Tuesday 19 June 2012

The friendlier future starts now

This post was originally published on the Transition Network Social Reporters blog. You can find the original post here.

When I signed up for this week I was quite excited about all of the possible things that I could get up to. Of course, what with moving down the country and various other activities I haven't managed to organise anything. And I am not currently in a Transition Initiative, so there isn't even something that I can go and join in with. So my original plan for my 24 hours of possibility was along the lines of visioning the social tipping point, similar to what Charlotte wrote yesteday. In the name of diversity I have now had a rethink. I was inspired by what Charlotte said
Everything enacted, felt and imagined that day will alter the course of events thereafter.
My immediate thought about what kind of future I wanted to create was a kinder, more connected, more community orientated one. So my theme for my 24 hours of possibility became clear. I am going to spread as much kindness and go out of my way to help as many people as possible.

So why out of all of the pressing problems on our planet have I chosen this to focus on?

Very early on in my Environmental Science degree it became obvious to me that the causes and answers to all of our environmental problems actually lay in people and our behaviour. Changing this was the way out of our oil addicted paradigm. As Einstein said
We cannot solve problems using the same kind of thinking as we used when we created them
And that is ultimately what led me to getting involved in Transition and community work. This thought was reflected back to me again in my recent permaculture design course. It became clear as the course progressed that there were plenty of practical solutions and brilliant ideas to our problems. We knew exactly what to do to get us out of this oil rut, but the area that we weren't so confident about was the working with other people, the cooperation, managing conflict, valuing diversity. This often seems to be a sticking point in Transition too.

It didn't take me much time on the sustain-ability band wagon to realise that preaching to people didn't make you many friends and rarely encouraged change. I discovered that quietly living by example and being clear and open when people asked me what I was doing was much more effective. But one of the things that you cannot achieve on your own is to build community. Having lived in Glasgow, a rather large city, for the past year it has really drummed it home how individualistic and self centred our current society is and how unwilling people are to help other people in need. If we are going to all pull together in the future then this is going to have to change. And as I have learnt, what better way to start by leading by example.

So tomorrow I am going to make a conscious effort to overcome my english reserve, to try and make connections, help people, start conversations, spread happiness and kindness. It won't necessarily be in my immediate community, as I don't particularly have one at the moment, so I may well see no direct beneficial consequences. But that isn't what this is about. If I need a personal benefit then I get one anyway from the happiness it gives me making connections, joining the dots. As permaculture says the more connections and relationships there are in a system the more resilient and productive it is.

There are already lots of wonderful people doing this and I do try and do this anyway, but tomorrow I am going to make a conscious effort.

And who knows I might not stop at 24 hours, this is, after all, the beginning of the future...

Photos: My permaculture design team - working together is often the hardest part (Kirsty Morris), constructing the compost toilet on the Norwich Farmshare site.


  1. Nice one Kerry! This is a blog I really enjoyed reading about kindness:

  2. I'm sure you will see some benefits, Kerry. Probably from unexpected places! Please Let us know how you get on.