Making sense of economic turmoil is no small challenge. Many of us gave up on understanding the economy a long time ago. Besides, economics has always seemed to live up to its reputation as the most dismal of sciences. In the past, why would we want to study it in depth--unless we were hoping to significantly profit from economic and financial pursuits? As Woody Tasch laments in Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money
, "I have had it up to--here!
--with the opaque, impersonal, deathly dull dismalness of the dismal science of economics."
But now, we have learned that hosts of experts and those in positions of considerable power and authority are themselves befuddled over what's happening, where it's all likely to go, and what should be done. The reason for this, of course, is that many of the fundamental assumptions of modern economics and the industrial growth society it supports are now proving to be fundamentally wrong.
Thus we are now witnessing the awesome spectacle of the rapid unraveling of a global economic system that has profoundly ravaged the earth and our communities. This unraveling is bad news for the economy, but ultimately good news for life on earth.
In the Transition/relocalization movement, we have spoken at great length about the implications of peak oil and climate change for our communities and for the world. But it seems we haven't had much to say about the economic turmoil that seemed inevitable in the face of the other global crises. The situation's has changed, ever since it was confirmed that we have been in a deep recession at precisely the moment when economists were saying that recession was highly unlikely.
Perhaps no one could have foreseen all that has unfolded over the last year since global oil production peaked (see Richard Heinberg's post on Energy Bulletin on July 6
), but many of us understood intuitively that we were likely heading in this direction.
But what is there to say about all this now? Who has the incisive analysis, perspective and wisdom to help guide us through the economic turmoil? Once again, Woody Tasch appropriately says, "In this era of great complexity and financial sophistication, we need the courage to ask the most basic of questions. We need these questions to be asked by those who have the experience and vision to begin to answer them."
Late last fall we began hearing about something called the Crash Course, a series of online videos developed by Chris Martenson (www.chrismartenson.com
). After a while, the trickle of people recommending the Crash Course turned into a significant stream. Around the fourteenth time I heard someone say, "You've really got to check out the Crash Course," I knew it was time to take a look, for it was already going viral.
What I found was 20 fairly brief online "videos" (really PowerPoint slides with voice-over narration) that contained the most lucid, most comprehensive, and most penetrating presentation on the economy that I've ever encountered. I was impressed by the tremendous amount of research that had been compiled to produce the Crash Course, and both the breadth and depth of the perspective. What was most unexpected was Martenson's elucidation of peak oil and how it has been and will be affecting the direction of the world's economy. Here was someone with the experience and vision who could begin answering the previously imponderable questions about our economy.
I immediately recognized the Crash Course as one of the most effective awareness-raising tools available anywhere, providing insights into economic realities that are absolutely essential in the Transition movement. If we were designing Energy Descent Action Plans without taking into full account a thorough understanding of the shifting global economy, then we'd be missing a very big part of the puzzle. (If you haven't seen the entire Crash Course, you can view the entire course online for free
, or buy the 3 DVD set
for only $30.)
WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THE ECONOMY?
As an aside, there has been some reluctance in the Transition movement (especially in the UK) to include the economic crisis as one of the key drivers in the "context for transition," which otherwise mostly focuses on peak oil and climate change. But with the recent economic downturn, it became obvious to Transition trainers and speakers that we had to address it. But how? We didn't ourselves possess the depth of understanding to be able to speak intelligently on this issue, let alone inspire people regarding future possibilities.
(About the only thing I could say was to quote the prophetic words of Colin Campbell back in 2003: "The second half of the age of oil now dawns and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends on it, including financial capital. It heralds the collapse of the present financial system, and the related political structures… I am speaking of a second Great Depression.")
Well, the Crash Course has come to the rescue. Chris Martenson has put five years of intense research and careful writing into his presentation. His analysis is very revealing and extremely useful. Fortunately, he is also a powerful communicator. The quality of the material, the style and tone of presentation, the depth and clarity of the information, are all top-flight and command respect. I've heard several viewers say things like, "This is something I can actually share with my father."
Chris exudes a credibility that is all too rare. It helps that he's trained in the research and analytical skills of science (he was a neurotoxicologist), and that he has the credibility that comes from being a successful executive of a Fortune 300 company. Thus, what we get from the Crash Course is solid, impeccably reasoned, brilliantly illustrated, and compassionately delivered. It's a real treat--compelling, inspiring, sobering, motivating.
And as they say on late-night TV infomercials, "But wait, there's more!" The videos are powerful in and of themselves, but they represent just the beginning of the Crash Course. The rest is only available (at this time) directly from Chris Martenson in person, through his workshops.
CHRIS MARTENSON IN PERSON
We decided to bring Chris Martenson to Colorado to deliver the Crash Course message, because we feel that this is the most powerful and most relevant awareness-raising work that we can be doing in the Transition movement at this poignant moment in history. This is the information, insight, and inspiration that we all need in order to be able to successfully navigate through the challenges of an unraveling global economy, at a time when government and corporate and fiscal leadership is dissolving before our eyes.
We will all have an extraordinary opportunity to hear Chris speak in person this month, at Unity Church in Boulder on Thurs., July 16
), and at Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria campus in Denver on Fri., July 17
). We urge you to be there for this historic occasion, and to invite as many other people as possible. Tickets (available from our office or at the door) are only $5, so cost is no barrier. We're doing our best to pack the house at both venues. We're inviting a number of VIPs in Boulder and Denver to attend these presentations, people representing local money, local government, local business, local organizations, and local media, because we feel it's important for as many people as possible to be exposed to the basic insights of the Crash Course.
In these two public presentations, Chris will highlight the key concepts of the Crash Course, including the exponential function (a la Boulder's own Al Bartlett), the predicament of demographics, and the realities of energy and environmental depletion in the medium-term future. He will weave current events into the discussion and shed much-needed light on the news, offering an interactive glimpse of the Crash Course's provocative material and an approach for reckoning with a rapidly shifting future.
THE CRASH COURSE SEMINARS
Following the public presentations, Chris and his wife Becca will be leading THE CRASH COURSE SEMINARS: THRIVING IN ANY FUTURE, at the Curtis Hotel in Denver on July 18-19. Here, we will have an opportunity to get the rest of the story. (Click here for a video "trailer."
Seminar One, on Sat., July 18, is described as an in-depth introduction to the Crash Course, including all the "right brain" material that Chris and Becca could not put onto the videos or DVDs. This will be "an intense, community-focused weekend seminar presenting the central ideas of the Crash Course and going deeper into some of its material while offering a personal and historical perspective that will improve your understanding of and connection to its content." Chris and Becca will explore the meaning of prosperity as it has traditionally been understood, and use this as a lens through which to examine the systemic factors that have led to the unprecedented levels of debt, depletion and misinformation that currently block appropriate action. They will then plant the seeds of a new vision of "true prosperity" through a personalized account of the changes they have made.
In Seminar Two, on Sun., July 19, Chris and Becca will take stock of our current predicament with a penetrating dive into current events and up-to-date news headlines. They will help participants assemble a "Crash Course Toolbox" that will help to separate the facts from the hype, allowing participants to process media content with a shrewd new layer of awareness. Through lively group discussions and workshops, individuals will take stock of where they are in the process and generate strategies for action. Importantly, during the seminar, those in attendance will have the opportunity to connect with other concerned, like-minded individuals.
In all of the feedback that Chris has received from past seminars, the one constant is the relief and power people obtain from finally being able to connect with other people around the full suite of topics and issues that are found in the Crash Course.
We at Transition Colorado, along with all the leaders of Transition Initiatives across the state, urge you to join us in THE CRASH COURSE SEMINARS. Here you will find yourself in a supportive community that will offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore these issues without fear of judgment. You will be able to connect with others and, through collaboration, be better able to process the data and prepare your own path forward. You will learn from other participants, and find optimism for a future of true prosperity based on meaningful relationships. Chris and Becca promise, "We will help you process and come to terms with change on an emotional level, readying you to transform your life."
Please consider joining us for this important seminar. If you register by midnight July 8, you will still be eligible for the "early bird" special rates.
(Click here for online registration.
The Crash Course in Colorado is just the beginning of what we anticipate will be a long-term alliance between the Transition movement and Chris Martenson. In fact, Chris is committed to strongly suggesting that his readers, viewers, and workshop participants get involved in Transition as part of their preparation for a future that will be very much unlike the past.
Chris was recently asked by an interviewer if he thought relocalization efforts like Transition Colorado are the right thing for our communities. “One thing in which I completely believe," he replied, "is that in the future some communities will fare poorly while others will fare relatively well. It is organizations like Transition Colorado that will separate the two.”