I was listening to Rob Hopkins on BBC World Service yesterday, and this quote caught my attention. I think it sums up the basic premise of Make Wealth History rather well:
“In many ways Transition is designed as a detox for the affluent West. We talk about contraction and convergence, and we need to get the West down 80% so that the developing world can meet us at 20%… There is an equitable footprint that we can all live on. We need to come down to that point, and allow the developing world to come up to that point, so that we all reach a level.”
As the writer of this blog that made me want to cheer, but as a local activist it gives me pause for thought. Naturally that reads somewhat differently in Luton, a place that’s a little run down. Some people might be wary of anything that suggests we need less, when we’d actually like a little more affluence, thank you very much. I hope our actions are positive and empowering enough to prove those concerns to be unfounded. Besides, there’s a difference between a comfortable lifestyle of ‘enough’ and an unsustainable lifestyle of affluence.
In fact, I’d say Luton exemplifies why we need Transition Towns. One of the main reasons Luton is deprived is because it was an automotive boom-town. As globalization shifted that business elsewhere, thousands of jobs have been lost. Unfortunately, a large part of the answer has been to invest in aviation instead, and the biggest employer in the town is now the airport. Since airlines basically stop making profits when oil prices hit $80 a barrel, that’s a big vulnerability. The whole of the western lifestyle is unsustainable, but aviation is going to be one of the first casualties. It would be a tragedy to see history repeat itself in Luton.
I hope Transition Luton can ring a warning bell about that. More importantly, we want to get started in creating an alternative, building the local economy, encouraging small and resilient businesses with both feet in the local community. And we want to get people together, meet our needs closer to home, and make sure that we’re prepared for whatever the 21st century brings.
So far, it appears to be working. We’re still a small group, but we’re in all three local papers this week ahead of our Transition hustings on thursday night. If you’re in the area, it’s at St Mary’s Town Hall at 7:30. We’ve got all eight candidates and it should be a good evening. If we’re talking about a fresh start for Luton, we obviously want our MP to be part of it.