Transition Newcastle – some videos we used to spark an evening of conversation

At a recent Transition Newcastle evening one of our members (Stuart Carter) led us in evening of conversations around the idea of a new story for a Living Earth. After each video we had small group conversations about our reaction to the video and what practical responses we could make.

The first video set the scene by introducing some ideas from Thomas Berry about the need for us, as humans, to change our relationship with the Earth – to create a new story. (There’s an introduction to his life and work here, or you could read a lecture he gave in 1991 on the Ecozoic Era.)

The second video, a TEDx talk by Patricia Siemen, introduced the idea of recognising regal rights for Earth’s systems and creatures.

In the talk she mentions Ecuador giving constitutional rights to nature. In 2008/2009 Ecuador changed its constitution and recognised humans as being equal to all other entities (and vice versa). In 2011 it introduced 11 new rights for nature including:

  • The right to life and to exist
  • The right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration
  • The right to pure water and clean air
  • The right to balance
  • The right not to be polluted
  • The right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. (The Guardian)

She also refers to Whanganui river in New Zealand being granted the same legal rights as humans. It’s worth noting that this only happened after a 140 year struggle by the local Maori tribe.

Last year, the Conversation had an interesting article called “When a river is a person: from Ecuador to New Zealand, nature gets its day in court“.

We finished with two brief videos on alternatives to our current economic system: the first of seven videos on doughnut economics; and an introduction to the circular economy.

We had some interesting conversations and it was great to reflect on some of the issues involved. As we covered three very large topics, we didn’t really have the time to think deeply about how to respond and the implications for our lives, but it was a thought-provoking and meaningful evening.

I’d love to hear what you think of the videos.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. The paradox of inconsequence
  2. Consumption and the Transition movement
  3. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  4. Our addiction to growth
  5. Blue Men: Message to Humanity
  6. Social change and strengths-based approaches

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.


About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
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