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Conversations with Chelsea Green Authors

A new feature over at The Atlantic’s website is a fascinating set of brief interviews with interesting people called “9 1/2 Questions“, and it’s no surprise to us that some of our authors have been chosen already.

From working quietly to improve the soil and teach others how, to rethinking economics in the hopes of achieving greater justice, to imagining and working toward an entirely new society, we have the great honor to publish and support creative activists involved in all kinds of progressive projects.

Nick Jackson recently spoke to Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Towns movement and author of The Transition Companion; and Simran Sethi, environmental journalist and coauthor of Ethical Markets.

Here’s an excerpt from Rob’s interview:

What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on the sustainability world? Resilience. This refers to the ability of an individual, a community, or a whole nation to withstand shock from the outside. The former manager of Crystal Palace Football Club, Iain Dowie, once referred to it as “bouncebackability.” Sustainability tends to assume that we can aim for — and attain — a way of doing things that the planet can support, and that can continue indefinitely. As the world’s economic situation worsens, and the whole concept of economic growth appears increasingly untenable, and our nearing the peak in world oil production begins to impact our economies, it is clear that, in the pursuit of just-in-time business models, we have created an economy which has little resilience. Resilience is a word which, when we started using it in relation to Transition five years ago, no-one was really using. Now it is everywhere. It adds a new dimension to sustainability, arguing that we need to also be preparing for shocks, but that if we can get that right, making our communities more resilient could be the thing that leads to their economic revival.
And here’s some of what Simran has to say:
Who are three people or organizations that you would put in a Hall of Fame for your field? Water rights activist and author Maude Barlow exemplifies everything I want to be. She has been warning the world about water challenges for decades but does so in a way that is impassioned and compassionate. I interviewed her for an investors’ conference and was incredibly inspired by the way she held her ground about water privatization concerns and informed the audience without alienating them. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is another person who speaks truth to power. This is particularly refreshing to see in politics, a field rife with people more committed to re-election than serving the electorate. He is working tirelessly to face climate challenges and make Vermont a leader in renewable energy. The United States’ Department of Defense is an incredible example of what I call “secondary sustainability.” DOD is the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S., and ranks as one of the top 50 greenhouse gas emitters in the world. The military has taken active steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions and scale-up renewable energy as a means of reducing dependence on hostile nations and increasing military effectiveness capability — a bipartisan model of sustainability in which resource conservation and emissions reductions are positive byproducts, not the end goal.

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