Transition Ottawa

Building Community Resilience Through Action

TT talks about energy descent, as we wean from fossil fuels. But what about our "addiction" to the high-livin' lifestyle? I interviewed TT Ottawa member David Shakleton on this and he had interesting things to say about the stages of grieving . . . from denial and anger through to acceptance that point to a possible role for Transition Towns as providing this map for people. You can listen or download it here.

Andrew

Views: 35

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for this, Andrew. There's an interesting piece in the New York Times today that touches, albeit somewhat peripherally, on some of the discussion points in your conversation with David Shackelton.
Cheers / jd
Very interesting interview. Thanks for posting.

I definitely went through a range of emotional responses as I learned more and more about peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. I kept having these little light bulb moments when I saw the big picture. I was distraught at the thought of the suffering that will occur largely among the world's most marginalized and vulnerable populations. Tears, anger, numbness, a sense of the incredible preciousness of everything, self-righteousness, being judgmental, loss, mourning... I suffered alone and largely in silence because most folks in my immediate circle couldn't comprehend where I was coming from and I didn't want to appear overwrought or hysterical. I also noted, even among those who were aware of the situation, there was a very strong reticence about discussing the emotional stuff. Lots of people just don't want to go there. Can't say that I blame them really, but it sure made for a lonely and isolating experience for me.

I've since turned more and more to nature for solace, not surprisingly a very soothing balm that has given me a sense of meaning and purpose. Obviously not an answer for everyone, but it's certainly been a blessing for me.

This post on the nature of politics speaks to this in terms of the psychological factors inherent in the expansion and contraction of economies.

"The psychology of contraction may well inhibit the formation of effective new institutions, even much simpler ones, for a long period of time. The psychology of contraction is not constructive, and leads in the direction of division and exclusion as trust evaporates. Unfortunately, trust – the glue of a functional society - takes a long time to build, but relatively little time to destroy."

An awareness of this in the Transition movement and some process to help guide the psychological factors involved in contraction would indeed be a useful thing to do.
Thanks Amber for putting flesh on the bones of the notion that we're powerfully affected even now by the peak oil future. Call it Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I suspect those who like yourself, feel it through, are developing a competence will become even more valuable to others.

Amber Westfall said:
Very interesting interview. Thanks for posting.

I definitely went through a range of emotional responses as I learned more and more about peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. I kept having these little light bulb moments when I saw the big picture. I was distraught at the thought of the suffering that will occur largely among the world's most marginalized and vulnerable populations. Tears, anger, numbness, a sense of the incredible preciousness of everything, self-righteousness, being judgmental, loss, mourning... I suffered alone and largely in silence because most folks in my immediate circle couldn't comprehend where I was coming from and I didn't want to appear overwrought or hysterical. I also noted, even among those who were aware of the situation, there was a very strong reticence about discussing the emotional stuff. Lots of people just don't want to go there. Can't say that I blame them really, but it sure made for a lonely and isolating experience for me.

I've since turned more and more to nature for solace, not surprisingly a very soothing balm that has given me a sense of meaning and purpose. Obviously not an answer for everyone, but it's certainly been a blessing for me.

This post on the nature of politics speaks to this in terms of the psychological factors inherent in the expansion and contraction of economies.

"The psychology of contraction may well inhibit the formation of effective new institutions, even much simpler ones, for a long period of time. The psychology of contraction is not constructive, and leads in the direction of division and exclusion as trust evaporates. Unfortunately, trust – the glue of a functional society - takes a long time to build, but relatively little time to destroy."

An awareness of this in the Transition movement and some process to help guide the psychological factors involved in contraction would indeed be a useful thing to do.
John Michael Greer has some interesting things to say this week on his Archdruid Report at http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/. His final suggestion, that we innoculate ourselves against revitalization movement thinking with the phrase, "There is no brighter future ahead" goes somewhat against the TT idea of a joyous sustainable future. How would we recognize if we were actually in denial of reality, in a revitalization movement to use his words, or in the bargaining stage to use Elizabeth Kubler Ross' map of the grief process? The key is that when one is at the stage of acceptance, there are no conversations that one cannot have, no ideas that one cannot consider seriously.

How about this one, that "there is no brighter future ahead"? Can we consider that seriously, or are we wedded to the notion that we can transition to a brighter future of abundant living and happiness?

According to Kubler Ross, the stage after bargaining is depression - in other words, depression is actually an improvement over bargaining, a step toward and not away from health, when the pain of loss is finally allowed in, and the final step before the power and wisdom of acceptance, the final stage. TT could offer people a massive gift by supporting such a process, and I congratulate you, Andrew, on this initiative to provide a forum and an opportunity for such beginnings.

David Shackleton
Those who haven't read the Archdruid are in for a treat because he gives serious ideas serious consideration and intelligence with a dose of humour and I look forward to him weekly.

That one liner about there being no brighter future ahead was a zinger at the end and a kind of cliff hanger before next week's column I think and I wondered about it, because its' clear that the Archdruid advocates and practices household economy and sustainable practices himself - he's not a bleak fellow.

I think what he was getting at was pointed out well by this comment (the Report's comments are as worthy as the column). A reader named "John" wrote:

“There is no brighter future ahead.”

The hell there isn't!

I consider myself fairly realistic about the coming post peak oil era, and yet I'm optimistic. Not optimistic that we'll 'solve' this problem, but optimistic that we will adapt in such a way as to make life far more interesting and satisfying. Some examples;

I'm approaching retirement age but I will not be buying a condo in Arizona and sitting on a porch. I'll be tilling my garden and splitting firewood here in New Hampshire. I like that - it keeps me healthy and active.

For vacations (I just took one) I'll be staying home, working on hobbies, spending time with family, and for relaxation, walking in one of the most beautiful forests in the world (in my opinion anyway) and meditating on the beauty I find there. This is far more relaxing and spiritually uplifting than frantically running through some overpriced tourist trap buying every geegaw in sight.

I'll be using a lot less energy, but I will be proud and happy every time I find a way to do something with less energy or to generate my own energy from local resources. I'll be buying fewer consumer goods but making (or repairing) more of my own stuff, which I find more satisfying anyway.

I will revel in the cleaner air that will result from the burning of less fossil fuels, the better food that I grow myself or buy locally, and the closer relationships I forge with neighbors as we gather to solve common problems.

Yes, there will be hard times and challenges as there always are, but also great opportunities for happiness and satisfaction if we are wise enough to see them and work to attain them.

All that's required is a mental shift away from the myths of progress or apocalypse and toward the idea of accepting the world as it is (not as we would like it to be) and working with that.

Would you consider that magic? I do.


the Archdruid responds to each comment and his very brief comment to John was:
John, thank you for proving my point. Heh heh heh...

John's life looks like a brighter future to me, but I'm far from living in it myself, very far . . . and very few of us are "there". Transitioners are slowly moving that direction.

David Shackleton said:
John Michael Greer has some interesting things to say this week on his Archdruid Report at http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/. His final suggestion, that we innoculate ourselves against revitalization movement thinking with the phrase, "There is no brighter future ahead" goes somewhat against the TT idea of a joyous sustainable future. How would we recognize if we were actually in denial of reality, in a revitalization movement to use his words, or in the bargaining stage to use Elizabeth Kubler Ross' map of the grief process? The key is that when one is at the stage of acceptance, there are no conversations that one cannot have, no ideas that one cannot consider seriously.
How about this one, that "there is no brighter future ahead"? Can we consider that seriously, or are we wedded to the notion that we can transition to a brighter future of abundant living and happiness?
According to Kubler Ross, the stage after bargaining is depression - in other words, depression is actually an improvement over bargaining, a step toward and not away from health, when the pain of loss is finally allowed in, and the final step before the power and wisdom of acceptance, the final stage. TT could offer people a massive gift by supporting such a process, and I congratulate you, Andrew, on this initiative to provide a forum and an opportunity for such beginnings.

David Shackleton
Greer disposed of the arguments that you make a few weeks ago, Andrew, by noting that nothing is preventing you from doing all of those things that you list and look forward to, right now in today's society. What you, and I, will see in the future is a huge reduction in choice. Now, it may be a good thing to put a positive spin on this and say that you will enjoy the things like walking (or working) in the woods, etc. when you have to do them - I don't know, that's a separate question. But I think that you have misinterpreted Greer if you think that his incantation was tongue-in-cheek. We need to take the idea that there is no brighter future ahead very seriously, and I think that in TT we are seriously in denial of it.

On that score, it looks to me like you proved my point for me.

David Shackleton

Andrew MacDonald said:
Those who haven't read the Archdruid are in for a treat because he gives serious ideas serious consideration and intelligence with a dose of humour and I look forward to him weekly.

That one liner about there being no brighter future ahead was a zinger at the end and a kind of cliff hanger before next week's column I think and I wondered about it, because its' clear that the Archdruid advocates and practices household economy and sustainable practices himself - he's not a bleak fellow.

I think what he was getting at was pointed out well by this comment (the Report's comments are as worthy as the column). A reader named "John" wrote:

“There is no brighter future ahead.”

The hell there isn't!

I consider myself fairly realistic about the coming post peak oil era, and yet I'm optimistic. Not optimistic that we'll 'solve' this problem, but optimistic that we will adapt in such a way as to make life far more interesting and satisfying. Some examples;

I'm approaching retirement age but I will not be buying a condo in Arizona and sitting on a porch. I'll be tilling my garden and splitting firewood here in New Hampshire. I like that - it keeps me healthy and active.

For vacations (I just took one) I'll be staying home, working on hobbies, spending time with family, and for relaxation, walking in one of the most beautiful forests in the world (in my opinion anyway) and meditating on the beauty I find there. This is far more relaxing and spiritually uplifting than frantically running through some overpriced tourist trap buying every geegaw in sight.

I'll be using a lot less energy, but I will be proud and happy every time I find a way to do something with less energy or to generate my own energy from local resources. I'll be buying fewer consumer goods but making (or repairing) more of my own stuff, which I find more satisfying anyway.

I will revel in the cleaner air that will result from the burning of less fossil fuels, the better food that I grow myself or buy locally, and the closer relationships I forge with neighbors as we gather to solve common problems.

Yes, there will be hard times and challenges as there always are, but also great opportunities for happiness and satisfaction if we are wise enough to see them and work to attain them.

All that's required is a mental shift away from the myths of progress or apocalypse and toward the idea of accepting the world as it is (not as we would like it to be) and working with that.

Would you consider that magic? I do.


the Archdruid responds to each comment and his very brief comment to John was:
John, thank you for proving my point. Heh heh heh...

John's life looks like a brighter future to me, but I'm far from living in it myself, very far . . . and very few of us are "there". Transitioners are slowly moving that direction.

David Shackleton said:
John Michael Greer has some interesting things to say this week on his Archdruid Report at http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/. His final suggestion, that we innoculate ourselves against revitalization movement thinking with the phrase, "There is no brighter future ahead" goes somewhat against the TT idea of a joyous sustainable future. How would we recognize if we were actually in denial of reality, in a revitalization movement to use his words, or in the bargaining stage to use Elizabeth Kubler Ross' map of the grief process? The key is that when one is at the stage of acceptance, there are no conversations that one cannot have, no ideas that one cannot consider seriously.
How about this one, that "there is no brighter future ahead"? Can we consider that seriously, or are we wedded to the notion that we can transition to a brighter future of abundant living and happiness?
According to Kubler Ross, the stage after bargaining is depression - in other words, depression is actually an improvement over bargaining, a step toward and not away from health, when the pain of loss is finally allowed in, and the final step before the power and wisdom of acceptance, the final stage. TT could offer people a massive gift by supporting such a process, and I congratulate you, Andrew, on this initiative to provide a forum and an opportunity for such beginnings.

David Shackleton
David
I don't think that Greer's statement to the effect that there's no brighter future ahead was tongue in cheek. But from his response to "John" I think he's suggesting that it will involve much austerity, and he doesn't seem to "poo-pah" the idea that this could be enjoyed, merely that it wasn't the "bright" we've imagined in the past.

I'll be looking with interest for next Thursday's Archdruid's Report where he'll discuss this I imagine.

Between the abundance we have now and a successful austere future lies a great deal of preparation however, and I know that I for one am not up to speed, not even close.
I think all of us on Transition Ottawa know hard times are coming up. The transition will surely be painful. But thinking we're all doomed leads to despair and inaction. The vision of a more meaningful life after the transition is what we need to strive for. And yes cheap oil has made our lives easier and given us plenty of free time. But do we feel happier after having been stuck on a highway for an hour isolated in our car and then watching three hours of brain-numbing tv shows or when we grow some of our own food, share tricks with neighbors, help others and learn new valuable skills? We don't know when the going will get really tough but in the meantime we should do our best to stay positive, reduce our own environmental footprint, lead by example, talk to and share resources with our friends and family to shift the conventional wisdom from oil dependency to local resiliency, learn the skills that we will need and support our local economy.
The title of this forum is "Emotional and Psychological Descent."

How, exactly, are we going to descend if everyone keeps insisting that we have to look forward to a future that is essentially better than we have now. Where's the descent in that?

Gabriel, if everyone on Transition Ottawa knows that the transition will be painful, where is the discussion of how we will deal with that, what preparations must be made, how we might grieve the losses so that we aren't attached to rosy outcomes and enhanced spiritual experiences, etc. - which is what I keep hearing about from everybody here. Even on this forum, with this specific subject, we can't seem to get started acknowledging that our hope may be our enemy, at times. Remember, the fourth stage of grieving is depression. If we haven't gone through depression, if we keep pushing it away by insisting on a brighter future, then we haven't dealt with our addictions, we've just rationalized around them. Just look at Transition Ottawa's web page about the future we are envisioning ( see http://transitionottawa.ning.com/page/the-big-picture ) for a description that can only be described as utopian and idealized - it contains not the slightest hint of any downside, everything is just peachy keen.

Now, I'm not taking issue with our needing to inspire ourselves and hold out hope. But on this forum, at least, can we talk about the fact that the transition may involve loss of social order, major loss of life, major privations and shortages, etc., and what that brings up for us? Or is that a conversation that we just can't have?

David
Thank you for the response David. I'm not sure what you are suggesting when you say that we need to discuss "how we will deal with that, what preparations must be made". Do you have some concrete examples of how you feel we should be preparing? Obviously, what inspires and motivates me is the picture I have of life after the transition but it may be wise to also plan for the transition itself.
Thanks for the invitation, Gabriel, to discuss the actual transition. To my mind, planning for this is absolutely key. I do have some ideas, but I would hope that discussion would broaden them and eventually involve the whole community. I'm off to work today, but I should have time to make a first posting on this topic tomorrow.

David

Gabriel Thibault said:
Thank you for the response David. I'm not sure what you are suggesting when you say that we need to discuss "how we will deal with that, what preparations must be made". Do you have some concrete examples of how you feel we should be preparing? Obviously, what inspires and motivates me is the picture I have of life after the transition but it may be wise to also plan for the transition itself.
I think some of this denial and anger stuff would also depend on who you talk to, such as those who consider themselves members of First Nations, "homeless", or others, such as those who feel disillusioned by, disenfranchised and/or disengaged from etc., much of their world. Then again, perhaps that's everyone. :)

I'm unsure I agree with Shakleton's audio comment about something to the effect of having to work harder when the energy declines. We're already working for "nothing", many longer and harder for less, and when I write nothing, I mean meaninglessness, waste, excess, and for others' dubious pocket-linings/land-grabs/business-expansions-- things like that. Slavery and serfdom seems alive and well.

"Problems", like money, or perhaps like the antitheses of denial itself, can be created out of thin air. (creation/suppression).

Imagine that. ;)

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2014   Created by Corrie Rabbe.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service