Tag Archives: Britain

Resilience in a Small English Town

9 Mar


Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement, did a case study of the transition movement in Totnes for his PhD thesis, Localisation and Resilience at the Local Level: The Case of Transition Town Totnes. Writing in a review of Hopkins’ thesis, Frank Kaminski note that Hopkins draws a broad general conclusion: “the Transition approach has been effective in generating community engagement and initiating new enterprises.” Beyond this Hopkins has noted that, Totnes

could supply nearly all of its own food needs, the only exceptions being foods that require soil types not indigenous to the region. As for energy, Hopkins shows that local renewables could meet half of total demand, and that efficiency measures could make up the difference. On the subject of housing, he says that demand could easily be met with local materials (e.g., straw bales, earth, lime, car tires and other recycled objects, hempcrete and cob) but that ramping up current natural building efforts to a commercial scale has proven difficult. Lastly, with regard to transport, Hopkins notes Totnes’ high level of automobile use and suggests that a crucial step in reducing it will be to sway people’s attitudes.

Kaminski concludes by noting that, while England “shares much of America’s oil vulnerability, it’s easier to get around there without fuel, since the area was settled long before the reign of the automobile.”

Walk Like an Egyptian: Protest the Fat Cats

4 Feb

Writing in The Nation, Johann Hari spells out this fantasy:

Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind. Enraged citizens gather in every city, week after week—to demand the government finally regulate the behavior of corporations and the superrich, and force them to start paying taxes. The protesters shut down the shops and offices of the companies that have most aggressively ripped off the country. The swelling movement is made up of everyone from teenagers to pensioners. They surround branches of the banks that caused this crash and force them to close, with banners saying, You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.

And he goes on to point out that it has happened:

This may sound like a fantasy—but it has all happened. The name of this parallel universe is Britain. As recently as this past fall, people here were asking the same questions liberal Americans have been glumly contemplating: Why is everyone being so passive? Why are we letting ourselves be ripped off? Why are people staying in their homes watching their flat-screens while our politicians strip away services so they can fatten the superrich even more?

And so a dozen British citizens decided to start protesting against Vodaphone, which had managed to to gull the government into forgiving £5 billion in taxes:

That first protest grabbed a little media attention—and then the next day, in a different city, three other Vodafone stores were shut down in the northern city of Leeds, by unconnected protests. UK Uncut realized this could be replicated across the country. So the group set up a Twitter account and a website, where members announced there would be a national day of protest the following Saturday. They urged anybody who wanted to organize a protest to e-mail them so it could be added to a Google map. Britain’s most prominent tweeters, such as actor Stephen Fry, joined in.

Could this happen in the USofA?