Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More on Youth Consultation

Well I spent the afternoon at a multi council forum on the Draft Long Term Sustainability Framework for the Auckland region, as part of the youth feedback I talked about the need for change to come from the bottom up and for councils to empower communitys. I used the example of transtion town Totnes (see here) which educated the community about the challenges facing us such as peak oil and the need to relocalise and then allowed the community to come up with its own solutions. The presentation was alright but I think most of the council knew how badly the problems are allready, the radicals of the 70's are now in power and they are comfortable, everyone wants to bring this screaming beast to a halt but no one has the commitment or vision to do it.

The council were predictably patronising but some of the people there seemed to get it. My feelings to the event were summed up by a councillor a former womens lib campaigner who said to us "I like you being here and it makes us feel good, but arent you being co-opted? and shouldnt you be on the outside?" The full extent to who deluded some people still are was conveyed brilliantly by the mayor for my city Manukau Barry Curtis who approached one of us at the end and said with no trace of humour that "everything will be fine in 50 years cars will fly and run on water"

The sustainability framework is a plan and nothing more, I am as convinced as ever that Auckland will burn to the ground before it undergoes a voluntary transition. I'm also pissed off that the generation in power knows more than my generation, that my generation my peers appears to have little vision, drive or even awareness of the magnitude of the problems facing us.


weka said...

I'm not sure what will become of the cities. Down south it seems that it's the small towns that are really getting on board with energy descent and relocalisation. It just makes so much more sense that people who know each other and know the intricacies of living in community already, will understand sooner how we are all dependant on one another, and that that interdependancy is what will enable us to survive.

Maybe really big cities will do better than smaller ones because they have the chance to be a series of interconnected or overlapping villages/towns. Does Auckland have that possibility? (it's been a long time since I've been there, but there must be some parts of Auckland functioning more like a community).

Have you read Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing?

John said...

No I havnt read the fifth sacred thing though its been mentioned enough that I really should check it out. Im really glad to hear towns are starting to move on the issues around energy descent, do you have any examples or links?

Its interesting but my street functions better than most in the city, the street is constantly filled with kids playing and even if we dont like each other at least we know who our neighbors are. I think some suburbs in Auckland may function well over the next few decades but most are so filled with crumy infill housing or have such bad access problems that I dont think they will work in a post oil future.

Perhaps overlapping villages will re-emerge but I dont see this happening for quite a while, if a fast crash happens I dont want to be stuck in Auckland city, a slow power down might work though.

Im in a negative mood at the moment im sure in a week or two I will be full of ideas on how to salvage suburbia.

weka said...

There doesn't seem to be much online in terms of what small places are doing. I keep hearing good things about Hampden though (North Otago), that they are getting a plan together. And I heard good things about Holmgren's Oamaru workshop - that there was a lot of energy for getting things going.

Also there seems to be this whole 'green' belt running up the east coast of the SI between say Dunedin and Timaru - lots of small and medium organic growers, community initiatives etc.

With regards to Auckland, it may be that people won't have a choice. If there is a crash people aren't going to survive any better out of the city than in simply because of the numbers involved. Also Cuba shows that largish cities can adapt relatively quickly. Hard to know if they were in a better position for adapting than here or not (you could argue it both ways probably). I guess it depends on how fast fast is.

Still I can understand that you'd be periodically gloomy, especially with the kind of work you are doing. I'm out of the activist stuff now, so I have more control over my exposure to people who just don't get it or don't care.

The Fifth Sacred Thing is set in 2050 San Francisco which has converted to a permaculture city following the collapse of the US govt. Might be worth a read for the vision of something workable.