Imagine instead instead of flying halfway round the world to the next international climate change conference, world leaders all stayed at home and ate a meal of foraged food or made of piece of clothing or spent the day cycling instead of driving? That’s what the organisers of the Festival of Transtion proposed– rather than creating greenhouse gases by flying to Brazil for the Rio +20 Earth Summit, why not stay at home and celebrate life without fossil fuels?
The Festival of Transition has been organised by the new economics foundation, The Transition Network and others to coincide with the Rio+20 Earth Summit: “The idea is that rather than flying to Rio, putting nearly 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, people stay at home, and do stuff that models the kind of world we want to see,” explains Rob Hopkins, Transition Network’s co-founder. “It is a celebration of change, of practical responses, of community, and we hope that it will be a global event, not just in the UK.”
The idea behind the scheme is simple. People are asked to imagine different ways in which a post-transition society might also be a better one, and then try them out as a real-life experiment during a 24 hour period starting at dawn on 20th June 2012. Activities could involve family, friends, work colleagues, fellow students, community groups or even people you have never met before. It could involve the whole town or it could be entirely personal.
The focus of the Festival is to do something different for the day to taste change and remind ourselves of what is possible, and feel how life might be better. This could be anything from making something with your hands e.g. clothes or a loaf of bread, walking or cycling instead of driving for a day, turning the TV off, swapping roles at home or at work. 24 hours of only eating local food, making exchanges without using money, living outdoors, talking with strangers, having a carnival on the street, transforming a derelict site, reading together, installing solar panels or sharing skills.
And, if it involves “learning something new, sharing, taking notice of the world around you or making some kind of connection” recent research at nef suggests that all this activity and enjoyment will also improve your well being.
“To create a world in which we all can thrive while respecting our planetary boundaries is a serious business. Transition involves change, and that can be challenging. Even contemplating it can make you feel a little tired, so who wants to get really heavy about it as well?” asks director, Andrew Simms. “If you can’t make a better world in which the journey can be as enjoyable as the destination, what’s the point? And who is going to want to take the first step?
In the run up to the 20th June, the Festival held a series of events across the country to offer inspiration. In Bristol there was a whole series of talks that ask What if…?, that investigated everything from leaving fossil fuels in the ground to creating your own money. In London there was a series of Transition Walks: a ‘deep time’ walk along the Thames to experience the evolution of life on Earth and around the history of the Corporation and the City.
“The Festival of Transition is an invitation to think positively about how our lives could change as we adapt to the end of cheap fossil fuels, address the threat of runaway climate change and deal with realities of a failed financial system. World leaders will be gathering again in Brazil, but we think real leadership is as likely to come from people voting with their feet and imaginations, who ask better questions and imagine better worlds.”
The Festival of Transition is a joint project of nef, the Transition Network, the Ramblers Association, Mission Models Money and UKYC. Visit the site at www.festivaloftransition.net for full details. Photos from the Social Reporting Project which is running a week on Festival of Transition stories and the nef blog on the Walk through Deep Time along the Thames