This post is a continuation of "Transition in the Big City," a description of how Transition ideas are being applied in Los Angeles. Part I discussed issues of scale, the formation of the city hub and pods, and the structure we use today.
At this point Transition in Los Angeles consists of 6 pods which offer regular public meetings: Transition San Fernando Valley*, Transition Mar Vista, Transition Culver City*, Inglewood, the Environmental Change-Makers in the Westchester/LA area, and Transition South Bay LA. The two starred ones are now official TIs with the Transition Network, as is the Transition Los Angeles city hub. We have two additional areas which are just beginning to hold Transition-type public meetings, Whittier and Rancho Palos Verdes.
Having a city hub is very helpful with regards to outreach. The city hub becomes a central contact point for outside groups to find us. We have in essence a speaker's bureau: among the members of our TLA core team there are several people who regularly go out and give "Intro to Transtion" talks.
We try to coordinate things so that each month, at least somewhere in the the greater L.A. area, there is an "Introduction to Transition" session open to the public. Honestly, none of us want to be doing the same intro script every month. And neither would any one of our local areas would yield enough participants for monthly intro sessions. But we need intro sessions to keep bringing people on board the movement, so we offer them at rotating locations. One month the intro session might be up in San Fernando Valley. Another month it might be in Mar Vista. We move it around and publicize them all on our central website.
The Transition Los Angeles city hub website is really just a merged feed. It collects blog entries from those of the local pods that run blogs, and that becomes the TLA news. The TLA calendar is a merged GoogleCalendar from all the local pods - each local pod runs their own GoogleCalendar (and some display their GoogleCalendar embeded in their own webpage).
All the members of our local pod core teams are part of a leadership email loop. There we swap resources. For instance we'll make sure someone who is attending a fair has the photo displays or the right handouts. We'll help with a leadership issue, or coordinate schedules to handle the speaking engagement requests.
We're gaining name recognition in the area (you could call it "branding"). Within the green circles there is growing recogntion of the word "transition" and connection with the ideas of powerdown preparedness.
I've already written about our finances here in L.A., how we're trying to maintain TLA as a resilient organization. Years ago (pre 2004) I learned many of the things that are now coming to the Transition movement through the Stoneleigh talk. Suffice it to say, we use this paragraph in our introduction to new core team leaders:
For the people, by the people -- no members of TLA are funded or paid for the work they do for their community. We rely on the power of the people, inspiration, time, skills, and donations.
At first we thought there would be some working groups at the TLA city hub level and other working groups at the local pod level. In actual practice, as people set up the working group they feel passionate about, it's unfolding a bit like that theory and a bit differently too.
Working groups seem to be forming at the local pod level first, for instance the Sustainable Health Care working group at the Transition Mar Vista pod.
At the city hub level, we have individual core team members who have special interests they pursue. In many cases they gather a team of non-core-team volunteers to do the project, for instance the mentoring of community gardens. Is that a true working group? Perhaps.
The pace also is a bit different from the initial vision. The first "working groups" TLA seems to have spawned are the local pods themselves. So having local operations is indeed proving to be more important as far as where volunteers choose to dedicate their passions than creating city hub level working groups.
We have had a few core team discussions of the idea of an EDAP (Energy Descent Action Plan). On one hand, some issues (ex: water) are an area-wide issue, that would be common to all the pods and would have a logical place in an area-wide EDAP. We do have other organizations in the area who are looking at these issues through the peak oil + climate change lense,who become excellent potential partners for an EDAP.
Other issues (ex: health care) will necessarily have to be handled neighborhood-by-neighborhood across the entire area, because these need to draw upon -- and thus grow -- very localized skill base and resources.
At this point we could see it going either way:
When we began to discuss this EDAP issue (local? or area wide?) our core team turned quickly to a different EDAP question, the same one which was recently highlighted on Rob Hopkins' blog: Are we writing a plan or a vision?
A few members of our L.A. team had studied some of the EDAPs which have already been published worldwide. In our observation there tend to be two general styles:
We realized that one of our first decisions would have to be which style of EDAP we intended to produce. Which did L.A. need more? Our discussion circle felt that a vision plan for the whole city would probably be very helpful because it would help enroll far more people in the ideas. The business-style plan would probably have to be done neighborhood by neighborhood, pulling in area-wide data for some sectors.
for people starting the Transition journey in a city:
Transition U.S. will be holding a Tele-Salon about "City Hubs" on Thurs July 15
Article on resilient nonprofits