Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Two new sustainability handbooks

A bit big for Christmas stockings, but might find their place as 'green' presents.

The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times  by Rob Hopkins

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, has brought out his second book. His first, The Transition Handbook, published in 2008, brought together the experience to date of the Transition movement.

Since then there have been several books co-authored by Rob, or written by others, on specific aspects of Transition, and Transition Timeline by Shaun Chamberlin added to the mix.

So why this new one now? In his introduction, Rob writes:
This book seeks to answer the question: What would it look like if the best responses to peak oil and climate change came not from committees and Acts of Parliament, but from you and me and the people around us?

It's a big question . . . For the first Transition Handbook . . . this was pretty much a speculative question, but for this new book we are able to draw from what has, in effect, been a five-year worldwide experiment, an attempt to try to put the Transition idea into practice . . .

This book is called a 'Companion' because that is exactly what it is intended to be. It is a move away from 'The 12 Steps to Transition' that has underpinned the work of Transition initiatives up to this point, towards a more holistic, more appropriate model.
Part One of the book explains what Transition is, and gives a potted history; Part Two shows what transition looks like in practice - these two sections form just the first third of the main text.

The remaining two-thirds, Part Three,  covers 'Starting out', 'Deepening', 'Connecting', 'Building', 'Daring to dream'. The whole book covers issues of practicality, psychology and spirituality, money, time, legal matters, community, media, scaling up, running meetings, handling conflict, food, local government, storytelling, appropriate technologies . . . and much, much more. It's full of good advice, helpful information and resources, inspiring case-studies, and lots of how-to suggestions.

Illustrated with many photogrpahs and other graphics, and printed entirely on photographic paper, this is a very heavy book (in the literal, physical sense!) - you might want to think twice about posting it to someone.

It costs £19.95 - money extremely well spent.

At the other end of the cost scale is Sustainability Toolkit: Becoming a low-carbon, sustainable community  by Living Witness and Quaker Peace and Social Witness.

This handbook has been produced by Quakers, primarily for local Quaker meetings, but it has the potential for much wider usefulness.

Copies have already been sent to Quaker meetings in Britain, but individual printed copies may be purchased for £5, or the electronic PDF version may be downloaded free.

The handbook covers interpersonal and group skills needed for working on sustainability issues with a group or community; exercises for articulating a vision; advice on practical issues; tools for taking issues further with the group; further resources.

Also included are two forms of 'footprint calculator' - one for individuals and one for groups or communities. The latter, designed for Quaker meetings, could also be used by Parish Churches, youth clubs, community centres, and so forth. Paper versions of these calculators are included in the book, and electronic versions are online, for individuals and for groups and communities. Also available online is a bank of sustainability stories, examples of a wide variety of actions being taken by individuals and Quaker groups. You can add your own stories to this resource bank.

The book is well laid-out, attractive and easy to use, well illustrated, and a fraction of the weight of the Transition book! It won't break the bank to order it and post it to your friends . . . or buy it for yourself and start to use it in your own community.

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