In October 2013, Peter Lipman and I travelled to the US, initially to be part of the Environmental Grantmakers’ Association annual retreat, but also to visit a number of Transition groups. I had, at the time, not flown for 7 years, having vowed not to fly again having seen ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in 2006. The "to fly or not to fly" issue is one we had debated previously too (the comment thread is especially good). The decision to fly to the US was the result of a huge amount of soul-searching, captured in a blog at the time. In it I wrote:
"I have come to a place, also through discussions with other people here at Transition Network and in discussion with our friends at Transition US and Post Carbon Institute, of feeling that it is worth having a go and getting on a plane and making the journey, in the (possibly naive) hope that it might sow some seeds of a new direction in the minds of some of the US’s foremost funders, give Transition in the US a boost, raise its profile, do what I can to try and support what’s already happening there. I would expect to return home wrung out like a sponge. This doesn’t open the door to now flying here, there and everywhere. This is a very particular invitation that has been looked at entirely on its own merits".
"Flying makes the world seem small. But let’s face it, it’s not. It’s a 25,000 mile journey around the equator. That’s a bit more than a stroll in the park".
"Travel is a gifted privilege not a given right. Think about this next time someone argues they ‘deserve’ a holiday".
- 9 teleseminars on replicable resilience-building projects, the recordings of which have been viewed 6,845 times
- 3 Transition Neighbourhood trainings to 120 people
- Over 280 NYC residents attended Resilience Stories seminars
- Transition US were able to support 5 new NYC Transition groups
- Transition US were able to develop a US version of Transition Streets, run a pilot with 62 households, set up the Transition Streets US website, and start the national roll out now being piloted in 12 communities (quantifiable outcomes discussed below).
"As a group we learned that we could hold a huge event. We sized-up the church venue and decided we wanted 300 people. The group held that vision and intention and it came to be! That empowered us! It built our capacity and our street cred. It gave us a name in the city".
"I can say without question that your trip had a massive impact on the regional Transition hub we have been supporting here. Your talk in Portland, Maine, turned out to be our biggest regional gathering by far. And the momentum from that event really carried us forward – we had a strong core of volunteers who produced a Concept Paper on Region-Wide Resilience in the months after the gathering, and eventually we formalized the network to become the New England Resilience & Transition Network. Today, we’re going strong, planning another Regional Convergence!"
"The evening event raised the profile and awareness of Transition within the Rice community (mainly faculty but also some students). It raised the profile and awareness of Transition within the larger Houston community. Connections were made between attendees at the evening event which have continued, and strengthened Transition and others’ efforts to make Houston better. We had a large number of signups for our Transition Houston newsletter, as well as signups for the Transition US newsletter".
- Recommit myself to building sustainable communities and dedicate myself to resiliency-building efforts I had begun several years earlier.
- Helped focus my personal thoughts on getting our Transition initiative to become self-supporting and income-generating (which is just getting started now).
- Helped us move forward on our Transition Streets program which we began in earnest a year ago.
- Helped instil a global perspective to our Transition work by giving us insights into what was going on around the planet based on the efforts you started in Totnes over a decade ago. To date, our Transition initiative is still rather parochial in our outlook (focusing on local solutions rather than as a region or state) but we are reaching out to other areas to help spread the Transition message.
- A new Transition initiative was started in 2014 in Del Norte county, a very rural and isolated California county (the most northerly county in Northwestern California, right on the Oregon border), which has grown into a full-fledged Transition movement that is now meeting monthly and conducting numerous community resilience building initiatives. This is in a town whose largest employer (and major contributor to the local economy) is a notorious maximum security prison called Pelican Bay.
- A regional effort has begun to develop a NorCal Community Resilience Network that is just launching this year. Again, although this is not a direct result of your talk, you did inspire us to think bigger and more outside the “Transition” box to invite and include other groups involved in community sustainability and resilience building efforts. We are now meeting regularly, have formed a working steering committee and are organizing several events to help build our community resilience efforts.
"Because of your visit, we began making a network of green groups. A current project we are tackling is banning styrofoam in our city. 95 cities in California have banned it but our City Council has been thinking about it for 18 months and cannot decide!! We have returned to our connections and to other local sustainability groups and have made a campaign called Good To-Go. 18 orgs have signed on. We are planning to solidify this green coalition with breakfast meetings with the goal of having a greater impact in our city".
"Your visit catapulted Transition in Milwaukee from a group of ‘doers’ in the eyes of the City into a meaningful force for gathering citizen action. From the standpoint of both strength in numbers and a force that couldn’t be stopped. After your visit, the expectation of output for the organization was great, and also unmanageable given our 100% volunteer status and absence of staff to create continuity in momentum. We didn’t have a go-forward plan in place to catapult the trajectory".
"Your visit propelled me into the spotlight, and I was offered a Masters Fellowship in Sustainability Leadership – where I built a strategic plan for Transition Milwaukee to ensure that the organization could not just provide accountable day-time support to these initiatives, but also to be self-funding so that we would be able to thrive without having to compete for traditional non-profit funding, and more so, uphold the collective impact of our other local organizations driving localized abundance – to scale in Milwaukee".
"In the afternoon we had a reception for you at our home with members of the Transition Houston core team, as well as a couple of folks from other towns considering Transition that we invited. That meant a lot to us all. Your words of encouragement made us realize that we had already accomplished much, and helped to give us a boost to accomplish more. Also, your recognition that our core team was grounded in common affection for each other put into words something that was never fully articulated in my mind, and made me see our relationships on the core team in a different way".
"I have to say that I think that event was great, I’ve met people that were there everywhere but not sure it actually changed deep ingrained social patterns. I know the Transition US staff are all committed to building relationships and are actively gaining tools for that to happen. I think whether it was worth it is so hard to answer, I think so because it feels like you continued expanding the questions around relevance and the reach of the Transition movement and were quite vocal about your learning curve around these issues".
“The events where you spoke with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation and Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth laid the foundation for us to continue building relationships and learning about the connection between Transition and social justice, and how to honor and support aligned movements being led by communities of color. This is happening within our national hub, as well as several regional hubs and local Transition Initiatives. Recently Transition US hosted teleseminars with Mateo Nube of Movement Generation and Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth, deepening and building upon the initial conversations we had during your visit. It’s deep inner work that will take time to fully realize, but we have certainly made progress since your visit.”
"One year ago our Transition group reached out to the Native American community to partner on a first-ever Northcoast Intercultural Skill Share Gathering that we conducted in October, 2015. Our previous Permaculture skill share events impressed a Native American woman that I know who is active in her tribal government and, as a result of this contact, we are now partnering to build Inter-cultural relationships by sharing our Permaculture knowledge with tribal members who are sharing their traditional ancient knowledge. In this event we brought together the Permaculture, homesteading and tribal communities to share knowledge and practical living skills over a two-day event. While this effort is not a DIRECT result of your visit, you did inspire us to reach out to various cultures that are not, to date, involved in Transition activities. We hope this effort yields positive results over the next five years".
- January, in Pasadena, said "your visit gave me a new perspective on what is possible in my life. I was in a toxic corporate job at Disney which I left after your visit. I am now happily establishing myself in the permaculture garden design business now juggling 8 garden projects!"
- Sylvia founded a Placemaking project at the only Food Co-op in Pasadena. It is a "Free Food Garden" with sitting area, little free library, and has significantly increased the activity on that corner causing neighbors to interact.
- Ginko found transformational leadership in our Just Doing Stuff event planning and began a large event of artists studio tours.
- Inspired by Transition Pasadena’s Repair Cafe, and by attending my talk in Pasadena, the Transition group in Culver City began their own Repair Cafe.
- Throop Church in Pasadena hosted the event there, and has had a deep connection to Transition since it first reached Pasadena. The Transition group started an amazing edible landscape around the church, and as well as seeing its congregation double, the garden has , according to Therese Brummel, "reframed for the congregation their place in the community. It is a gathering place revitalized! The garden is thriving, the programs are more engaging".
- Perhaps one of the key impacts of the trip was that whilst being my chaperone on part of the trip, Marissa from Transition US met the person who is now her partner! So as far as they are concerned at least it was a worthwhile trip…