“The Seed Beneath The Snow” – a major documentary on the late David Fleming

David Fleming on Hampstead Heath, June 2010

As film-makers we’ve been set a fascinating challenge – can we bring to life a set of ideas that could prove crucial to the future of our society? How can we do justice to the legacy of the unique writer, economist and ecologist, David Fleming?

David Fleming’s life’s work, published posthumously as Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It, is proving a source of fascination to the ever-growing numbers of people recognising that society needs to reinvent itself, so I asked Shaun Chamberlin – Fleming’s friend and close collaborator – for an introduction to the man and his work:

(more…)

Taster #5 – “Why Throw It Away?

A key concept in David Fleming’s thought is the ‘closed-loop system’:

“Closed-loop systems are systems or communities that have worked out how, collectively, to reuse most of their materials. For a natural ecology, this is routine – a necessary condition for its existence. But in an open system such as a market economy, this condition is absent. For a community intent on a degree of eco-independence, the closed-loop system is a necessity; in a sense the definition of what it is aiming to do.” (from Lean Logic)

So it was a real delight to visit the Nailsworth Repair Cafe this week, where volunteers inspired by his work invite people to bring in their broken things and get them fixed for free. The initiative is part of Transition Stroud and, as you’ll see, behind every broken object was a very human story.

It was inspiring to see the practical skills and relationships by which communities can recover and repair the things we need being utilised and shared, as well as the obvious benefits of keeping useful objects out of landfill.

“The Transition movement is part of a convergence of thinking towards the principle that, if areas and communities are to be prepared for the shocks of energy, climate, economics and society, it will not be government and regulatory agencies that do it. It will be something they do for themselves … The solutions they employ depend on the efficiencies and reciprocities made available on the small scale.” (from Lean Logic)

Do let us know in the comments below what you think about these tasters and the issues they raise. The first four tasters have now been viewed over 2 million times, so there’s obviously something about David’s message that’s really resonating for people!

(more…)

Taster #4 – “The Joy of Local Food”

This was a delightful sequence to film, travelling West into the English countryside to meet two people equally passionate about the importance of David Fleming’s concept of localisation. In particular they are concerned about what is wrong with the kind of global food system that has taken over our lives (“supermarkets are the enemy…but we love them”). But more importantly both Sir Roger Scruton, the philosopher, and Helena Norberg-Hodge, the anthropologist, are inspired by David Fleming’s work in driving forward the practical alternative – the growth of the local food movement (“it’s the economics of happiness”).

As his famous quote goes,
“Localisation stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility. But it has the decisive argument in its favour that there will be no alternative.”

Here is the full version of our taster on place, localisation and community, giving a first sense of what may appear in the final film:

And this is the tighter version focused on local food that I cooked up for Facebook:
(more…)

An overview of the film, as it starts to take shape

Shaun Chamberlin holding a copy of David Fleming's Lean Logic

We’re thrilled that the three tasters we have released so far have sparked a lot of interest, viewed over half a million times already, and with hundreds of comments received. Thank you! It’s wonderful to know that there’s such hunger for this film about David Fleming’s inspiring legacy, and such keenness to collaborate with us on making it the best it can be.

As you’ll know, each taster is focused on a single one of David’s topics – the concepts he explores in dictionary format in his incredibly wide-ranging Dictionary for the Future, Lean Logic. So far we have covered his entries on ‘Gaia’, ‘Carnival’ and ‘Encounter’, but we’re hearing that we’re not yet offering people enough overall context of David’s vision, within which to ground each of these concepts.

So I’ve asked the film’s instigator, Shaun Chamberlin (pictured above), for a kind of summary framework within which we can make more comprehensible the individual topics we are planning to include in the documentary. Shaun has done outstanding work in setting David’s dictionary-style approach into a linear narrative (in the paperback Surviving the Future) that brings out the power of his arguments. So I now hand over to Shaun to offer an overview of the film as we currently envision it, as context for the individual video tasters and for your input:
(more…)

Taster #3 – “Encountering Another Being”

This third taster for The Seed Beneath the Snow reflects one of my favourite entries from David Fleming’s Dictionary for the Future – “Encounter” – where he becomes less the intellectual economist and more the poet, attempting to describe a kind of mystical experience.

As it happens, he takes the perfect example from the work of our Deep Time explorer, Dr. Stephan Harding, Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College. Thinking through the best way to put this on film, I struck gold when I asked Stephan himself exactly what the experience of encountering another being means to him:

(more…)

Taster #2 – “Carnival and Play!”

For our second sequence we’re in the big city, where Londoners inspired by David Fleming’s work decided to create a Pop-up Village Green for their local community!

Fleming was anything but a conventional economist, and declared that when rethinking our economy we should “start with a party”! He believed that the pretensions of today’s large-scale, economic growth focused, frenetic consumer society have “descended like a frost on public joy”, and his work was all about restoring life, community, conversation, good food, music and joy to the everyday. For him, that had to be the essence of our future, or what was the point? (hear him discussing this here)

So what would happen if people were invited to a mini-carnival today – right in the middle of London’s Tooting Broadway? We were there to find out, and to hear from the organiser Lucy Neal, as the spectacle unfolded!

(more…)

Taster #1 – “Walking through time”

Our filming day at Schumacher College in Devon started very unpromisingly with torrential rain.

The plan, now under threat, was to film from a drone as part of our coverage of Dr Stephan Harding’s unique Deep Time Walk. Stephan wants to help us “fall in love with Gaia, our living planet”, and has developed an ingenious way for us to physically feel our way into her extraordinary life story.

Fortunately, just in time, Gaia decided to take a kind view of our efforts, the rain cleared, and everything came together. Particularly, as you’ll see, with the extraordinarily powerful – and surprising – final step of the journey:

(more…)