Rob Hopkins, The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How Local Action Can Change the World

IssueDecember 2013
Review by Ian Sinclair

ImageAlthough the corporate world has long claimed the values of self-help, entrepreneurialism and innovation for itself, this book – based on the ideas of the Transition movement, of which Rob Hopkins is the founder and figurehead – proves that progressive activists have as strong a claim on these principles as anyone else.

Encouraging local action to combat global threats, the Transition movement is a grassroots network of communities around the world active in over 40 countries, that is working to build resilience in the face of peak oil, dangerous climate change and economic instability. ‘The pendulum has simply swung too far towards globalisation and corporate power, hollowing out local economies and reducing their resilience, with growing social and environmental consequences’, noted this year’s Totnes & District Local Economic Blueprint.

Hopkins includes summaries of lots of success stories – from the Bristol pound, a city-wide currency that encourages local independent businesses, to DE4, a food hub in Derbyshire offering an affordable alternative to supermarkets. According to Hopkins, all of these examples ‘contain a taste, a seed, of a new, more decentralised, more fairly distributed, more appropriate and more resilient economy’ that will be essential to our future wellbeing.

While it is easy to fall into a self-perpetuating pit of despair and inertia when faced by the sheer scale of the looming climate crisis, Hopkins has little time for this. Rather, as the title suggests, this is a very practical book, consciously written to stimulate people to take action. For example, there is a chapter with advice on setting up a new group or getting involved in the existing movement, with useful ‘Next steps’ and ‘Resources’ sections at the end.

Addressing the reader in the introduction, Hopkins says he hopes the book ‘proves sufficiently inspiring that in later years you might look back at the moment when you picked up this book as having been one of the seminal moments in your life, beyond which you never looked at things in the same way again.’ It’s a big ask but if any book is going to do this, it may well be this one.

Accessible and exciting to read, this is a brilliant tool for activists – to read themselves and to give to others to educate and inspire action.

Topics: Activism