Writers' Visions

This section aims to be a guide to published material offering visions of positive futures. At the moment the focus is on fiction, but recommendations (or preferably reviews, both brief and extended) of all types of writing (and films) are welcome.

Don't miss my 'Top 5' novels list, and the features on each of them. My top choice, 'The Fifth Sacred Thing' by Starhawk is now in the planning stages of a film adaptation, so do look at the wonderful website, and in particular the delightful tour of San Francisco in 2047, narrated by Maya Greenwood, a key character from the novel. It's so exactly what I imagined this site containing that I can only thank Starhawk (whose other non-fiction books I'd also strongly recommend) for her perfect timing, and urge you to click on the link now!

Writers' Positive Visions of the Future: My Top 5

William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890) Penguin Classic
Ursula Le Guin: The Dispossessed (1974) Gollancz SF Masterworks
Ernest Callenbach: Ecotopia (1975) Bantam
Marge Piercy: Woman on the Edge of Time (1978) The Women’s Press

And my top recommendation is…

Starhawk: The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) Bantam
More about the novel and the proposed film elsewhere in this section

Do send in your own favourites, or reviews of (or responses to) the novels on my list.

Do add your comments on any of the books mentioned, particularly any aspects of the society described which attracted or interested you, whatever your opinion of the book as a whole.



To submit a contribution to this list, follow this link over to the 'contribute' page.

Click Here to view Marion's favourite contributions to this section.

An index can be found at the bottom of this page. Click here to view the index.

Posts are sorted in chronological order, with the newest at the top.


life is…

Posted on August 19th, 2013 by Rachael Newport

We are all on this trip together
the winding roads, hills and valleys
we all have days and nights
everyday the same, whilst different
every night the same whilst different
we build our lives round people and stuff
we choose how to fill it
we all make mistakes
we all suffer
we all find joy
we are all the same, whilst different
life is hard, but its also beautiful
very, very beautiful

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How the StoryTelling Hall Won its Power – Steph Bradley

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

I’d like to offer my most heartfelt thanks to Steph Bradley, who has generously allowed me to include this delightful, and, I hope, inspiring piece of writing, so very much in the spirit of this website. Read it together with Starhawk’s guided tour of San Francisco in 2047 and you will gain some idea of the creative possibilities of this future visioning.

Do check out Steph’s beautiful website, and read some of her accounts of her walk around the country collecting ‘Transition Tales’. You can also buy a copy of Quest, the future community game.  She deserves our full support. http://www.storyweaving.co.uk – Marion


The EDP Heroes.
Part One – How the StoryTelling Hall Won its Power

Once, upon a time yet to come, in the year 2030, there was a town that was not too small, and not too big, with a river running through it, and a steep, steep High Street, with a hill that had a castle on the top.
In this town, that was not too small, and not too big, the townsfolk were gathered in a strangely incongruous building; a remnant of a bygone time, a time when all connection to the land had almost been lost, and concrete and cement and straight, straight lines were seen as quite normal.
They gathered in this building to remember. This was a story telling space, one of many, but this one had a special significance to the people, for this was where they gathered to hear the stories of the Great Time of Transition.
The people were seated on the ground, on cushions, and rugs, in softly huddled groups of couples, and families, friends and loved ones, youngers and elders in a big friendly muddle of mutual support.
Slightly apart from the others sat a small group of youngers who had chosen, and been chosen, for the important job of Rememberers. Their attention was focussed on the oldest and most mysterious of the elders, who sat with a far away look in her eyes, whilst they waited with baited breath to hear what she would say…

“Once,” began the elder, and all eyes turned to her, “upon a long, long, long while ago there was a town that was not too small and not too big, with a river running through it, and a steep, steep High Street, with a hill that had a castle on the top,” and the townsfolk relaxed against one another in the comfort of the familiar words that always preluded the stories of their town.
“And the people of this town,” continued the elder, “were pretty happy really, for those times, they had jobs to go to, schools for the children, food in the shops, cars to get around, and energy to heat their homes…” but the Rememberers were looking puzzled,
“What are jobs,” they asked, “schools, cars, energy?”
“So many questions,” smiled the Elder gently. How things have changed she sighed to herself and her eyes focussed to a point far away and the gathered ones wondered where she had gone. The older ones knew, and recalled the time when they had worked to collect tokens they had called money, which they had to use to buy special clothes for their children to go to school, to buy food from the shops, fuel for their cars, energy to heat their homes, and how there had never quite been enough tokens for everyone to have enough.
But the Elder had continued
“Cars, she said, “were metal boxes where 5 people could sit and in them they could get to places faster. They had 4 wheels and they were quite dangerous – sometimes they went so fast they ran quite over people and sometimes they died. They smelled bad too, and needed the land to be coated in a hard substance called tarmac which meant plants couldn’t grow there”
“Ugh,” said the Remembers, “why did people want those?”
“Ah, it was normal back then. You see everyone was in such a rush, the faster you went the more money you could make, the more things you could buy, and people back then thought things made you happy…”
“What was school?” asked another Rememberer, keenly aware of his role in his town.
“School,” said the Elder, was where children were sent every day to learn things”
“But didn’t they learn together with everyone else from the things their environment presented to them each and every day?” puzzled the Rememberers
“Ah, well you see back then people had forgotten many things; they didn’t have Rememberers then to help them.”
The Rememberers glowed with the warmth of knowing their integral importance to their town.
“So”, continued the Elder, “back then in the town that was not too small, and not too big people were pretty happy, for those times. Of course there was the age old quarrel of whether cars should be allowed to run up and down the High Street…”
“Run up and down the High Street” came the indignant response, as the townsfolk tried to imagine their thriving street market full of dangerous metal boxes that moved so fast they had the potential to kill. Besides, they couldn’t even begin to imagine how they would fit amongst the street hawkers, the colourful vegetable boxes everyone had fastened onto the front of their houses, and the open fronted shops that spilled out their wares into the street, and the comfy wooden benches that formed cosy half circles periodically where friends who met could sit and pass the time of day and drink the freshly pressed sweet apple juice the street hawkers brought in the autumn, and the delicious berry & almond milk smoothies that were available in the summer, the mulled wine from the local vineyard in the winter, and the hot spicy apple & pear cider that was made in the Spring from the autumn harvest.
“Well, that was how it was back then,” said the Elder, undeterred from her story. “Of course there were many different sorts of people living there – there were the locals, whose families had been living in the neighbourhood for generations, the farmers and the shopkeepers…”
“But didn’t everyone farm and keep a shop” asked a very perplexed Rememberer.
“Not then” came the reply. “Then not everyone had access to land, or a shop…”
“But how did they survive?” asked a younger in horror.
“Ah well, you see that was before the land reform, before the banks were abolished,” replied the Elder. “It was a very different system then. That story is for another time. Tonight we hear about the Great Time of Transition. So, as well as the locals there were the off-comers”
“Off comers?”
“…Those that had been born in other places. There was a lot more movement in those days. There were the wealthy…”
“The wealthy?”
“Those that had a lot of money and could afford to move into the town that was not too small and not too big, from cities and larger towns to escape stress”
“Stress was the main cause of disease back then. It was caused by everyone going too fast”
“Ah, “ said a Rememberer eagerly “because of the cars…?”
“That and many, many other technological things. That was before the Technological Reform, when everyone agreed that technology was always the last resort and a community consensus had to be agreed before anyone had permission to use any.
And then there were the hippies
“What were hippies?”
The Elder smiled as if to herself and replied “they were the alternative thinkers, the ones with ideas ahead of their time. And there were the homeless ones, the beggars”
“People who had no money at all.”
“What a strange system,” mused one of the townsfolk “where there weren’t enough tokens to go round, but some had more than others. Why didn’t they collect it all up and give it out again like we do every Christmas?”
At that everyone beamed a big grin – no one much knew how it had come about that the old Christian festival had been given a very special role in the checking that everyone had equal shares in the town’s resources, but it was a favourite time for all, a time to see who needed help in distributing their surplus, and who needed to take more to feed a new mouth or support to try out a new idea.
“Well,” continued the Elder, “as I said for those times the town that was not too small and not too big was a pretty good place to live. People had jobs, children went to school, & there was food in the shops, and transport, and energy to heat their homes. And then one day things started to change. The scientists…”
“What were scientists?”
“Back then people were specialists, and the scientists were those who studied and measured the things they observed in the environment, and what they discovered was a terrible thing, a dreadful challenge, a monster – and that monster’s name was
And CLIMATE CHANGE caused terrible things to happen like tidal waves, and earthquakes, and hurricanes, and people died.
The Rememberers shuddered, and gulped as they imagined the monster that CLIMATE CHANGE was.
But the monster of CLIMATE CHANGE was after all very far away so after a while, though the people of the town that was not too big and not too small were shocked by the stories they heard, they soon forgot as life was really not too bad at all for them, they had jobs, schools for their children, food in the shops, transport, and energy to heat their homes.
And then, the Scientists came with the story of another monster, who seemed to be related somehow to CLIMATE CHANGE though few could explain exactly how, and this monster’s name was
And this was really a very intelligent monster for he could charm them, he really was very seductive for some of his effects were really quite attractive to the people of the town that was not too big and not too small, truth be told, they quite liked sunbathing in October, even though they knew that elsewhere he caused drought, and deserts to grow larger, and Ice Caps to melt so that the polar bears lost their homes.
And then came news of yet another monster,
And the scariest thing about this monster was that most people didn’t really understand what he looked like or what his effects were.
And then one day, came a man from across the sea from another town that was not too big and not too small, and he brought with him news, the terrible news that PEAK OIL  and CLIMATE CHANGE were actually related!!!
This was really scary, especially since many didn’t really understand what PEAK OIL was. And of those that did some found it so scary that they pretended that neither monster really existed. A few though started to form small groups. There was a local food group, a transport group and a Heart & Soul group.
And these people started to wonder about those old monsters who had been around for a very long time, but who were still very scary. Could it be that
WAR who everyone was afraid of but whose action was far enough away from the town that was not too big and not too small to be ignored for most of the time, though every so often terrible stories were heard about deaths and cruel deeds
POVERTY   who had been around for so long nobody could remember how she had been born and who everyone avoided as she made them feel a very uncomfortable thing called guilt and anyway its effects in the town that was not too big and no too small were not as strong as they were in far away countries which usually made everyone feel much better about their own life
POLLUTION who was a younger monster but nonetheless had been around for as long as anyone alive could remember. His presence locally could be seen by the trail he left of waste and debris but it had become so familiar that most people could step over it in the street without getting too frightened – though they all knew he caused terrible damage elsewhere – covering seabirds in his dreadful slimy oily blood, and choking the air of some towns and cities with his noxious breath
were related to the twin monsters of PEAK OIL and CLIMATE CHANGE!?
This frightened the people a lot but still life went on pretty much as it ever had in the town that was not too big and not too small…after all they had jobs, and schools for their children, food in the shops, transport, and energy to heat their homes…until one day
The story of a new monster was heard, the scariest monster yet – the effects of this monster were heard of from far away countries, from towns and cities nearer by, and then horror of horrors – the terribly scary monster
Came to the town that was not too small and not too big! And his effects were soon felt – for the factory closed down, and jobs were lost, and people had no money, then shops started to close down, and then the historic Woolworths – a shop that had been around as far back as living memory could tell, closed down.
And the people were really frightened. And it was soon discovered that the terrifying
who could go everywhere, was child of the other terrible monsters – they were all one big horrible family of giants, and the only way to tackle him was to tackle all of the monsters together. And all this while the groups of local food and transport heart & soul and energy kept working and getting bigger, and they developed a local food guide, planted nut trees, founded a local reused cooking oil fuel company that ran the new rickshaw transport, and made their own local currency.
And the people started to skill share, and exchange skills for free, and they noticed that the more they shared, the happier they felt, and meanwhile a heroic plan was being developed….
For to tackle many monsters you need many heroes… and all this while as the people  taught each other to sew, to build straw bale houses, to mend their bicycles, and to bake bread, the plan was growing…
“What was it, what was it?” asked the Rememberers excitedly.
“Aha, it was the EDAP”
“What was that, what was that?”
“Ah, now that was a night to remember” said the Elder with a twinkle in her eye
“what was, what was?” asked the children on the edge of their cushions
“Ah what a good night that was, the night they launched the EDAP”
“what did they do , what did they do?”
“Well, that was a long story in the making, too long for tonight, but I can tell you one thing they did…
They wrote a very, very, very, very long and complicated paper called a Funding Bid”
“Was it a story?” asked the rememberers  eagerly
“No, children not a story, at least not in the way we know them today – remember that people back then thought that Facts and Figures were Gods – so they collected a big long list of Facts and Figures and presented them to the Government”
“What was the Government?”
“Ah well, back then you see people didn’t understand that when we all do the work we are born to do there is no need for anyone to lead us, and they had a special group that made all the decisions….”
“For the town?”
“No, for the country…”

“The country! But, but, how could they know each and every person’s special gift, their terrible challenge, and what the local environment needed each day…”
“Well, the short answer is that they didn’t
And because of it they made a lot of mistakes
But the people of the town that was not too big and not too small worked hard and produced all the right Facts and Figures and the Government gave them a lot of money”
“Why did the Government have money?”
“Ah well, you see, they thought that was the easiest way to manage it, to stop people from being too greedy and taking too much”
“And did it work?”
“No, child, sadly it didn’t, for having too much of anything as we all know on feast days, makes us sick
So the Government had a lot of money and to get a share you had to give them many Facts and Figures in return and the people of the town that was not too big and not too small worked hard and gave them what they asked and with the money they started to make changes in their town
And do you know what the first thing they did was…
Why they put solar panels on the roof on this very building – the place where the EDAP story was first told….”
©Steph Bradley

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The Earth Changes by Anna Fallas: review by Maddy Harland

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

Anna Fallas
Foreword by Tim Blake
Portail Publications, 2011 200 x 130mm, 282pp £9.99 ISBN 978 0 9568937 0 3
(currently available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon, or print version from the author’s website www.annafallas.org)

This is a very rare animal, an eco-novel written well. Set in France at time when the Earth’s climate is unravelling, it tells the story of a group of people who are struggling to make sense of their lives, build a small, self-sufficient community and prepare for a  post-technological world. Rather than being gloomy, it treats the exploration of a new way of living with optimism and joy. Encoded in the tale are metaphors about human and planetary evolution that would be familiar to students of esoteric psychology. The novel works. I read it cover to cover and enjoyed its style and structure and I didn’t find it obvious or preachy. Worth seeking out.

Maddy Harland – Permaculture Magazine No. 71

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The Great Turning: poem by Christine Fry

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

You’ve asked me to tell you of the Great Turning

Of how we saved the world from disaster.
The answer is both simple and complex.
We turned.

For hundreds of years we had turned away as life on earth grew more precarious
We turned away from the homeless men on the streets, the stench from the river,
The children orphaned in Iraq, the mothers dying of AIDS in Africa

We turned away because that was what we had been taught.
To turn away, from our pain, from the hurt in another’s eyes,
From the drunken father, from the friend betrayed.

Always we were told, in actions louder than words, to turn away, turn away.
And so we became a lonely people caught up in a world
Moving too quickly, too mindlessly toward its own demise.

Until it seemed as if there was no safe space to turn.
No place, inside or out, that did not remind us of fear or terror, despair and loss, anger and grief.

Yet, on one of those days, someone did turn.

Turned to face the pain.
Turned to face the stranger.
Turned to look at the smouldering world and the hatred seething in too many eyes.
Turned to face himself, herself.
And then another turned.
 And another. And another.
And as they wept, they took each other’s hands.
Until whole groups of people were turning.
Young and old, gay and straight.
People of all colours, all nations, all religions.
Turning not only to the pain and hurt but to beauty, gratitude and love.
Turning to one another with forgiveness and a longing for peace in their hearts.

At first, the turning made people dizzy, even silly.
There were people standing to the side, gawking, criticizing, trying to knock the turners down.
But the people turning kept getting up, kept helping one another to their feet.
Their laughter and kindness brought others into the turning circle
Until even the nay-sayers began to smile and sway.

As the people turned, they began to spin
Reweaving the web of life, mending the shocking tears,
Knitting it back together with the colours of the earth,
Sewing on tiny mirrors so the beauty of each person, each creature, each plant, each life
Might be seen and respected.

And as the people turned, as they spun like the earth through the universe,
The web wrapped around them like a soft baby blanket
Making it clear all were loved, nothing separate.

As this love reached into every crack and crevice, the people began to wake and wonder,
To breathe and give thanks,
To celebrate together.
And so the world was saved, but only as long as you, too, sweet one, remember to turn.

Christine Fry (October 19, 2004). 

Thanks to Joanna Macy, American Buddhist activist and a beloved teacher, for this phrase.

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Prayer for the Great Turning – Joanne Sunshower

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

May the turning of the Earth save us.
May the turning of the seasons and the turning of the leaves save us.
May we be saved by the worms, the beetles and the microbes turning the soil.
May we be saved by the turning of vegetation into compost
and the turning of compost into rich soil.
May the turning of seeds into plants and the turning of flowers
into fruits save us.
May the grasses and weeds, the vines and mosses all conspire to save us.
May we be saved by the turning of sprouts into saplings, of saplings into trees,
and the trees into forests.
May the scurrying, foraging, pouncing and lumbering of the animals save us.

May the breath of heaven in the breezes and the stormy winds save us.
May the dance of the butterflies, and the musical flight and return
of the birds save us.
May we be saved by vapours turning into clouds and by the turning of
the ever-changing clouds into rain.
May the waters flowing from springs into the lakes save us.
May streams flowing into rivers rivers and seas, and the great heaving of the oceans save us
May we be saved by the patient turning of the rocks, the hills,
the mountains and volcanoes.
May the metabolism of the climates of the Earth save us.
May the turnings of all Beings great and small move us to find wisdom in our own turnings.

May we be saved by our waking and sleeping, by the rhythms of our blood
and our appetites, by the cycles of birthing and nurture, injury and healing,
mating and nesting, loss and discovery, joy and mourning.
May we find in time the grace to turn to one another, and may this turning
also become our salvation.
May we learn to benefit the life of Earth with peace, humble in our needs,
and generous in our giving.
May we learn to celebrate the abundance of life with gratitude, and to embrace
the Earth with our bodies in return.

Joanne Sunshower

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Manifesto for Humanity: a poem by Looby Macnamara

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Marion

We have slowed down
Woken up
Come into our power,
Our hearts are filled with joy each morning We exist in a state of wholeness

We see our place in the whole,
We know life is sacred
Every space is sacred
We feel the heartbeats of our fellow beings
The animals and plants our brothers and sisters, We are thinking and acting like a global family.

We take pride in our Earth home
This shining jewel that breathes beneath us,
Pride in how we leave it for future generations,
Positively impacting on ecosystems,
We have found our hearts, and learn we are connected
To all life
Our spiritual connection woven into the fabric of our lives. We have a full understanding of love,
We appreciate what it means to be ecological beings
On an ecological planet.
We celebrate an Earth culture.

We know who we truly are and what we are truly capable of We recognise our own and one another’s brilliance Everyone retains their capacity to smile and laugh
We follow our dreams whatever they may be,

Lives where we enjoy the creativity of being human Time to be and reflect
We are content
We sing our voices of majesty.

We have learned to negotiate
Communicating our needs and respecting others We value different ways of working,
We have freedom to grow
Honouring each other’s contribution
Allowing people to be without judgement.

Living together in health and happiness Greater simplicity of life
With strong social bonds,
Nothing and no one outside of society, Abundant creative expression

Time for art, music and dancing for all Farmer poets, gardener philosophers Communities that share, care and connect.

More wisdom, more integrity
More communication, less fighting
More music, more singing
More dancing, more harmony
More colour, more beauty
More thinking, less rashness
More space for each being to fully become themselves Weaving abundance into our lives of balance.

Diversity and freedom are the roots of our society Freedom of thought and action
Our leaders fully representative of all our glorious diversity Honesty and openness from government and management Decisions made with consultation and listening
Our leaders are full spectrum conscious and heart based,
A sophisticated approach to social action,
The quietest voices are heard.

Every child has access to education Following their interests and talents Learning made easy at their own pace In their own style,

Meditation and yoga in schools
All taught how to lead,
All taught to reflect
To know why we do things
And the effects of our actions.
Children brought up by the whole community Everyone is teacher and student

Throughout life
Always growing
Always learning.
Respect, honour and learning from our elders Conscious parenting supported.

Education brings children to a place of their own wisdom And sense of being.

Cultures diversify and find their own solutions Following their own paths
Human culture to flourish for many,
Safety for all,

Everyone has access to clean water, food and shelter Every voice is welcomed
Ever decreasing inequality
Ever increasing biodiversity

The masculine and feminine in balance,
An emergent global consciousness
Of connection and responsibility
A diverse expression of heart centred spirituality

Our journey to this place has been nourishing and rewarding, A smooth energy descent transition,
We regained the value of non-material things
We ended persecution for beliefs

We stopped the violence towards each other, the Earth, And ourselves
We evolved to a reawakening of spirit.

We are already here at certain times, certain moments, Certain communities,
A permanent culture around the corner,
Now enough people paying into the consciousness of goodwill and hope

To create the Great Turning
Where war, murder, rape, vandalism, theft Are shed like a snake’s skin
Becoming stories of the past.
We used our knowledge and wisdom
To bring healthy changes to all,
The evolution of happiness
Bringing benefit after benefit.
In times of crisis we were resourceful, With trust and good connections
We weathered the storms

This is the path of heart
This is the path of abundance
This is your call to action
This is the dream to follow
For our children and grandchildren For the great forests and deep oceans For mother Earth and life itself
This is the vision
This is the hope
This is the direction we face
Peace – real peace
Sustained peace

From People and Permaculture by Looby Macnamara.

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Starhawk: “Lessons From The Fifth Sacred Thing”

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by Marion

What would it look like if we based our culture on respect for the elements that sustain life, if earth, air, fire and water were sacred?  Imagine a culture where human creativity and diversity were cherished.  Popular culture abounds with post-apocalyptic disaster stories, but offers us few images of a positive future here on earth. Yet if we can’t even imagine a just, balanced and flourishing future, how can we create it? Two visions of the future clash In Starhawk’s novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing, now in development as a feature film.  What can it teach us about how we avoid disaster and mobilize our creativity and our courage to create the world we want to live in?

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