The Turning Point – a return to community

What happens when your community transitions? With “In Transition 1.0” we got a taste of what various transition initiatives are doing around the UK. However that movie fell largely flat as it was difficult to see where it was going. However there are places where they have been voluntarily transitioning for 20 years. Findhorn, on the Moray Firth in Scotland, is a community that has already transitioned. In this 2009 film (41 minutes) we follow various aspects of the work in this eco-village. Findhorn has the lowest ecological footprint than anywhere in northern Europe. It features extensive interviews (70 minutes in extended features on the DVD) with Richard Heinberg, Rob Hopkins, Joanna Macy and Megan Quinn Bachman (who co-produced the classic “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survive Peak Oil”). At Findhorn they have it all: car clubs, a living machine to clean the sewage, community supported agriculture, a wind farm, local egg, cheese and bread production, community gardens, local shops, organics, permaculture, forest-gardening, a local currency and so on….

The movie was made at the time of a conference at Findhorn hence their ability to attract so many great interviews. Heinberg & Hopkins just happened to be there. We learn about everything from edible landscapes to the appropriate breed choice of milk cow for the Scottish climate. You can even buy “cow-shares” with interest payable in cheese (8% apr). We learn that it is possible to achieve a transition. It is tempting to see Findhorn as a bunch of hippies living in some idyllic past. There are a few stereotypes walking around in the movie. For example we are not too sure about the “eco-clown” (“helps us explore difficult issues through the medium of laughter”) and Joanna Macy waffles aimlessly about “rediscovering a sacred earth”. The blurb on the back of the DVD talk breathlessly about this “multi-faith spiritual community, ecovillage and international centre for holistic education aspires to foster a new human consciousness”. You what? It is sad that many people inside this transition still think that sort of talk is going to cut any ice or communicate to the rest of civilisation.

This to one side this movie stands head and shoulders above “In Transition” because it offers greater inspiration. The interviews with Heinberg and Hopkins are just classics. In “The Turning Point” we see the goal of our efforts. Whilst Transitioners elsewhere scratch around with art projects and stitching a few bags out of recycled materials, here at Findhorn the very basic essentials of life are supplied in a sustainable way. We hear both Heinberg and the local Findhorn baker talking about small scale local economics. Even the local cheese maker is conversant with the economics of our oil addiction. This movie is moving. Despite some of the hippy waffle this tugs more at the heart strings than “In Transition”. This has a lot to do with the slick and professional editing and top-notch sound production and soundtrack. You can’t help but be moved by this. Buy copies for all your friends… but prepare to get angry when they say “so what – the problem is all them immigrants”. Some people simply won’t get it. The hardwiring of the cheap oil system is difficult to untangle.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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