Transition Free Press: Slow News

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The words ‘free press’ are always going to get my attention, and not only because I once worked at – and adored — a daily independent newspaper whose editor was known for straight-talking opinion pieces.   By the time it was shuttered by the military dictatorship that took over my country, I was – unlike said editor — safely out of harm’s way, and yet I felt the loss.  Freedom of speech is a given in Western democracies, and we’ve made heroes of comedians like Jon Stewart for their sharp, fearless pursuit of what’s real.   And yet…

We live with media 24/7, steadily exposed to sophisticated and nuanced blurring of facts, opinion and motivational message.  Anyone can learn to Tweet effectively.  On Facebook, you can be Someone.  Where are the fact-checkers?  Facts are ‘marketed’ so they can be easily digested by the targeted demographic (see my last post).  Most of us get our news from television and the Internet, attention grabbing clips repeated, sound bites (like political slogans) designed to lodge in brains made lazy by a steady barrage of infotainment.  Wag the Dog, all over again.  Or TMI?

So why relaunch Transition Free Press (May 2014), a print newspaper you can hold in your hands, copy, highlight, and pass around?  It seems so throwback, retro, so slow.  Exactly!

…many of us want to explore and voice another sound, another story. One of those stories is about the Transition movement, in essence how we, as a people and as a network, respond to the triple drivers of climate change, resource depletion and economic breakdown.

 [Transition Free Press] is a publication in its own right: it is not part of a corporate strategy, or a mainstream business. It is pure editorial run by seasoned Transitioners, and in a time where the media is controlled every which way by government propaganda that is an extraordinary thing.  ~ Charlotte Du Cann, editor

Here’s my gift to you:  a sample edition of Transition Free Press. to page through on your screen (for now).  If you’ve wondered how people all over the world are responding to crisis…You can in the space of a few minutes flick through 24 pages and see what Transition means as a culture, a whole new way of living on the planet. It’s a multi-voiced operation. It’s a We thing. During the pilot over 100 contributors wrote stories, telling us about their projects, writing them from the field, from experience. Here I am! Here we are!

Embrace it.  Become a subscriber (I did).  Share Transition Free Press with your Transition group or wanna be’s.  Talk about it.  Learn from it.  Slow news we can trust and put to use.

Charlotte Du Cann also writes a stunningly erudite blog at,

What’s Your Position As The Ship Goes Down?

This Low Carbon Life Archive

Jersey Shore: Still Standing Strong?

Standing StrongYou want to believe it, and on our recent visit to Long Beach Island, NJ, the signs of apparent recovery were everywhere.  Gov. Chris Christie makes regular reassuring visits, and in truth, the affluent summer residents — LBI swells in season to a population of 100,000 with the influx of second-home owners from New Jersey and neighboring states — have already rebuilt or are well on their way to restoring properties.  It’s salad days for the contractors and landscapers of LBI, though how many of them are locals is uncertain.  Areas with protective dune systems built in a controversial U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, have been the fastest to return to normal.

In August, at the height of season, normalcy means beaches thronged with bright umbrellas and excited children, packed shops and restaurants, and bumper to bumper traffic on State Route 72, the only way in and out, and therefore the great leveler in times good or bad. On the South end of the island where Hurricane Sandy brought  nine-foot storm surge and 18-foot seas an open field marks the place where a trailer park once stood; dumpsters filled with debris; and many homes are, well, barely standing.  Although everyone with a stake in Long Beach Island felt the effects of Hurricane Sandy, property damage, like wealth, is unevenly distributed.  It’s no mystery why those who have want to keep what they believe is rightfully  theirs.  The puzzle is why those to whom the economic system has been less munificent — the Abandonedretired teachers, fire fighters and police, the small business owners, the middle managers, who built the modest dreams and modest homes in this little piece of paradise — aren’t taking to the streets like their cohort in Brazil, Spain, and Greece, to protest our deepening inequities.  Or not in any significant numbers.  Yet.

Media scholar, Marty Kaplan, blames “weapons of mass distraction,” the fact that we the people have allowed ourself to become addicted to a state of constant arousal about all the wrong things, things we can do little about and are, in many instances, utterly meaningless to our daily lives and our future and that of our children.  Meanwhile, the democratic process atrophies.  Here’s Kaplan in a recent interview on Moyers & Company:

[T}he stuff that is being reported on the news tends not to be the kind of stuff that we need to know about in order to be outraged. Climate change is one of the great tests of journalism…There was “The New York Times” headline about the first time that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million. Which “The Times” said that carbon dioxide had reached a level not seen in “millions of years.” My jaw fell. You would think that that would cause a worldwide stir. And instead, it was a one-day story, onto the next thing.

“We have unemployment and hunger and crumbling infrastructure and a tax system out of whack and a corrupt political system. Why are we not also taking to the streets is the question. And I want us to…”  

Me, too, Marty.  That would be a ‘standing strong’ one could believe in and act on before the next Katrina or Sandy arrives.