Friday, December 4, 2009

Earlier this week I watched a wonderful film: InTransition. It's a documentary about the Transition movement begun by Rob Hopkins. The film uses simple graphics and visual changes at the beginning to go over some of the basics about climate change and fossil fuel use. There's never too much on the screen at any one time, which made me observe and listen to the voice-over more closely. I relate this because so many films rely on special effects and busyness to get our attention. This film uses our own abilities to focus on one thing at a time, the best way to take in information. (I belabor this point because I often do editing of documents and spend much time taking out big words which are used inaccurately and confuse a reader. ) The film goes on to show actions from a dozen or more towns that are beginning a Transition movement. One of the film's narrators is a wonderful little boy, who is peering through a piece of playground equipment (or it might be the frame of a small geodesic dome). He talks about environment issues in the world-weary tone of a an experienced university prof addressing a first year class, knowing he has to keep it simple. He knows way more than we do and must start slowly to bring us up to speed. Other clips show people explaining how their groups came together or describing activities they've gotten involved with. There is a lot of 'doing' and a lot of fun. One town held a parade that looked like a cross between Toronto's Chinese New Year parade and Caribana ... but all the hoop-skirted, flouncy costumes and colourful, fluttering banners were made from fringed plastic bags , dangling bottle caps and everything that after the parade would be dismantled and put in the blue bins. Another scene showed older people (mostly women) showing a school class how to select materials and sew bags. This seems to be a very simple activity ... until we realize that people of all ages are working together in a school classroom, children are using artistic skills (selection of texture and colour) to make something useful at school, several of the sewing machines are not electric, and overall the children are realizing that they can get 'designer' bags without spending a lot of time and money at a mall. Another project was a 'memorial to oil' set in the town square. A cylindrical display maybe 3 meters tall and 1 meter diameter had sliced-down-the-centre plastic jugs affixed all around it, spiralling down. Inside each plastic frame items made of oil were nailed down: cosmetics and containers, clothing pieces, toys, Barbie herself.

This screening of In Transition was London (Canada's) first event. By my count there were 110 people there. And over three quarters of the audience stayed on afterwards to talk a bit. People said what interested them. Making a commitment to our children and our future underlay many comments. Other passions included people-oriented and powered transportation, better use of materials, more care of things, being ready for change, being able to feed ourselves through community gardens and more varied agriculture. It was good. I felt that everyone in the audience was already finding ways to save the world in their spare time.

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