These are stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary stuff in all kinds of places: in the city, in the wild, in books, housing co-ops, small businesses, in the park, down the pub, on the (solar- panelled) roof, underwater, even on the netball court. We're in Greece, Spain, France and Portugal; we're in Sheffield, Louth, Crystal Palace and Lostwithiel. We're also in Norwich, on sale at The Greenhouse and at events and hubs including Norwich FarmShare and this weekend's May Day Fair in Chapelfield Gardens.
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Welcome to issue twoEnergy underpins everything we do in our industrialised societies. The high demand for gas, oil, coal or bio-fuels, as our front page story shows, is now costing the earth on which we depend for life. How we face this dilemma and reduce our need for power is the work of the Transition movement and thousands of community activists around the world.
Most of us are invisible. But, like mycorrhizzal fungi in the living soil, we are connecting and communicating across the globe, working to bring about a future where people can live fairly within ecological limits. In our summer edition we publish stories you might not ordinarily see – actions communities undertake to bring back life into neighbourhoods, to activate soils that have been deadened and contaminated, to create new networks that can hold us together in challenging times. An infrastructure you can feel but not always see.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline threatens to bring toxic crude oil through the heartland of America. Ancient trees fall to make a by-pass in a peaceful valley in Sussex. In response people rise up and take on mighty corporations and rapacious stakeholders. Sometimes that might is challenged. We won! wrote TFP columnist, Shaun Chamberlin, as the Ecological Land Co-operative finally secured planning permission for a smallholding in Devon. For a Goliath culture whose top-down business-as-usual worldview requires everyone’s assent, this may appear a small victory. But each time we voice our dissent, each time we reclaim our fields, we realise we are not alone in our task.
Why to do we tell these stories? Because they are sparks that light a great fire inside us. Because another culture is being forged under our feet. In an abandoned warehouse in Doncaster people gather on a freezing night by a furnace to listen to a new narrative being told, along the River Dart a group of children and elders go on a story walk in search of the future. A sunflower garden appears in a neighbourhood in Portalegre. An artist plants 100 fruit trees in a university in Loughborough. In the cities everywhere, leaves appear through the cracks and are gathered by foragers. A dominant worldview does not mean we do not have agency.
What we are not told is that there is an emergent world inside us. You can find it everywhere where there is warmth and generosity and a co-operative spirit: in community cafes, park libraries, pop-up shops, trade schools, abundance projects, repair cafes, people’s kitchens. It comes in all the colours of the rainbow, it sounds like the nightingale singing in the dark in May. For all people who sing in the dark, who stand by the land, the bird and the tree, who hold the fire until the dawn comes, this paper is for you.
Charlotte Du Cann, Editor
Images: artist and activist, Anne-Marie Culhane (People); Bee-friendly plants from the Honeyscribe project by Amy Shelton (Living Earth); Oil Change International poster (News); sunflower from neighbourhood garden in Portalegre (Profile); TFP button by Trucie Mitchell and Chris Wells
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