Sunday 24 February 2013

holding the front page

This month a new national newspaper, Transition Free Press was launched, and because I am the editor of the paper and also involved in its funding, distribution and setting up as a social enterprise and workers' coop, blogging for Transition has taken a back seat.

After three years on-line (73 posts alone last year), I find my attention moving back to the printed page and the business of communicating the culture of downshift to a wider audience. We will continue to report here on This Low Carbon Life, but our posts will be more infrequent and perhaps hold a different content and intent. Much of what I have learned about producing a paper for these times, has been tried and tested on this blog with my fellow Transitioners and our guests, so it's a big thanks to them that this paper has its particular collaborative style and focus.

Anyway to get a flavour of our first issue I am publishing our welcome today. You can see an on-line version of the paper here. And hard copies will shortly be on sale in Norwich (£1) at The Greenhouse and also from our distributors, Chris Hull, Simeon Jackson and Lesley Grahame. Contact details are here. I will be teaching a class on Grassroots Media this Saturday at 12noon as part of the Trade School at the Common Room, Do come along if you would like to discuss the role of media in times of Transition. I'll have a stack papers too! Here's that intro:

 More powerful than armies, more powerful than law, is culture". At the heart of this Spring edition is an interview with author and activist, Mark Boyle. In it is discussed the key story of our times - the shift from an individualistic, growth-at-all-costs culturee to one that values sharing and ccommunity. It is the ‘mission’ of this new newspaper to cover the stories that form this new emergent culture and to show how, if we take matters into our own hands, the ship that looks to be heading for disaster can be steered in a totally new direction: a future we all want to live in. 

For many of us in the Transition movement this means learning to work together --  engaging in social projects, creating community gardens, regenerating our neighbourhoods. It requires a keen awareness of the bigger picture, as well as a personal capacity to downshift and be resourceful in times of economic and environmental collapse.  

In our first issue we look unswervingly at the realities of the forces now squeezing the eco-systems and lives of people everywhere -- from the fossil fuel industry, to land rights to the global food system. We also look at the solutions communities are coming up with -- in the areas of livelihoods, education, energy and food -- the "incredible things people are doing" everywhere, as Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the movement, records in his new book, The Power of Just Doing Stuff.  We started this paper, like all good creative enterprises, on the kitchen table. We rolled up our sleeves, pooled our skills and time, and after successfully publishing a preview issue last summer, decided to launch a 4-edition pilot for 2013. All of us realised that the mainstream media were not reporting the new narrative we saw unfolding. 

So we created a newspaper which could serve in several ways: to reflect the Transition movement to the wider world; to act as a feedback loop for Transition groups, and, perhaps most importantly, to be a communications tool for the people who have yet to hear about the other story happening around the world.  Over 40 UK initiatives have signed up to distribute 10,000 copies and subsidise its printing, and so it's thanks to them you are reading this page today.   We are aware that none of this happens on its own. We are a small and resilient people, and this is a small and resilient paper, but when we connect up --  – contributors, distributors, readers all -- we become a strong and vibrant network. What the new narrative shows us is that our innate ability to face ethical dilemmas and use our imaginations is what makes us stand out and stand together as human beings.   

Can we hold together as the storm advances before us? Can we share our gifts in time? This edition is all about the people who are responding to these questions. It starts with coming home to ourselves and our neighbourhoods; to a place where we no longer feel afraid or alone, but where we can fulfil our task of being alive on this planet of intense beauty and hidden treasure. We're rooted in place and time, connected to millions of others across the world in our hearts and minds. It is our hope, dear reader, that as you hold this paper in your hands, you can join us to meet what has been called the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. 

In solidarity and joy, from all of us on the Transition Free Press: Charlotte, Alexis, Tamzin, Trucie, Marion, Jay, Mark and Mike. 

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