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The Market Ticker - Searching 'Syphilis' Online? Go To The Library.

The Market Ticker - 25 February 2015 - 12:15am

This is outrageous, and details exactly how far down the rabbit hole we've gone -- and how far you have let it go.

That means when you search for “cold sores,” for instance, and click the highly ranked “Cold Sores Topic Overview WebMD” link, the website is passing your request for information about the disease along to one or more (and often many, many more) other corporations.

If you think it's just being used for advertising, you're dead wrong.

Among the places your search string, the.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

The Year the Dam of Denial Breaks on Climate Change

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 11:25pm

It will be messy, confusing and endlessly debated but with historical hindsight, 2015 will be the year the world turned.

Categories: Peak oil news

Swimming with the Sharks: Goldman Sachs, School Districts, and Capital Appreciation Bonds

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 10:51pm

Also called payday loans for school districts, CABs have now been issued by more than 400 California districts, some with repayment obligations of up to 20 times the principal advanced (or 2000%).

Categories: Peak oil news

Do Warmer Winters Mean Less Fruit?

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 10:33pm

Californians have been enjoying summer weather in the dead of winter, but the downside is that unseasonably warm temperatures could threaten many of our favorite foods.

Categories: Peak oil news

Ownership & Business Models as Social & Ideological Battlefields

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 10:08pm

The creation of what we now call capitalism, with its deification of private property and free...markets, has been a conscious project spanning a number of centuries.

Categories: Peak oil news

Introducing the first book about Transition in Spanish

Transition Culture - 24 February 2015 - 7:52pm

This month sees publication of the first new book about Transition not written in English, a landmark moment worth celebrating.  Guía del movimiento de transición ('A Guide to the Transition movement') is the work of Spanish Transition activist and trainer Juan del Rio.  We will be speaking to him soon about the book, what it covers and what his hopes are for it, but for now I wanted to share the Foreword I wrote which looks at why Transition matters, and why this book matters.  I'd like to congratulate Juan on producing this book, the first Transition book in Spanish, and hope that it goes far and wide and does much to inspire people to get involved (you can order the book here).  

"It is a delight to be able to write an introduction for this book.  This is the first new book on Transition not written in English and not originating from the UK or the US.  That feels like something historic to celebrate in itself.  That it emerges from Spain, a country that has been so profoundly affected by the fallout from the economic crisis, feels especially appropriate. 

Transition is the quiet revolution going on around you.  You may not have noticed it but it’s there. It is a movement that doesn’t wait for permission but which just gets on and starts building the healthy human culture that we all yearn for.  When we started it, in my small Devon town of Totnes, we had no idea it would even have any kind of an impact there.  It has therefore been a process of near-continuous wonder to see it rolling out in what is now 50 countries worldwide.  To see this book manifesting as a result of the spread of Transition in Spain would have been unimaginable in those early days of Transition.

One of the great difficulties we have in designing a lower carbon, more resilient world is that we struggle to imagine it.  As a species we are fantastic at designing our own demise.  We make endless films in which humankind is wiped out by a virus, by mutant robots, by an alien invasion, by a zombie apocalypse, by huge intelligent apes.  We love it.  Yet where are the films about the culture that saw an avertable crisis coming and responded with imagination, creativity and collective thinking, and managed to alter the trajectory of history?  They barely exist.

Yet around the world, it is a story that people are just getting on with telling themselves.  I have the great privilege of seeing this happen in different places.  Time and again I see the power of people coming together, inspired by a shared vision, rolling up their sleeves and supporting each other to make it a reality.  And it’s not just the actual projects themselves, it’s what it does for the people who give their time and passion to making them happen that’s so thrilling. 

There’s the guy in Liege in Belgium who decided to start a community supported vineyard project.  They started a crowd-funding appeal which was very slow to start with, but by the end they had raised nearly €2 million.  “Lack of money ought not be an obstacle”, he told me. “This is Belgium, one of the richest countries in the world.  If the idea is good, the money will come.  Don’t be afraid”.  Time and again I see people keen to put their support, in all senses of the word, behind imaginative projects done with great imagination and good heart.

I travelled recently to Sussex in England to speak at the seventh birthday celebrations of Transition Town Lewes, one of the first Transition initiatives.  One of the people I met there was Chris Rowland (see video below), who founded a community energy company.  “Transition was something that saved me”, he told me.  “It meant that I changed my career, got into local community renewable energy, met loads of fantastic people, and did things which I never thought I’d do, including winning a major national award for community energy and having to stand up in front of 500 people in London and make a speech.  Seven years ago I just couldn’t have done that.  Transition has given me confidence to do things I didn’t think I could do, and that I really wanted to do”.

 

In the north of England I spoke to one of a group of women who have started a successful local food distribution system.  Running a business was not something any of them had planned on doing, but they found themselves inspired by Transition to make it happen.  She told me “we all just really wanted to change the way we live, and change our own personal lives and to change things and live different lives ourselves as well as a different life for our community”.  They now jointly run a thriving social enterprise.

A woman in Portugal with no experience of being involved in any kind of community activism or projects, and who was very shy and nervous, found that in her apartment block a project had begun to create a community garden in front of the block.  Getting involved gave her, for the first time, confidence to find a place in her local Transition group and start initiating things herself.  “It’s amazing”, she told me.  “I’ve been living in Portalegre for ever, 37 years, and I have felt my community and my city crumble, people turning their backs to each other.  This community garden we created tells me it is possible to do things with other people.  It is possible, we just need to wake up to each other again”. 

Everywhere I go I hear stories like this.  Why?  Because these are times that demand that ordinary people step up and make extraordinary things happen, and because Transition is designed to do a few key things that are all too rare these days:

  • It gives people permission to just start doing things: not that people need anyone to give them permission, but it can help to feel motivated and inspired
  • It gives their work a context: rather than just a series of one-off projects, Transition weaves things together, suggesting that a diversity of projects actually represent a historic wider moment of change at the local level
  • It gives them support: any project is just the practical manifestation of the dedicated, and often unseen, group behind it.  It matters that that group has a healthy group culture, clear ways of doing things, and strategies for support and reducing burnout
  • It balances problem and solution: it’s not enough to show people depressing climate change DVDs and expect them to be shocked into action.  It can distress and isolate people, and actually drive them away from the necessary changes. We need to present such stuff in the context of a wider programme of doing something about it.
  • You become part of a ‘Learning Network’: no one place knows how to do this, but if we can network thousands of communities doing Transition together, sharing their successes and failures, then it is between us that the solutions lie.
  • It’s positive: Transition doesn’t start by trying to blame people we don’t like or see as responsible, it’s about a positive vision of where we want to get, and mobilising everything we’ve got, including our sense of humour, to make that happen.

Transition is also very ambitious.  It seeks to change the way our local economy works, to change the food system to one with more local seasonal produce and a clearer link with local, peri-urban farmland.  It seeks to change the energy system to one that is 100% renewable, with huge advances is energy conservation, and with as much infrastructure as possible in local community ownership.  It seeks to re-imagine local economies as being far more circular, far more resilient and diverse.  Ultimately it seeks to change the culture of a place, so as to be more open to new ideas, new thinking, while constantly building practical examples that it can work in practice. 

Yet all too often we imagine that we can achieve these very ambitious aims on our Wednesday evenings as volunteers.  That way burnout lies.  It’s what I call the ‘tyranny of volunteerism’, meaning that we end up with people doing Transition who have skills, time and confidence, not something everyone in our communities has.  In the last couple of years we have seen a very welcome upsurge of the idea that if we are to really make Transition happen on the scale we need, then we need to be creating new livelihoods, new enterprises.  No-one else is going to do it. 

So we see Transition initiatives starting new food markets, new food distribution businesses, new community farms, new community energy companies, new enterprises to give people an experiential immersion in Transition, new local currency systems.  We also see the growing realisation that if we are serious about affecting the level of change we need to see, communities need to be able to take control of and own assets in their community, be it buildings, land or energy generation infrastructure.  How would an entrepreneur think about generating the scale of change we need to see in the tiny window of opportunity that we have?

In my community of Totnes, after a seven year campaign, we are close to signing a historic agreement whereby the community takes control over the development of an 8 acre site and become, in effect, our own developer. This represents a real step up, and it can happen everywhere.  It’s one of the things I love about Transition, the breadth of what people are doing, how distinct it is to each community, to each place, and how both smaller projects and larger ones help to tell a new story about the future we want to create. 

That in itself is profoundly political.  Yet it is not party political, nor is it explicitly political.  And that really matters.  This is a movement that seeks what we have in common, what brings us closer together, rather than what distinguishes and separates us.  This is a young movement still, and if this book inspires you to get involved in Transition then you will be part of shaping what it becomes.  As will this book. 

My gratitude to Juan del Rio for writing this book is immense.  People might ask me or others at Transition Network what Transition would look like in Spain, but I have no idea.  It’s not for me to say.  To see it emerging across Spain, and in other Spanish-speaking nations, rooted in the experience of the people and place is thrilling.  Take the insight and inspiration you find in these pages and use it to reimagine the place you live.  Use it as the foundation for new conversations with your neighbours.  Use it as a pair of glasses through which you see your neighbourhood in a different way, as a collection of possibilities, as a vibrant, thriving, resilient community.  By deciding to get involved you join a quiet, yet enormously powerful revolution taking place around the world.  Welcome on board.  Let’s do wonderful things.

Categories: TT news

A Lesson in Oil Pricing - Energy Collective

Peak Oil - Google - 24 February 2015 - 12:53pm

A Lesson in Oil Pricing
Energy Collective
In 2008, near the peak of a historic oil-price spike, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published a study projecting that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling would reduce oil prices by no more than $1.44 per ...

Beyond the market-state: decentralising power in a sharing society - The People's Voice

Transition Towns in the media - 24 February 2015 - 12:00pm

Beyond the market-state: decentralising power in a sharing society
The People's Voice
Examples of this assorted grouping of social, environmental and entrepreneurial activities include the Transition Towns and commons movements, the numerous sharing economy and peer-to-peer networks and platforms, cooperatives and community ...

Categories: TT news

Profit from the Greatest Unwind in Economic History

The Daily Reckoning - 24 February 2015 - 9:31am

This post Profit from the Greatest Unwind in Economic History appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

[Editor’s Note: Jim Rickards has launched a brand new monthly investment letter called Strategic Intelligence. The latest issue printed last Friday. Before you read today’s essay, please click here to see why it’s the resource every investor should have if they’re concerned about the future of the dollar.]

Early signs indicate that the greatest unwind in modern economic history could begin this year in China. For many investors, the fallout will be painful. If you’re properly positioned ahead of time, however, I believe you can profit.

To do so, it’s important to understand the dynamics in play. Bubbles have three consistent characteristics: They are easy to spot; they persist longer than most investors expect (that’s why they’re bubbles in the first place); and they end badly with massive losses for investors who are still in at the top.

These three traits are related in terms of investor psychology and behavior. Even when investors see a bubble, they often cannot resist riding the wave, because they assume they’ll be smart enough to get out at the right time. The fact that bubbles last longer than most analysts expect tends to validate this investor assumption. People waiting on the sidelines for bubbles to pop are routinely ridiculed by those reaping large gains as the bubble expands.

But in the end, the bubble profiteers tend to stay too long at the party and suffer massive losses, as bubble markets can easily lose 30% or more in a matter of months, sometimes weeks, as assets are dumped and investors head for the exits. Today, the greatest bubbles in modern economic history are in China.

China is at risk of seeing multiple markets in real estate, stocks, corporate loans and commodities all crash at once. Chinese growth statistics have been overstated for years. This is not because the officials lie, but because 45% of Chinese GDP is investment and much of that is wasted on white elephant infrastructure that will either never be used or produce scant gains in productivity.

Adjusted for waste, real Chinese GDP growth is more like 4% than the 7.5% claimed until recently. Chinese growth is also slowing for other reasons having to do with demographics and declining marginal returns to factor inputs. Growth will no longer be sufficient to service the mountain of debt on which the growth was built.

The Chinese people have extremely high savings rates but limited choices as to how to invest their savings. They are generally prohibited from buying foreign assets. Local banks pay almost nothing on savings accounts. This has forced Chinese savers into real estate, local stocks and so-called “wealth management products” (WMPs). This has resulted in property and stock bubbles, which are just beginning to come down to Earth.

The WMPs seem safer because they are sold by banks and offer steady yields of 5% or more. But underneath, the WMP market is a giant Ponzi scheme. The WMPs may be sold by banks, but they are not guaranteed by the banks. The proceeds are diverted to wasted real estate projects and dubious loans to inefficient state-owned enterprises.

Chinese investors who try to cash in their WMPs receive proceeds not from profits on the loans but from new sales to new investors in an ever-expanding pool. This is the essence of a Ponzi scheme.

Almost all of the economic data coming from China lately suggest the greatest unwind in modern economic history could happen this year. Rail and sea cargo shipments are declining, producer prices are crashing and loan growth has hit the wall.

Chinese officials can see this house of cards collapsing but are determined to prop it up as long as they can. Like central banks everywhere, the People’s Bank of China is using easy money to reflate asset bubbles.

Last November, China cut interest rates for the first time in two years. On Feb. 4, China cut its reserve requirements for banks, a technical move that allows banks to make more loans with the same amount of capital. Both of these moves are intended to ease credit conditions. Another rate cut is expected soon.

China is also likely to join the global currency wars now raging in Europe and Japan. A devaluation in the yuan will help Chinese exports relative to competition from Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Since 2012, China has been quiet in the currency while its Asian trading partners and competitors have engaged in repeated devaluations. Now China has had enough and is ready to shoot back.

If you’re a U.S. investor and use dollars as a reference currency, China offers three ways to win. China has weak national fundamentals. Certain companies have weak sector fundamentals, especially those in financial services with large loan and investment portfolios. And the Chinese currency will weaken.

This means that a short position in the Chinese financial sector, including the purchase of put options, can produce profits from a slowing economy, cheapening currency and higher credit losses.

Regards,

Jim Rickards
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. I track the coming Chinese Credit collapse and give you actionable ways to profit along the way in my monthly newsletter, Strategic Intelligence. Click here to subscribe now.

The post Profit from the Greatest Unwind in Economic History appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Stop Lying

The Market Ticker - 24 February 2015 - 6:10am

There has been no "recovery."

According to a survey released Monday by Bankrate.com of more than 1,000 adults, 37% of Americans have credit card debt that equals or exceeds their emergency savings. “These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster” — thanks to the fact that many of these folks might be hard-pressed to pay for an emergency should one arise, says Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst. 

Yep.

I've pointed this out many times.  A huge percentage of the population has revolving debt that they cannot get rid of should the need arise, and revolving.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

What The Wall Street Journal Missed

The Daily Reckoning - 24 February 2015 - 5:56am

This post What The Wall Street Journal Missed appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

If you’re nervous about investing in biotech stocks, you’re not alone.

Biotech stocks can be scary. They are based on a lot of hope and promise, and they do appear to traditional investors to have gone too far too fast.

In October 2013, The Wall Street Journal ran a story saying that biotech stocks might be too overpriced.

Here’s the second paragraph of the article:

“‘We like to invest in companies with innovative products, but at reasonable prices. Biotech has become too rich for our tastes,’ says Curt Gross, research director at FAI Wealth Management in Columbia, Maryland, with $325 million in assets.”

Boy, I’ll bet Mr. Gross could kick himself now for saying that, because most biotech indexes are up 50% since then.

But in a way, I don’t blame him for being cautious.

If every new drug that comes along gets priced the way some of our newest drugs have been, the biotech capitalization is unsustainable.

I’m thinking, for example, of the hepatitis C cures that cost nearly $100,000. I’m thinking of a therapy in the works that the company is planning to price at $250,000.

I’m thinking of a company that is already preparing insurance companies for the fact that its CAR T therapy for cancer may cost $300,000 per patient.

There’s clearly something of a bubble in our expectations about how many biotech companies can be successful and how much we can pay for their brilliant therapies.

Some of those bubbles will burst.

Yet we have never before in human history been looking down that tunnel at such a bright light.

Small biotech companies with big therapies that are successful will see their stock prices double, and then redouble, and then redouble.

But it will be a roller coaster. Biotech is a disruptive field with lots of players, so expect downs as well as ups.

A reader of my Breakthrough Technology Alert wrote to congratulate me because he had just sold some shares for a nice double. He had waited after my recommendation for a pullback, which never came, and bought in at about $40 a share.

He sold when it reached $80. He was afraid. What had happened to his shares clearly went against everything he had learned over many years — that a stock that doubles in a month or two is a gift horse and you’d better sell before someone looks at its teeth.

My message to you when you invest in biotech stocks is you should not panic and sell a stock just because it has increased dramatically in price.

In most of investing, where incremental increases in stock prices over lengthy time frames constitute success, entry prices are crucial.

Biotech investing — at this point in time — is different.

If you’ve done your homework — waited long enough to be reasonably certain the company’s therapy is more likely to work than not and examined the underlying science as well as the quarterly reports — you want to get in as soon as you make the decision to invest.

Every time I make a recommendation when a stock has been soaring, I’m tempted to tell readers to wait a bit for a pullback. But I don’t. I’ve learned the hard way that although a pullback sometimes comes, the recommendations made in this portfolio are far more likely to go up, and to go up suddenly, than to go down. When a pullback does come, it’s impossible to know when to act. Is that price the bottom? Will the stock go down more tomorrow? Don’t ever let yourself get into that place.

We are not traders. We are investing in solid science. And science is the driver of wealth and prosperity.

If you had purchased shares in the 13 companies I have recommended over the past 15 months when I recommended them, you’d be much further ahead now than if you had waited for pullbacks, even though a number of them did pull back before they went up again.

From Feb. 25-April 14 last year, biotech essentially crashed. It performed another, though less dramatic, swoon last September. Those are steep hills on this roller coaster ride, and you simply must accept that it is a roller coaster and not all the hills will be up.

Despite those swoons, most biotech indexes are up more than 50%.

If you do accept the volatility that comes with biotech investing, you’ll likely be a winner.

Because the reason other people — smart people — are investing in these companies is that we are on the verge of seeing cures for many cancers and much of heart disease — not just treatments for these diseases, but cures.

Regards,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

The post What The Wall Street Journal Missed appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

Which great moments tell the Transition story?

Transition Culture - 24 February 2015 - 3:54am

When you talk about the Transition movement, what works, and just as importantly, what doesn't?  When you read things others have written about the Transition movement, what delights you, and what infuriates you?  Transition Network is undertaking a project with Jon Alexander of the New Citizenship Project who is helping us to shape the story the Transition movement tells about itself to the world.  And he'd like your help.  In fact we'll let him ask you himself:  

 

So what we'd love to hear from you, using the quick and easy form below, is the following:   

Firstly, what are some examples, whether videos, activities, blogs, images, events, whatever, of how you've seen Transition framed that really worked for you?  That really captured the spirit of Transition as you feel it. That resonated, or made you feel proud to be part of all this. 

Secondly, what are some examples of when it really hasn't worked, like when you've read or seen something about Transition that you felt really didn't get it, presented it in the wrong light, or used the wrong imagery and language?  The toe-curling stuff.    

Please take a few minutes to help us shape this important piece of work. Don't worry if some of the material you want to point to is in a language other than English - we'd love to hear from as many people as possible.  We'll be using this material to stimulate our ideas and discussions and won't be publicly highlighting either the positive or the negative examples you give us. We need to receive your material no later than Wednesday 4 March and we'll come back to you in a month or so to tell you how we've got on and invite further input into the project.

We'll be using this material to stimulate our ideas and discussions and won't be publicly highlighting either the positive or the negative examples you give us.

 

Please see the form below.

Categories: TT news

The Market Ticker - Ring Of Peace? Nope, Media Fraud

The Market Ticker - 24 February 2015 - 3:06am

Chalk up both USA Today and Fox News as outright intentional liars when it comes to this story.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — More than 1,000 people formed a "ring of peace" Saturday outside Oslo's main synagogue at the initiative of a group of young Muslims.

It never happened.

There were in fact 20 of them, in a line.  That's all.

There.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

The Deadly Mistake Even Experienced Traders Make…

The Daily Reckoning - 24 February 2015 - 2:34am

This post The Deadly Mistake Even Experienced Traders Make… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

My friend and fellow trader Jonas Elmerraji is a pilot.

Why should you care? Well, because he’s pinpointed an important parallel between flying and trading you need to grasp if you want to find success in the markets. Master it and you’ll cheat the market. Ignore it… and you can kiss your moola goodbye.

I’ll let Jonas jump right into it…

For a newly-minted pilot, clouds are extremely dangerous. They take away your visual reference to the horizon, making it incredibly difficult (or impossible) to control your airplane…

In 1954, the University of Illinois conducted a study where they put 20 non-instrument rated pilots in a flight simulator, and then simulated instrument conditions. On average, it took 178 seconds for the test subjects to lose control of their pretend airplanes.

Scary. But surely an instrument-rated pilot, trained to fly in these conditions, would fare better, right?

Not really. The FAA and the NTSB found an interesting trend reviewing accident cases. As Jonas explains…

“Even instrument-rated pilots were losing control and crashing airplanes in instrument conditions. But it was only happening when they inadvertently encountered bad weather.”

These pilots were trained…but they weren’t prepared.

See where this is going?

Just as trained pilots can “lose it” during conditions they’re trained to survive, experienced traders can also “lose it” under similar conditions…if they’re not prepared.

It’s not enough to know the trading “rules” if you don’t stick to them when the “instruments” say you should. In this case, your instruments are the tools of technical analysis…

As a trader, you should always expect bad weather – and listen to your technical analysis “instruments” when they’re blinking red…

Last week, I showed you how drawing a simple line can help you figure out whether the market is experiencing a temporary market dip…or a major swan dive. But listen, that only works if you trust your instruments

We looked back at the crisis of 2008. As you know, the market crashed in the fall. But our instruments noticed something wrong months earlier when it fell below a long-held trendline. Take a look:

But here’s the thing…

Even though the signs of the crash were obvious in hindsight, hardly anyone sold in early 2008. Why? Because traders were “flying” in clear skies. They didn’t believe their instruments, which were flashing bright warning signs of bad weather ahead. And many crashed as a result…

That’s why so many investors won’t avoid the next market crash just by knowing how to draw a simple trendline. Those guys did. But it didn’t help them where the rubber met the runway. Their beliefs got in the way. Were you any different?

“Fact is, you probably won’t want to sell,” adds Jonas. “It’s human nature – and that’s precisely why market crashes catch so many smart investors with their pants down.”

Bingo. Always, always expect bad market weather – no matter how sunny the skies. That’s what separates a good pilot from an average pilot – and a good trader from a bad trader. Your financial future hangs in the balance. So straighten up and fly right…

And trust your instruments, dammit.

Regards,

Greg Guenthner
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Your financial future hangs in the balance. So straighten up and fly right…If you want to cash in on the biggest profits this market has to offer, sign up for my Rude Awakening e-letter, for FREE, right here. Stop missing out. Click here now to sign up for FREE.

The post The Deadly Mistake Even Experienced Traders Make… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Peace And Brotherhood Eh?

The Market Ticker - 24 February 2015 - 2:08am

Oh boy, this is rich.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Sunday that President Obama’s decision not to say the actions of the Islamic State is a form of “radical Islam” is at the behest of the Muslim community.

“The thing I hear from leaders in the Muslim community in this country is ISIL is attempting to hijack my religion,” Johnson told “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the terror group also known as Islamic State, or ISIS.

Johnson said the leaders argue their religion is about peace and brotherhood and “resent” that Islamic State is “attempting to hijack that from us.”

Really?

So about those huge hoards,.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

Open Source Hacking

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 12:24am

The financial sector is a notoriously opaque, alienating and destructive complex.

Categories: Peak oil news

Leaf Cutters

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 12:23am

Think of the presence of leaf cutter ants as being an indicator of an ecosystem out of balance, of being a cure for damaged soils.

Categories: Peak oil news

A New Alignment of Movements?

Energy Bulletin - 24 February 2015 - 12:22am

Despite the deepening crisis of neoliberalism in Europe, no clear alternative critiques or philosophical approaches have emerged that could catalyze a united response or new convergence of movements.

Categories: Peak oil news

The Transition Agony Aunt on Initiating Groups that can't agree on anything.

Transition Culture - 23 February 2015 - 11:58pm

Dear Auntie.  Please help!  I am finding our Initiating Group's meetings very frustrating!  It seems to me that everyone wants something different, we can't even seem to agree on how to hold a meeting. It's driving me mad because it's paralysing the group and it means we never actually DO anything. I'm sure we can't be the first group to come up against such a challenge.  Can you help? L.S.

In many groups starting up there’s a 'Forming Stage' where people figure out whether this group is right for them, find their place, and the whole group is finding its feet. This process is sometimes very polite, where everyone agrees – and sometimes it can feel messy and chaotic. Letting this process take some time is a really good idea – don’t feel you’re failing if you haven’t got anything to happen for the first few meetings.

Most groups need to go through a “storming” phase where you disagree with each other. It can feel really uncomfortable if you don’t like conflict, but it’s essential that the group can cope with different views, and figures out how to manage conflicting views and get to a resolution – your group appears to be getting it out of the way at the start!

One of the foundations of any group is to know what your purpose is, and this might be a good thing to focus on first. There may be different versions of what Transition is – in which case you might need to refer to the website, get some training, or check in one of the books about Transition. You’ll also be figuring out how you’ll work together – how often you meet, how the meetings are run.

And there’s a more invisible layer as people are getting to know each other and find their roles within the group – who looks after others, who makes jokes, who makes sure you get things done? All this is happening in the first few meetings – and it’s fine for it to take some time.

I also encourage groups not to worry if some people leave during this process – in a way it’s remarkable if a group of strangers can come together and find that they all want the same thing and can work together!  The suggestions below give a bit more focus to the three areas of group life – your purpose, your structures and your culture. There are materials in the project support offer to help you with these different areas. 

What are you here to do? What’s your mission statement? Do you have the same understanding of the process  and model that is Transition? What area will you cover? Here are the elements of the Support Offer which can help with the activities of the group:

  • Connecting and building good relationships with some of the other groups in your place
  • Engaging with people in your community through events and workshops
  • Doing some practical actions to inspire and create a Transition future
  • Developing your group’s vision of a post – Transition future (you won’t all agree on one vision! Learning to disagree and be at peace is also important!) 

But there are other things which are important, and which will help your group to work well and be effective. Research shows that groups which spend at least 25% of their time on these types of activity are more effective in the long run than those which only talk about tasks. 

You will also need to start creating agreements about structure – for example, how the agenda is created, roles for facilitating and time keeping, writing down decisions and actions, following up at the next meeting and so on. There are three elements which help with this aspect of running a group.

  • How to start Transition – developing an Initiating group
  • Forming and developing the group itself 

How will you work together? You might create group agreements – that you will arrive on time, not interrupt each other, be respectful in meetings. Many groups include a go-round at the start which helps people to feel included, and gives you a chance to support each other a bit – creating a deeper sense of belonging and caring.

  • Inner Transition – creating a healthy group culture which is positive, caring and energising. 

How you structure and facilitate these early meetings can really help, including naming the process you’re in – forming a new group that’s going to do things together and working out these three areas of group life. Above all don’t let the meetings get too stressful or tense if that’s possible – encouraging a sense of questioning and curiosity about each other, about the process, even some tactful humour, can ease some of the tension. And some groups just have to have a really big storm before they can set sail together!

Today's Agony Aunt was Sophy Banks.  Any questions for the Transition Agony Aunt?  Email agonyaunt@transitionnetwork.org

Categories: TT news

Diversifying environmentalism - The McGill Daily

Transition Towns in the media - 23 February 2015 - 11:05pm

The McGill Daily

Diversifying environmentalism
The McGill Daily
Other examples of social movements in response to environmental issues include transition towns and the idea of 'degrowth,' where less is more. Transition towns are community-oriented projects that are ... Neither of the movements are completely ...

Categories: TT news
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