I spent the week end of 24th-35th July among like-minded greenies being trained how to help your town protect itself against climate change, peak oil and social justice issues. ‘Transition’ is a global, self-organised movement and this course offered the ‘A-C’ rather than the ‘A-Z’ as Transition is still emerging and growing. Post-agricultural and –industrial revolutions, Transition is a creative and flexible response to the need to act positively in these times of change, uncertainty and risk. This ‘third revolution’ is about NOT WAITING for government and industry to change and make the decisions. It also has an affiliation with the United Nations Decade for Sustainable Development. The next few blog entries will be learnings from this very informative, yet spiritual week end.
On the Saturday, we explored tools that can help people effectively work together for social change, including hand-signals to try and untangle the spaghetti of group discussions (I felt slightly silly shaking my hands in the air, a signal aptly named ‘Concordo’, to show I agree with someone’s point and making a T-shape to indicate that I have a technical point or question!).
In our first exercise we were given a card each with an image/graph on one side and an explanation of the corresponding environmental issue on the other side. We had a minute to learn the information and a minute to present what we had learnt to someone else. I learnt about Ecological capacity; the UK represents 2.4ha/person, but we are using 5.4ha/person through living beyond our means and having to borrow from outside the UK (‘ghost acres’), the future (drawing down) and from the past (‘fossil acres’- ancient sunlight). Also, 99% of the stuff that we buy is thrown away within 6 months and built-in-obsolescence is more common. For me, teaching others proved to be an effective learning tool as I really had to know my stuff before I could confidently present it to someone else and I also enjoyed it much more than receiving th information passively from a Powerpoint presentation. Interactive engagement involving everyone is the right way to go. It is useful to bear in mind that one does not have to be an expert to teach others- as long as you have the basic information, they can research it further through books and the internet if they need to know more before they feel like making a positive change.
With sustainability issues, there is a wealth of information, which can often feel overwhelming and thus paralysing. It is therefore imperative to deliver said information in bitesize chunks.
There are 3 essential components of transition initiatives: a vision, plans/pathways that create the transition from now to reach that vision, and a set of principles that guide and inform the pathways and plans.