Congratulations! On June 10th, 2012, Transition OurWay of Ouray County, CO held their Launch Event – their own version of an Unleashing. They had a great event and are going strong on their next steps. We thought you might like to hear more of their story and what's working for them. So we talked to Paula James, one of the key facilitators of the Transition OurWay Initiativing Group!
How did Transition OurWay get started?
Last summer, my husband and I read The Transition Handbook more or less by chance and became interested in trying Transition here in our small county. In January we began pulling together some local leaders to help initiate our effort. We were very lucky in getting knowledgeable, committed folks on our Initiating Group and began right away showing films and hosting speakers on environmental issues, local money and investments, and other efforts around the world. Our communities (Ouray County) responded well, and we had good attendance. Finally we hosted the Launch last week (June 10, 2012) and were pleased with the results.
What are your next steps?
Our goal now is to develop the Working Groups that emerged from the Launch, help them build membership and develop their projects, and then turn the management of Transition OurWay over to them.
We just held our first joint meeting of the Initiating Group and the Chairs of the Working Groups. We've dubbed this new administrative committee, "the Core Group." I think we all felt a bit fumbling in creating this new structure for moving forward, but we made progress. Each Working Group will fill out a form for the projects they're tackling, defining goals, obstacles, assets, etc., so that they can monitor their progress. We'll post all of that on the website and encourage others to join in on the projects that interest them. (you can find two samples here [Word format]: Getting the Word Out Bringing Customers Here)
What Working Groups are already active and what are they up to?
At our preparatory event in April and at our June Launch, people rallied around six key areas: Localizing the Economy, Food, Transportation, Conservation, Alternative Energy, and Education.
Yesterday (June 18, 2012) we also held the first meeting of the Energy work group, and it went very well. Good, knowledgeable people attended, ready to explore options. They'll spend the summer mulling over potential projects and be ready to pinpoint them in the fall. Meanwhile the group identified legislation that's a hindrance to hydro-electric projects in our region, so we'll start a letter-writing campaign immediately to try to dissolve that bureaucratic knot.
The Transportation group meets this next week, and the other work groups are lining up their own schedules. A list of our ideas for action will soon be on our website’s Projects page.
Tell us about your Initiating Group – even though each Initiative is unique, we can all learn from each other.
We are blessed with community leaders that have been active in sustainability efforts for many years—alternative energy, wildlife, conservation, local food, and every sort of environmental activity. My husband and I are relatively new to this area—we moved here almost 3 years ago—but these other folks have deep roots here and decades of experience in working on these issues. The local mayor also joined us and built our website. Indeed, we have great support and encouragement from our local government. (Being a sparsely populated area is actually helpful, as people know one another and it's easy to get the word out. Only about 4400 people in the county.)
We spent the winter and spring holding a great many Initiating Group meetings and activities and a ton of emails. The group hung in there, attended the meetings, lent their expertise and energy to it all, and endured the blizzard of emails.
What other special ingredients are helping Transition OurWay move forward?
We live in an area of extraordinary natural beauty, with gorgeous mountains, ranch lands, and wildlife all about us. As a result we have a great many people passionate about the outdoors and conservation. And a surprising number of them are very educated and experienced in these fields. All of this bodes well for our future!
Photo credits: John I. Clark
NOTE: We just heard from Paula that she will also be giving a talk about Transition in Virginia over Labor Day at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference under the theme of Sociocracy, and she would like to invite others from the Transition movement to join her.