Much has been talked and written about our ‘post’ society in 2016, although the Annus Horribilis descriptor maybe up for debate. It depends on your perspective. For me 2016 had the usual mixture of good and bad. If 2016 turns out to be a catalyst for people engaging in politics, then there’s a lot to be said for it.
I’m not a trend watcher or an economist, but I can see that we need a new economics: a paradigm shift, not only in the way we do business, but in the way we live.
The so called ‘trickle-down’ economics has turned out to be a surge-up economics where the wealth of the country ends up in the hands of an elite few – who are already very wealthy – whilst the rest of us bear the brunt of ‘Austerity’ and debt. Politicians seem to be too scared to address the big issues and don’t have the answers or the money to tackle them anyway. With so many people homeless, in poverty, unemployed or struggling to support their families with low paid and insecure jobs the focus of a majority is on day-to-day living – it has to be. And it should be the focus of politicians and the rest of society too. Such inequity is unjust and unviable, and has lead in large part to the results we’ve seen in 2016 in Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.
One way to get power back into our communities is to wrest it from conglomerates and corporations: to put the pound back into our own pockets rather than the coffers of remote shareholders. The ‘Transition Town’ model is one way of doing this. Initially a movement bringing communities together to tackle the ‘peak oil’ crisis and Climate Change, it has proved to be an excellent model for getting things done and effecting change on a local level. Transition Brixton has its own power company, other groups have tackled the lack of affordable fresh food and introduced local currencies that encourage people to spend money in the local economy creating social enterprise and apprenticeships.
If 2016 has taught us anything it’s that politicians cannot be relied upon to do the right thing, and are often powerless to get things done, but we have that power. It doesn’t need legislation or Government funding – although that would be nice – it simply needs people with a common aim to come together and do something. It’s a simple idea yet it has the power to change communities and create thriving local economies.
We may be post-growth in the traditional sense, but Transition Town initiatives are proving that sustainable growth is possible. If we work within the boundaries of our ever-decreasing natural resources and learn new mechanisms for producing what people need (rather than an unbounded consumerism, where manufacturing is outsourced to others) we call forth creativity and cement communities. It is not some unrealistic ideal. It’s happening now, probably somewhere near you. It proves that people care about each other and about the natural world and it demonstrates in a tangible way what we can achieve regardless of who’s in power.
‘Peak Oil’ is the point in time when the maximum rate of crude oil extraction is reached, after which the rate of extraction is expected to begin to decline
‘Climate Change’ is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures, caused by human activity.
Find out about the Transition network, and any projects near you here: https://transitionnetwork.org/
Also contains resources for setting up your own Transition Town initiative.
Read Rob Hopkins ‘The Power of Just Doing Stuff – how local action can change the world‘ for a concise and uplifting look at Transition in action.