Transition Culture

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22 Dec 2010

An Update on the ‘Ingredients of Transition’ project

My mission had been to get a first draft of all the ingredients done before the Christmas break, but I haven’t quite managed it: of the 62 initial ingredients there are 8 still to do, 6 of which I haven’t started yet and 2 of which are nearly completed.  The idea after Christmas is to finish the outstanding ones and then to go back thr0ugh them weaving in your comments, as well as doing the framing section of the book, with an overall deadline of the end of March.  Gulp.  Anyway, we’re doing alright I think.  So, by way of an update, here is the list of ingredients, showing you what’s already done, with links, as well as the outstanding ones, which are those not shown as links … do keep the comments coming in, they have been so vital in shaping this project…. perhaps this is also a useful point to reflect on what you think of this project so far, and how it is progressing?

1 — What we start with

1a — Post petroleum Stress Disorder

1b — Critical Thinking

1c — Understanding Scale

1d — Thinking Like a Designer

1e — Personal Resilience

1f — How Others See Us/How We Communicate

1g — Respectful Communication

1h — Standing Up to Speak

2 — Getting Started

2a — Forming a Core Team

2b — Inclusion/Diversity

2c — Transition Training

2d — Running Successful Meetings

2e — Measurement

2f — Visioning

2g — Becoming a Formal Organisation

2h — Arts and Creativity

2i — Awareness Raising

2j — Communicating with the Media

2k — Forming Working Groups

2l — Building Strategic Partnerships

2m — The ‘Project Support’ concept

2n — Backcasting

3 — Ongoing/Deepening: maintaining your initiative beyond the start-up stage

3a — ‘Transition Towers’ – having an office or not?

3b — Volunteers and Volunteering

3c — Financing Your Work

3d — Celebrating

3e — Emotional Support/Avoiding Burnout

3f — Momentum

3g — Celebrate Failure (and success!)

3h — Gathering Feedback / How Are We Doing?

3i — Practical Manifestations

3j — Local Food Initiatives

3k — The Great Reskilling

3l — Working with Local Businesses

3m — Ensuring Land Access

3n — Unleashings

3o — Conflict Resolution

4 — Patterns for Outreach

4a — Street-by-Street Behaviour Change

4b — Form Networks of Transition Initiatives

4c — Becoming the Media

4d — Engaging the Council

4e — Energy Resilience Assessment

4f — Community Brainstorming Tools

4g — Oral Histories

4i — Engaging Young People

4k — Meaningful Maps

4l — The Role of Storytelling

4n — Pausing for Reflection/’How Am I Doing?’

4o — Transition Endorsements

5 — Patterns for Implementing Transition Infrastructure

5a — Energy Descent Action Plans

5b — Social Enterprise / Entrepreneurship

5c — Scaling Up

5d — Community Renewable Energy Companies (ESCOs) (in draft, being reviewed)

5e — Strategic Local Infrastructure

5f — Strategies for Plugging the Leaks

5g — Intermediate Technologies

5h — Community Ownership of Assets

5i — Community Supported Farm, Bakeries and Breweries

5j — Strategic Thinking

6 — Scaling Up Beyond the Community

6a — Policies for Transition

6b — Peak Oil Resolutions

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


22 Dec 11:34am

good work rob – your capacity to think, write, read, digest at such high speed and quality is remarkable. as if the phd wasn’t enough…

Kenrick Chin
22 Dec 2:23pm

Transition, for it to work, must become systemic in the way we think and live our lives, from adopting voluntary simplicity, to social networking, local currency and social enterprises. Do you see Transition eventually replacing local councils?

Judy Skog
23 Dec 2:29am

thanks for having all this information in one place, with the links to the original articles–this is great!

Joanne Poyourow
31 Dec 6:01pm

My comments, in increasing order of importance …

1. Let it go where it needs to go. In early drafts, the new document has adhered rather tightly to Alexander’s format, all the way down to type fonts and outline structure. It’s time to let it go. One of the precious things about Transition Handbook 1.0 was its approachability. It was so easy to pick up, read, and enjoy. It called out to me to use it. I haven’t printed the new tome (electronically it looks like it will be voluminous), and there are already comments posted online about “what if we can’t read that much,” but the end result needs to become engaging, enticing, and entertaining. Rob, you already did the scholarly PhD thing; make this one for the people in the trenches. Let the format and tone of this document become much more user-friendly.

2. Provide an entry point for newbies. The table of contents on the current document is absolutely daunting, and I’m a long-term veteran. I can only imagine the impression on someone who picks this up for the first time, hoping to start an initiative. Might be nice to keep the woodstove going … There needs to be a “start here” page, a single page with maybe five items on it. Recall that the first Handbook had a list of 12 – in my talks I distilled that down to 6 so that people could wrap their minds around it. (My 6 were awareness-raising, steering group, reskilling, physical projects, networking/partnerships, and working groups/EDAPs). The newcomers page needs to feel very do-able, particularly by a single new initiator.

3. Decide how much backstory you’re going to include. In the reviews of the 7th Harry Potter film, much was made of the director’s decision to pick the story up where it left off, to presume audiences would already know 6 books worth of history. You already have a ton of text here. You’ll need to decide whether you’re going to include all the intro-to-the-problems stuff that appeared in Part One of the first Handbook.
If you are going to include it, then this document definitely needs plenty more explanation so that newbies can understand it (even beyond #2 above). The tone of the pattern text will have to include: How do you tell a Transition community from a non-Transition one? What are the identifying features, the landmarks, that a community develops as it becomes Transition-oriented?
If you’re not planning to include the intro-to-the-problems stuff, you have made a game-changing decision that this new document is for “upper division students,” and that newbies will start with Handbook 1.0 In this latter case, the tone of the pattern text changes: What tools might we use as an agent of change? What structures, techniques, and approaches have steering groups brought into an existing consumerist community which caused the community to begin to change course? What structures could we set up within untapped communities which might be most effective in causing them to change course?

4. Distinguish the tried-and-true from the cutting-edge. Some of the patterns are things we all have tried and use all the time (awareness-raising) and some are things they’re experimenting with in one or a very few locations (Community Renewable Energy Companies; Energy Resilience Assessment). We do need to hear the new news, so don’t cut them out. Just mark them as new frontiers. I’m thinking of how a favorite seed catalog marks new offerings.

5. Let the pictures tell the story. In the first T Handbook, the images of Totnes fliers and the green box exercises were rich with value. In the current document, the richness is in the vignettes from worldwide initiatives. Every pattern (with the possible exception of the cutting-edge ones) should have multiple vignettes from multiple initiatives. If you aren’t getting lots of stories on a particular pattern, it might be an indication that pattern isn’t so crucial to other sites as you thought it was in your location. Essays you have listed which feel “off” to me include Transition Endorsements, the 1f/1g redundant lectures on communications styles, as well as the ghastly Cakes one which has thankfully disappeared.

6. Reflect the big picture. In the Alexander interview, I was struck by his comments on “morphological elegance.” Reread the passage you quoted from Luminous Ground. In many ways the current document has become a “mechanistic assembly of components.” Holmgren’s principle says to Design from [big picture] to details. In many ways, the current document leaps right into the details. It feels like it has lost the big picture morphological elegance. This probably won’t be recaptured by slapping on a framing section. I think it needs a careful consideration of which patterns are crucial for inclusion, the redrafting/rephrasing of the pattern titles to create a cohesive whole, and the editing of the tone of each of the individual patterns so that it allows the inherent morphological elegance of this Transition approach to reveal itself.

In my print of Alexander’s interview, I have circled his phrases: “morphological structures appear,” “how these generative sequences work,” “morphological elegance in the unfolding.” Some of your essays feel to me like you have really successfully identified patterns that are unique to Transition that have welled up and revealed themselves again and again in countless sites (example: Project support concept).

Others (Communicating with the media) feel like they devolved into how-to instructions and missed the underlying reason why they’re part of the generative sequence of so many successful Transition initiatives. Maybe the tips should become inset boxes and sidebars while the pattern text celebrates all the ways we’ve gotten the proactive Transition approach into mainstream press and media.
Some (Transition Towers) are more like pro-and-con-discussions than they are like morphological structures that define whether we’re going to “get a good result.” (to quote Alexander’s phrase)
And still other concepts, that to me feel like essential parts of the unique Transition approach, are still missing. “Hope, optimism and proactivity as drivers for action” were part of the early documents and are a huge part of what is unique about the Transition approach, yet there is no pattern written about them. Also it is lacking a direct discussion of the role of inner transition (Sophy, where are you when we need you?)

4 Jan 7:00pm

Hi Joanne

Thanks, as ever, for the passionate and insightful comments. I agree with almost all of them. Important to state that the somewhat sterile format in which the ingredients have been presented thus far is not how they will appear in the final book. The book will try to be better than the Handbook, as in more pictures, more anecdotes, more posters, more quotes, and Green Books are even (between you and me) talking about this book being in full colour, so in terms of the book ‘for the people in the trenches’, this will be it.

I agree that there are some ingredients that are more like instructions, more like tools, and have long felt that there are simply too many ingredients anyway, so I am in the process of turning some of them into ‘Tools for Transition’, a la Handbook, which people liked a lot. They actually work really well that way….

I am aware that there is a bit of the ‘difficult second album syndrome’ with this book, so many people loved the first one, but for different reasons, and have strong ideas about how the sequel could be. It is also important to say that the ingredients stuff is only the last two-thirds of the book, the first third will be the framing you mention: peak oil, climate change, resilience, the principles of Transition, a history of its evolution, and so on… and there will be case studies of how different initiatives have emerged and how they have used the ingredients in different ways…

Most of all thanks for the reminder on ‘let it go where it wants to go’… with all the talk here on TC about pattern languages, and am I doing it properly or not, would Alexander approve and so on, I am now in the phase of having to take what has emerged thus far, imperfect and flawed as it is, and sprinkle some Transition-magic on it, and create a bold, colourful, inspirational book that will blow people out of the water…

Thanks as ever Joanne for your insights and honesty….

Dave Hicks
10 Jan 11:25am

Hi Rob
Under Visioning you might like to reference Hicks, D. (2006)Lessons for the Future: The Missing Dimension in Education. This includes exciting examples of visioning as well as work that can be done in schools and elsewhere. Can send a copy to you.


Josef Davies-Coates
6 Feb 3:20am

Really great to have them all listed here :)

This is just a quick comment to request that you update the non-linked one as they get done so that this page remains up-to-date :)