Hi there! You've reached the homepage of Ben Lavender! Ben is a computery person who partakes in many kinds of nerd tomfoolery, but mostly programming! You've found his home on the web, with the caveat that a lot his day-to-day stuff ends up on social networks, so this site makes him seem pretty stodgy.
Enjoy your stay.


The Transition Handbook

26 Aug 2008

This wasn’t really what I expected. Rather than being a ton of lessons of what you, personally, can do for you, it’s a game plan for organizing a small community into a resilient one. It’s much less about actual resilience technologies than it is about community organization.

That’s not so bad, and truth be told, he does a pretty bang-up job at the community part. He does spend a bit of time quoting the doom and gloomers, but its the tiniest bit, and he then charges in and gets his hands dirty. It’s all here, from how to get a community to allocate land to local gardens to goofy little trust-building exercises at town hall meetings. Even if the book isn’t something I was looking for, I have to commend Hopkins on providing a lot of real-world advice.

It’s not all spot-on, of course. He creates a local currency in the town he uses as his example throughout the book, and what he writes about that currency makes any economist cringe. But as the book is really less about the details of what you do and more about how you get it done, this comes off as an unimportant tangent.

It’s Hopkin’s worries about peak oil that cause him to focus on local resilience, which is the opposite of keeping your options open. Oil is one of many potential catastrophes in the next 25 years, and I would put my efforts not into making a local community resilient against oil loss but in keeping flexible. It’s a bit like our misguided anti-terrorism policies: focusing on one attack, we forget to make our responses flexible. But just a bit–a resilient community as Hopkins attempts to create is flexible against any number of non-catastrophic shocks: financial, energy, transportation, and the like. It really does represent a step forward. And he does not encourage gun-nut turtling, as many of the gloom and doomers do: his communities communicate with each other and the outside world, its just that the basic goods of day to day life don’t need to.

It’s not a bad book, but not for me and not for anyone I know, really.