One of the things that's been on my mind recently is the idea of "Honouring Our Elders", which is prescribed as one of the 10 things that is imperative for a Transition town to do. Honouring Our Elders is a process of learning from those who were born before the era of cheap and plentiful oil, listening to their personal stories and anecdotes of what life was like for the average Joe. There are lots of lessons to learn from this, as I am sure one can imagine. This process is of course something that non-Western cultures do anyway, developing an oral history of their people by listening to the stories of their elders and bowing to their greater knowledge and wisdom. Here in the West we do exactly the opposite: ignore old people and regard them as dotty old bats and silly old chuffers, shut them away in nursing homes and disregard anything they have to say. We Westernised people are so full of our own importance and so convinced that we know what's best when we really don't have a clue about what life was like sixty, seventy, eighty years ago.
I recently re-read my maternal Grandad's war memoirs and found it utterly fascinating. More recently still, I read a sheaf of handwritten memories from my paternal Grandad regarding his experiences from working on farms for his entire life. This spurred in me a desire to set in motion a T3 Honour The Elders project, recording, writing or perhaps filming oral histories with local folks. We young'uns grew up in an era where, barring the '70s oil crisis, the availability of petrol has rarely been an issue. What did our elderly citizens do back in the day? What was their daily life like, with no TV, computer, or Xbox? How easy was it to cope with outdoor privies, ration books, and no hot running water? Lessons can be learned regarding making a pound stretch further, wasting less and using every scrap.
We clearly want to avoid any sense that we are advocating is ‘going back’ or ‘returning’ to some dim distant past, however there is much to be learnt from how things were done, what the invisible connections between the different elements of society were and how daily life was supported. Finding out all of this can be deeply illuminating, and can lead to our feeling much more connected to this place we are developing our Transition Town projects.
Watch this space.