Tuesday, 25 May 2010

This is not a party-political blogcast

A few days after the general election, I went to meet Mark and Charlotte for a cup of tea at the Bicycle Shop on St Benedicts, and on the way, saw this fantastic grafitti. I just had to take a photo. I'm glad I did - the next day the grafitti was gone.

Don't worry, I'm not going to comment on our coalition government, or write about budget deficits or anything like that. There's more than enough comment and opinion in the news for me not to want to add any more. Nor is this post a comment on any of the political parties, big or small, left or right. But, the grafitti got me thinking.

Thinking about powerlessness. Instead of the word "Tories", you could put anything in its place. Tory grafittistas (if such a crew exists) may write "Labour will bleed us dry", others may feel moved to write "The Government", "The State", "Oil companies", "Big business", "Supermarkets". The list of those accused of bleeding us dry is pretty much endless.
But the accused all have one thing in common - they are other. Someone else will Bleed. Us. Dry. And we will let them. We will let them because we cannot stop them.
And I wondered, is that really true? Are we that powerless? Have we given away all of our resourcefulness, our capabilities? I'm not making light of the cuts the government is planning - they are likely to have a major impact on services that we take for granted. But can we really do nothing at all in the face of major shocks to our lives?
Transition was designed to help our societies become resilient to the kinds of shocks that come from outside agencies - whether those are global shocks such as peak oil or climate change, or societal shocks such as economic recessions or governments policies . By building resilience - in ourselves and in our societies - we can hope to withstand such shocks. Lesley Graham reviewed Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine in the last Transition Bulletin. It's the most amazing book, and the only non-fiction book that has ever caused me a truly sleepless night! Lesley writes how the book's final chapter "describes how communities have come together to share insights, develop independence of thought, social solidarity and economic resilience".
Some revolutions are terrible and bloody. Others are quiet revolutions. I felt something of a quiet revolution at the Transition Norwich Plant Swap the other week. The girls & I brought some plants (and jam tarts) along to swap and took some plants away with us. And took away a feeling of being part of something bigger than simply a morning of seeing friends and swapping plants. And I feel that quiet revolution whenever I read about what others are doing, in Norwich, in Bungay, up and down Britain and all over the world.
Bleed us dry? They can certainly try, but I think we're more resilient than that.


  1. Did you read Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest? He describes how there are millions upon millions of quiet revolutionaries around the world and it's a great feeling to be part of it.

  2. Hi there - no I haven't read the book. I'll have to have a look and see if it's in the library. Thanks for the tip.