My Damascene Moment

I’m Nick Watts and I’ve lived in Bungay since 1993, most of the time earning a living by running an out-of-print bookfinding service. My wife is a nurse and I’ve 2 daughters at the High School. As the internet began to really take it’s toll on the business, I was looking round for alternative occupations and in November 2008 applied for a course at UEA which was a study of the effectiveness of the Transition movement, something I previously knew nothing about. In preparation for possible interview I started at the top of the reading list: The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins. Wow! It was a life-changing moment.

I’d known for many years how serious climate change was, and strived to follow a ‘green’ lifestyle. But soon I learned of the seriousness of resource depletion (especially oil) with the energy crisis it implies, and how industrial agriculture is dependent on fossil fuels and destroying the soil and water infrastructure it relies on. How the culture of consumerism is spreading it’s tentacles to all corners of the globe in it’s relentless search for profit (globalisation) stripping underdeveloped nations of their natural resources in return for sweatshops and pollution.

I have to admit it has become a kind of religion, but this is hugely important work and the refusal of the powers-that-be to even discuss, let alone take the necessary action is simply astounding. So over the last 18 months I’ve been active in Sustainable Bungay and endeavoured to build resilience (a key aspect of Transition) into my domestic life: Out with the gas boiler & in the woodburning stove for central heating & water; up with the front lawn and in with raised beds for vegetables; an effort to spread income over a number of  part-time jobs (I didn’t get the post at UEA!); cultivating friendships within the town and supporting each other whenever possible. So although the picture might look bleak when it’s painted with only doom & deprivation, there really are a lot of wonderful things to be gained from a simpler, low-impact lifestyle with less focus on money and more on  down-to-earth pleasures.

It’s win win for me because I’m having a ball, reducing my carbon footprint, and finding a way of life that I expect can be continued in fairly similar vein despite the problems which our failing economic system will cause if business-as-usual continues unabated. A book called Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken says there are millions of people all over the world discovering the same thing for themselves and tackling humanity’s crisis at grassroots – why not join us?

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