11 Jan 2007
10 First Steps for a Transition Town Initiative #2. Lay the Foundations.
It is extremely unlikely that you will be starting a **Transition Town** project in a place where absolutely no environmental initiatives have ever happened before (although it is possible that such places exist: if you are in such a place it might be worth contemplating why…). Within the community there will be people who are just finding out about environmental ideas, people who have been familiar with the intellectual side of it for years but haven’t done much practical action, those who are gardeners, growers and builders, and people who are burnt out from doing all this stuff for years while no-one listened.
There are also a range of official and semi-official organisations and bodies, from Local Government to Womens Institutes. It is essential at this stage that you network with these groups, and make it clear that this is a process of supporting and collaborating with them, rather than duplicating their endeavours or worse still, dismissing their years of hard work as somehow irrelevant.
Offer presentations to all the existing environmental and decision-making organisations in the town.
Give a concise and accessible overview of peak oil, what it means, how it relates to climate change (this may be an important point with some green groups who are committed to tackling climate change but not really *au fait* with peak oil and the relationship between the two), how it might affect the community in question, and the key challenges it presents. Set out your thinking about how a Transition Town process might be able to act as a catalyst for getting the community to explore this and to begin thinking about grassroots mitigation strategies.
You do need to be a bit careful in jointly organising events with other groups, when it works it’s great, but if it runs into problems it can be difficult to keep everyone happy. You will need to ensure that each group is happy with how the event is presented, promoted and facilitated. For example, we are organising some talks with Schumacher College and the local FOE group (see poster, left). Part of this phase also involves reaching out to groups who are usually bypassed or ignored by environmental groups. The local Chamber of Commerce, the Conservative Association. If this is going to work it will need the input of a broader range of bodies than has been the case in the past.
So. in essence, ‘Laying the Foundations’ is about networking with existing groups and activists and stressing that this Transition Town initiative is not a process of duplicating their work but of requesting their input in a new way of looking at the future. Acknowledge and honour the work they do, and stress that they have a vital role to play.
**Tomorrow – #3. Organise a Great Unleashing.**