We celebrated the solstice last night with neighbors and friends who don’t live nearby. It was delightful to watch the full moon rise and to share our connections with Earth.
Summer is the high point of busyness. And this year I’m promoting my new book as well as continuing all the volunteer work. Because we grow most of our own vegetables and fruits and have lovely perennial flower gardens, we must be outdoors weeding, watering, and otherwise tending the gardens. It’s wonderful to be drawn outside. It’s wonderful to be in the midst of the bees and cursing the insects and little animals that are trying to eat our food. It’s wonderful to feel the breeze and the sun and smell how green everything is.
The book is selling well and I’ve had a few interviews, one by Rob Hopkins, the inspiration of the Transition Movement, which is posted on http://www.transitionnetwork.org. And now the following review of the book (the first official review) is also posted there! I mention Timothy Gorringe in my book since he wrote a book, “Transition Movement for Churches.” The two books are complimentary.
Ruah Swennerfelt Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith (Albany: Quaker Institute for the Future 2016)
The planetary boundaries which the Stockholm Resilience identified seven years ago as threatening humanity’s future on earth (they don’t threaten the microbes, of course) are the most ecumenical forces ever: they address everyone – rich or poor, male or female, and in every country. Accordingly they call for a response from everyone, everywhere. At the same time our cultural histories have siloed us into tiny ghettoes called ‘nations’ or ‘faiths’ or ‘races’. Vive la différence! Well yes, but only if we can celebrate and enjoy the difference, and not if it sets us against others in a murderous, defensive, competitive hatred. In the world, as hierarchically ordered as our chicken run, the cockerels (oligarchs, tycoons, political leaders) strut around, call attention to themselves, and trade on division. By contrast Paul Hawken draws attention to the thousands of social movements which are working in one way or another for the common good. They don’t all pull in the same direction, of course, but they do draw on the same reservoir of compassion and longing for a world made otherwise. Transition, as we know, is one of these movements, marked out by its lack of stridency, its emphasis on the positive, its attempt to get people to act together to address or redress the crossing of planetary boundaries. In this book Ruah Swennerfelt, a North American Quaker, offers us snapshots of Transition at work around the world, concentrating on the way in which it speaks to, and makes sense of, all the great faith traditions, including Islam. She understands, what not everyone who writes about Transition understands, its origins in permaculture and teases out the way in which those design principles are woven into a new social tapestry. Meeting a Palestinian permaculturist she rightly sees that, although he and his family could not be a Transition town (because Israel is systematically destroying those possibilities) he is acting out Transition in his own olive grove. In tune with Transition she acknowledges the darkness of our present situation (and we could say a great deal more about this, of course, especially in the UK right now) but she puts the emphasis on the positive. Faiths, as I have noted, are one of the ghettoes we create for ourselves, but on the cover of her book she has a beautiful picture of an inter faith climate march in Rome of all places with a banner saying: ‘Many faiths, one planet’. Her book gives us many illustrations of people from different faith traditions taking action together in a cheerful, celebratory way to transition to a different way of being together on the planet. ‘If we act together it might be just enough, just in time’. ‘Together’ means stepping out of our ghettoes, and only by doing that can we address the immense urgency of the challenge humanity faces. The book offers us a ‘word of encouragement’ , a reminder that the darkness is not all encompassing, and that all over the world, at grassroots level, Transition is already underway. Thank you, Ruah, for that reminder!
Tim Gorringe, Exeter