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Naomi, Stories

The Lord of the Rings Analogy: adventure with home in mind.

Sam: ‘So what is this story? Why are we doing this? Apart from because it’s a brilliant adventure. Why don’t we just stay home and join our local Transition group or CSA farm? ‘

Naomi: ‘It’s an adventure story. It’s like Lord of the Rings. Frodo and Sam are happy in the Shire. It’s safe there, but they know it won’t always be safe. So they go out into danger*, they immerse themselves in it and explore its heart, and when they come back the danger has come to the Shire and they know what to do about it’

* in this case danger could mean a number of things- the big looming dangers of collapse or just the feelings of danger people experience when we’re way outside our comfort zone.

The more I research, discuss and think about issues of resilience for the future, the more I reinforce my belief in local, community solutions. Governments and corporations are massively powerful, and as ordinary citizens, our influence on their decisions  is kept as much at arms length as possible.  Their structures for doing that can be temporarily disrupted by direct action, or we can join our voice to pressure groups and organisations who will lobby for us through the ‘proper channels’. But for me, taking power should always also mean taking responsibility, and that is so much more manageable when the groups are small and the problems they are trying to solve are close to home.

I am a big fan of the Transition movement for that reason. It’s about people relearning the skills to provide themselves with food and necessities locally, and in the process rebuilding the connections and interdependencies many of us have lost with our local community.

The internet provides community of sorts, but it can only go so far. I have met and befriended like-minded people all over the world, and it’s great. But when it comes to life’s real necessities- food, water, security- jawing on Twitter might help us blow off steam or spread the word but the person next door is where it’s at. And that person may not be ‘like-minded’ at all. It might take some work to build a relationship with that person, far beyond ‘liking’ the same vaguely subversive webpage and having the same snarky sense of humour in comments threads. This kind of work you have to do in person, with eye contact, cups of tea and sometimes heavy lifting.

Film poster of the crew

The real-life community I’m most a part of is The Invisible Circus, a collective of artists, performers and makers and the subject of my first feature doc. It started out with an effort to be non-heirarchical and my film chronicles, among other things, the ways in which that succeeds and fails. Now it is run more centrally by a much smaller group, but the wider community around it is made up of individuals who share their resources and help each other out. Professionally the group comes together to collaborate for creative processes and in terms of overall strategy the door is always open, both for input and people who want to take on the work. I’m happy with this and I don’t see it as a failure of self-organisation because it’s small enough. I know that the people who have power are also those who take the most responsibility, and we all know each other’s faces, names and hearts. That’s my kind of anarchy: not horizontal consensus with the entire group consulted on every point whether they show up to do the work or not, but manageable hierarchy and respect and autonomy for those who take responsibility. It’s only possible on a small scale, and it’s a damn sight easier when everybody is physically near.

So I definitely understand the argument of several friends who’ve questioned our strategy of heading out, just the two of us, on a tiny cramped boat, to other countries and other communities. In a way we are removing and isolating ourselves from the communities we hope to be a part of, that we’ll depend on and contribute to in the long term. But it’s temporary. We’re not saying the two of us on a boat can be entirely self-sufficient. We’re on an adventure to learn how others do it, and bring back those ideas skills and solutions- from the madcap to the basic and pragmatic. We’ll bring them in person to the folks back home on our return, but also to your community, both as we pass through and second hand via you and the magical interwebs. If you see something on our travels that inspires you, go next door, invite them for a cup of tea and see what you can do together.

“Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings Analogy: adventure with home in mind.

  1. Do you have even more topics just like this 1 called, The Lord of the Rings Analogy: adventure with home in mind.
    How to survive the future..? I really would like to read through even much more concerning it.
    Thanks for your time.

    Posted by lehelmakara.com | December 22, 2012, 1:27 am

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  1. Pingback: What Went Wrong and What’s Next | How to survive the future.. - November 11, 2013

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