Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comments on a Worldchanging Post

I wrote this in the comments field of the recent Worldchanging Post, Transition Towns or Bright Green Cities?.

For some reason this post really pissed me off, or maybe just irritated me, or drove me to action. I’m not sure why, and I decided to let it sit for a while figuring that it would “go away”…it’s not. Then I read some of the replies and thought “everything’s been said already, what can I add”, but THEN I realized that I needed to participate because I was stewing. One of the points of the article and the replies was to participate, right? (image from
In any case, I can’t help but think that there’s some sort of ax to grind with someone/thing in the Transition Movement. Otherwise, why pull out a few quotes that clearly illustrate one side of someone’s belief set. Seems like playing with sound bites to me. In the conclusion we hear about all these great ideas to participate and take the system back, or whatever we’re calling it, with the word “transition” used a few times and some of the points related to, if not aligned with, Transition’s mission. Personally, I do not equate people’s involvement in Transition as a tacit endorsement of a post oil apocalypse...maybe that’s the level of commitment they feel good about, that fits their beliefs and their capabilities. What’s the harm in that?

Ultimately, after reading the post I was left with the feeling that this was something of an academic exercise on who can have the most compelling mission to save the world and enlist followers. Bright Green, Dark Green, Olive Green, they’re all green, and are just more buzzwords we can use to draw distinctions and create labels.

I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode in which Bart’s followers in a war-torn future have split into two warring armies, both worshipping the same god but with different interpretations of the Bartman’s message leading to conflict.

Does it really matter whose manifesto (someone else in the comment list used that word) we adhere to if we’re ultimately interested in creating a similar future? I guess it depends upon how literal the interpretation is (see Bartman reference above).

I guess it accomplished one thing for me; I took the time to write something that may or may not contribute to the continuing dialogue about what we do next.

I was reintroduced to this quote at The Bioneers by the Bay conference in New Bedford, MA over the weekend. Maybe it’s overused, and it still seems appropriate:

"To build a new system, you don't compete with the old one, you build a new system that makes the old one obsolete" - Buckminster Fuller

1 comment:

Liz McLellan - owner said...

Right there with you Wayne. Thanks for the steam heat...I responded as well..Hopefully it will break through a bit.

I am not a Luddite or a post-apocolyptic fantasizer. I do have a critique of multinational capitalism and how technology and science advance or are impeded...Which makes it tough to be the sort of techno-optimist that is attracted to worldchanging. I love the site, I love the vision, but it often seems unmored by any hint of realism about capitalism and human nature as evidenced up until this historical moment.

I hold my breath and hope that we make a huge simulteaneous evolutionary psychological breakthrough which will get us all paddling in the same direction...But I then note that even amongst cohorts which I consider deep allies - all these shades of green - there is still a lot of academic..forgive the term...dickwagging. Hope we grow past it and fast, otherwise most optimism is unfounded.