a post-graduate diploma in air and water pollution control, the common professional examination in law and an LLM in international law in development from the University of Warwick in the UK. She was granted the University Medal for the top science graduate in 1988 and the law school prize for the top law school graduate in 1997.
She is co-editor of The Automatic Earth <http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/> , where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and realpolitik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. Prior to the establishment of TAE, she was previously editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.
Foss runs the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she has focused on farm-based biogas projects and grid connections for renewable energy. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialized in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and conducted research into electricity policy at the EU level.
Nicole counts nuclear safety among her many areas of expertise, and although the Fukushima disaster has dropped out of the mainstream news cycle it is still very much an area of concern for her and other experts. Nicole also earned her living in Ontario managing renewable energy policy, and she will explain why the green future that many people aspire to is very difficult to put into practice.
Series of 5 short videos - Nicole Foss talks about Finance and Bubbles, Nuclear Power, Cheap Energy, Decoupling, and Alternative Energy.
Nicole Foss - How I Prepared My Home for Peak Oil and Economic Uncertainty
Q & A Session from A Century of Challenges talk
Those of us who want to initiate change in our local community can become more effective in our efforts by learning from the experiences of others who have been successful advocates for change.
For those who missed the excellent presentation on Wednesday night on Career and Business Sustainability you can view much of the content here: www.TransitionWise.org
At the top of the homepage you can download a PDF version of the presentation with much useful and practical advice.
The commentators on National and International events spend hours droning on about the "Economy" or the "World Economy" and news programmes are crammed with financial news. News arrives so fast it can contradict itself within hours. We can only really deal with these big issues by looking at how they effect us and our neighbours first, and set our goals to be independent and resilient if dire changes occur outside of our control. We have to consider first and foremost, the local and the achievable. Big government and big business care only for their own ( often mutual )interest and the small, local fry become unimportant except as a taxable commodity. But we have the final advantage of being able to "think global but act local". We know that not everything in life distills itself into an economic parameter. Our evening with Robin Clayfield earlier in the year illustrated how we are all linked and interconnected even though we all have different passions and interests. The strength of this network of contacts is undefinable but broadly speaking it is summed up by the saying "united we stand, divided we fall". Which Government can supply a community support network like this ?
The showing of the Economics of Happiness for Transition Nambour attracted 60 people and was greatly enjoyed as its powerful and positive message was one of localisation and involved a strong critique of the damaging, often crazy, global economy and political merry-go-round.
Strength and resilience comes first and foremost at the local level. This month we have a local ( Buderim) speaker - Mitch Laurie - who has a powerful message illustrated by an excellent powerpoint slide show. I know you will enjoy this so please make an effort to support us on this one and bring a friend or two three.Its only the usual gold coin donation so this is incredible value for an evening of mental stimulation.Mitch's take will be another interesting view on how people can deal with the world as it changes fast about us.
The knowledge that we as a Transition group gather from these talks, and even just the gathering together in a meeting to discuss the issues that are effecting us, are vitally important. Transition Network is spreading worldwide as people hold it up to be a key GRASSROOTS (PEOPLES) movement cutting through bureaucratic complacency and empowering communities to make energy savings, to re skill through community gardens and to understand the issues more thoroughly so they can take steps. Transition shows what people can do in a group over, above and beyond the involvement of government at any level and it has more influence to change things by being a community movement. The organisations website is www.transitionnetwork.org <http://www.transitionnetwork.org> and shows a lot of the work that is being done, and discussions that are happening, in active countries.
As part of the Sunshine Coast Council's "GREEN JUNE"
The film that argues that ‘Going local’ is a powerful strategy to help repair our fractured world – our ecosystems, our societies and ourselves. Far from the old institutions of power, people are starting to forge a very different future. The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.
We hear from a chorus of voices from six continents including Samdhong Rinpoche, the Prime Minister of Tibet's government in exile, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten and Zac Goldsmith. They tell us that climate change and peak oil give us little choice: we need to localize, to bring the economy home. The good news is that as we move in this direction we will begin not only to heal the earth but also to restore our own sense of well-being. The Economics of Happiness restores our faith in humanity and challenges us to believe that it is possible to build a better world.
Find out from resident, Lyn Bollen, how neighbours in Spoonbill Street
WEDNESDAY 25TH MAY , 7PM
There will be an opportunity to discuss the subject and throw about some ideas afterwards. We are also looking for some real "ideas" input for the event we want to host with Nambour Alliance in July or later on, following on from the Brisbane floods, on : the effects of a major climate event on Nambour, what that event might actually be and how would people react to it initially, and how could we cope with such an event..
Invites you to
CWA HALL, SHORT STREET , NAMBOUR
7.00 -9.00 pm.
ALL WELCOME. TEA & COFFEE ON ARRIVAL . COIN DONATION (REC. $3.00)
TRANSITION NAMBOUR is a grass roots, sustainability group seeking to build community resilience in the face of ever rising oil prices and escalating climate change - through education, discussion, action and social reconnection. Come to our meetings and meet like minded folk – no membership fee. www.transitionnambour.blogspot.com
James M-B: 0411 827133
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Afterwards we enjoyed fresh coffee and a sparky conversation on green politics accompanied by delicious home baked treats.Thank you to all those who came to the garden and also to those who brought the treats.
Friday, March 18, 2011
A United Nations report published March 8 2011 tells how: Agroecological farming can double food production within 10 years, while mitigating climate change and alleviating poverty. The annual report to the UN’s Human Rights Council, by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter, urges policy support for and investments in agroecology.
For further discussion of agroecology see: http://www.panna.org/science/agroecology
Download De Schutter’s 20-page report, where compelling evidence is presented, from:
Summary of the evidence
To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we must urgently adopt the most efficient farm systems and techniques. Scientific evidence shows that agroecological methods outperform chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where most of the hungry people live — especially in harsh environments.
Agroecology will raise productivity at the farm level, concludes the report, and also help farmers adapt to and mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity and promote soil health. It can also create jobs, increase incomes, diversify diets, improve nutrition, and bring farmers and communities together.
We cannot continue with resource intense industrial agriculture that will increasingly rely on scarce and costly inputs, contributes to climate change, and is not resilient to climatic shocks. It is not the best choice as oil and phosphates are depleted and the climate changes. Evidence in favour of agroecological farming, by contrast, is very solid. De Schutter says a large segment of the scientific community now agrees that agroecology has positive impacts on food production, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation — and this is what is needed in a world of limited resources.
Agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% in all African projects. Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries showed a doubling of crop yields over a period of 3-10 years.
Rural Success = science + farmers
This new report confirms findings from other comprehensive and rigorous studies eg: the UN & World Bank-led International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and the UNEP UNCTAD report on organic agriculture and food security in Africa. Both concluded agroecology and organic farming offer potent solutions to global hunger, water scarcity, rising fossil fuel-based energy costs and climate change. Governments are very slowly embracing agroecological methods but to progress they must support participatory farmer-scientist partnerships that aim to develop innovative science and practical systems for ecological methods. De Schutter’s report details the many concrete and convincing examples of successful agroecological farming systems.
Good news around the world
• Tens of thousands of East African farmers are adopting the “push-pull” method of ecological pest management in corn which uses intercropping to repel insect pests and suppress weed populations, while naturally increasing nitrogen in the soil, doubling yields, providing fodder for cattle and increasing milk production and household income.
• Malawi is shifting towards agroforestry as an exit strategy from its massive chemical fertilizer subsidy program. Like Cameroon, Malawi is training farmers to plant nitrogen-fixing trees which can double or triple yields, reducing dependence on costly chemical
fertilizers, while building up soil health;
• In Japan, China, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, farmers are integrating ducks and fish into rice systems and enjoying benefits of natural insect and weed control, improved nutrient cycling, reduced labour needs and extra animal protein for families.
• Agroecological practices are also being adopted in “developed” countries such as Germany, France and parts of the United States.
Too important for markets to decide
For agroecological farming to fulfil its potential to feed the world while conserving life-supporting ecosystem functions on the planet, governments will have to provide resources. These are public sector investments, and the job cannot be left to private industry.
Agroecology is a knowledge-intensive approach. It requires public policies supporting agricultural research and participatory extension services. States and donors have a key role to play here.
Clearly referring to major biotech and pesticide companies that dominate agriculture’s political landscape, de Schutter warns that private companies will not invest time and money in practices that cannot be rewarded by patents and which don’t open markets for chemical products or improved seeds. The US government will claim that “private-public partnerships” with Monsanto and other giant agribusinesses — such as those recently announced by USAID — are a better way to go and that, in any case, it’s too expensive to change course.
But another UN report: Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication at http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/ by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) refutes this. It argues that investing just 2% of global GDP from now till 2050 can kick-start a transition to a really sustainable, low carbon, resource efficient economy. Investing in “green agriculture” will create 47 million more jobs and bring higher returns than conventional farming. Green agriculture also creates “positive externalities” like those that De Schutter describes.
Humanity can build and fund a sustainable future.
We must change, fast, to secure food sovereignty!!
Gene Ethics | 1300 133 868 | email@example.com | www.geneethics.org
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Transition and the Global Village Construction Set
By John Isaacs-Young
Sometime in November last year, someone from Transition San Francisco went along to a talk by Marcin Jakubowski during his Bay Area tour. This is some of what they reported on the Transition-sf blog.
I saw Dr Marcin Jakubowski present ‘Economy in a Box’ tonight at the Fish house in Berkley. Wow!
I'm not the only one who's impressed. Marcin was just named a TED fellow; your next chance to see him speak might be via YouTube, when the TED Talk he's going to give in late February or early March is released to the public.
The idea behind the Global Village Construction Set is to make everything we (and farmers, and homebuilders, and..) need, using open source equipment. Costs are cut by 90%. People only have to work 2 hours a day to get everything they need.
What Marcin is doing is absolutely vital to Transition, to permaculture, to surviving peak oil, and to reducing climate change and to surviving that as well.”
Marcin Jakubowski’s talk is ‘Economy in a Box’ and is a 45 min video presentation.
Dr Marcin Jakubowski, when he’s not out and about giving talks, lives on 30 acres outside of Kansas City in Missouri USA. He is young with physics and engineering qualifications and skills to match. He is a techno optimist. His big picture plan includes mechanical toys that will save the world. But he doesn’t think big in the usual way. He doesn’t fantasize about future hydrogen or cold fusion economies. In fact all the machines that interest him are small and small town friendly.
Like Transition, Jacubowski’s ideas emerged from and include Permaculture. His Global Village concept is the familiar one of downsizing of the primary, stable social unit away from the big city or nation state back to the scale of the community farm or small town or village. But he has a particular take on relocalisation. His Factor E Farm (factory farm) aims to support itself in terms of food (Permaculture) and it also manufactures stuff on site – low, medium and high tech. By so doing, Jacabowski’s plan would be looking to escape exposure to the catastrophic cascade of failures that await our interdependent and flawed big systems. The full implementation of his initiatives would enormously reduce the global energy footprint without leaving behind all the technological supports that we in the privileged parts of the world currently enjoy.
His ‘Global Village Construction Set’ utilises existing technologies. It consists of fifty machines that Marcin and friends have identified as necessary for techno-cultural continuity. Although they have been identified few of these machines exist yet on the necessary micro scale. They are out there in their massive form in industry, designed and built for mass production and mass distribution. These dinosaurs await a rebirth. Some of them according to Marcin are worth scaling down. Others require the application of different design principles. There are challenges involved in miniaturization but it is mostly quite achievable and apparently not that difficult.
I personally have very little understanding of machines or fascination with them. If the next phase of human history were to dispense with them altogether I may not be too upset. But I think people will want to have them around in one form or another. Some of these things that Marcin is contemplating look complicated, involving multiple processes, 3D printers and software programs. Will he and friends really be able to get aluminium out of local clay and silicon from sand for computer chips with their own small-scale equipment and local power generation? These are two of his projects.
One of the key boasts of the E farm concept is self-duplication – tools and machine tools that can make machine tools, right there on the farm, out of natural resources or scrap. For example a torch table has been designed and built that can make a torch table. This enables the production of parts for all sorts of things and the viral spread (of torch tables that can make torch tables) - to new communities. Small machines can be designed with the ease of local production in mind not ease of mass production. Ease of use, repair and long lasting qualities, are the other obvious considerations that are incorporated into the designs. This has been demonstrated with the Lifetrac (tractor) and a brick maker that utilizes the local soil. It spits out bricks at an impressive rate, costs a fraction of the commercial equivalent and has been released as a product.
The designs produced to date are open sourced - available free of charge on line. If I understood correctly, those engineering types that go to the Open Source Ecology wiki, can get involved with plans or add to the library of open source community scale designs.
The growth/debt based financial model that underwrites our world culture has over-reached and lost its balance . Anyone who is a little familiar with how the exponential function operates within our growth model or what complexity theory tells us about mature systems under stress knows that our current way of doing things is no longer working and all attempts to fix it can only make it less functional. The earth is not big enough for this particular game to continue. So much of what we make is designed only with mass production in mind. The machinery is massive, the energy inputs to it are huge, the energy wasted is colossal, and the resulting products are designed to throw away. When the giant factories close there will be whole classes of things that we may have to do without altogether if they cannot be produced on a small scale locally, with a much reduced energy input. In the case of a great many things that come our way today, ‘good riddance’, we might say. Other things, though, may turn out to have been necessary to our survival or the survival of some semblance of continuity or for the buying of time for transition to a more workable way of life. Those things we may dearly miss.
Our Transition Town movement emerged a few years ago, from a ‘Permaculture’ course, with Peak Oil and Climate Change concerns as motivating drivers. It was quickly recognized as a great idea and within a couple of years more or less absorbed the Relocalisation Movement. One of its principles is that we need not re invent the wheel. If another organization or individual is already doing something that is useful for our transition initiative, we invite them in or we join them or whatever. At any rate, I think the Global Construction Set deserves a bit of discussion. It is something that Transition has not yet covered in quite this way.
The basic E farm concept is not so difficult to grasp. It is the implementation of the concept that requires some contemplation. Jakabowski, I gather, sees his plan as a solution to most of the world’s problems. He is dismissive, at one point in that 45-minute talk, of the very notion of peak oil, as any sort of a problem any longer. What is he thinking? “My answer for a down sized world is now out there on line”? “All it will take is for everyone to step up, recognize the Jacabowski E farm solution and the energy problem is solved, just in time”? Hello! I don’t think it’s that easy! I am inclined to forgive Marcin this hubris, if he is guilty of it - on account of his youth and because he’s walking his stuff as well as talking it.
In several years of acting upon and talking up his plan, there is only now a slow take up and a recognition of its potential and still no real money funding it. By now, if circumstances had been more congenial, there might have been E Farms all over the world. The workload could have been spread; the 50 machines could have been made.
There are reasons why a smooth and easy transfer to a low energy economy is unlikely to happen any time soon. One cannot, for example, overestimate the level of psychological embeddedness of almost every one of us in the context into which we are born and have lived. The industrial age is our age after all. Whether it continues to advantage us or not, the underlying assumptions upon which it was built are fundamental for our lives and identities, almost like breathing. Only at the edges do some of us start to question the under-pinning stories. We are not converted so easily even to a sensible idea; intellectually perhaps but not profoundly. Even in the face of the disintegration of the world as we know it, we will tend to want to cling to our big-systems-world and demand that it be fixed. We will lend our support to those who will claim to be able to bring it back.
Those who enjoy or have enjoyed positions of power are even more invested and will be relentless in their efforts to rebuild the big systems. Time and again this will look like it is going to work only to fail again. In the falling energy era, the long supply lines will not hold up. Ideas like Transition and the Construction Set are likely to gain steady traction but against considerable odds. This will probably go on and on for years. Things are likely to fall into place as Jacabowski imagines, only when people are finally fed up, disillusioned and are ready for a complete change of heart. A new way of life will only work in conjunction with a new way of being.
Historian Carolyn Baker puts it thus: -
“I personally prefer the notion of a process that is unfolding in roughly three segments, all of which are congealing, convoluting, and complementing each other. The first segment I believe is the collapse of industrial civilization in which we are currently deeply embroiled and which will inevitably intensify.
The second would be a period of transition which has also just begun and will also intensify, followed by a Great Turning, in which after a long period of anguish and the decimation of Cartesian dualism, humanity will likely engage collectively in an unprecedented turning from its self-destructive paradigm and for the first time in many millennia, embrace and create infrastructures for living a paradigm that authentically and unequivocally sustains life on earth.”
Jacabowski’s primary self-sustaining, self-duplicating social unit will exist within a network of other such units across the landscape. Together they will form a tapestry of interacting towns, villages and farms that will differ from contemporary equivalents in that they will be independent of long supply lines and grid infrastructures and will not be sourcing all their machinery or manufactured or processed goods from remote locations.
If one village faces power failure the rest of the tapestry of towns and villages carries on. Contrast this with a region serviced by a centralized power grid. If the power stations go down and can’t be quickly fixed, that’s it, the lights are off everywhere. The same applies to food that goes to, and comes back out of a collection point, a big city market. When that city experiences a major flood event or when fuel for transport is unavailable – then those dependant on that supply line, miss out. In the case of fuel shipments being disrupted, currently Brisbane has enough fuel stored to last for four days – the Sunshine Coast – two days and in a situation of panic buying – one day.
Where food miles are small, this sort of situation does not arise. In terms of what might be called national or regional security, strong local economies working together form a sturdy structure – much more so than a group of unproductive, or narrowly productive, centrally dependant, grid fed towns.
But big corporations need something big to operate and control otherwise there is no need for them to exist. Naturally they want to perpetuate their existence and make a profit out of being what they are. Central governments and large business interests, for that reason, will never take kindly to such a shift in the primary social unit away from Big. If you are part of a central-control-system, your philosophical inclination and drive will most likely be towards ever more centralized power. You’ll believe in concept associations that include words such as ‘progress ‘and ‘growth’. You’ll see how good these are for everybody. If there are contradictory stories to the growth story, you will be inclined to diminish them. You and your associates are not likely to voluntarily devolve too much of your influence to grass roots interests. Some conservative political groups claim to believe in ‘small government’. This means in effect, they like to hand over public assets to ‘big business’ who in turn fund their re election and maybe even employ them when they leave politics. This is not small government. People from certain industries, such as the banking industry, are employed in some countries as top government bureaucrats. This amongst other things results in nations governed more or less by large corporate interests.
The notion that this locus of control would be allowed to shift, would be simply utopian if it were not for the fact that change is on its way, for all of us - change that appears to demand something like what e farm is offering. As things unwind the centralists may not always be in a position to halt the power shift to small.
Even as the big systems begin to come apart on account of their inefficiencies and a lack of energy to drive them, still those in charge of them will try everything within their power to keep them going. Any and everything will be taxed to subsidize them and to keep them working. We will be told how absolutely vital this is. The national interest and national security will be cited, maybe with some justification.
The globalised mass producing/distributing centralized economies have reached a point of maximum complexity where every investment in more complexity brings less actual return in benefits. On the other hand, the village-sized unit requires a fraction of the energy and can operate, Jacabowski assures us, “from a real time solar influx”. Radical re localization, with all necessities produced locally, implies a completely different economy and a different psychological and spiritual orientation.
Although we here in Australia are unlikely to be able or willing to down size to the village scale any time soon, we can possibly manage to do it here and there. Some examples can be in place. At the very least we only need one unit, or scattered parts of a unit, that can self-duplicate. It can sit there if need be for years and when conditions are right it could go viral.
The Transition movement has the small town, grass roots touch. It is an organization that mirrors and relates well to traditional small town community groups. That’s why it has been accepted and accommodated around the world by local governments. This is where its strength lies and perhaps its weakness also. Transition like those other community groups may be in danger of losing relevance if events take over and leave it dreaming only little dreams. We may go on repeating words like ‘resilience’ to each other without those words gaining meaning or causing us to think far beyond the sort of projects that happen anyway, without an emergency on our door step.
Sooner or later, some bold thoughts will be needed and some unlikely alliances will need to be forged.