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Books

The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience

Outlines the basic conditions that led to the Transition Movement, and suggestions for how to build that movement. Available at a reduced rate from Transition Asheville.

The Transition Companion: Making your community more resilience in uncertain times

Highlights numerous projects and ideas from Transition Towns around the world. Also available from Transition Asheville

The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How Local Action can Change the World

Another book by Transition founder Rob Hopkins that offers encouragement for the great transition.

Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

Bill McKibben

With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, Mckibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where he joined forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry.

McKibben’s story presents these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate struggle – from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year’s honey crop and building a social movement that continues to grow.

There are a lot of bee analogies in “Oil and Honey.” The most interesting one likens fossil-fuel companies to bees.   McKibben observes that they are able to “gather resources from great distances, carry them exactly where they’re needed, and combine various skills to produce something of great value from crude raw materials.” But fossil-fuel companies and bees are also “simple,” McKibben argues, in the sense that they are “single-minded” about production — it’s what they do, and the more the better.

“If you want honey, you need a hive of bees,” he writes. “But if you were trying to decide if making honey was a good idea, bees would be the last creatures to ask. You know what their answer is going to be. In fact, if you get in their way they’ll be a little perplexed for a while. . . . And if you persist in getting in their way, they’re eventually going to get mad and sting. That’s just how it works.”

So it is with fossil-fuel companies, McKibben has learned, conceding, somewhere along the line in his engaging memoir, that he’s actually afraid of bees. Thankfully, though, he is not afraid of fossil-fuel companies, and he is not asking them whether they think more oil production is a good idea. He’s asking the public.

McKibben’s book is an enjoyable tale of one man’s decision to fight for a world with less oil and more honey. Several copies are available in the Buncombe County Library System.

Three books reflect on before, during, and after our time

1491, Before They’re Gone, and The Next Species

These three books stimulate thinking in this period of The Great Transition.

  1. 1491 (2005) by Charles C. Mann highlights archeological and anthropological findings of recent decades that have changed the understanding of human life in the Americas prior to Columbus. They show civilizations that lasted for centuries, populations far larger than we generally suppose, and cities larger than any in Europe at that time.Additionally, instead of a vast, forested wilderness we might imagine, the landscapes had often been tailored by and for human societies. Today we call that effort “permaculture”, the adaptation of and to the environment for sustainable life.Then Columbus and the waves of Europeans brought diseases that were far deadlier than guns, horses, and soldiers, along with an unnatural concept the relationship between humans and the environment.
  2. Before They’re Gone (2013) by Michael Lanza, tells the story of the author, a respected nature writer, who took his family to visit 10 national parks that are being greatly altered by climate change.From Florida’s Everglades to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Washington’s Olympic National Park, the effects have already brought sadness and dismay to many of the park visitors who see the effects of our warming planet.
  3. The Next Species (2016) by Michael Tennesen is described as both sobering and exhilarating. We cannot hide from the worst case scenario: human extinction. The scientific evidence points to a sixth mass extinction on Earth. What might bring on our demise? What new life forms might evolve? Might some of those be human?Tennesen does not shy away from those questions. In all, the book is, according to Kirkus Reviews, “an engrossing history of life, the dismal changes wrought by [humans], and a forecast of life after the sixth mass extinction.”

These books are all available in the Buncombe County library system.

Designing Regenerative Cultures

by Daniel Christian Wahl

This brand new book, published on May 2 of this year, draws readers who are perplexed with a headlong race that threatens the entire life system on the planet and invites them to enter into “living the questions” as a means that could “help us to transition towards regenerative cultures.”

Regenerative is defined as a realistic yet hopeful perspective on where we are going that assumes some type of positive future is possible. It includes and broadens the concept of resiliency which is known as increasing the chance of survival in times of great uncertainty or fluctuation.  It is an invitation to join together to support movement for the full and rich future of the planet.

In an early review, Joanna Macy, environmental activist, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology and author of World as Lover, World as Self and numerous other books, has this to say: “To me as a life-long activist nourished on systems thinking and Buddhist teachings, this is one of thecmost intellectually exciting and soul stirring books I’ve read in years.   I had the sense of drinking it, with pleasure and surprise, not having known what I’d so thirsted for.

By starting with questions and keeping to questions throughout, Daniel engages the reader, and by example frees her from striving for, or pretending to know, any final answers.  This approach —  in itself a rare lesson in systems epistemology — invites trust, openness, and a restructuring of the mind.

Among the gifts for which I am especially grateful are these: Conceptual tools for perceiving and experiencing our mutual belonging, and especially what I’ve come to call the great reciprocity at the heart of the universe. The ways Goethe, Bortoft, Bateson, Maturana, and Varela are brought in, and key insights mediated with economy and clarity.  The abundant evidence of the Great Turning, the manifold  transition underway to a life-sustaining culture.  And, especially valuable to those of an apocalyptic bent like myself, the ‘adaptive cycle' of resilient systems, showing  that at 'the edge of chaos' comes opportunity  for the emergence of greater  complexity and intelligence.

These are but a few of the ways in which this remarkable book will enrich my thought, my teaching, and my life in this turbulent world of ours.

In the Foreword David Orr, environmentalist and Paul Sears Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, has this to say:

“Daniel Wahl has compiled a great deal of useful information in a masterful synthesis. That alone is a significant accomplishment, but he’s given us more than that.

Designing Regenerative Cultures describes the doorway to a possible, indeed, necessary future. We are not fated to the dystopia in prospect. We have, as he writes, the capacity to design and to organize our societies to protect, enhance, and celebrate life.

The blueprint was there all along. The awareness of our possibilities is growing. The art and sciences of ecological design are flourishing. The choice, as always, is ours and that of those who will follow.”

Designing Regenerative Cultures is a book that has great potential to guide the further development of Transition Town initiatives for the near and distant future.

Green from the Ground Up: Sustainable, Healthy and Energy-Efficient Home Construction

Green From the Ground Up

Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate

by our friend, Dr. Laura Lengnick
Resilient Agriculture

Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas

Harvesting Justice

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

Gaia’s Garden

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Magazines and Newspapers

 

Home Power Magazine

Home Power

Resilience Clipping Files

Chas Jansen

Resilience Clipping Files is a resource drawn mostly from local publications, such as the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress, The Laurel of Asheville, by Chas Jansen, a former Common Table member and currently Transition Asheville’s Archivist.

The clippings, collected roughly between 2010 and the present, are a collection of area articles relating to resilience during those years.  Chas describes the collection as “by no means a complete collection, rather only those collected.”

Getting Ahead of Climate Change

Getting Ahead of Climate Change

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Movies

How to Boil a Frog

How to Boil a Frog

The Age of Stupid: Why Didn’t We Save Ourselves When We Had the Chance?

Age of Stupid

Gasland

On fracking, first in a series of 3 controversial films on fracking.

In Transition 1.0: From oil dependence to local resilience

The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream

Dated but decent introduction to the concern about “peak oil”.

Four Horsemen documentary

Four Horsemen is a 2012 British documentary film directed by Ross Ashcroft. The film criticizes the system of fractional reserve banking, debt-based economy and political lobbying by banks, which it regards as serious threats to Western civilization.

Noam Chomsky, Joseph Stiglitz and 21 other leading thinkers discuss how the world works and talk about solutions to the failed systems that relegate billions to poverty and insecurity.

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Businesses and Services

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