by Carl Shuller, Transition US
It's the eve of the Transition Network Conference, and a two hour train journey from Norwich to London. The countryside is littered with large (and in some cases huge) community garden plots. I have been visiting here in England for almost 6 months and sunshine has been a rare commodity. It is a wonder anything can grow in such a short season and I suppose that is why potatoes are so popular in this part of the world. Surely some of the communities the train is rolling through are Transition Towns. I am increasingly curious what the next steps are for the movement which is approaching seven years under the "transition" banner. New initiatives are popping up every day while others struggle to find their groove. I know firsthand that the moniker has not taken root in all the soil in which it has been planted. Acting as a brief catalyst and probable connector, small bands have continued to move on doing what they had always intended without anything that resembles "core teams" or "working group" ... awareness raising via action in the form of social enterprises. In my short time here in England I have only seen a sliver of the country and I am very excited to hear about all the efforts taking place outside of Totnes. As the train pulls into London Liverpool Street Station my attention turns to the 4 mile cycle ride through city center that awaits me.
Having attended my fair share of conferences in the United States, it is always interesting to meet people from all parts of the country. Different cultures, different challenges and opportunities. Attending the Transition Network Conference really took it to another level. It was remarkable to meet like minded people from all over the world. Interestingly I met several U.S. expatriates who are active in transitioning their local communities. I was also grateful to meet (if ever so briefly) the wonderful people I have been working with over the past four years in my role with Transition US. It has been a blessing.
The highlight of the conference for me (aside from the wonderful food) was the creation of 'Transition Anywhere' on Sunday morning. Set sometime in the future, attendees were invited to envision their ideal community. First we each walked the landscape, in this case a rather large ball room, and choose a plot that felt right to each of us to call home. We were then invited to meet our neighbors and to share a story. Next we came together as a neighborhood (~10 people) to discuss our collective vision and what we could offer the rest of the community. Things then shifted away from proximity to individual passion. Around the hall were a dozen or so black boards with titles such as "Food", "Transportation", and "Communications." We added notes that reflected our personal vision on any number of these topic areas and then were asked to select one that resonated most with us (at least for the day). As a group we worked quickly to devise a plan for a social enterprise and apply for a plot along High Street. Using cardboard, newspaper, and any manner of recycled materials each group had about an hour to establish their presence. It was fantastic to watch the groups come together wholeheartedly and manifest such creative ideas. The exercise reminded me that it is possible to meet the needs of the individual and the collective without compromising purpose and passion. And cooperation and collaboration are not only critical but can be fun at the same time.
Carl Shuller is excited to be supporting a movement that is so closely aligned with his vision and hope for our collective future. His formal education culminated with a Master Degree in Human Environment Relations from Cornell University. He is a trained facilitator of the Pachamama Alliance's Awakening The Dreamer Symposium and maintains that “together we can bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet as a guiding principle of our times." He currently resides in Petaluma, CA where he is involved in the local Homegrown Guild and is eternally grateful to be a part of such an amazing, evolving, and increasingly resilient community.
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