Surviving the Future – Free Books That Sparked Reading Groups

Recently we extended an offer of free books to groups of 10 or more interested in reading Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy by the late David Fleming. More than 300 copies were sent to 25+ Transition Initiatives and a number of other groups concerned about the future. When asked "What inspired you to start this reading group?"  - here is what people said. We were moved by their responses.

Here are a few examples that hinge on apprehension for the future:

  • Concern about the world my children & grandchildren will live in,
  • Feeling so deeply about the plight of the earth and humans and species,
  • Concern for the future, desire to find solutions,
  • We collectively & locally must define the future and not wait for traditional "leadership”.  It's extremely urgent.

A number of others were considering the book to catalyze new efforts or support their existing struggles:

  • The work of David Fleming could provide a vehicle to renew my connection to the community in Kansas and allow me to help share a vision of a positive future.
  • We have a reading group that as part of our Indivisible group that has been reading much about our world, politics, racism and other ideas.
  • My senior project - I am graduating from the U of Minnesota this December.
  • A small group of people in Wisconsin, has formed an exploratory team on Climate Change and the Transition Movement.

Others, are forming groups in response to our current political and economic climate:

  • The potential of dramatic changes in the world economy, culture, and environment would effect both our local communities in Northern CA as well as our extended communities throughout the country,
  • Trump administration policies,
  • Inspiring youth to live into their promise and take a stand against current fascist trends,
  • Creating a local, sustainable and biodynamic alternative to the standard trickle-down capitalism of our current environment in Asheville, NC,
  • The shift in attitudes in our politics that has allowed rapid urban/suburban sprawl that still follows the 1980's model of growth.  We are trying to create a city that embraces transitions from higher density infill to agri-hoods in the boundary areas. 

Various groups have the support of existing organizations: One has the support of their local library. Another, a nonprofit working on food and social justice. A number of Transition groups are reading Surviving the Future together, as are groups formed by a collection of allied community organizations.

Armed with books, a number of scholars, graduate students, concerned neighbors, and nonprofits convened reading groups. Perhaps most notable, are the various faith groups who have started Surviving the Future groups including: Members from an Episcopal church in Idaho, a Unitarian Universalist social action group, and a group in California made up of members from diverse religious faiths (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Pagan) who have organized a group for faith-motivated local climate action. Part of the mission, for this latter groups, is to understand how our ethical foundations can guide us in future decision making, personally and as a group.

Generally most respondents were motivated by: Concern for the future, desire to find solutions, urgency, and the practical, positive, innovative-sounding approach. A number are planning to use the book to launch or relaunch Transition efforts in their locales, or begin new initiatives in their communities.

The respondent farthest away (in geographic distance) was from the Tasman Peninsula in Australia where they’ll start their reading group. The one closest (at least their comment made it straight to my heart) responded by saying “I follow the work of Transition US (you guys rock!!)”. Well, yeah we do, and so does Shaun Chamberlain, Chelsea Green Publishing, and the NoVo Foundation for making these books flow far and wide. 

(At this point, we are out of all of the books. Hopefully though, this blog provides you with some inspiration or ideas for something you might consider doing in your community.)

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