23 Jan 2007
10 First Steps for a Transition Town Initiative #9. Honour the Elders.
For those of us born in the 1960s when the cheap oil party was in full swing, it is very hard to relate the idea of life with less oil with our own personal experience. Every year of my life (the oil crises of the 70s excepted) has been underpinned by more and more energy. I have no idea of what a more localised society looked like in the UK, the closest I have is how towns were in rural Ireland when I moved there in 1996, the shops all owned by families, the most memorable ones slightly damp smelling with wooden floorboards that sold the most unusual combinations of things (paraffin lamps, boxes of biscuits and aprons) generally run by a couple in their late 60s. There is a great deal that we can learn from those who directly remember the transition to the age of cheap oil, especially the period between 1930 and 1960.
As part of the Transition Town Totnes initiative, we have been doing oral history interviews with older people in the area. One, with Muriel Langford, who is now in her mid-80s, contained a passage I found especially illuminating;
>“Upstairs I had Jeremy in his cot on my side, so I had an electric torch so that when he woke up I would switch on the torch and then immediately Eric would turn to the candle on his side which you couldn’t have on the side where the baby was, and he’d light the candle to save the battery in the torch. We had a good little system going!