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Stories of the Great Turning

Stories of the Great Turning

Stories of the Great Turning

Editors: Peter Reason & Melanie Newman with an introduction by Joanna Macy

"A treasure trove of transformative tales told by grass-roots activists."

Satish Kumar, Editor of Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine

Paperback, 216pp, April 2013




Here is a book of stories written by people who decided to act, in their own lives, in response to the challenges of our time, and found their own way to make a difference. They are not stories about celebrities or gurus of the environmental movement but honest accounts from people who share a concern for the world we live in and who, in the words of one of the contributors, “just got on with it".

It is a book that takes the question, "What can I do?" and sets out to find some answers using one of our species' most vital skills: the ability to tell stories in which to spread knowledge, ideas, inspiration and hope.

Read about the transformation of wasteland and the installation of water power, stories about reducing consumption and creating sustainable business, stories from people changing how they live their lives and the inner transformations this demands. 

Joanna Macy

Foreword - Playing Our Part in the Great Turning 

Read Joanna Macy's introduction FREE, from Resurgence & Ecologist



Peter Reason and Melanie Newman 

Introduction - The Story of the Book

"In these challenging times we need stories that engage, enchant, inspire and, most of all, stories of practical change; stories of community action; stories of changing hearts and minds."


Annie Davy

Chapter 1 - What Place is This? Story of a Garden

"I felt a call I could not ignore. After years of campaigning on global issues, here was something concrete I could do on the street where I live."

Kirsti Norris

Chapter 2 - Finding My Place in the Great Turning

"As I walked to the office each day, I removed my beads, necklaces and bracelets.  I had dressed as an eye-ball, a chicken, and even John Major whilst “working on the outside”.  The suit I wore to work felt like any other costume."

Celia Sousek

Chapter 3 - How to Build a Lifeboat

"We were secure, settled and comfortable. We thought nothing would change our way of life and we would live there forever. But Peak Oil changed all that."

Emma Kidd 

Chapter 4 - Knickers to That!

"I had a pile of unwanted stretchy t-shirts and tops in my drawers, and what is stretchy material perfect for? Knickers! And so, in a flash, started my responsible knicker revolution with my upcycling project, Emiliana Underwear."

Christine Bone

Chapter 5 - Material Girl Sees the Flaw

"The dormant seed of ecological awareness began to germinate. Perhaps we all have this within us if the right conditions are present." 

Johannes Moeller

Chapter 6 - I Don't Want to be a Passenger in Life

" 'What does it mean to you to be a human being at this time in human history?' is not a question that gets asked at a careers advice bureau."

Patrick Andrews

Chapter 7 - A Journey to the Heart

"I feel I was trained to conform, firstly at home, then at school and then in my corporate roles. Now I had to create a script of my own and live it…"

Clare Power

Chapter 8 - The Truth Mandala

"Breathe and trust, I tell myself. This is not about you. You are just a conduit for this work; this ritual has been performed hundreds of times around the world."


Elizabeth Claire Alberts

Chapter 9 - Leaping Aboard: Onshore Volunteer Work with Sea Shepherd

"With every dollar I collected, I felt like I was saving a dorsal fin, then a fluke, then a blowhole, until an entire whale swam free and alive."

Gil Chambers

Chapter 10 - Water Power

"So began our adventure into the uncertain edge of current technology, the world of generating electricity from very little water."

Helen Moore

Chapter 11 - The Web of Life Community Art Project

"Under a banner proclaiming: “PROTECT THE WEB OF LIFE! EXTINCTION IS FOREVER!” a colourful ribbon of people wound its way up the steep cobbles of Catherine Hill."

Helena Kettleborough and Nora Kettleborough

Chapter 12 - Discovering that We Live in an Ancient and Beautiful Universe

"It's hard, living in the inner city, to get a sense of growing up in something bigger than ourselves. The stars in the sky are faint..."

Jane Riddiford and Global Generation

Chapter 13 - Cabbages & Cranes: Weaving Together People and Possibility

"Just as we have learnt to create the right soil conditions to grow plants in hard places, we have learnt that it is from the relationships between people that a new, more responsible culture will emerge."

June Boyce-Tillman

Chapter 14 - The Dignity of Difference

"I wanted to explore what the great faiths had in common and to establish interfaith dialogue between ordinary people in the neighbourhood."

Nathan Baranowski and Iva Carrdus

Chapter 15 - Lost in Transition

"Transition Bath is a group of people working, voluntarily, to inspire their whole city to change."

Rupesh Shah

Chapter 16 - Ghdamajori: Migration, Work and our Horizons of Care

"It was around the shop and my Dad's endeavours to build a business as a migrant into the UK that I first began to see what work was about."


"The Great Turning ... is the essential adventure of our time."
Joanna Macy, author, Coming Back to Life

"History tells us about our past. Stories tell us about our future. These very human testimonies from ordinary yet extraordinary people will help to chart the paths."
Alastair McIntosh, author, Soil and Soul

"All sorts of people from a rich variety of faiths and philosophies, have collaborated in this beautifully written anthology of prose and poetry to tell their inspiring stories of revolution: a turning away from a society dominated by the quest for economic growth, to one committed to justice and sustainability, a turning towards human flourishing and the well-being of all God's earth, a turning from a tired and destructive way of living to an unknown, but exciting and collaborative future. " 
David Atkinson, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark, formerly Bishop of Thetford

"The story behind this inspirational book is itself an interesting story. It developed partly out of a lecture given by Joanna Macy at the University of Bath in which she had spoken about ways in which we could participate in the Great Turning away from the Industrial Growth Society. Joanna contributes the foreword, outlining five principles that form guidelines for the book: come with gratitude, don’t be afraid of the dark, dare to vision, link arms with others, and act your age, stepping forward on behalf of the Earth. After trawling through various networks, potential contributors were invited to two writing workshops, which I am sure must have significantly influenced the quality of the writing, a striking aspect of this collection. The editors were looking for practical stories to engage, enchant and inspire. 

They have certainly succeeded in this quest, and any one of the stories could be used as an example. At the end, they reflect on the contributions in the light of Joanna Macy’s principles outlined above. The honesty and integrity of the contributors shines through, and they have made challenging decisions that many of us might have avoided. 

One of the most engaging stories is of a couple deciding to move smallholding in Cornwall as a way of devising a more sustainable livelihood. They undergo many trials and tribulations, mainly connected with their livestock, but all this is recounted with delightful humour. Another story relates the persistence required to create a community garden and get past the regulations involved. Still others find themselves changing identity and career in order to be true to themselves. In every case, an inner transformation precedes the outer manifestation in action. The book shows that we can do something significant if we choose."
David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network Review

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