The Grail in the USA

Why I Fell In Love: Bonnie Hendricks

Why I Fell In Love

Now that I have your attention, here’s the rest of the sentence:

with the Transition [Town] Movement

Those who were at the GA on Thursday afternoon heard my spiel about the Transition (Town) Movement.  (For those who missed it, the PowerPoint and audio are online in the member area of the Grail website, or click here.)

A one-sentence summary/refresher: Transition is about building stronger and happier communities while transitioning away from fossil fuel dependence.  There is a lot packed into that little sentence, and there is much to say about how Transition is playing out; one such aspect is story-telling.  So I thought this month I’d tell a bit of my “how I met Transition” story.

It was just about a year ago now.  I was still inAustralia.  Mostly lounging (walking, really) on endless, sunny beaches.  And beginning to cast about for “what’s next?”  The Transition (Town) Movement had spent a few years on my (very long) list of “things to look into, when I have time.”  The time had finally come.

I was still in a state of high discouragement re: the-state-of-the-world.  So I was quite surprised to find myself becoming increasingly excited, the deeper intoTransitionTownmy exploration went.  What had me so captivated?  Quite a bit, actually, but I’ll name just a few.  (I’m setting aside for the moment all the cool projects Transition Initiatives around the world are doing.)

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”                           Buckminster Fuller

Positive Focus.  Transition works in response to three very big, heavy things – the end of cheap energy, climate change and economic instability – yet the approach is positive.  The starting point of Transition is positive visioning: “If you woke up in, say, 2030, and the transition to a low carbon future had been successfully managed, what would it look, feel, smell and sound like?”  There are a few things embedded in this that resonate with me.  I had reached a point where I couldn’t do doom and gloom anymore; I was drawn to Transition’s positive approach of working to create the future we want to see.  This focuses our energy on creatively working for instead of fighting against.  And it puts us in the powerful position of taking responsibility and acting as opposed to blaming others/waiting for “whomever” to do something.  In addition, there is the explicit emphasis in the movement to make it fun – “if it is not fun and not adding to your life, something’s not working…”

Holistic Approach.  Transition takes an integrated Head (theory), Hands (practice) and Heart (vision, team- and group-building) approach.  There is recognition that a range of emotions can surface when we look at the state of our planet, and there is intention to pay attention to this deeper response and build in ways to support each other. There is also recognition that the change needed in these times is both outer (i.e., food and energy systems) and inner (i.e., worldviews, assumptions, consciousness).  Transition builds on the unique skills and passions of the people in the room.  And there is a limitless tapping of creativity.

Shifting Culture. I have long felt that the root of so many of our “problems” in the world today stem from a culture that has lost its way – but how in the world does one go about fixing a broken culture?  As I’ve reflected more recently on Transition – after a year of closely following the movement, participating in a few trainings and taking full advantage of the extensive on-line resources – I think Transition is doing just that.  Rob Hopkins, Transition founder, reflects on this as well in the just-released Transition Companion:

“When we started Transition in 2005-6, I imagined we were developing an environmental response, a sustainability-focused process. After five years of this fascinating international experiment, I now see it as a cultural process… It goes beyond reducing energy and planting trees, and needs, ultimately to seep into the culture of place: how a place thinks of itself, what it takes pride in.”

It’s an ambitious experiment, indeed.  And it isn’t without its struggles and challenges, but that’s another article.

There was a great deal of interest generated at the GA about Transition and I’d like to keep the conversation and thinking together going.  Towards that end, I’ve started a “Transition” Forum on the Grail website (see Emily’s article for more about Forums) and have added a few resources.  I invite you to take a look and share your thoughts! http://grail-us.org/member-forums/grail-discussion/transition-town-movement/

“The sustainability revolution will be organic.  It will arise from the visions, insights, experiments, and actions of billions of people.  The burden of making it happen is not on the shoulders of any one person or group.  No one will get the credit, but everyone can contribute.” 

Donella H Meadows, Jorgen Randers and Dennis L Meadows, Limits to Growth: The 30-year update

Links to Transition Resources

These are also posted in the Transition Forum on the Grail website where you can respond.

Three very good Transition websites:

International Hub:  www.transitionnetwork.org

U.S.Hub:  www.transitionus.org

Rob Hopkins’ blog (very story-oriented):  www.transitionculture.org

“Does Transition Build Happiness?” An article by Rob Hopkins

http://transitionculture.org/2011/10/21/does-transition-build-happiness-an-article-from-the-latest-resurgence-magazine/

In Transition 1.0 – a 50 minute movie about the Transition Movement. (Transition 2.0 is in the works; this is a few years old but still a good watch):  http://vimeo.com/8029815

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