A Great Conference! (…from one who missed it)
By Gary Alexander 16th June 2010
I was gutted when the dates of the Transition Conference were changed to the weekend of Taste of Diss, a local food festival I helped to organise. But over the past few days, I have managed to get a good sense of what went on from the blogs, photos, videos and audio that were posted online, and I have loved the conference! Well done Ed and team.
Nicole Foss’ talk on the financial crisis
Like many of you, I was most strongly struck by Nicole Foss’ (why ‘Stoneleigh’?) talk Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil. I listened to it in full, one and a half times (!), with slides, read the comments by Shaun Chamberlain and listened to Mike Grenville’s comments with the great title Only dead fish go with the flow.
Yes, I already knew much of it, but the power of the presentation and the comments on it made it much clearer and more immediate for me. That gave me more confidence in my own views and I am thinking hard about what my personal response should be. The economic world order on which the real economy rests is a house of cards that is about to collapse, possibly within the coming year. Positive feedback is at the heart of the economy, so it is inherently unstable. As Mike said, this will be terribly painful but does open the opportunity for the changes we would like to see. Those changes are probably impossible otherwise.
I think that the market psychology is actually worse than Nicole says. She said that market players act not on the reality of oil supplies, but on the perception of whether oil will be scarce in future. I think they actually act on their anticipation of what other market players will do, which is still further divorced from any physical reality.
Nicole also emphasized the disconnection between the real economy and the world of finance: ships that can’t sail because they can’t get bills of credit, viability of businesses based not on reality but on arbitrary variables like exchange rates and the existence of credit.
So, our task is to create a new economy that bypasses this, that directly connects us all in a web of mutual production and consumption, and this requires a basis of trust.
Other parts of the conference I liked
I got a strong sense of the rest of the conference too, photos of Seale Hayne, the open space, the Zero Carbon Britain workshop (an audio recording with slides) with such a well worked out plan for a sustainable future, the inpiring young people from Wales, and the Brazilians film with Rob and Peter, Ed Mitchell’s work on the new website. I saw some of my local friends, Christine Way, Tully Wakeman’s interview on his workshop on local food. My friend Charlotte’s meeting with her old friend Adrienne, and much more.
I listened to some of Rob Hopkins introduction to his pattern language session. I hope those sessions were fruitful as I was part of early discussions. How did the conflict resolution sessions go? They are dear to my heart, as a key to our creating the new collaborative society that we hope will come out of the collapse.
Finally, although I wasn’t there, I did send a carton of my new booklet, Sustainable Diss 2030 for the delegates. Did anyone pick one up? What do you think of it? (Comments below please, or on our website.)