Discussion Group

The New Mills Transition discussion / reading group provides a place to share thoughts and ideas on subjects relating to Transition themes using books, dvds etc.

It is an open group, people drop in and out and new members are always very welcome.  We meet monthly at various places on a Thursday at 7.30pm.  Details are also advertised on our blog and Transition New Mills’ Facebook page.

Topics are suggested by the members of the group and someone takes the role of facilitating each session (including providing a brief summary of the reading so everyone can participate in the discussion).  Suggestions for new topics are welcome.

Examples of previous meetings

1) Prosperity without Growth by Tim Jackson 

Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson, a top sustainability adviser to the UK government, makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.

No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But in the advanced economies there is mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness and may even impede it. More urgently, it is now clear that the ecosystems that sustain our economies are collapsing under the impacts of rising consumption. Unless we can radically lower the environmental impact of economic activity – and there is no evidence to suggest that we can – we will have to devise a path to prosperity that does not rely on continued growth.

Economic heresy? Or an opportunity to improve the sources of well-being, creativity and lasting prosperity that lie outside the realm of the market? Tim Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society can flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet. Fulfilling this vision is simply the most urgent task of our times.

2) The Power of Community documentary on Cuba

This is the story of the Cuban people s hardship after they lost access to Soviet oil in the early 1990s. In their own words the people tell of their ingenuity and triumph over sudden adversity through co-operation, conservation and community. It is a model of how to create a low-energy society using permaculture, transforming fossil-fuel intensive farming to small, less energy-intensive organic farms and from a highly industrial society to a more sustainable one that fosters better education and health care.

3) ZeroCarbonBritain2030 produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology

(different sections over 2 meetings)

Zero Carbon Britain 2030 is the second report of the Zero Carbon Britain project, based at the Centre for Alternative Technology. The research programme behind it includes many leading universities and a wide range of commercial, charity and research sector organisations. ZCB2030 has moved along way beyond the first report by providing a more complete strategy incorporating all sectors of British industry. Starts by examining the context in which any national energy plan must be made, looking at climate science and energy security. Moves on to describe how we can “Power Down” heat and electricity demand largely through the use of new technology, efficient design and behaviour change, and “Power Up” clean fuels using renewable energy. Finally, examines the policy that can help bring this about – including carbon pricing schemes – and the job creation that will come with it (over 3.4 million job years in wind power alone). Includes a chapter on Land Use, which incorporates a programme of carbon sequestration through the use of natural materials in buildings and the storing of biochar in the soil. The plan proposed is radical in some areas and includes a shift away from meat production – the most carbon costly form of agriculture – towards lower impact arable farming. It also includes a national offshore wind farm development programme and a huge increase in the use of electric cars and other forms of electric transport.

4) News from Gardenia by Robert Llewellyn

When Gavin Meckler’s light aircraft encounters a mysterious cloud near Didcot power station in Oxfordshire, and lands in a nearby field, he is bewildered to discover the power station is nowhere to be seen. In the eerily quiet landscape, a strangely silent tractor is making its way towards him. Gavin discovers he has landed two hundred years into the future, into a world that is wholly recognisable and yet utterly different. A gentle, peaceful, sustainable place where it is possible to travel from one side of the world to the other in a matter of minutes without burning fuel, and where everyone is a gardener because that’s how they can be sure to eat. As Gavin learns about this new world and the society he becomes part of, he also begins to learn about himself. In 1978, Robert Llewellyn read a novel that profoundly changed his view of the world. News from Nowhere was written in 1890 by the utopian socialist, William Morris, a man now more famous for his wallpaper. In it, Morris attempted to imagine the Britain of the 1980s. Morris’s benign fable couldn’t have been further from the truth, but decades later, driven to distraction by the torrent of dystopian books and movies that show the world descending into chaos and destruction, Robert Llewellyn has decided to write his own version of Morris’s novel. Like its Victorian predecessor, News from Gardenia a shows us a better future where we don’t burn anything to make anything else and which isn’t hovering on the brink of disaster; where aliens haven’t invaded; where meteors haven’t hit, and where zombies haven’t taken over. In short, a world where we, eventually, get it right. Everything in News from Gardenia could happen. There is no technology described within that hasn’t already seen the light of day. Llewellyn’s future isn’t perfect and may not be very likely, but it is entirely possible.

5) In Transition 2.0: Documentary on the transition movement

In Transition 2.0 is an inspirational immersion in the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. You’ll hear about communities printing their own money, growing food everywhere, localising their economies and setting up community power stations. It’s an idea that has gone viral, a social experiment that is about responding to uncertain times with solutions and optimism. In a world that is awash with gloom, here is a story of hope, ingenuity and the power of growing vegetables in unexpected places.

6) Collapse by Jared Diamond (prologue)

Jared Diamond’s Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder – and what this means for our future.

What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island? What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids?

Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the temples at Angkor Wat?

Bringing together new evidence from a startling range of sources and piecing together the myriad influences, from climate to culture, that make societies self-destruct, Jared Diamond’s also shows how – unlike our ancestors – we can benefit from our knowledge of the past and learn to be survivors.

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